The good news is that the Bishops’ report on human sexuality is reassuring to evangelicals and traditionalists in its determination to adhere to the canonical and biblical understanding of marriage. But like all recent reports, the House of Bishops holds the line in the Church of England by treating this teaching as provisional and subject to change.
The latest report has the character of a staging-post. The Bishops are ultra-apologetic to the LGBT community and the overwhelming subtext is that traditionalists are not dying off quickly enough for the bishops to risk changing doctrine and thereby splitting the Church over the matter. It’ll only be a few years, they reason, before the Church of England can completely capitulate to culture.
Now, of course, many of the more conservative members of the House of Bishops will deny this entirely and I have no doubt that they have personally acted in good faith. But the equivocal language in which the report is hedged indicates that we are involved in a process. This in itself comes from a narrative of progress with which we are all familiar.
According to this widespread cultural narrative, the Church and other archaic organisations are on the wrong side of history and it is only a matter of time before they are dragged kicking and screaming into modernity by any means necessary ”“ including changes to the law, placing facts on the ground and by attrition.
The Church’s integrity and faithfulness is a necessary casualty of these forces of change.
–This appears in the Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2017, on page 11