Category : Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)
Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane has urged the Anglican Church to show full acceptance of lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual‚ transgender‚ questioning‚ intersexual and asexual people.
He was speaking at St George’s Cathedral‚ Cape Town‚ on Saturday at the funeral service of the Reverend Canon Rowan Smith‚ a former Dean of the Cathedral who identified as gay and campaigned for the rights of the LGBTQIA community.
Archbishop Ndungane asked for the kind of leadership “that we saw in the dark days of apartheid” and added that the Anglican Church had excluded a “huge part of itself” in respect of people of different sexuality.
The blessing of same sex marriages remained an unresolved issue‚ and the Church’s failure to deal with this issue meant that its Christian humanity was suffering‚ the retired archbishop said‚ according to a statement issued by his office.
What is perhaps a more pressing question is what would happen to the Anglican-Methodist Covenant were either church to change its opposition to gay marriage. Would a sudden change by the Methodist Conference in 2019 or 2020 scupper the long proposed deal…?
It certainly might make the strong conservative base on the Church of England’s ruling general synod less enthusiastic.
But difference in teaching on sexuality is not officially a block on sharing ministry.
The Church of England is already in direct ‘communion’ with its sister Anglican churches in Scotland and the US. This means that priests in both churches are recognised as such by the Church of England and so they can, as long as the local bishop agrees, come and minister in CofE parishes.
Both the Episcopal Church in the US and the Scottish Episcopal Church permit same-sex marriage, and while they faced sanctions from the wider Anglican Communion, they remain in communion with the CofE.
At its first meeting since the decision, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney passed a motion which “notes with deep regret that the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has amended its Canons to allow bishops to authorise clergy to bless same-sex unions”.
The Committee also conveyed to the Primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia that it ‘notes with regret that this step is contrary to the teaching of Christ (Matt 19:1-12) and is contrary to Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.”
Further, the Diocese expressed “support for those Anglicans who have left or will need to leave the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia because of its abandonment of biblical teaching, and those who struggle and remain; and prays that the ACANZP will return to the doctrine of Christ in this matter and that impaired relationships will be restored.”
I heard a strange argument recently. When the question of sexual ethics and the teaching of the Bible was raised with a senior leader, the reply was – well look how bad your church is. There followed a long list of sins and offences, some of them very serious: corruption, adultery, strife, false teaching. This is all very tragic. But it is not equivalent to changing the doctrine of the church and actually blessing what God condemns.
I am sorry to say, having been Bishop now for many years that nothing would surprise me. Indeed, knowing my own heart, nothing would surprise me. Indeed knowing the Bible, nothing would surprise me. Our own doctrine tells us how bad we are, even though the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. Our own Prayer Book majors on the confession of sins and with very weighty words indeed. And I hope our practice assumes the possibility of sin and even crime in our midst – it is always wise for two people to count the offertory for example.
Of course this is not the whole story. Christian people, blessed by the Holy Spirit of God are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. The Christian church so often shines in the darkness and Christians live for God sacrificially and lovingly. But this side of eternity we are far from perfect.
But that is what puzzled and worried me about this argument. It was as though the person did not know how bad the church can be and is in his own culture. You can find tribalism, sexual immorality and false teaching in all the churches. You may even find the leadership turning a blind eye to it. But–it is one thing to point to the sins of the church. It is another thing altogether to justify an official change in doctrine and practice to incorporate them! After all, no-one is pretending that greed is good or that corruption is Christian. But many are actually officially changing the teaching and practice of the church in a way which denies scripture. That is the problem.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Three proposals before General Convention this year would significantly alter this situation and make it hard to see how there will be any ongoing place for this Communion witness within American Anglicanism. One would remove, with immediate effect, the diocesan bishop’s freedom to refuse trial use in their diocese (there is also a proposal to introduce a new transgender re-naming rite across all dioceses).
More serious still is a first reading to write the current trial same-sex marriage liturgies into the Prayer Book, which would require confirmation in 2021 before taking effect. Alongside this there would be a rewriting of the Church’s Prayer Book Catechism to state that “Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which two (2) people [replacing “the woman and man”] enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows”. Given that all those ordained in TEC have to “solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church” and that doctrine and worship is expressed in the Catechism and Prayer Book these proposals, if accepted, will make it practically impossible for clergy holding an orthodox Christian doctrine of marriage to remain with integrity in The Episcopal Church.
Finally, it is also noteworthy that the proposals coming to General Convention extend further TEC’s revision of traditional sexual ethics. There has for some time been a liturgy for “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant”, which was produced for same-sex unions before there was a marriage liturgy.
It is now proposed to add to this a liturgy for “The Blessing of a Lifelong Relationship” in response to “study of contemporary trends and the expressed experiences of Episcopalians who desire to form and formalise a lifelong, monogamous and unconditional relationship, other than marriage, in particular circumstances”.
This would be the first authorised Anglican liturgy to bless non-marital heterosexual unions. It is these very significant proposed developments eliminating the Christian doctrine of marriage from TEC’s doctrine and liturgy and effectively excluding its adherents from their church – which led to William Nye’s letter and for many Anglicans it is these, rather than the letter, which should be the headline news and real cause of serious concern within the Church of England.
Behan is chair of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand (FCANZ), a conservative group within the church that opposes same-sex blessings. A statement on the FCANZ website greeted the synod vote with “deep sadness”.
“We are ready to support people and parishes that cannot remain within this changed Anglican structure. We will work together nationally and internationally to provide fellowship and support as we look towards new ways and structures of ministering the unchanging good news of Jesus,” it stated.
Drye said he did not know if he would leave the Anglican church.
“We don’t really have anything to say because we are in the middle of negotiations and we need to deal with our own churches.
“This is quite a big deal for us and we need to work out what we are going to do. If the church goes pear shaped who knows what will happen from here. Nobody knows what is happening from here.”
Behan did not return calls for comment.
Vicar Helen Jacobi, of St Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, said it was “pathetic” Canterbury vicars were considering leaving the church.
Martin Davie from 2016–‘The Communion cannot decide to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead’
One final point to note in relation to Intentional Discipleship and Disciple Making is that a concern for a fresh emphasis on Christian discipleship cannot be separated from the current debate within the Anglican Communion about human sexuality. The Communion cannot decide to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead. This is because in the Bible, and in the orthodox Christian tradition building on the Bible, right sexual practice, consisting of sexual abstinence outside heterosexual marriage and sexual faithfulness within it, has always been seen as an integral part of what it means to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. This being the case the acceptance and advocacy of alternative patterns of sexual conduct in parts of the Anglican Communion has to be seen as inimical to Christian discipleship and rejected as such. To be serious about discipleship means being serious about sexual holiness and rejecting all forms of behaviour incompatible with it.
This church has put on record the fact that Tikanga Pasifika is against the blessing of same-gender relationships.
However, Tikanga Pasifika chose not to veto the motion which opens the door to these blessings outside the Diocese of Polynesia.
The Anglican Church in Polynesia has expressed its desire “not to be an obstacle” or to hinder the progress of the recommendations for Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pakeha in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Church of Ireland House of Bishops Issue Statement to General Synod on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief
The archbishops and bishops said that it had been noted that following the production of the Guide to Human Sexuality, there was little appetite to discuss further these issues in parishes.
“It would seem that there is no consensus in General Synod, the House of Bishops, or in the church island–wide to change the Canons of the Church of Ireland on the matter of marriage. Thus the Church of Ireland marriage service remains unchanged and marriage may be solemnised only between a man and a woman. No liturgy or authorised service is provided therefore for any other situation. As the archbishops and bishops have already made clear to the clergy of the Church of Ireland, it is not possible to proscribe the saying of prayers in personal and pastoral situations, but if clergy are invited to offer prayer after a same sex marriage, any such prayer must remain consonant with the spirit and teaching of the Church of Ireland,” the statement reads.
The statement concludes: “It is widely recognised that there is no simple solution for these and other issues of human sexuality; but with compassion, humility and concern, we offer our continued commitment to attentive listening and to respectful discussion. We ask that all members of Synod who continue to hold strong opinions do so with integrity and compassion, and to also hold in prayer before God the challenging diversity that exists within the Church of Ireland”.
(David Ould) Australian Anglican Bishops agree it is ‘not appropriate’ to allow Same-Sex ‘Marriages’
The doctrine of this Church is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. If we as a Church are to change this doctrine to permit same-sex marriage, the appropriate mechanism is through the framework of the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church of Australia. Bishops should give leadership in demonstrating trust in this framework as the way to move forward together, recognising that this will require care, persistence and generosity. The bishops commit to working together to manifest and maintain unity, as we together discern the truth….
In light of this Church’s doctrine of marriage, it is not appropriate for church buildings and halls, and chapels owned by Anglican schools and other Anglican organisations to be used as venues for same-sex marriages.
Bishop Andy Lines, speaking on behalf of Gafcon UK, said today:
We are not surprised, but nevertheless deeply saddened and concerned by the decision by the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa to accept Motion 29 and so pave the way for the blessing of same sex relationships.
We note that only those in civil marriages or lawfully recognised partnerships will be eligible for these blessings. This shows that while a short time ago many church leaders around the world were arguing for such blessings but drew the line at same-sex marriage (as in the Church of England’s Pilling Report), now that line appears to have been removed. With this decision, another Anglican Province follows TEC, Canada and Scotland in believing it has the authority to redefine marriage, and offer the Church’s blessing to relationships which the Bible and centuries of Christian tradition clearly teach that God warns against and cannot bless.
It is encouraging that despite the huge pressure to conform to Motion 29 and the secular humanist ideology behind it, many courageous New Zealand Anglicans not only voted against the Motion, but are already looking to the emergence of new Anglican structures, which remain faithful to the Scriptures in contrast to those who have departed from them.
We pray for Rev Jay Behan and others in Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand, and rejoice in their close association with the majority of Anglicans worldwide who continue to preach the biblical gospel of repentance from sin and new life in Christ. Jay and other representatives from FCANZ will receive a warm welcome and full support from all at June’s Gafcon gathering, and ongoing solidarity from Gafcon UK as they plan for the future.
Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand response to the General Synod Decision to Bless Same Sex Relationships
It is with deep sadness that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand (FCANZ) receives the news that General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui has passed the Motion 29 Report allowing the blessing of same-sex relationships. While we are thankful for the gracious spirit in which the debate was held, we disagree with the final outcome. We believe the General Synod has acted in a way which leaves behind biblical authority, the apostolic tradition, and the doctrine and practice our church has always held. Upon the passing of the motion General Synod members Rev. Jay Behan (Chair of FCANZ) and Rev. Al Drye immediately resigned.
FCANZ believes that God loves all people, from all walks of life, calling each of us to repent and have faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes speaking of this love involves saying difficult things that run counter to the culture of today. However we remain convinced that it is good for all humanity and the only place for the church to stand.
In light of the decision of the General Synod we are ready to support people and parishes that cannot remain within this changed Anglican structure. We will work together nationally and internationally to provide fellowship and support as we look towards new ways and structures of ministering the unchanging good news of Jesus.
In a statement the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand said: ‘While we are thankful for the gracious spirit in which the debate was held, we disagree with the final outcome. We believe the General Synod has acted in a way which leaves behind biblical authority, the apostolic tradition, and the doctrine and practice our church has always held.’
It added that it was ready to welcome other conservatives who opposed the decision.
‘FCANZ believes that God loves all people, from all walks of life, calling each of us to repent and have faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes speaking of this love involves saying difficult things that run counter to the culture of today. However we remain convinced that it is good for all humanity and the only place for the church to stand.’
But Very Rev Ian Render, who is dean of Waiapu Cathedral and also gay and married, said in the debate: ‘I’m standing to remind you of all the people we have lost along the way. The people who were candidates for ordination – but who were turned down because of their relationships, or their declared sexuality.
‘The people who have been left in limbo, for year, after year, after year….