Observing from across the Atlantic as the “Living in Love and Faith” process slouches toward its predetermined destination – the authorization of same-sex blessings (and later marriage) – I happened across an old email from 2021.
A friend in the UK had written me, asking if I would write up my advice for his circle about whether Evangelicals should engage seriously with the LLF curriculum, as argued by Martin Davie (who has been an articulate proponent of biblical teaching on marriage).
I sent my friend a brief reply which can be summarized in one word: “Don’t!”
I simply disagree with Martin Davie’s premise that the LLF process is taking anything seriously. My proof of this premise is the simple question: “Is there any way on God’s green earth that the Church of England might conclude that committed same-sex relations are “incompatible with Scripture” and “cannot be advised” (Lambeth I.10)? As I see it, the answer is NO. And if the answer is No, then the entire exercise is not serious. If the answer to my question is NO, then I do not see the prudence or morality of “engaging” with the report.
Of course, there will be individual statements in LLF that are true to Scripture, but when they are included as part of the whole Report, they are fatally compromised. That is part of the strategy of the project.
Therefore, I am in agreement with Andrew Symes’ recent article. My advice is simply: “Don’t!”
Twenty-five years ago, in preparation for Lambeth 1998, I wrote an essay titled “No Compromise on Essentials: Why Dialogue Cannot Resolve the Sexuality Issue in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.” I prefaced it by likening those who try to engage seriously with the revisionist Establishment to the lady from Niger.
There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
I have not changed my mind. Just don’t!
The problem with “Don’t!” in 2023 is that conservatives in the Church of England are already traveling on the tiger’s back. So, “Don’t!” must lead to “Get Off!”
I understand – perhaps I should say we in North America understand – what a daunting prospect this is. We did it fifteen years ago, following the first GAFCON in Jerusalem. Many of us lost our churches, our rectories, our retirement pensions, and not a few parishioners who were not ready to go with us. But would we rather be where we are today, with a young and growing church, godly bishops, and hope for the future? Would we make that choice again? In a trice!
This restoration of orthodox Anglicanism is not something we dare boast about, for it is based on God’s word, God’s promise to His people:
“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:10-13).
So I exhort you, brothers and sisters in the Church of England, “Don’t!” continue in a way that leads to destruction. “Get Off!” the tiger’s back now. If there is some institutional way to differentiate yourselves in the Establishment, which seems unlikely to me, only the commitment to walk apart will bring results. Whichever way you go, trust in God to restore the fortunes of His Church.