This past week I wrote a post titled “The English Bishops on Marriage: The Sound of One Hand Clapping.” The one hand clapping was a December statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England affirming the teaching of the Bible, the historic church and the Book of Common Prayer that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of procreation, avoidance of sin, and mutual help and society. Many traditionalists were pleasantly surprised to see this affirmation; others were scandalized.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have now clarified the matter and instructed the church and the wider Communion: “You May Now Take Down Your Hand”:
We as Archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.
At our meeting of the College of Bishops of the Church of England this week we continued our commitment to the Living in Love and Faith project which is about questions of human identity, sexuality and marriage. This process is intended to help us all to build bridges that will enable the difficult conversations that are necessary as, together, we discern the way forward for the Church of England.
That didn’t take long. Let me paraphrase their message:
We who occupy the ancient sees of Canterbury (597 AD) and York (735 AD) repent in dust and ashes for having made some colleagues on the Left feel excluded. Dear friends, please stop denouncing us on social media. We didn’t really mean it. It just slipped out due to a clerical error.
You know we are all on board to deliver a massive redo of Christian doctrine called “Living in Love and Faith.” LLF will of course make mention of the primitive view that God made man in His image, male and female, and that husband and wife become one flesh. But it will balance this view with the weighty opinions of distinguished dons and prelates who understand that issues of sexuality are incredibly complex and must be contextualised and that while the Church continues to uphold traditional marriage at this present time, in the future the Spirit shall lead the Church into new truth.
For our Anglican Communion partners, we hope you understand that the one hand waving was a welcome to you to the Lambeth Indaba, where we will sit with you in table groups and educate you in the riches of “Living in Love and Faith,” and by the end of the Conference you will agree to walk hand in hand with us into new truth and put behind you forever that nasty time-bound Resolution I.10 from 1998. We so look forward to you joining us at the Queen’s Tea Party this summer.
In a follow-up post on “St. Paul to the English Bishops on Marriage,” I suggested that the bishops’ half-hearted affirmation of traditional marriage was actually just “worldly babble,” which St. Paul warns against (2 Timothy 2:15-16). The Archbishops’ apology presages a future time when bubbly babble about inclusivity and diversity will not suffice and will be replaced by the grim gruel of political correctness. Again to paraphrase (with hat tip to Orwell):
You shall live in love and faith and the Sexuality Gospel will set you free.
Think not? Ask the cakeshop owner in the USA whose business was shut down for refusing to make a same-sex wedding cake. Ask the NHS nurse in the UK fired for offering a Bible and a prayer to a patient. Ask Episcopal Bishop Love. Did Justin Cantuar and John Ebor raise a hand for any of them?