Motion on Human Sexuality passed at General Synod.

Old Church in Ireland

Yesterday after one of the longest and packed debates at General Synod in many years, the revised motion on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief was passed 243 votes to 87 votes. Four amendments were also put to the Synod and all were rejected. A number of people complained that they were not able to speak on the Motion, despite assurances by his Lordship the Primate of All-Ireland, Dr Alan Harper, Archbishop Armagh. There was a broad range of views expressed at Synod which is summarised here.

The motion (below) was proposed  by the Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson (Proposing Speech PDF) and seconded by the Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller (Seconding Speech PDF).

The General Synod affirms that:

The Church of Ireland, mindful of the Preamble and Declaration, believes and accepts the Holy Scriptures as revealing all things necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ;

The Church of Ireland continues to uphold its teaching that marriage is part of God’s creation and a holy mystery in which one man and one woman become one flesh, as provided for in Canon 31:

‘The Church of Ireland affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching that marriage is in its purpose a union permanent and life–long, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.’

The Church of Ireland recognises for itself and of itself, no other understanding of marriage than that provided for in the totality of Canon 31. The Church of Ireland teaches therefore that faithfulness within marriage is the only normative context for sexual intercourse. Members of the Church of Ireland are required by the Catechism to keep their bodies in ‘temperance, soberness and chastity’. Clergy are called in the Ordinal to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Jesus Christ’.

The Church of Ireland welcomes all people to be members of the Church. It is acknowledged, however, that members of the Church have at times hurt and wounded people by words and actions, in relation to human sexuality.

Therefore, in order that the Church of Ireland is experienced as a ‘safe place’ and enabled in its reflection, the Church of Ireland affirms:

A continuing commitment to love our neighbour, and opposition to all unbiblical and uncharitable actions and attitudes in respect of human sexuality from whatever perspective, including bigotry, hurtful words or actions, and demeaning or damaging language;

A willingness to increase our awareness of the complex issues regarding human sexuality;

A determination to welcome and to make disciples of all people.

The Church of Ireland is mindful that for all who believe ‘there is no distinction’ and that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:22–23) and are in need of God’s grace and mercy. We seek to be a community modelled on God’s love for the world as revealed in Jesus Christ. We wish that all members of the Church, through the teaching of the scriptures, the nourishment of the sacraments, and the prayerful and pastoral support of a Christian community will fulfil their unique contribution to God’s purposes for our world.

The General Synod requests the Standing Committee to progress work on the issue of Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief and also to bring a proposal to General Synod 2013 for the formation of a Select Committee with terms of reference including reporting procedures.

This motion, I believe, is wrong and is against the creation of an Inclusive Church, which many of the members of the Church of Ireland want it to be.

This is not the end of this. This will come again at future Synods, and it is up to those of us who are opposed to this to get involved in our Parishes, Dioceses and Synod to ensure we get an Inclusive Church.

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