The Church of England has recently issued pastoral guidance in response to a Supreme Court ruling that mixed-sex couples should also have the right to a civil partnership. As the first mixed-sex civil partnerships become registered, the church seeks to affirm its stance on homosexuality and same-sex partnerships, according to pastoral guidance issued on the church's official website.
In the pastoral guidance issued by the C of E House of Bishops, the church reiterates its stance that sex should only be permitted within heterosexual marriage. It states that sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as "falling short of God's purpose for human beings."
"For Christians, marriage – that is, the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity."The bishops state that the church is unable to accept civil partnerships as unequivocally reflecting the teaching of the church due to the ambiguity surrounding sexual activities within a civil partnership. Furthermore, the legislation leaves the nature of the commitment between a couple open ended.
Church of England clergy are advised to not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.In December 2005, The Civil Partnership Act came into effect, allowing same-sex couples legal status and rights to property, inheritance, and tax entitlement. In 2013, the U.K. legalized same-sex marriage. The Church of England does not permit nor recognize same-sex marriages and continues to take a conservative and traditional stance on the issue.
Despite the assertion that marriage is between a man and woman, the C of E does not completely reject LGBT individuals, stating that the church seeks to "minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently."
For many years, the LGBT community has been fighting to change the church's stance on same-sex partnerships. Activists have campaigned for the church to allow same-sex marriage and provide blessings for same-sex civil partnerships.
Jayne Ozanne, a member of the C of E's ruling body, the General Synod, and an LGBT rights activist, expressed her disappointment at the church's recent statement. She told The Guardian that the statement shows little evidence of the "radical new Christian inclusion" that was supposedly promised.
Lancaster University professor Linda Woodhead also commented on the pastoral statement.
"The C of E is unable to get over its fixation on homosexuality, which is driving the the national church into a position more like a fundamentalist sect and does not speak to the vast majority of younger people today."The LGBT issues that have been plaguing the church for decades are evident all over the world. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the differing opinions on the matter have recently caused the United Methodist Church to split into two factions. The more traditional members of the church continue to ban same-sex marriage, as the more liberal members advocate for the church's recognition and openness to people of all sexual orientations.