Gay unions should be marked by special church services as an act of worship, a new report by the Church of England recommends.
Listen to comments from Sir Joseph Pilling, who chaired the review
The Church claims that such services would not be “blessings” or part of “liturgy”, but others say it would mark a huge shift away from the Bible’s teaching.
The report also calls for the Church to repent for its failure to tackle “homophobia”, but warns against using the word to label people who disagree with homosexual conduct.
The document is the result of a review of Church teaching on human sexuality by a panel of bishops, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling.
It will not become official Church of England policy unless approved by the General Synod and House of Bishops.
The 224-page report warns against “attempting to pronounce definitively on the implications of Scripture for homosexual people”.
But the Bishop of Birkenhead Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, who was involved in preparing the report, said he could not agree with all its conclusions.
And vicar and blogger Peter Ould, said: “The problem with the recommendations as they stand is that they give priests a carte-blanche to have public services affirming sexual relationships outside of marriage”.
He added that the report, “simply doesn’t know how to handle men and women like myself who, despite not being heterosexual, have made tough choices to fashion our lives in line with the biblical truth”.
“By permitting church services to affirm sexual relationships, the Church of England is effectively abandoning those of us who have struggled to follow traditional Christian practice and telling us that we have made the wrong choice”, he continued.
Julian Mann, another Anglican blogger and vicar, has said: “In humbled dependence upon Almighty God, and conscious of our own sin and weakness, we as orthodox Anglicans must oppose the conduct of services of same-sex blessing. These are contrary to God’s word and dishonour Christ.
“We must oppose such services instead of consulting about them. The day these services come into use in the Church of England will be a terrible day for the Gospel.”