CEEC is fully committed to Lambeth I.10 in its entirety. This means upholding biblical teaching concerning sexual “abstinence…for those who are not called to marriage” between a man and a woman and not “legitimising or blessing” same-sex unions or ordaining those in them. It also means both “rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture” and calling on all people “to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear” of gay people. As all human beings are equally created as God’s precious image-bearers CEEC agrees with the Primates of the Anglican Communion in 2005 that, “The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us”.
If we are to be faithful in our Christian witness, all these convictions need to shape how we respond in any and every culture. As our then National Director, Bishop Keith Sinclair, recently reminded the GAFCON conference, we need to recognise that: “Different parts of Lambeth 1.10 will challenge our different cultures in different ways, sometimes in difficult ways, but that is what will happen when we do not conform to this world but allow the Spirit of God to transform us by the renewing of our mind. At all times and in all places we will find we have to be countercultural, including in relation to sexuality”.
We recognise that there are challenges in understanding and responding to different cultural contexts. The role of law in relation to sexual behaviour and wider social policy and cultural commitments – such as supporting family structures and resisting global forces seen as undermining these structures – is complex. We also confess that we and the Church of England have failed and continue to fall short in various ways in our churches and in our responses to our own culture. We believe that the Primates of the Communion were right in 2016 to state their “rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people”. We oppose the criminalisation of consensual homosexual behaviour, especially when combined with severe penalties and requirements to report people for their behaviour. We believe such laws encourage victimisation of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or same-sex attracted and make the church’s commitment to listen to, care for, and disciple all people, regardless of sexual orientation, much more difficult to live out.
On the basis of these convictions, we are committed to further reflection on these matters and are engaging privately, through EFAC, with GAFCON and GSFA. We continue to pray for Christians and non-Christians whose lives such laws impact so severely and for all of us that, in our diverse cultures, we will learn from each other and bear faithful witness to Christ in word and deed.
For further reflections on these issues we recommend the following articles:
Kirsten Birkett, “Don’t criminalise gay people”, Church Society (2021).
Sean Doherty, “Why LGBT People Should Not Be Criminalised”, Living Out (2021), recently republished as “Jesus would fight the criminalisation of LGBT people and so should we”.
Fulcrum, “Fulcrum Briefing on ‘The Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ in Uganda”, Fulcrum (2009).
Peter Jensen, “The Challenge of, and the Challenge to, Gafcon”, Church Society (2023).
Ian Paul, “Statement on the criminalisation of LGBTQI+ people” (2021).
Ephraim Radner & Andrew Goddard, “Rights, Homosexuals, and Communion: Reflections in light of Nigeria”, Fulcrum (2006).