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General Synod debate reveals 'irreconcilable' divisions

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The Church of England's General Synod has rejected a report from its Bishops on marriage and sexuality, after a lengthy debate revealing deep divisions in the church.

During the debate, Andrea Williams called on the bishops to lead decisively and exercise discipline on those who do not repent of sexual immorality.



The report recognised the teaching of the Bible that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman, but also offered some room for affirming same-sex relationships.

A motion to 'take note' of the House of Bishops report was defeated in the House of Clergy by 100 votes to 93, whilst a majority of bishops and laypeople voted for it.

Speaking in the debate before the vote, Andrea Williams said that bishops must lead decisively:

"From what we have heard this afternoon the two positions are irreconcilable. The Bishops' report has sought to straddle the two positions but they cannot be straddled. And this is where we as a group of people and the wider church cry out to the bishops to make a stand and to make the position clear."

Andrea Williams called on the bishops to exercise discipline:

"We have to make a choice about discipline... We are looking to the bishops to lead in this."

She referred to the apostle Paul's decision to excommunicate when he discovered a case of sexual immorality in the Corinthian church.

Deep divisions

The debate revealed the division between two clear groups within the Church of England.

Revisionists say that Jesus' teaching needs to be updated to fit the 21st century, and the church should 'move on' from what scripture says.

Conservatives say they want to take Jesus at his word and believe that he knows what is best for his them, no matter what society says.

Andrea Williams comments:

"This is about much more than sexual ethics. It is about authority.

"The central issue is, who is Lord in the Church? Jesus knows everything, he is perfectly loving and compassionate and he has spoken clearly about how his Church is to live. He died for the church that she might become holy and pure, and he says if we love him we will obey his commands.

"There are currently two different religions within the church of England, one where Jesus is Lord and one where he is not. We cannot continue together."

Related Links:
It's time for the Church of England to lay down the law on marriage (Telegraph)
Andrea Williams speaks about the truth of marriage at General Synod
Sam Allberry explains how the message of Jesus on marriage is life-giving