The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Pastor Sam Allberry defends biblical vision of marriage at Church of England General Synod. Read the transcript of his testimony.
The Church of England has debated its views on sexuality and marriage in the General Synod.
The House of Bishops report, published in January, stated that there should be no change in the church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality. LGBT groups and some priests had asked to vote against the motion because it was “dangerous and inadequate”.
Finally, the report was not adopted. 93 clergy, 106 laity and 43 bishops voted for the motion. 100 clergy, 83 laity and 1 bishop refused.
One of the voices in debate at the General Synod was Sam Allberry, a pastor in Maidenhead (UK), member of the group “Living Out” and author of the book “Is God anti-gay?”
He shared his own experience as a man with homosexual feelings.
“I am same-sex attracted and have been my entire life. By that I mean that I have sexual, romantic and deep emotional attractions to people of the same sex.
I choose to describe myself this way because sexuality is not a matter of identity for me, and that has become good news.
My primary sense of worth and fulfilment as a human being is not contingent on being romantically or sexually fulfilled, and this is liberating.
The most fully human and complete person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. He never married, He was never in a romantic relationship and never had sex. If we say these things are intrinsic to human fulfilment, we are calling our saviour sub-human.
I have met literally hundreds of Christians in my situation, and know of thousands more, who are same-sex attracted, and who joyfully affirm the traditional understanding of marriage being between a man and a woman, and the only godly context for sex.
If you do not hear from more of us, it is because it is really hard to stand up and describe ourselves in this way.
As someone who uses the language of same-sex attraction, I have to say that my Church has not become a safe place for me. By Church I do not mean my congregation, I mean this Synod. Not because of what the report says, but because of what has happened since.
I was bullied at school for being gay. I now feel I’m being bullied at Synod for being same-sex attracted and faithful to the teaching of Jesus on marriage.
I am grateful that the report reafirms the traditional doctrine of marriage. I am concerned that we are already preparing to pastorally undermine it. So my question to the bishops is not, ‘will you preserve this doctrine?’, but ‘do you really believe in it? Is it good news for the world?’
Many of us have found it to be life-giving, as the message and teaching of Jesus always is. Thank you”.