Updated Saturday morning
We last reported on this subject on 13 December: Conservatives react strongly to CofE gender transition guidance. Since then, further strongly worded criticisms have continued to appear, as witness this set of letters in the Church Times dated 21 December (authors include Ian Paul and Lee Gatiss again, and also the Archdeacon of Hastings). (For more general continuing criticism from conservatives, see Anglican Mainstream’s later roundup updated to 27 December: Transgender latest).
Today’s Church Times changes the tone, with several responses to the previous letters, most significantly the first letter, from the Bishop of Chester:
Sir, — The fuss over the pastoral guidance in relation to transgendered people is being overdone (Letters, 21/28 December).
Nearly 20 years ago, the House of Bishops received the recommendation from a working party chaired by the then Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, that being transgendered should not in principle be an impediment to being considered for ordination. There was a full debate in the House. Individual bishops might decline to sponsor candidates, but the overall mind of the House was clear.
Many important questions arise over the attitudes in modern society towards serious questions of human and sexual identity, but the principle of the welcome to transgendered people in the life of the Church was settled some time ago.
The other responses on that page are also worth reading.
But Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the Gafcon Primates Council, is unlikely to heed Dr Forster’s advice. In his Chairman’s Epiphany Letter, he writes:
…In the Church of England, just before Christmas, this process reached the point where its bishops took the unprecedented step of giving official guidance for what they described as ‘services to help transgender people mark their transition’ and it will be incorporated into ‘Common Worship’ (a range of services authorised by General Synod).
The guidance states that ‘the House of Bishops commends the rite of Affirmation of Baptismal Faith as the central feature of any service to recognize liturgically a person’s gender transition’. A form of service which is intended to mark a renewed commitment to Christ and the new life we receive through him is instead used to celebrate an identity which contradicts our God-given identity as male and female (as affirmed by Jesus himself in Matthew 19:4) and is still controversial even in secular society.
Although Lambeth Resolution I.10 of 1998 did not directly address gender transition, by taking this step, the Church of England is rejecting biblical authority in a similar way to TEC and other revisionist Provinces which have permitted same sex marriage…