Archbishops' response to LGBTI activist is a 'missed opportunity'
The Church of England has published a reply, to a letter from Jayne Ozanne, Director of LGBTI campaign group Accepting Evangelicals, and co-signatories.
The letter, which was written by the Archbishop of York on behalf of himself and the Archbishop of Canterbury, responds to Ms Ozanne's claim that the Church of England has failed its 'duty of care' to LGBTI members of the Anglican Church.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern and a member of the General Synod, has issued the following response:
The Archbishops are right to recognise that the Church's position on marriage and the Church's engagement with those facing same sex attraction are two distinct issues.
We are surprised that the Archbishops, in a letter about repentance, make no mention of repentance from sexual practice outside of one man, one woman marriage.
What we are seeing within the Anglican Communion is a persistent push to redefine God's teaching on marriage.
This letter was another opportunity for the Archbishops to demonstrate appropriate leadership by reaffirming and promoting God's clear vision for marriage. Instead the letter suggests that the fundamental issue is an 'ongoing conversation' as yet unresolved, implicitly suggesting that God has been unclear.
The role of the Archbishops is not to facilitate conversation but to teach the truth, refute error and discipline those who depart from God's pattern in either teaching or lifestyle.
Yet not once did the Archbishops speak of the need for repentance of homosexual practice.This was a missed opportunity to reaffirm gospel truth.
Creating such ambiguity is profoundly unloving, especially to those who experience same-sex attraction but want to live in accordance with God's teaching.
The gospel is for all of us and we each of us, as sinners, need to submit to God's good pattern. God meets us where we are, in whatever state of brokenness we are in - but He loves us enough not to leave us there.
By shifting further towards compromise of the teaching of Scripture, the Church affirms man’s word for the cultural moment as sovereign, rather than recognising the absolute authority of God’s unchanging Word.
This letter positions the Archbishops not as God’s representatives but as brokers between human desires, as dictated by the culture.
Rather than preaching God’s Word, the Archbishops risk apologising for God, and the faithful church.
Salvation, then is no longer seen as regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Spirit, being transformed and conformed to God's Word by the renewing of our minds, but salvation by revolution. This promotes the idea that man is saved 'in his sins', rather than 'from his sins.'
Framed as it is, this ‘conversation’ is not ultimately about human sexuality, but about biblical authority.
It must be stated again that the Bible is unambiguous about human sexual conduct, including the sinful character of all sexual practice outside heterosexual marriage
But since the beginnings of the sexual revolution in particular, social and political pressures have sadly influenced church leaders to simply echo the voices of sexual revolutionaries.
Anyone standing on biblical faith is seen, by a number of self-identified 'Anglicans', as an oppressor denying human rights, clinging to an outmoded tradition.
Yet in fact, they are defenders of the truth, which is that all sexual activity outside of one man, one woman marriage requires confession and repentance, leading to healing, restoration and transformation through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The letter seems to indicate that there is already acceptance of homosexuality within the Anglican Church. The matter, then, is already decided, and the 'conversation' is merely a matter of persuading those defending ‘tradition’ to either concede or be isolated – in the name of 'unity'.
Through capitulation to the surrounding culture, the church is being reduced to a social institution whose greatest priority is remaining 'intact'. Yet the teaching of God's Word and the faithful administration of the sacrament involves the loving discipline of unrepentant habitual offenders.
There can be no true preaching of the Gospel when the message is corrupted by compromise through efforts to appease secular culture.
The Church must stand firm on its teaching on marriage, not capitulate further to pressure in order to maintain a forced 'unity'.
The disobedience of LGBTI activists within the church, we must remember, does not mean the irrelevance or impotence of God. The sovereign Lord's purposes will be accomplished, and this crisis may well be His way to clear the debris of man's disobedience in order to rebuild His Church, with a people who will bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.
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