Why does it matter that the Church of England is going to bless same-sex relationships?
Graham Nicholls, Director of the Affinity network, on how other Christians stand to be affected by the Church of England's vote on gay blessings:
Affinity deeply regrets and laments the vote in the General Synod of the Church of England to bless same-sex couples.
I spent some time watching the live stream of the synod. There were passionate and articulate speeches on both sides and it was especially heartening to hear speeches pleading for a return to gospel faithfulness. However, all in all, it was excruciatingly painful to watch. Rather like watching a car crash in slow motion, or observing a close friend as they make a series of really foolish decisions and refuse to listen to reason.
Apart from an amendment which committed 'not to propose any change to the doctrine of marriage' (a small victory for the orthodox), it was pretty much an abandonment of any biblical sexual ethic which was replaced with some vague criteria about love and commitment, losing any sense that some loves might be sinful.
Even at this late stage, on behalf of the more than 1,200 churches and organisations Affinity represents, we call on the Bishops of the Church of England to return to biblical Christianity which welcomes everyone with the love and holiness defined by God's word, not our feelings.
Why does the synod vote matter?
This vote by the Church of England General Synod matters because they are, for all the apparent irrelevance, still a significant 'Christian' voice in our country with churches all across the land on a scale not matched by any other denomination. For most onlookers, their statements of doctrine and practice are assumed to be a fair representation of Christianity.
We want to assure our brothers and sisters in the Church of England who are striving to be faithful to the Bible's teaching of our prayerful support as you respond to these changes and that we are ready and willing to help in any way we can.
In general, most won't understand the technicality of not changing the doctrine of holy matrimony but will simply see the church saying it is now ok to be sexually immoral as long as there is a component of love and commitment.
This will be used against Christians, churches and organisations like Affinity, who stand firm on the truth of God's word about marriage and sexuality, to say that our position is not a Christian position and that we are backward, bigoted Christians.
It matters because we have many faithful brothers and sisters in the Church of England who will be saddened, confused and distressed by what has happened. They are committed to Christ, committed to his word, and committed to their churches with all kinds of roots and ties.
They are now left wondering what this vote means for them, their future and their congregations. They may not be able to remain in fellowship with an organisation that has abandoned a core doctrine and they could be seeking a new kind of settlement.
We want to assure our brothers and sisters in the Church of England, who are striving to be faithful to the Bible's teaching, of our prayerful support as you respond to these changes and that we are ready and willing to help in any way we can.
This article was first published on the Affinity website and is printed here with permission.