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Monday, August 8, 2022
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HomeCulture WarsMore sex, please, we’re the C of E!

More sex, please, we’re the C of E!

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IS BEING a Christian morally compatible with having multiple sex partners? The Church of England’s Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, appears not to rule out the possibility.

Bishop Mullally is overseeing a process within the C of E called Living in Love and Faith (LLF) which could see the national Church overturning its centuries-old teaching that the expression of sexual love should be confined to the God-created institution of heterosexual marriage. She chairs the LLF Next Steps Group of nine bishops.

Bishop Mullally’s group has circulated a paper to members of the C of E’s legislative body, the General Synod, whose July meeting in York ended on Tuesday.

It says: ‘Bishops will offer a response to the challenge posed to the Church by the Archbishops in 2017, to find ways forward that embody “a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church – that is founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it; that is based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual”.’

It declares: ‘The outcomes of this discernment will be brought to General Synod in February 2023.’

The July Synod included two sessions during which elected members asked supplementary questions to those submitted in writing in advance to various bishops and officials. The written questions and answers were published in advance of the meeting.

The Revd Graham Hamilton from Exeter Diocese posed the following question:

‘There is increasing media promotion of “The Case for Polyamory” (e.g., BBC R4 12 April 2022, Channel 4 “Open House, the great sex experiment” 26 March 2022). The 2022 Methodist Conference agenda states . . . “Both of these patterns of relating (polygamy and polyamory), which potentially involve long-term committed sexual relationships with more than one partner at the same time, merit further theological attention” . . . Does the House of Bishops consider that Polyamory merits further theological attention, and will this be considered by the LLF Next Steps group?’

This is Bishop Mullally’s reply:

‘Questions about polyamory certainly merit theological attention – as do all areas of human experience and existence! Some theological work is being done in this area by others. However, this is not currently being considered by the LLF Next Steps Group. In that sense, the work of LLF – which will need to come to clear conclusions about ways forward about some questions – will need to continue in some form as the Church faces the constantly changing context in which we are called to bear the light of Christ.’

So, is the door now open to a future ‘discernment process’ in the C of E to ‘find ways forward that embody a radical new Christian inclusion’ of polyamorists in the Church? The mind boggles at what that might mean.

The failure to shut the door firmly on that possibility would seem to indicate that the established Church is rapidly moving its spiritual home from the New Testament with its clear teaching about sexual self-control to the shameless depravities of pagan Rome.

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Julian Mann
Julian Mann
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Morecambe, Lancashire.

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