Today we are publishing the ‘Greater Love Declaration’, which declares the goodness of Christian teaching on marriage, sex and identity.
It is a statement by Ministers and Pastoral Workers from across the different Christian Denominations as a statement of classic, orthodox Christian teaching on marriage, sex and identity.
In it we affirm the essential and unchangeable place of this teaching in Christian theology, its foundation in Christ’s own example of self-giving love, and our duty and commitment as ministers of the gospel to uphold, teach and proclaim it.
But why is it needed now?
In a sense, it shouldn’t be! But the past year has seen two parallel developments:
First, the last year has seen snowballing reports of the terrible effects of LGBT ideology on children: from the closing of the Tavistock Clinic after reports of lives (and bodies) of children ruined by its ‘affirming only’ approach, and the current revelations regarding the appalling safeguarding failures of the pro-transgender charity Mermaids, to the litany of aggressive and appalling sexualisation of children done in the name of ‘Relationships and sex education’, outlined by Miriam Cates MP in a speech in parliament on 30 June 2022.
And yet, second, there seems to be a growing assumption that Christian teaching on marriage is somehow evil, and LGBT ideology is such a force for good that it must be protected at all costs from those who disagree with it. This was implicit in the UK government consultation last year, and explicitly in the appalling report published last week by the Scottish Government, which urged the most extreme form of a ‘conversion practices’ ban, explicitly identifying the teaching of marriage as a target it wishes to criminalise, and recommending that churches lose charitable status, ministers are defrocked, and parents have children removed from their care where marriage is taught.
Therefore we find ourselves as a church in a position where the gospel of Christ, and its implications for sexual behaviour, are more obviously needed than ever; and yet at the same time a bizarre conviction has grown that it is Christian teaching, and Christian conversion, which needs to be criminalised, and any dissent from LGBT ideology is to be punished. There is a strong push throughout the UK for such legislation, and it is a significant threat to Christians and the Church.
What does the declaration hope to achieve?
We hope that the declaration will achieve some important aims:
- It will encourage ministers, clergy and pastors to stand united on a matter of such enormous importance, in the face of increasingly aggressive attacks. It will be much easier for us to stand together, faithful to our Lord, if we know we are doing it alongside a large number of others.
- It will be a resource for Christians across the country, showing how chastity and marriage are incredibly good things for all, and how it is neglecting or undermining them which truly damages lives. Our experience is that ordinary Christians know this to be true, but find it hard to articulate how and why. We hope that the declaration, and the background on Christian doctrine and ethics, will help them do that. It may also be a help for Christians under pressure in their workplaces to be able to point to a clear and positive statement of Christian ethics, widely supported across Christian churches.
- It will be a place where non-Christians, including governments, officials and employers, can go to understand Christian teaching in these areas in contrast to the rampant misunderstandings which seem so often to prevail. We also hope that a clear stand across multiple different Christian groups and denominations will show how integral to Christian faith this is, and how Christian teachings are motivated by self-giving love.
Our hope and prayer is that wide support from across all Christian denominations will make this a prominent and effective means of proclaiming the goodness of Christ, his gospel and his commands, throughout our churches and through them to the nations to whom God has made us witnesses.
We invite you to read and sign the declaration. Please share it with anyone you think might be interested.
And do spend some time on our website, which includes the theological background, commendations from Christian leaders and organisations, and information about upcoming events, including our conference this November – places can be booked now.