Sydney Anglicans get personal for Christians with same-sex attraction

Living Faith is a new initiative by the Sydney Anglican diocese (region) that aims “to better minister to Christians navigating same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria”.

The independent Liberty Ministries had been operating in this space but now plans to wind down, as Living Faith goes forward in the diocese.

In a comment on its website, Liberty’s committee and staff said they believed it made sense “for this kind of pastoral ministry to be done under denominational supervision going forward, rather than through a small, stand alone structure”.

About two weeks before Living Faith’s launch last month, the Victorian Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill was passed, influencing the public atmosphere around how Christian ministry interacts with sexuality.

As the Living Faith homepage explains, it “will be guided by the relevant Anglican doctrine statements, policies, guidelines and resources. This includes the Synod Resolution of 2018 on Pastoral Care which noted that ‘the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Sydney does not practise, recommend or endorse ‘gay conversion therapy’.”

According to the website, Living Faith will offer pastoral ministry one-to-one or in small groups, as well as education to churches about how they can also provide pastoral care in this area. “Living Faith offer(s) biblical encouragement and support to Christian men and women who experience same-sex attraction or gender incongruence so that they might walk in a way that is faithful to Christ, and it will also assist in pastoring families, spouses, friends and churches.”

In the “What We Believe” section, Living Faith states it is a “ministry committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible as God’s revealed word. Scripture teaches that sex is God’s gift to humanity, only to be expressed within the marriage of a man and a woman. The gospel of Jesus Christ experienced in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit gives believers the power to resist sin and live godly lives as disciples of Christ …”

“Our goal is not heterosexuality, but rather, being transformed by God into the image of Christ.” – Living Faith

“Nothing is specifically said [in the Bible] about people losing their same-sex attractions when they believe in Christ. The Bible speaks about a change of identity — being washed clean from sin, consecrated to God, and established in a new relationship with God in Christ … We also believe that human experience is varied, that every individual’s journey from conception onwards is unique, and that God is not bound to act according to our expectations but is free to act according to his sovereign and gracious will.

“Some with same-sex attraction testify to ending up in happy, sexually fulfilling heterosexual marriages. However, such an experience should not be our goal.

“Our goal is not heterosexuality, but rather, being transformed by God into the image of Christ.”

In a promotional video on the Living Faith site, Kanishka Raffel, Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral, said: “[Sydney Anglicans] have had a certain profile in the public square in standing for a biblical sexual ethic and I think now it’s important to have a personal engagement.”

“These are real people, in our pews, and we need to be able to respond to them in a biblically compassionate and informed way.”

Living Faith ministry is not to be confused with the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ resources released this year by the Church of England, which aim to help its members “discern a way forward in relation to matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage”.

While Living Faith is a part of the Sydney Anglican Diocese, its doors are open to those outside the denomination, be they individuals, families or churches and Christian education institutions.

Living Faith and the Sydney Anglican Diocese declined to be interviewed by Eternity.

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