Updated to add Ugandan statement
Reform has issued this press release: Reform Response to the US Episcopal Church Resolution on Marriage
July 7th, 2015
The Episcopal Church in the USA redefined the definition of marriage and approved liturgy for the blessing of same-sex marriages.
Reform shares the Archbishop of Canterbury’s deep concern about the stress this action will cause the Anglican Communion. We echo his call to respond to the Lord Jesus’ prayer for his followers, that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17.21).
Jesus’ prayer for unity was “for those who will believe in me through [the apostles’] message.” (John 17.20). The unity for which Jesus prays is built on the foundation of the teaching he revealed and entrusted to his apostles, recorded for us in the Scriptures. Jesus is not silent on the definition of marriage. “Haven’t you read,” he said to the religious leaders who sought to redefine marriage in his own day, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19.4-5)
In rejecting this definition of marriage, the bishops of the US Episcopal Church have rejected Jesus’ own teaching. As such, they have denied the faith they profess to teach, forfeiting any right to be regarded as true bishops of the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus warned us to “watch out for false prophets” who come in his name (Matthew 7.15, 22)
Their actions will entrench still further the division in the Anglican Communion. We are grieved at their dishonouring of Jesus’ name. We are distressed by their discouragement of faithful believers, especially those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who live in cultures where pronouncements from liberal Western church leaders endanger their lives and discredit their witness to Jesus Christ.
We stand with faithful Anglicans in the US and around the world, who continue to pray to Almighty God: “grant, that all they who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love.” (Book of Common Prayer).
GAFCON has issued this press release: TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’.
TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’
A Response to The Episcopal Church of the United States’ (TEC) decision to make ‘Same – Sex Marriage’ official
The recent decision of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, to remove reference to gender in the marriage canon and introduce rites for conducting ‘same-sex marriage’, is a mistake with serious consequences.
The problems for the rest of the Anglican Communion have already been noted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the fundamental reason that it is a mistake – and the reason why it is so destabilizing – is that it is a significant departure from Holy Scripture. This is a departure which Christians are not at liberty to make.
With this action, TEC has officially rejected the Anglican Communion’s standard, Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which expresses the Communion’s received and historic understanding of marriage and sexual relationships. TEC has now taken the pattern of behaviour which Lambeth describes as ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and equated it with Holy Matrimony.
It may be claimed that TEC is modelling ‘two integrities’, but the Church of God finds its integrity in teaching and living according to the received Word of God. The determination of TEC to press ahead with changes which ignore the serious concerns of many others in the Communion, in some cases for their physical safety, shows very clearly the inadequacy of initiatives designed to create reconciliation without repentance.
The recent decision of the United States Supreme Court that claims ‘same sex marriage’ is a constitutional right puts pressure on all churches in the United States, but in different ways all of our Provinces face the temptation to compromise with the surrounding culture. It is within this context that we commend the Anglican Church in North America for their willingness to speak with courage, truth, and charity. Being part of a global Communion should always be such a source of mutual encouragement to faithful witness, not a source of hurt to that witness.
The GAFCON movement remains totally committed to the renewal of this global witness and the restoration of its integrity, knowing that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that all need to hear the good news of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ. It welcomes and recognizes Anglicans who through no fault of their own have had to disaffiliate from their original province over serious matters of biblical truth. The struggle and spirit of the remnant church must be kept alive.
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya and Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria and Vice Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council
6th July 2015
The Archbishop of Uganda has also issued a statement: Abp’s Statement on same-sex marriage in TEC and USA. The full text is copied below the fold.
Archbishop of Uganda’s statement
The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America to change the definition of marriage is grievous. There is a saying, “When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.” As a religious leader in Uganda, I want to assure all Ugandans that we will do everything we can to promote the good moral health of our people and resist such immoral viruses that may try to infiltrate our people.
Likewise, the most recent decision of the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) to change the definition of marriage is even more grievous. At best, it sprang from a desire to extend pastoral care to members of its church who experience same-sex attraction. Pastoral care, however, that is contrary to the Bible’s message is, ultimately, cruel and misleading.
The Church of Uganda broke communion with the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) in 2003 when they unilaterally changed the received Biblical and moral teaching of the Anglican Communion on ordination. The Primates of the Anglican Communion unanimously agreed – including the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church – that, should TEC proceed with the consecration as Bishop of a divorced father of two living in a same-sex relationship, it would tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level, which is exactly what has happened over the past twelve years.
In spite of TEC’s 2006 resolution that expressed their “regret” at “straining” the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion, they have, nonetheless, continued their march toward dismantling the Christian faith and morals, culminating in their recent decision to change the definition of marriage – something that was “given by God in creation.”
Likewise, Jesus said, “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10.6-9).
The definition and meaning of marriage is not something that can be defined by voting. It is something that is given by God in general revelation and in special revelation, and it is for us as human beings and, especially, the Church, to simply receive and follow. The fact that 2+2 equals 4 cannot be changed by a vote or decree. Neither can the meaning of marriage between a man and a woman be changed by a vote.
What St. Paul wrote to Timothy is as relevant today as it was almost 2,000 years ago. “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (2 Timothy 4.3-4)
The Church of Uganda was blessed to play a small role in the creation of the Anglican Church in North America as an alternative and biblically faithful Anglican Church in North America. Through our GAFCON fellowship, a number of Archbishops from Global South Provinces recognized the validity of the Anglican Church in North America, and we support them in their resolution to promote healthy and spiritually strong families and marriages between one man and one woman.
Sadly, the so-called “Instruments of Communion” in the Anglican Communion have not been able to restore godly order to the Communion, nor do they seem to have the will to do so. While we despair at the path TEC has taken and their imperialist commitment to export it to the rest of the Anglican Communion, we do not lose hope. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13.8) “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4.5)
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop of Church of Uganda.
7th July 2015