Same-sex blessing decision will make God sad say evangelists
Weeks after the Church in Wales voted in favour of allowing blessing for same sex unions, an Evangelist group has decided that the move will “grieve the heart of God”.
The Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales (EFCW) took a while to respond to the two thirds majority decision made earlier this month by the Church in Wales’s governing body to allow blessing for same sex unions on an experimental basis for five years.
In a statement released this week it accuses the church of defying “the apostolic faith as revealed in scripture” and goes on to say: “The only biblical context for sexual activity is heterosexual marriage”.
The statement goes onto say that while it recognises that the church may have been hurtful and insensitive to LGBT+ people in the past, it feels that welcoming same sex couples should depend on them remaining celibate.
It accuses the church of changing the doctrine on marriage and of dishonouring “those who, persuaded that Scripture teaches that sexual activity is restricted to heterosexual marriage, have chosen to remain celibate”.
The statement continued: “This decision has damaged the Church in Wales’ relationship with the majority of the provinces in the global Anglican Communion, which remain committed to an orthodox understanding of human sexuality.
“By the same token, for many in EFCW, the decision has also impaired our relationships with our bishops and our relationships with those clerics who choose to perform such blessings. This decision has brought disunity to God’s Church. Such disunity is a grave and serious matter which grieves the heart of God.”
The Fellowship warns that a significant number of Welsh Anglicans, including attendees, Sunday school teachers and clergy have already resigned, or will resign, as a result of the decision and it calls for the appointment of a new bishop who will offer “protection and care” to those who refuse to bless same-sex couple due to their “understanding of the doctrine of marriage as only being between a man and a woman”.
Despite the EFCW’s vehement rejection of the decision, LGBTQ+ campaigners and others within the church have declared that the Church in Wales has done the right thing.
Gregory Cameron, bishop of St Asaph, told the Guardian that the result is a “huge step forward for the church and for us all in Wales”.
He continued: “I think it’s the hope of the bishops that within those five years, we’ll be able to come to a consensus on same-sex marriage. And when it comes to deciding whether to continue with the blessing service, perhaps the church will be in a position to be bold enough to take a further step on gay and lesbian inclusion.”
Jayne Ozanne, a campaigner for LGBT+ equality in the Church of England, said she was thrilled by the vote, adding: “I yearn for the day when the Church of England has the courage to make the same step.”
The C of E does not recognise same-sex marriages, forbids clergy to bless same-sex unions and insists gay and lesbian clergy must be celibate. The Scottish Episcopal church voted to allow same-sex couples to marry in church in 2017.
Ozanne continued: “If we want all in our care to flourish and thrive, and for our churches to grow, we must learn to embrace diversity and be known as people who practise what we preach. Love is love, and where this is found between two adults it is something that should be celebrated and blessed.”