The Church of England is more concerned about "Twitter mobs" than "what is right before God" according to the conservative grouping GAFCON UK's latest intervention in an increasingly toxic debate.
The traditionalist Anglican body responded to criticism from the CofE's top lay official by saying the Church is too "afraid of unpopularity from the secular British establishment". It accused officials of an "institutional mentality" that "puts confidence in legal process" over "apostolic Christianity".
A post on GAFCON UK's website on Friday said the CofE had resorted to "bureaucratic interpretations of church law" rather than a "biblical revelation about humanity".
The bitter attack was in reply to a letter by William Nye, general secretary to the Archbishops' Council, who accused GAFCON UK of being "significantly misleading" in a briefing document circulated last week.
The original post listed names of clergy who were in "violation" of a landmark Anglican resolution laying down its teaching on sexuality.
Nye pointed out the resolution, known as Lambeth 1.10, was "not legally binding" but rather expressed the "view of the attitude of the Communion" at the time.
"It is not the only important resolution, from that Conference or others. It does not have the force of Scripture, nor is it part of the deposit of faith," he wrote.
He added there had been no change in Church teaching that marriage was between one man and one woman, "nor has there been any formal proposal to do so".
The public two-and-fro has resulted in criticism from all wings of the Church, mostly directed at GAFCON UK. Ian Paul, an evangelical member of the Archbishops' Council, said the group's original list was "extremely unhelpful to those within the Church of England who would like the Church to remain in its current teaching position on marriage". He said it lacked "mutual respect" and "demonstrates misunderstanding of the current situation in the Church of England".
But GAFCON UK said it demonstrated the group was more needed than ever as an alternative. The post warned the Church's doctrine of marriage was being relegated to "a museum piece".
It continued: "On one hand, then, the Church of England has an official doctrine of sex and marriage based on the wonderful fruitful biblical vision of godly celibate singleness, man and woman sacrificially committed to each other exclusively for life, a family of mum, dad and kids; power for living it out, forgiveness for all (ie the 100%) who fall short.
"But in practice the Church is extremely diffident about explaining or commending this vision, not just because it knows that many in the ranks of its own leadership don't believe in it, but because it is more afraid of unpopularity from the secular British establishment and Twitter mobs than it is concerned about fellowship with the worldwide church or doing what is right before God."
It added: "Is our vision of the church narrowly confined to what we hope will be acceptable to the metropolitan elites in modern secular England, diffidently offering uncertainties as we continue our numerical decline?"
Christian Today has contacted the Church of England for comment.