Greater Love Comment on the Church of England General Synod vote of 15th November 2023

Last month the General Synod of the Church of England voted (narrowly) for a motion which was in favour of commending ‘blessings’ of couples in same-sex relationships. The motion itself, having been subject to various amendments, was not clear, and its effect is not clear either, though many have interpreted it as giving a green light to such ‘blessings’. That certainly was the intention of the Bishops who promoted it and, presumably, of those who voted for it.

It was rightly said by many in the debate, and by others commenting since, that this vote signals a rejection of the authority of Scripture by the Church of England. Given the absolute clarity of Scripture regarding the sinfulness of all sexual activity outside marriage, which means the lifelong oath-bound union of one man and one woman, this is plainly true. But even this does not capture the seriousness of what the Church of England, led by her bishops, has done.

In seeking to invoke God’s blessing on sexual immorality, it has replaced the pursuit of holiness in the fear of God with the pursuit of bodily pleasure in defiance of God. By implying that Christ’s own teaching on marriage may be ignored, it has replaced the worship of him as the incarnate Son of God and full revelation of God to mankind with a belief that we are wiser than him, and can invoke his name to bless whatever vices we wish to indulge. It has replaced the Gospel as salvation from sin with another ‘gospel’ of blessing of sin. It has replaced the central Christian duty of self-sacrificial love for the sake of others with the pursuit of self-gratification at the expense of others. It has replaced the worship of the one true God with the worship and service of self and its desires.

In doing all this, the Church of England has done immeasurable harm to countless people in Christ’s Church and outside it. For as the Greater Love Declaration says, God instituted marriage because “Great blessings flow to all people when marriage is widely honoured”; when it is not, great harm is done instead. If the Church of England does indeed declare God’s blessings on the violation of marriage, it will not only lead many further into sin and away from Christ. It will also, by leading many more to believe that marriage is unnecessary and chastity need not be pursued, increase the damage that is caused across society by sexual sin, for which women and children suffer especially. Despite being presented as an act of compassion, in reality it is an act of cruelty to this and to future generations.

We call upon the Church of England to repent. And we further call upon all of Christ’s true Church wherever her members are found – who acknowledge and fear the one true and holy God – to continue to preach that Christ alone is Lord, that he laid down his life to save us from sin, and that all his people should, like him, lay down their lives for others.