(Telegraph) A letter from the Bishop of Salisbury to Lord Alli of Norbury

You, as a gay Muslim, will not be surprised that there are a variety of views within the Church of England where we are experiencing rapid change similar to that in the wider society. This is complex to express, partly because there are those who see this issue as fundamental to the structure of Christian faith. It is also complex because of the worldwide nature of the Anglican Communion in which what might be said carefully in one cultural context (for example, the USA) can be deeply damaging in another (for example, parts of Africa). Change and development are essential in the Church, as they are in life, and part of the genius of a missionary Church is its ability to root the good news of Jesus Christ in varied cultures in every time and place. One of the difficulties now is that globalisation and communication mean it is much more difficult for Christianity to develop in this culturally sensitive way. There has been a very uncomfortable polarisation of views even in our own country.

Whilst marriage is robust and enduring, what is meant by marriage has developed and changed significantly. For example, the widespread availability of contraception from the mid- twentieth century onwards took several decades to gain acceptance for married couples by the Lambeth Conference in 1958. The newer forms of the Church of England’s marriage service have since recognised that the couple may have children. Over the last fifty years the Church of England has come to accept that marriages intended to be lifelong can break down and that on occasion marriage after divorce can be celebrated in the context of Church. It is also the case that most couples now live together before they marry. This happens without censure from the Church which continues to conduct these marriages joyfully even though the Church’s teaching is that sexual relationships are properly confined to marriage.

The desire for the public acknowledgement and support of stable, faithful, adult, loving same sex sexual relationships is not addressed by the six Biblical passages about homosexuality….

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

6 comments on “(Telegraph) A letter from the Bishop of Salisbury to Lord Alli of Norbury

  1. tired says:

    “…is not addressed…”

    Bishop, that bespoke millstone seems to suit you well. Of course, I do not concede your fabrication about only six passages, but you may consult a different sort of authority.

    “stable, faithful, adult, loving”

    So in this Bishop’s world, on point scripture does not ‘address’ the behavior, while practical ethics somehow creates binding requirements for the church. Given that he has already undertaken the task of making things up, why stop there?


  2. driver8 says:

    The current link has a small error. Try this one http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/10087889/A-letter-from-the-Bishop-of-Salisbury-to-Lord-Alli-of-Norbury.html

    It is also the case that most couples now live together before they marry. This happens without censure from the Church… even though the Church’s teaching is that sexual relationships are properly confined to marriage.

    This doesn’t feel quite right. The truth is that many parishes and many bishops do not, in fact, teach that sexual relationships ought to be confined to marriage. They don’t teach anything about it at all. I’ve attended many a Visitation, diocesan study day, workshop (etc. etc.) – and I can’t recall a single bishop teaching anything about sexual relationships.

    Though this is true – it’s also the case that some evangelical parishes do actually teach what the bishops delicately avoid . Baptism in my experience has been used as an opportunity for such teaching moments, Alpha is another.

    My experience is that when evangelical parishes do actually, you know in real life, teach what the Bishop says the church believes, neighboring liberal catholic parishes will often try to undermine such discipline.

    On the other hand some parishes, largely evangelical in my experience, do actually teach the

  3. driver8 says:

    Woops typo

  4. Militaris Artifex says:

    [b]2. driver8[/b],

    When you write “liberal catholic parishes,” I presume you are referring to liberal (Anglo)catholic parishes, and not to Roman Catholic parishes. Am I correctly understanding you?

    Thanks, peace and blessings,
    Keith Töpfer

  5. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience across the Pond, driver8. Alas, it rings true for much of TEC as well.

    This osrt of utter nonsense from +Nick Holtam plainly shows the unbridgeable chasm between Christians and Liberals within Anglicanism. I mean that literally (ala G. Machen’s classic book back in 1929, [b]Christianity and Liberalism[/b]), as long as you understand that I mean Liberalism in Newman’s sense, i.e., as ideological relativism.

    As Peter Ould points out in his withering frisk of this stupid open letter, it’s likely that the Bp. of Salisbury doesn’t really mean to imply what his politically-correct language sure seems to imply. For if all that is necessary for the Church to bless marriages is only that romantic relationships be “stable, faithful, adult, and loveing” then incest is OK. As Tired points out in #1, once you start down that slippery slope, there is nothing to stop you from sliding to the bottom. Without firm, objective, universal standards based on natural law, anything goes.

    +Holtam’s letter epitomizes the folly of trying to appease the masses once they’ve turned on the authentic Christian faith. Liberals have adopted the foolish and self-defeating strategy of appeasing Christianity’s “cultured despisers” ever since the time of Schliermacher over 200 years ago. There is no future in that feckless “[i]If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em[/i]” strategy.

    Combatting the widespread practice of cohabitation is a serious pastoral problem. It’s very challenging indeed, however, it can be done. My pastoral experience proves that. But +Holtam simply surrenders without a fight.

    David Handy+

  6. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:

    When I think about the troubles besetting a dying, Western Church, I continue to ask the simple question: we will continue to allow the world around us, “progress” it is sometimes called, define our worldview? Or will we recognize that, while there certainly is development and change with the church, there are things against which those changes must be measured? Do, for example, the words of the marriage service in the 1979 BCP mean anything at all: “The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in the creation.” A simple line that needs no parsing. Do we choose to abide by it, letting it shape our theology and imgination? Or do we reject it? The answer of many seems to be “we live into the tension” of contradictory assertions as Anglicans always have. I assert: Rubbish! Bad history. Bad theology. Bad logic.

    It reminds me of the First Things article written about The Right Rev. Petter Lee, then Bishop of VA, some 10 years ago in which the writer sought to press the bishop into deciding “Is it either/or OR is it both/and” And he imagined that the Bishop would answer, “Why, of course, it is both!”

    For my part, I seek to be shaped and formed by the days of the Church when Bishops were willing to die for Jesus as the Logos incarnate: as Savior of the world, to be sure, but also as the foundation and fountain of logical thought.