THE acceptance of same-sex relationships in the Church of England is not a “foregone conclusion”, the director of the Church Society, the Revd Dr Lee Gatiss, has said, in an article intended to strengthen the resolve of conservatives as the General Synod prepares to consider the next steps on sexuality.
Church Society, formed in 1950, is a conservative Evangelical group that declines to give any membership figures. In the article on its website last Friday, “Where next on same-sex marriage?”, Dr Gatiss sets out six options for the Church, now that the shared conversations on sexuality have been completed (News, 11 March). A “Bishops’ reflection group on sexuality” is preparing material to bring to the Synod in February for initial consideration (News, 23 September).
ll acceptance of gay marriage in church; and “pastoral accommodation” for gay couples, promoted by some as “a model of ‘good disagreement’”. These would involved “a full-scale change in the Church’s doctrine of sin, by stealth. It permits blessing for things which God does not bless.”
The adoption of the first two options are by no means “a foregone conclusion”, Dr Gatiss writes, since the number of “committed LGBT” activists on the Synod are “not as many as is often thought. . . There are many clearly opposed to their agenda, and a large number of potentially persuadable people in the middle, looking for . . . a positive way forward.”
Option three, “the status quo”, in which “lobbyists and activists . . . continue to push the boundaries”, is not “acceptable or stable as a solution”, Dr Gatiss says. Option four would mean that the Church’s doctrine of marriage would remain intact, but “proper discipline” enforced: it would be easier to remove clergy who have entered into same-sex marriages from their posts, and to bar people in same-sex marriages from ministry in the C of E. For consistency, discipline should also be exercised against “those who teach against canon law and the biblical doctrine of marriage”.
Option five takes option four a step further by including “the enforcement of proper discipline within the Anglican Communion as a whole”. This could include the “removal” of provinces that embrace same-sex marriage.
Option six adds to options four and five a “public call for the revisionists worldwide to repent”, securing their “ultimate salvation”.