More than 80 evangelical leaders in the UK have written to Anglican bishops saying that the church must not alter her practice or teaching on homosexuality, arguing that it would mark a departure from their “apostolic inheritance” and the moral teachings of the Bible.
The letter which is signed by 83 leaders from different churches and organisations, states: “The Bible is clear that God has given the marriage of one man with one woman as the only context in which physical expression is to be given to our sexuality. We believe that we flourish, whether single or married, as our lives are brought into harmony with God’s intended design.
“Any change in the Church’s teaching or practice – such as the introduction of provisions that celebrate or bless sexual relationships outside of a marriage between one man and one woman – would represent a significant departure from our apostolic inheritance and the authority of the Bible in matters of faith and doctrine. It would also, inevitably, be a further step on a trajectory towards the full acceptance of same-sex sexual partnerships as equivalent to male-female marriage.”
The letter follows two previous letters to bishops from members of the Church of England’s General Synod, which urged the Church to uphold biblical teaching on this issue.
The latest letter also concedes that the Church of England has not always handled issues surrounding sexuality well. It states: “We recognise the damage caused by judgmental attitudes. We have sometimes failed to recognise acts of great kindness and humanity. We have elevated some sins above others. We have ignored the plank in our own eye. There is much work ahead, not least in ensuring that our communities offer sacrificial hospitality and service to all, regardless of background, family structure or sexuality. At the same time, we remain convinced of the essential goodness of the Christian moral vision.”
The authors of the letter warn that a change in teaching or practice regarding sexuality would cause division in the Anglican Communion.
“Any further changes to practice or doctrine in these important areas will set the Church on a path of fundamental disunity. It would cause a break not only with the majority of the Anglican Communion, but with the consistent mind of the worldwide Church down many centuries. It will trigger a process of division and fragmentation among faithful Anglicans in England. Responses would vary, but the consequences for the life and mission of the Church will be far-reaching, both nationally and globally.
“We ask our bishops to commit to a renewed vision of a welcoming Church in which all hear the good news of the Gospel, all are invited to repent and receive the grace of God, and all are called as followers of Jesus to live out the Christian moral vision– in lives of self-sacrifice and mutual care – for the common good.”
During an address in September to the Mothers’ Union at Winchester Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said that new family structures, including same sex unions, are now a reality “whether we agree or not” in a sermon which rejected the idea of a Victorian golden age of family values as a “myth”.
A full list of all the signatories can be found here.