Statement on the Church of England Bishops’ proposed “prayers of love and faith”

The authors of the Greater Love Declaration are dismayed at the decision of the House of Bishops of the Church of England to commend prayers intended to demonstrate approval and blessing of immoral sexual relationships.

As the Greater Love Declaration affirms, Christians are to love as Christ has loved us: to lay down their lives for others. The ordinance of marriage, the exclusive lifelong union of one man and one woman, has been given to us by God as the preeminent instance of this. We are to lay down our lives for our spouse, children and others, denying ourselves by refusing sexual self-indulgence.

All sexual relationships and activity outside of marriage are condemned as sinful in Scripture, and unanimously by the Christian Church in all ages, because such immorality is deeply harmful. It harms those committing it, their children, their families and friends, and society as a whole. And most of all it is harmful to the glory of God, whose absolutely faithful holy covenant love for his Church in Christ is to be reflected by us, his images, in the exclusive union of husband and wife, and chaste sexual abstinence elsewhere. Sexual immorality is a preeminent example of the love of Self replacing the sacrificial love of God and neighbour. It is therefore the opposite of the love that Christ commands.

We reject entirely the claim that these prayers and blessings do not affect the doctrine of marriage. It is abundantly clear that they will be used to indicate approval of sexual relationships that directly contradict the teaching of Scripture and the Church. To bless people involved in immoral actions and relationships, in the very context of them celebrating those actions and relationships, is indistinguishable from blessing those actions and relationships themselves. Statements from the Archbishop of York and Bishop of London in media interviews have confirmed this.

We therefore call upon the House of Bishops of the Church of England to repent of their actions, withdraw these proposed prayers in their entirety, and reaffirm the Christian doctrine of marriage.

And we call upon all orthodox Christian ministers and clergy in every denomination to continue to teach and proclaim the goodness of sexual self-sacrifice and self-control; the sinfulness of sexual indulgence outside of the marriage of one man and one woman; the grace of our Lord to those who have failed in this way, and his willingness to forgive those who repent; and with our Lord to affirm that here as in every part of life, there is no greater love than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.