The Rt Revd Steven Cottrell, bishop diocesan of the Diocese of Chelmsford, Province of Canterbury in the Church of England has called for the CoE to offer services of Thanksgiving and Eucharists to celebrate the civil marriages of LGBTQ folks in England. +Cottrell’s is the most liberal statement to date after the Synod of the Church of England failed to accept the document from the English House of Bishops regarding same-sex marriage in that church.
Bishop Cotrell supports an “agree-to-disagree” position for the CoE, similar to the situation with women consecrated as bishops in the CoE. He believes that the English public views the current position of the CoE against same-sex marriage as an immoral stance. And that the stance is damaging to the mission of the Church. Acknowledging that agreeing-to-disagree would not please the opposite ends of the spectrum of oppinion regarding same-sex marriage, the bishop believes that the CoE can’t wait until the full Anglican Communion is in agreement on the matter.
It would be particularly foolish for us to ignore the missiological damage that is done when that which is held to be morally normative and desirable by much of society and by what seems to be a significant number of Anglican Christian people in this country, is deemed morally unacceptable by the Church. As I have said before, I am not sure the church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set.
It is therefore not sufficient to say, “Oh if only we could stop talking about human sexuality and get on with the real business of preaching the gospel!” This is the real business of preaching the gospel: it is about what it means to be made in the image of God and of the new humanity God has won for us in Christ. It is about finding the legitimate boundaries within which Christian people can legitimately disagree.
– The Rt Revd Steven Cottrell
Bishop of Chelmsford