Following last week’s speech by the Archbishop of Wales, senior clergy in the Church of England have been speaking out in favour of a measured response to UK Government plans for same-sex marriage.
In a letter published in the Times newspaper, 15 senior Anglicans called on the Church “to engage in theological discussion and prayerful reflection on the nature of marriage” and encouraged the Church to rejoice that there are same-sex couples who want to embrace marriage.
The letter was signed by 5 Bishops including The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham who trained for ordination at Wycliffe Hall Oxford, a leading evangelical theological college. In his own blog last week he said,
‘What this discussion is uncovering for me, is the extent to which I am, at heart, an Evangelical who believes in Marriage…
I am Evangelical enough to believe that Christ is, in fact, risen and we are, actually, his body in the world, charged in Matthew 28 to be good news to the whole creation, by observing his commands. He didn’t say “keep everything the same” let alone “suppress gays.” He did say “Love your neighbour as yourself” and “Judge not that ye be not judged.” He did say “take the beam out of your eye before you try and remove the mote from someone else’s” and “Love as I have loved you.”
Is there anything unclear about any of that? I don’t think so.’
There was also support for more engagement by the Bishop of Salisbury, who in a speech on Saturday said,
‘Increasingly, there is an evangelical imperative for the Church to recognise that covenantal same sex relationships can be Godly and good for individuals and society; that they are at least like marriage for heterosexuals, and this is a development that many Christians in good faith warmly welcome.’
Not everyone has welcomed these statements however. Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust issued a statement this week entitled “Evangelical Groups accuse rebel liberal bishops of bully-boy tactics and neo-paganism”!
The common theme of all the senior figures who have spoken out this week is the call to engage in theological discussion and prayerful reflection to what is a genuine pastoral issue – how the church can welcome and support faithful committed same-sex partnerships.