Will the Church of England soon follow the Church in Wales on same-sex marriage?
If Church of England traditionalists are to stand up for the counter-cultural Christian sexual ethic, they are going to have to defy the allegedly conservative newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.
The 'news report' on the Anglican Church in Wales's vote on Monday to bless same-sex marriages pointed out that "the Church of England is now the only Anglican church in Great Britain not to either bless or marry same-sex couples". The Scottish Episcopal Church has allowed same-sex marriage since 2017.
The story by the DT's social and religious affairs editor, Gabriella Swerling, quoted the rapturous welcome for the Church in Wales vote from two leading CofE campaigners for ditching the traditional sexual ethic, Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes and General Synod member Jayne Ozanne.
She said: "I'm thrilled to hear of this significant step by the Church in Wales towards a fully inclusive church today. If we want all in our care to flourish and thrive, and for our churches to grow, we must learn to embrace diversity and be known as people who practice what we preach.
"I yearn for the day when the Church of England has the courage to make the same step - we need to be a Church for all England."
The DT story also gave a platform to "the Very Reverend Jeffrey John, a Church of England priest who made headlines in 2003 by being the first person to have openly been in a same-sex relationship to have been nominated as a Church of England bishop". Disappointed that the Anglican Church in Wales was not allowing same-sex marriage services, he described the vote as a "halfway house".
No CofE traditionalist was quoted in Ms Swerling's report.
Jayne Ozanne enthusiastically tweeted Ms Swerling's story with its quote about the CofE being the odd one out. Ms Swerling re-tweeted Ms Ozanne's endorsement.
I felt like Brooks Hatlen reading the DT report. Please let me explain.
In 1991, I had a conversation with Charles Moore, then the DT's deputy editor, about becoming a religious affairs correspondent. Nothing came of the plan because I wanted to pursue a calling to be an Anglican minister instead and was ordained by the evangelical Bishop of Chester, Michael Baughan, in 1996.
I spent the next 23 years 'institutionalised' in the Church of England. Fans of the 1994 film classic, The Shawshank Redemption, will remember the character, Brooks Hatlen, the old man who had become 'institutionalised' after 50 years in prison. After he was paroled from Shawshank he could not cope with life on the outside. He was bewildered by how much the world had changed, missed the prison routine and committed suicide.
I have no intention of doing a Brooks Hatlen because I am a Christian with family responsibilities. But since leaving the institutional Church of England in 2019 and trying to earn a living as a jobbing hack, I can relate to how the character felt.
Who would have thought that even 10 years ago The Daily Telegraph would side-line traditional Christian orthodoxy in the way that Ms Swerling's report did?
Charles Moore, now Lord Moore of Etchingham, served as DT editor from 1995 to 2003. I am certain he would never have allowed such a blatant piece of neo-Marxist revisionist propaganda posing as a news story to go to press.
It seems very likely that the CofE will follow the Anglican Church in Wales. Allowing vicars to bless same-sex civil marriages while not yet permitting them to take full marriage services for same-sex couples looks like the sort of compromise that would play well in the General Synod.
But once the CofE takes that step it will have surrendered to the post-Christian spirit of the age. Once it abandons the traditional Christian sexual ethic, it will turn itself into a politically-correct religious pressure group and consign itself to historic irrelevance.
For, as the saying goes, if you marry the spirit of the age, you become a widow in the next. Perhaps that will be the fate of The Daily Telegraph as well?
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Morecambe, Lancashire.