…says scriptures against same-sex unions do not apply to the present situation
The Bishop of Oxford, Rt. Rev. Dr. Steven Croft, says it is time to remove the legal barriers to the solemnisation of same-sex marriage in the Church of England for the clergy to bless same-sex unions and be allowed to marry a same-sex partner themselves if they wished.
Dr. Croft made his new position on same-sex marriage known in a 50-page essay, Together in Love and Faith: Personal reflections and next steps for the Church released on Friday, 4 November 2022, wherein he detailed the ways his views on same-sex relationships have changed over the last decade.
“I need to acknowledge the acute pain and distress of LGBTQ+ people in the life of the Church,” he wrote. “I am sorry that, corporately, we have been so slow as a Church to reach better decisions and practice on these matters.
“I am sorry that my own views were slow to change and that my actions, and lack of action, have caused genuine hurt, disagreement and pain. I remain on a very steep learning curve. Listening to this pain and distress has been key in my own journey and to the changes in my own views.”
Stressing that it is paradoxical for the Church to commend the goods of permanent, stable, and faithful relationships for heterosexual persons in marriage and yet deny the same for homosexuals, he writes that the Church of England’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance “is leading to a radical dislocation between the Church of England and the culture and society we are attempting to serve”.
On Bible passages prohibiting same-sex unions, Dr Croft argued that most do not apply to the present situation. According to him, those who advocate same-sex marriage are following the Holy Spirit, quoting Christ’s words in John 16 vs 13: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”
The Bishop also reflects that many Christians in the Church of England hold and will continue to hold a traditional view of marriage and this should be honoured and respected by those who are seeking freedom to change. He said he did not want to see people feeling excluded as a result of any changes.
“Any settlement must be founded on love and respect: love and respect for LGBTQ+ people and their families within and beyond the Church, love and respect for those who take different views. This love must be the hallmark of our debates and conduct through this season,” he added.
Dr Croft is the only serving diocesan bishop to publicly call for such a change. By law, no Church of England minister can bless a same-sex union or be married to a same-sex partner.
Meanwhile, Church Times reports that the College of Bishops met last week to recommend changes to teachings on same-sex relationships ahead of the next General Synod in February, where there could be a vote after decades of divisive talk.
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