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a look back to 1997

At York in 1997, General Synod debated a motion on Issues in Human Sexuality put forward as a Private Member’s Motion by the Archdeacon of Wandsworth, David Gerrard:

That this Synod

(a) commend for discussion in dioceses the House of Bishops’ report “Issues in Human Sexuality” and acknowledge it is not the last word on the subject;

(b) in particular, urge deanery Synods, clergy chapters and congregations to find time for prayerful study and reflection on the issues addressed by the report.

This motion was eventually passed, unamended. The voting was:

HOUSE AYES NOES
Bishops 44 0
Clergy 187 38
Laity 150 88

Before that, three amendments were due to be considered. None was passed, and this outcome was ensured by the 44 members of the House of Bishops present voting unanimously against all amendments.

The details of the amendments and voting thereon is below the fold.

Text of the failed amendments

Amendment 1

Mr Geoffrey Locke (Lichfield) to move as an amendment:

Leave out all words after “That this Synod” and insert the words “in the light both of its 1987 resolution on sexual morality and of its responsibility to the Anglican Communion,

(a) welcome the Biblical discussion basic to the House of Bishops’ report Issues in Human Sexuality,

(b) welcome also the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Preface to the report;

(c) reaffirm that God’s calling to all people requires chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it; and

(d) reaffirm also that the Gospel requires the Church both to welcome those who fall short of this standard and to hold before all its members, lay and ordained, the call to live by it.”

Vote on this amendment:
HOUSE AYES NOES
Bishops 0 44
Clergy 50 177
Laity 114 123

Amendment 2

Canon Paul Oestreicher (Coventry) to move as an amendment:

Add at the end of paragraph (b) the words “having particular regard to the relationship between holy scripture and the continuing guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

This amendment was not moved.

Amendment 3
The Reverend Stephen Trott (Peterborough) to move as an amendment:

Add at end

“(c) and affirm the statement made by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his address to Virginia Theological Seminary on 10 February 1997 viz:

These days it is in the area of human sexuality that some of our most intractable problems have to be worked out. Anglicanism with its rich theology of comprehensiveness is an ideal context to wrestle with these questions. But comprehensiveness does not mean relativism; it does not mean that there is no objective truth to be found. Anglicanism is committed to a Biblical, credal and historic faith and that is the context in which we debate issues which go to the heart of human identity … I do not find any justification, from the Bible or the entire Christian tradition, for sexual activity outside marriage. Thus, same sex relationships in my view cannot be on a par with marriage and the Church should resist any diminishing of the fundamental ‘sacramentum’ of marriage. Clergy especially must model relationships that commend the faith of Christ.

Vote on this amendment:
HOUSE AYES NOES
Bishops 0 44
Clergy 59 157
Laity 108 119

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Andrew Brown
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Interesting, I suppose, to see that there was a certain amount of double-think going on even then: the Virginia Theological Seminary was being fed a line that the General Synod wouldn’t accept. Whether it would do so now is another matter.