The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England welcomes the publication of Living in Love and Faith and the other resources produced by the LLF project. We share its hope for a constructive and respectful dialogue within the Church of England between those of different views on human sexuality and relationships, and look forward to being part of that dialogue.
At the same time we recognize the urgent need for change in the Church’s current official doctrines and practices to bring about justice for and affirmation of LGBTI+ Christians, so that we can genuinely be a church of the “radical Christian inclusion” promised by the Archbishops. Only thus can we be true to the good news of the Kingdom of God, and only then will we deserve to be listened to by ordinary people, especially the young, who cannot respect a body that is so clearly prejudiced against LGBTI+ people and that discriminates against them and harms them.
This is no easy task for the Church, bitterly divided as we now are. We have no desire to aggravate that division, and we respect the consciences of those who sincerely believe same-sex relationships to be wrong. The changes we are calling for will not force anyone to act against their conscience or beliefs – and we ask those who don’t share our vision to give the same respect to us and to our consciences and beliefs.
Our engagement with LLF
We will always try to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit as we try to convince our brothers and sisters of the merits of our inclusive approach, using fair arguments and avoiding ad hominem attacks. But we won’t hold back on calling out hypocrisy, injustice, false interpretations of Scripture, or abusive words and practices. We have Jesus’s example to follow on that.
In engaging with LLF we will recognize and support the many elements of the resources that we believe to be good and helpful – especially the inclusion of the lived experience of LGBTI+ Christians. We will encourage the Church to build on these elements and to ensure that the ‘Next Steps‘ process takes them fully into account.
We will also engage in constructive criticism of the aspects of the LLF resources that we believe to be erroneous or misleading. It would have been better if this outside review could have happened before Living in Love and Faith was published, so that we and other groups could have questioned and corrected the materials that fall short of the academic and pastoral standard that LLF aspires to. From the responses that have already emerged it is clear that there are such problematic areas: historical inaccuracies, theological weakness, lack of biblical scholarship, lack of awareness of Christian ethical frameworks, inattention to the roots of sexual abuse in the Church, illogical thinking and unrecognized bias.
We don’t wish to exaggerate the problems, but these serious issues must be remedied if we are to move forward as a Church on a sound basis. If the problems are ignored – for example, by treating Living in Love and Faith as a ‘done deal’ that must be accepted as it is – the way forward will be cluttered with stumbling-blocks and the chances of success greatly reduced. We hope and pray that our contributions to the discussion will help to make ‘the uneven ground smooth and the twisted paths straight’.