Anglican Bishops "we are not of a common mind" on same sex blessings

and Archbishop Glenn Davies view

Here is a statement from the Anglican Church in Australia. The Archbishop of Sydney has also made comments in a letter to the ministers of his diocese – and we reproduce some of his comment underneath the House of Bishop’s statement.

This statement was agreed to at a meeting of the House of Bishops on 20 November 2020.

Members of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia have heard and participated in the complex and often painful discussions about gender and sexual identity in recent years. We recognise that gender and sexuality are deeply significant in people’s experience, their sense of identity, their lives and the loving relationships that shape and sustain them.

We express our gratitude to the members of the Appellate Tribunal for their investment of time and thought and for the many individuals and groups who have made submissions concerning decisions of the Synods of the Dioceses of Wangaratta and Newcastle to enable the liturgical blessing of couples who have been married according to the Marriage Act 1961, including same-sex couples.

We recognise that the Appellate Tribunal Opinions affirm it is possible for clergy, in some contexts, to exercise this ministry. It does not authorise Anglican clergy to officiate at weddings other than those between a man and a woman.

We recognise these are issues that affect people profoundly. Consequently, there will be a variety of deeply felt and sincerely held responses to the Appellate Tribunal Opinions. Members of the House of Bishops have variously received requests to restrain clergy from exercising this ministry and, on the other hand, to welcome the opportunity for this ministry. There is not a common voice. With pain we recognise that there is not a common mind on these issues within the House of Bishops. Yet we are of one heart and mind in love towards those with whom we disagree and in our desire to serve Christ and see God’s kingdom grow.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia, expected to meet in May-June 2021, will have the opportunity to address these issues as can Diocesan Synods and Councils.

In light of the above, this meeting of the House of Bishops calls all people, including ourselves, to holiness of life, and we resolve:

  •  to seek to speak the truth in love, mindful of Jesus’ prayer for His followers in John 17. In particular, we will publicly acknowledge areas of agreement as well as disagreement among us;
  • to engage with our Diocesan Synods and Councils as they consider the Opinions and any implications for their life and witness;
  • to prepare for the General Synod thoughtfully and prayerfully so we might have informed and careful discussions and debates;
  • to urge clergy within our dioceses to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in considering whether or how to bless those married according to the Marriage Act 1961;
  • to care for all people in our dioceses affected by these issues including those who identify as LGBTIQA+;
    to care for people who are questioning their ongoing participation in this Church for whatever reason.

We call upon all members of the Anglican Church of Australia to join us in prayer that we might be sustained by the Holy Spirit in unity, truth and holiness for the glory of God and the wellbeing of the world Christ calls us to serve.

Comments below by Glenn Davies, Archbishop of Sydney in a letter to his ministers. (This is linked in a story at which places it in the public sphere.)

Describing the decision of the Appellate Tribunal as “sobering news” Davies goes on to say “The Appellate Tribunal expressed their Opinion, by a 5 to 1 majority that the blessing of same-sex marriages was not inconsistent with the doctrine of our Church, as expressed in the Fundamental Declarations of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia.

“Under the Constitution, the members of the Appellate Tribunal are in certain circumstances required to consult the House of Bishops and the Board of Assessors (seven clergy elected by the General Synod for this purpose). In answer to questions addressed to these bodies by the Tribunal, unanimous reports from both the Diocesan Bishops and the Board of Assessors made it abundantly clear that the teaching of the Bible, and therefore of the Anglican Church, was that the sexual union of two persons of the same sex was sin. That is why clergy are forbidden to solemnise same-sex marriages, for to bless such a union would amount to the blessing of sin.

“The Appellate Tribunal chose not to heed this clear advice.

“Personally, I find this hard to fathom, as it is contrary to the teaching of the Bible, which clearly identifies marriage between a man and a woman as the only place where a sexual union is sanctioned by God (Hebrews 13:4). Sexual intercourse outside of marriage, whether it be adultery or fornication is widely condemned as immorality and attracts the harshest of condemnations in Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Jude 7; Revelation 22:15). While the world may deride our commitment to the standard of morality that God has established for his people, we have been called to holy and righteous living. In the 6th century BC Daniel warned his readers:

Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. (Daniel 12:10; cf Revelation 22:11) 

“In my opinion the effect of the majority opinion’s legal interpretation undermines the clear teaching of Scripture and thereby dishonours God.

“The Anglican Church in the Diocese of Sydney welcomes all people, regardless of their ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, or even their past behaviour and beliefs, since the message of the gospel is that those who belong to Christ are equal members of the Body of Christ. However, Christ has set us free to serve him in holiness and righteousness of life, which entails changed behaviour. Consider Paul’s exhortation concerning unchristian behaviour and every kind of impurity.

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24 

“For those who struggle with sexual temptations, our Church must be a safe haven, offering both the strength to resist temptation and the joy of Christian fellowship, because the grace of God covers a multitude of sins, just as the Spirit of God empowers us to repent of our sins and walk in newness of life.”


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