The Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) offer this pastoral statement to the Church after prayer, study, careful listening to disparate voices, and a collaborative process involving contributions from across the Province. As a result of this process, we have become even more acutely aware of the power we all need to live faithfully in Jesus Christ as He redeems the whole of our identity, including our sexuality.
The College of Bishops asked for the formation of this statement in January of 2020 after we heard reports of varied application among ACNA leaders regarding the use of language about sexual identity, especially within provincial events. We recognize there are a multiplicity of realities in our current national, political, and global circumstances into which an episcopal voice could be presented. In the midst of this tragic pandemic, we desire to continue to minister the Gospel into all aspects of our common life that have been distorted by sin such as racism, persecution, injustice, and violence, while also speaking to this specific issue of identity and sexuality. We hope this circumspect statement will speak pastorally to the issue of sexuality and the use of language within our provincial church.
Our foundation is the Scriptural truth that God made us male and female in His image—a profound unity with distinction (Genesis 1:27). God established marriage between male and female to fill the earth through procreation (Genesis 1:28). Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught that marriage is the model of God’s relation to humanity, the Church. It is a sacramental type of union by which humans work out their salvation with, and in, God’s grace. It requires a lifetime of commitment joined, blessed, and sustained by God between one man and one woman for the purposes of raising children and bearing the image of Christ’s relationship with the Church (Matthew 19:1-12, Ephesians 5:21-33). Yet, Jesus and Paul also extol, and themselves exemplify, the model of virginity for life and spirituality (2 Corinthians 11:1-2). They establish Christian celibacy as a normal, while less common, vocation of abstinent singleness for the sake of the kingdom (Matthew 19:1-12, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40).
Furthermore, we equally affirm, following Paul, that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We say, with Augustine, that this Fall has affected our lives in destructive ways that have disordered our affections. While same-sex attraction is one manifest type of disordered affection, there are many other types of disordered affections. Indeed, we recognize that same-sex sexual relationships have been an oft-targeted sin while other sinful manifestations of our common fallen nature, such as pornography, adultery, divorce, greed, and disregard for the poor have sometimes been tragically discounted or even ignored.
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