C of E evangelicals: God’s Word is clear on marriage

Evangelical ministers in the Church of England have given their strong support for the Biblical definition of marriage, following controversial comments by a Bishop.

The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, said last week that the Church of England’s definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman was “lousy”.

But evangelical Church of England (C of E) ministers have said such statements are unbiblical.

Call to resign

Dr Wilson made the remarks at an employment tribunal where a clergyman in a same-sex marriage is claiming the C of E has discriminated against him.

The Bishop has backed same-sex marriage for a number of years, recording a video in 2012 for a campaign group supporting the redefinition.

Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford, was one of the ministers to raise concerns.

He said the sensible option for any leader who publicly speaks out against their organisation is to resign.

Invent own doctrine

“He must be in a very difficult position, and if he finds that he now doesn’t support this view on a fundamental matter of marriage by the organisation he is called to serve and to lead, obviously he should resign”, Revd Roberts told BBC Radio Oxford.

Revd Will Stileman, Vicar of St Mary’s Church in Maidenhead, also expressed sadness at the Bishop’s stance. He said: “The version of marriage he espouses is incompatible with Biblical Christianity”.

And Revd Simon Austen, another evangelical minister, commented that no denomination is “at liberty to invent its own doctrine”.

He added: “We cannot be authentically Christian whilst simultaneously rejecting the teaching of the one we claim to follow.” Their comments came in a joint press release from Reform and the Oxford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship.

Forgiveness through Jesus

The press release criticised the C of E for not giving “the clear message of the Gospel that despite our rejection of his ways we are all loved by God and can find forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ”, in the wake of the Bishop’s comments and other recent events.

At last week’s tribunal, the Bishop of Buckingham was asked about the Church’s teaching on marriage. He said: “It’s not that I don’t think it’s true, or the canons of England should not be followed, all I say is it’s a lousy definition, if it cannot tell you who is and who is not married.”