Anglican Bishop Breaks Ranks Over Civil Partnerships, Evangelicals Stand Firm

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr Peter Selby, has announced in the Church Times his decision to disassociate himself with the views expressed in the House of Bishops statement on the Civil Partnership Act.

He said that the message “was bound to be heard negatively” but that in actual fact the decision to enter into civil partnerships “should be a source not of fear, but of delight”.

The House of Bishops statement said that same-sex couples would be allowed to enter into a civil union on the condition of a promise to abstain from sexual relations.

Bishop Selby said that the bishops’ statement “was unlikely to turn out in a form with which I could associate myself.”

His support for same-sex partnerships are in stark contrast to the widespread condemnation that the statement has received from members within the Church of England for being too soft on the issue.

The Evangelical Council, the umbrella organisation for the evangelical groups within the Church, demanded that the Church’s attempts to compromise with the Act be withdrawn immediately.

In a statement issued by the Council, critics accused the Church’s leaders of submitting to a secular culture of moral decline. The Council also raised the concern that the ‘unworkable’ House of Bishops statement would also “further exacerbate the division threatening the future of the Anglican Communion”.

Another Anglican evangelical group, Anglican Mainstream, also denounced the statement, warning that the action would blur the distinction between a civil partnership and traditional marriage.

Anglican Mainstream said that as Civil Partnerships are based closely on marriage laws, “these partnerships will be misunderstood as marriage...The Act is self-contradictory because it prohibits civil partnerships between close relatives, which only makes if ‘marriage’ is in view”.

Anglican Mainstream also disassociated itself with the House of Bishops Statement.

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