Since 2017 the Church of England has engaged in discussion around human sexuality through a process called “Living in Love and Faith” (LLF). These discussions have had a particular focus on same-sex relationships and marriage and are ongoing. The following 4 points set out our approach as the leadership of Emmanuel, based on the Bible, even as we acknowledge the differences of view held across our congregation. Our prayer is that they reflect the same grace and clarity that we find in God’s word for same-sex attracted Christians.
1. You’re Welcome – LLF has given us a chance to renew our commitment to loving and welcoming all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – that is very much part of our ‘unconditional welcome’, and stems from our belief that every person is made in the image of God. We are grateful for the LLF Next Steps Group who have worked on some principles for what that welcome means in practice.
2. I’m sorry – We are sorry for the ways LGBTQIA+ people have been mistreated by the church in the past, through prejudice, silence, hypocrisy and abuse We want to reshape our ministry for the future with openness, transparency, consistency and kindness. No one should feel they need to hide their sexual orientation in our church.
3. Follow Christ – We believe all of us are called to follow Christ, a costly way of holiness and sacrifice as set out by scripture. That is ‘deep discipleship’. It requires generosity and hospitality so that our churches are places where single people flourish. It also requires that we treat those with whom we disagree with genuine love – especially vital in divided times. In relation to sexuality, we believe the scriptures clearly reserve sex for marriage between one woman and one man. This excludes the possibility of same-sex marriage. It means sexual exclusivity for the married and celibacy for the unmarried. That is a challenging path of holiness for all.
Because these convictions are now contested in the Church of England we encourage you to think further on the subject and recommend further resources below.
4. How can we help? – We want to continue to listen to the experiences of same-sex attracted people in our church and others as we all attempt to live by the above principles. If you have questions or concerns please get in touch.
Rev John Adams and Rev Jon Featherstone
Resources – Each of the following books are authored by same-sex attracted Christians seeking to live out the convictions outlined above.
Born Again This Way by Rachel Gilson – A compassionate exploration of God’s purpose for sexuality and how it reshapes our lives as individuals and as a community – a good video interview with Rachel is here.