The Church of England has been attacked by LGBT campaigners – including some of its own bishops – for stating it will stick to the biblical position on sexual morality.
A document released last week by the House of Bishops said marriage between one man and one woman has always been regarded as “central to the stability and health of human society”.
But some have objected to the Bishops’ declaration that sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage “are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings”.
In an open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, dissenters attacked the Church for holding to biblical teaching, and accused it of being “obsessed with sex”.
The signatories also claimed the Bishops’ statement “has significantly damaged the mission of the church”, and said the tone of the document was “offensive” and “uncaring of its impact on the millions of people it affects”.
The letter was signed by Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham; Jayne Ozanne, an LGBT activist and member of the General Synod, and a number of other prominent figures within the Church.
The signatories claim to feel “badly let down”, despite last week’s statement simply reiterating the Church’s formal and long-standing position on sexual ethics.
At their ordination, Church of England ministers vow to uphold the 39 Articles, which set out the Church’s position in a wide number of areas.
In its section on the authority of the Church, it says “it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another”.
Update: 31 January
Following the controversy, the Archbishops released a statement saying that they and the bishops “apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust”.
“We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused”, they added.
The Church of England told The Christian Institute the apology was for the timing of the statement, rather than its content.