Speaking out for Sexual Holiness is the Responsibility of all REFORM members not just the same-sex attracted

By Julian Mann

www.virtueonline.org

The Council of Reform, the network of Church of England conservative evangelicals, is absolutely right to urge its members to stay out of the ‘shared conversations’ on sexuality following the Pilling Report. But the leadership needs to urge all its members and not just those who are same-sex attracted to contend for the definitive biblical teaching of the Church of England on sexual holiness.

The Council’s decision to stay out of the sexuality indaba came after the meeting of the College of Bishops in mid-September. The Bishops announced a new objective for the conversations – “to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another…(and) ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith”.

In the light of this, the Reform leadership has told the network that the indaba conversations are a ‘play fight’ followed by a ‘group hug’:

“Of course we need to ensure that our voice is heard but are the official ‘shared conversations’ the place to do this? There are 12 conversations with 60 people in each — a total of 720 individuals. These conversations will be controlled and must remain a ‘safe space’ for those expressing their views so it will be impossible to interrogate the false assumptions that are expressed by others…As the outcome of these discussions has largely been determined, we should perhaps see them as something of a ‘play fight’, which is followed by a ‘group hug’.”

The Reform leadership insists the decision to stay out “is not because we do not want to listen to the experiences of the LGBTIQ community; in fact many of our members would describe themselves as experiencing same-sex attraction”. Clearly, such members of Reform have an authoritative voice in this dispute. But because all communicant members of the Church of England should be owning its received teaching on sexual holiness, the responsibility to argue for biblical truth cannot be left to the same-sex attracted.

By God’s grace, the Church of England’s historic teaching remains clear and unequivocally biblical, as the Revd Stephen Keeble, Anglo-Catholic Vicar of St George’s, Headstone, has well expressed in an open letter to the chairman of Forward in Faith UK, Bishop Jonathan Baker.

Arguing against those who purport to “uphold the Church of England’s teaching on marriage in its canons and liturgy” and yet regard “the Church’s teaching on marriage as unrelated, in principle, to its position on same-sex relationships”, Stephen Keeble told Bishop Baker:

“This is wholly at variance with the historic and — as stated in Canon B 30 — definitive teaching of the Church of England in the Form of Solemnisation of Matrimony contained in the Book of Common Prayer which gives one of the purposes of marriage to be the avoidance of fornication by those ‘as have not the gift of continency’. Fornication — sexual intercourse outside marriage — is proscribed in Holy Scripture in both Old and New Testaments, and the teaching and discipline of the Church Catholic has always reflected this.”

In contending for the loving truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, Reform members, particularly those who teach the Bible in local churches, have a spiritual responsibility to argue for the Church of England’s biblical doctrine on God’s call to sexual holiness as courageously and faithfully as this Anglo-Catholic.

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK – www.oughtibridgechurch.org.uk

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.