The challenge is that there is a diversity of views and disagreement about the truthfulness of the doctrine and the faithfulness, integrity and wisdom of the discipline. The key questions here were set out by Archbishop Rowan in 2005: “What is the nature of a holy and Christ-like life for someone who has consistent homosexual desires? And what is the appropriate discipline to be applied to the personal life of the pastor in the Church?”. Our diversity is about “what the Church requires in its ordained leaders and what patterns of relationship it will explicitly recognise as unquestionably revealing of God”. There is similarly diversity in response to civil partnerships (as General Synod noted in a Feb 2007 motion) and, to a lesser extent, in response to the new legal definition of marriage barely on the horizon when the Pilling Group started its work.
The problem is that this diversity increasingly risks pushing the church nationally and internationally into division or at least increased structural differentiation. Facing this, General Synod, in another Feb 2007 resolution, commended “continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion”.
We need a report which can help us reason together by defining and explaining the theo-logic of our church doctrine and discipline and relating these to our diversity and potential division.