Thinking Anglicans

Reviewing Church of England policy on sexuality

Savi Hensman has written for Ekklesia about the recent statement by the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

The article is entitled Addressing sexuality truthfully in the Church of England.

The Church of England is to review its policies on sexuality. As in many other churches, there has been heated debate and deep hurt around this issue in the past. How can this controversial subject be tackled in a way that promotes greater understanding of one another and of God’s purposes?

Returning to the sexuality debate

On 1 July 2011, the Church of England’s House of Bishops issued ‘Civil partnerships and same-sex relationships’. By 2012, it will have reviewed its 2005 pastoral statement on civil partnerships. Until then, no clergy in such relationships will be considered as bishops. In 2013, it will issue a consultation document that examines human sexuality, in particular same-sex relationships, more generally.

Such a review is long overdue – the last major Church of England policy document on the subject, Issues in Human Sexuality, appeared two decades ago; and, even then, many thought it inadequate. (Indeed the main author, John Austin Baker, publicly changed his mind afterwards and eloquently made a theological case for accepting gay and lesbian partnerships.)

16
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
16 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
A J BarfordDavid ShepherdLaurence RobertsSavi Hensmanjnwall Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Father Ron Smith
Guest

Savi’s point – about the second thoughts of John Austin Baker on the acceptability of gays in the Church – must by now surely have been replicated in the enlightened understanding of many within the Church of England who have taken the time and effort to listen to the experience of the people most intimately involved, as being either gay or the immediate family of gays.

I hope and pray that the Bishops will be prepared to listen with ears and hearts open – this time.

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

A question for those who know the ins and outs of appointing bishops: Is it within the power of the HoB (all clergy, all male, all straight-at-least-officially), to make a ruling that no honestly gay person can be appointed to their sacred company until they have studied the issue over the next two years? Or is this just a suggestion?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Sara I don’t think that is quite what has been said. The HoB said two things I think: 1. They were going to review their policy on whether clergy in a civil partnership should be allowed to be nominated as bishops, timescale report in 2012 2. They were going to review their entire policy on sexuality, timescale for report 2013. That said, your question is a good one. I suggest that the House of Bishops can indeed express its opinion on this, but has no formal power to put such a policy into effect. That lies with the two archbishops… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Simon…what about suffragans? which I believe depends far more on a bishops nomination. Could a bolshy Diocesan Bishop X nominate gay cleric Y….would it be just another re-run of the Reading fiasco?

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

This review is long overdue. My impression is that the bishops have rather been forced into it because of the continuing pace of change within and outside the church when they would have preferred to continue their policy of doing nothing. The bullying around the Southwark process, followed by the leak of the legal advice have done the Bishops no favours at all and in the glare of the light of day their actions have been seen to be mean spirited and unChristian. The situation is parallelled by the Women bishops issue. It was obvious that the ordination of women… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

“Now the chickens of in-action are coming home to roost. The bishops have to grasp this nettle.” Nicely mixed metaphor to go with the morning coffee. Thanks Richard.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

Y’alls bishops sound like they think that if they delay long enough, glbt people will leave the C of E, so they won’t have to decide anything. Now, women bishops will take longer to [pardon the expression] stonewall, but your guys seem to have nothing better to do than stall and delay and twiddle their thumbs. Too bad,

JeremyP
Guest
JeremyP

HE??? Savitri is a She, please, Richard.

A J Barford
Guest
A J Barford

“the biblically based hardliners who continuously threaten to take their money elsewhere?” – Richard Ashby

Hang on a minute, Richard. You say “biblically based”? Things have come to a pretty pass if even the “biblically based hardliners” resort to extortion above truth.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

What a compelling statement of the truth, from
Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 10:11am

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Aopologies to Savitri.

jnwall
Guest
jnwall

You don’t really expect this review to produce any change in the CofE’s policy or practices, do you?

I expect hypocrisy to prevail, or, to put it another way, for coercion from the Right to prevail.

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

No problem, Richard.

jnwall, I believe that, if enough people make it clear to the bishops that truth-seeking should be given higher priority than political expediency, the review may be of value.

David Shepherd
Guest

In respect of the announced review, I’m not enshrouded by the collective cloud of clerical cynicism in this comment thread. Sure, the outcome will be as much of an unsatisfactory compromise as the result of the 30-year long debate on Divorce and Re-Marriage. However, in the end, it will be seen as clear, though limited progress by many liberal commentators.  We can also look forward to an exciting two-year festival of theological gymnastics, so all front-line debaters will have to develop their discourse to attain supple, sharp supremacy and refine their responses to achieve olympian flexibility. I doubt that any… Read more »

A J Barford
Guest
A J Barford

“an unsatisfactory compromise” – David Shepherd

A more accurate analogy would be the Act of Synod.

“In 1993 the General Synod of the Church of England passed the Act of Synod, which arranged for special bishops to oversee those who would not accept women priests. This book argues that the act was a disaster and has damaged the image of the church.” – Monica Furlong RIP

Therefore no compromises, please. A clear decision one way or the other so we all know where we stand. Peter Ould is right about this.