Church of England Moves Toward LGBTQ Inclusivity

Church of England
Church of England
Courtesy of K. Mitch Hodge (Unsplash)

The Church of England recently moved one step closer to LGBTQ inclusivity. On Thursday, the governing body voted to allow the offering of blessings to same-sex couples after two days of intense debate. This modification comes one day after announcing the Church would explore using gender-neutral terms when referring to God in prayers.

Needless to say, reactions to these changes varied widely. According to NPR, the outcome was “a breakthrough, a flawed compromise, or an outright mistake.”

Ahead of the vote, the BBC reported that the Church did not reverse its rules against performing same-sex marriages. Instead, the congregation welcomes civilly married or committed same-sex couples. The amendment allows priests to offer these couples “prayers of dedication, thanksgiving, or God’s blessing.”

Faithful Divided Over Sexuality

Church of England
Courtesy of Maico Pereira (Unsplash)

Bishop of London Sarah Mullally said: “I know what we have proposed as a way forward does not go nearly far enough for many but too far for others. This is a moment of hope for the Church.”

Many people sought to amend the Church of England’s position on same-sex marriage. They wanted wedding ceremonies, not merely “wedding blessings.”

The Archbishop of Canterberry, Justin Welby, vowed not to give the same-sex marriage blessing despite voting in favor of the amendment.

Reverand Welby also warned Parliament he would ignore their threats. He promises to fight against the politicians who want to force the Church of England to marry same-sex couples in the church.

A spokesperson said Thursday’s vote “deeply saddened and profoundly grieved” the Church of England Evangelical Council. Furthermore, “The Church now appears set on a course of action that rejects our historical and Biblical understanding of sex and marriage.”

On the other hand, Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, declared the vote put the Church in a better place. He is “really pleased that we now will be able to bless same-sex couples who are faithfully living in a civil marriage or a civil partnership.” Reverend Cottrell added that this move is a way forward. Doing something differently “won’t be easy, but we are committed to it.”

Church of England Explores Altering God’s Gender Identity

Church of England
Courtesy of Tim Wildsmith (Unsplash)

A spokesperson for the Church said the Church of England is considering new alternative liturgies in which God is not presented as male. Some priests, primarily women, have pushed this campaign for decades.

But, after millennia of teachings and prayer, eliminating masculine pronouns such as Father and He during the liturgy would significantly change the Bible’s hierarchy.

Not only would altering the gender of God the Father and Jesus the Son of Man be a major shift, but it would be a Biblically worrisome one.

In Deuteronomy 4:2, God warned: “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you” (NIV).

In support of gender-neutralizing God, the Church of England told The Washington Post: “Christians have recognized since ancient times that God is neither male nor female.” However, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom, Protestants hold a different point of view. In their statement on “Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality,” Protestants “Believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God (Genesis 1:26-27).”

Re-Gendering God Disregards His Supremacy

Church of England
Courtesy of Daiga Ellaby (Unsplash+)

Church of England Reverand Joanna Stobart is a motivated force in support of the new commission. She said: “We hope that a proposal will be brought to the synod soon, as we believe that a theological misreading of God as exclusively male is a driver of much continuing discrimination and sexism against women.”

Theo Hobson, the author of “God Created Humanism: the Christian basis of Secular Values,” denounces the Church of England’s radical subset’s move to redefine Biblical gender. He says doing so “would be absurd for various reasons, including Jesus, for this is the key injustice: that God is seen as taking male form.”

The author also warns against the Chruch commission’s move toward gender equality because it links “God-as-male with institutional sexism. If that link is real, then Jesus must go.”

Finally, Hobson pointed out that the Church’s move toward gender-neutralizing God as it entails moving away from Judaism. It implies offering Him as an abstract idea is preferable.

It seems as though some Church of England clergy would like a God detached from the Bible’s “messy stories.” He further declares that this gender-norming would basically change the Heavenly Father into a Unitarian God.

What Might Jesus Say to The Church of England?

First and foremost, Jesus would remind Christians of His commandment to love their neighbor as He loved them. As a result, the Church’s responsibility includes welcoming all people, including LGBTQ and other socially disenfranchised groups. “We are called to become one community through Christ.”

As the Church of England and other Christian organizations move toward inclusivity, it is vital to remember that Jesus loves people but not their sins. Therefore, spiritual leaders must not whitewash or homogenize the life God calls all people to lead. Pastors and congregants must remain aligned with God’s love for humanity.

The Bible teaches that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Act 3:19-21; Romans 10:9-10; and Corinthians 6:9-11). Furthermore, Christians are called to emulate Jesus and treat every person with compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. (Mark 12:28-31 and Luke 6:31.)

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware


NPR: Church of England OKs blessings for same-sex couples, but it still won’t marry them; by Bill Chappell
Reuters: Church of England explores gender neutral God; by Muvija M
The Washington Post: Is God They/Them? Church of England considers gender-neutral pronouns. By Annabelle Timsit
BBC: Church of England to bless gay couples
The Guardian: MPs should not influence church on same-sex marriage, says Justin Welby; by Harriet Sherwood
Alliance Defending Freedom: A Legal Guide for Churches, Christian Schools, and Christian Ministries: Protestant Statement on Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality
Spectator: The problem with a gender-neutral God; by Theo Hobson

Featured and Top Image by K. Mitch Hodge Courtesy of Unsplash
First Inset Image by Tim Wildsmith Courtesy of Unsplash
Second Inset Image by Maico Pereira Courtesy of Unsplash
Third Inset Image by Daiga Ellaby Courtesy of Unsplash+

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