The Church of England has approved a plan to offer prayers of blessing and affirmation for same-sex married couples despite its formal doctrine which upholds the Biblical definition of marriage between one man and one woman.
Following two days of intense debate this week, the General Synod of the Church of England voted Feb. 9 to “lament and repent of the failure of the Church to be welcoming to the LGBTQI+ people and the harm that LGBTQI+ have experienced and continue to experience in the life of the Church.”
Bishops in the Church of England will now begin refining texts and preparing new pastoral guidance on sexuality and marriage in the coming months before the prayers are formally commended for use in churches.
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who led the debate and chairs the group that oversaw the development of the proposals, said in a press release: “This is a moment of hope for the Church. I know that what we have proposed as a way forward does not go nearly far enough for many but too far for others. It is my prayer that what has been agreed today will represent a step forward for all of us within the Church—including LGBTQI+ people – as we remain committed to walking together. We have always said we will listen carefully to Synod, so over the next few months we will reflect on everything which has been said and prepare new pastoral guidance for the Church on matters of sexuality and marriage. We will also refine the texts of Prayers of Love and Faith.”
Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, expressed his disappointment on Facebook with the Church of England’s decision.
“Sin is disobedience to God’s Word,” Franklin wrote. “The Bible also calls it lawlessness. When the first man and woman disobeyed God, sin came into the world and it has infected the entire human race like a cancer of the soul. God sent His Son to pay the price for our sins. He took our sins to the cross where He died and shed His blood for our sins, and He was buried. And as we approach Easter, we are reminded that He rose from the grave, and He is alive! The next time He comes will be as a judge, to judge all mankind. The Bible tells us if we repent of our sins and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, we will be saved.
“The Church of England voted [Thursday] to ‘bless same-sex marriage.’ They use 1 John 4:16 to defend this lawless decree: ‘God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.’ They are interpreting that love = sex and love gives a license to have sex with whomever they say they love. This is not what God teaches. The Church of England is blessing sin. By doing this, they are attempting to nullify Christ’s atoning work on the Cross. Shame, shame, shame.”
The General Synod’s vote approving prayers of blessing for same-sex couples went accordingly: Bishops, 36-4, with two abstentions; Clergy, 111-85, with three abstentions; Laity, 103-92, with five abstentions.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said in a press release: “It has been a long road to get us to this point. For the first time, the Church of England will publicly, unreservedly and joyfully welcome same-sex couples in church.
“The Church continues to have deep differences on these questions which go to the heart of our human identity. As Archbishops, we are committed to respecting the conscience of those for whom this goes too far and to ensure that they have all the reassurances they need in order to maintain the unity of the Church as this conversation continues. We hope that today’s thoughtful, prayerful debate marks a new beginning for the Church as we seek a way forward, listening to each other and most of all to God. Above all we continue to pray, as Jesus himself prayed, for the unity of his church and that we would love one another.”
Calvin Robinson, an Anglican deacon in the separatist Free Church of England who has claimed his ordination in the Church of England was “snatched away” because of his conservative theological views, condemned “a clear fudging of the law” by clergy in a recent statement to Fox News Digital.
“Allowing the ‘blessing’ of same-sex relationships is essentially enabling the blessing of sin; that is dark,” Robinson added. “Christ taught us that we are all sinners but that we should repent, ask his forgiveness, and turn away from our sins. The Church is now attempting to undermine the Word of God by encouraging people to live in sin.”
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