Put grace and truth at heart of C of E marriage debate, Evangelical Anglicans urge

Jesus Christ’s teaching on singleness and marriage should be followed by the Church of England in its decisions on sexuality, a group of Evangelical Anglicans say.

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) laid out key Bible verses as well as C of E documents to help ‘uncover deep Biblical truths at stake’ in the discussions.

It concluded by praying that the Church would not “turn away from its teaching on marriage, singleness and sex”.

Jesus’ example

The group highlighted that the apostles did not seek to compromise God’s command to be holy, and that Church law encourages leaders to “banish and drive away all erroneous and strange opinions”.

Sex is not a personal ‘right’ to be grasped or demanded.

Church of England Evangelical Council

Jesus’ example of being both a “friend of sinners” and upholding ethical teaching is a model “which the Church should always aim to follow”, the group said.

And the CEEC noted that Jesus and Paul both affirmed singleness as a “gracious gift from God”.

“Sex is not a personal ‘right’ to be grasped or demanded. It is a gracious gift ordained by our Creator—tied to His gift of marriage—which is to be ‘received with thanksgiving’ (1 Tim. 4:4), but only within the limits He has laid down.”

‘Spirit of repentance’

The group concluded with five points which it urged the C of E to consider, before noting that “we do so in a spirit of repentance for the ways we daily fail to practise the grace and truth that Jesus both preached and lived”.

The CEEC was formed by John Stott in 1960, and now includes figures such as the Bishop of Blackburn, Revd Hugh Palmer and Revd George Curry.

In March last year, the Bishops of Blackburn and Maidstone – Julian Henderson and Rod Thomas – called for a ‘rediscovery and reintroduction of the Bible’ after a controversial General Synod vote.

C of E members voted against the report which both backed the biblical definition of marriage and called for “maximum freedom” for homosexual people.

Following the vote, The Archbishops of Canterbury and York released a joint letter which called for “radical new Christian inclusion in the Church” and “a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual”.

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