Church of England Evangelical Council
From the Chairman The Venerable Michael Lawson St Matthias Day Statement
On the 30th November 1995, as the world celebrated St Andrew’s day, under the aegis of the CEEC, a group of British Biblical and moral theologians published a significant and widely welcomed contribution to the then debate on homosexuality within the church. It was received by many as a thoughtful, cogently argued and pastorally sensitive contribution to the discussions, and has been broadly referenced, read and re-read in the seventeen years since it was first published.
The church’s conversation on the theology and ethics of same sex relationships continues unabated. Sometimes good thinking has been marred by insensitive and occasionally homophobic attitudes. Other times, genuinely compassionate and inclusive attitudes have been weakened by a lack of biblical rigour, and a consequent misreading of the revealed mind of God.
Since 1995 social change, relational practice and ethical thinking within the church have undergone a notable transformation away from orthodox biblical thinking. Parallel to this is an increasingly comprehensive public avowal of homosexual practice greater than in any other time in our church and nation’s history. Now that the government has called for a public debate on same sex marriage, effectively involving a redefinition of marriage itself, the urgency of thoughtful, biblical discussion set in the context of the Anglican formularies, their commitments and hermeneutic is especially pressing.
The Church of England Evangelical Council offers this irenic, finely argued, biblically articulate monograph, set as it is in the rich context of foundational Anglican thinking, to engage all in our church of whatever persuasion. Like its predecessor it is notable for both its rigour and sensitivity, and for this we are deeply thankful for its authors’ humanity and scholarship. Of course there are other important matters such as equality and human rights that also require thorough biblical thinking and analysis; but before we address such issues, we believe it is important to restate and reaffirm classic, foundational Anglican teaching on this matter.
As a council we pray that engagement with this material will lead to deeper biblical discussion on an issue of great concern to God , and therefore for his church too. For that reason, and in the expectation and prayer for his Spirit’s enablement, we offer to the Anglican Church with its many constituencies, this St Matthias Day Statement.
St Matthias Day 14th May 2012
The following short statement seeks to help Anglicans understand our church’s teaching in the area of marriage and sexual relationships and its relevance today. It does so by providing a five-fold summary of that teaching based in Scripture and Anglican tradition. This teaching should be our guide if we are to remain faithful in our pastoral, prophetic and missional responsibilities and in our int