'Chastity' motion passes at the Anglican Synod that says sex is reserved for marriage

A second statement sponsored by the Sydney Diocese in support of a conservative view of sexuality has been approved in the Anglican General Synod.

The House of Laity (unordained delegates) voted to support the statement 62 to 48, joined by the House of Clergy (ministers) by 59 votes to 39. The House of Bishops voted 12 to 11 to support the statement

Australian Anglican General Synod 2022

Bishop Michael Stead (South Sydney) moved that the Synod adopt a “definition of unchastity” to mean sexual activity outside a marriage relationship.

The result means the Synod has upheld the church’s traditional teaching that sex is reserved for marriage.

Stead moved that the Synod adopt this statement: “The General Synod states that it continues to hold the historical view that unchastity means sexual intimacy outside a marriage relationship, (which is) defined in the Book of Common Prayer as the union of one man and one woman, in accordance with Jesus’ teaching about marriage in Matt 19:4-5.”

While society has accepted de facto marriage and same-sex marriage, this statement says the church continues to uphold man-woman marriage as the only place for sexual activity.

Seconding the motion, Seak-King Huang said, “From time to time we need to confirm and reconfirm the meaning of words… If we don’t do that, we run the risk of moving away from what we believe.”

“From time to time we need to confirm and reconfirm the meaning of words… If we don’t do that, we run the risk of moving away from what we believe.” – Seak-King Huang

She pointed out that the legal rules of interpretation meant that canons (laws) of the church held the traditional meaning. Unchastity is an offence in the canons – it could affect the clergy.

Ruth Mathieson of Adelaide said: “I rise to oppose this motion because it has too strong a reliance on Matthew 19,” pointing out that these words are not in Luke or Mark. “The teaching in Matthew 19 is not central to the teaching of Christ.”

Earlier this afternoon, Dean Peter Catt of Brisbane introduced a motion on climate change that noted urgent action was needed to keep the 1.5-degree target alive. The islands of the Torres Strait and Tuvalu would otherwise disappear, he said.

“Christians must act,” said Karin Sowada (Sydney). “Devastated coral reefs and reduced fishing stocks are real. People are having to move to higher ground,” she said, referring to the effect on Pacific peoples.

The effects of payments for historic sexual abuse cases and rising costs led to a plea for two regional bishops, Keith Joseph of North Queensland and Greg Anderson from the Northern Territory, for aid for regional dioceses. Joseph revealed that the cost of insuring the Cathedral was more than the cost of the ministry. Sexual abuse cases mean that the North Queensland diocese will be out of funds in five years. He plans to separately incorporate parishes to allow them to survive if the diocese drowns in debt.

Singleness and Apologies

Conservatives at the General Synod have moved a motion to apologise for bullying and other mistreatment of LGBTIQA persons.

The statement moved by Peter Lin, a regional bishop in Sydney, reads: “General Synod –

1.    Deplores and condemns any behaviour that is disrespectful, hurtful, intentionally insensitive, bullying or abusive, and recognises and rejoices in the image of God as reflected in every human being, regardless of race, social circumstances, creed or sexual identity, and apologises to and seeks forgiveness from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) persons whom we have treated in this way.

2.    Commits itself to fostering churches and fellowships where compassion and grace abound and where the love of God is expressed to all, so that our churches and ministries are welcoming, safe and respectful of all people ”

Seconder Kate Beer from the Northern Territory said, “Listening to people around the synod, I feel Sorry. It is good to say sorry.

A progressive amendment was withdrawn, with delegates seeking common ground rather than adding to the division already experienced today.

Clinical Psychologist and Bishop Katie Prowd of Melbourne said that research shows how sexual minorities are marginalised. She hoped that her daughter could walk into any church and be seen as bearing the image of God.

The motion passed on the voices: there was no need to use electronic voting.

Danielle Treweek from Sydney moved a motion to “affirm, honour encourage and love” our single sisters and brothers. Treweek received her doctorate in a “Theological Retrieval of Singleness for the Contemporary Church.” She spoke of unspoken reluctance to honour singleness.

Rhys Bezzant of Melbourne, describing himself as single, same-sex attracted and leading a chaste life, described singleness as a treasure the church could offer Australia.

This motion will pass tomorrow.