Campaigners backed by the clergy have claimed that the Church of England has become a laughing stock over a decree by bishops that states people in civil partnerships should not engage in sexual intercourse.
After years of campaigning, protests, various legal battles and even public condemnation from Members of Parliament, the Supreme Court ruled that civil partnerships could be opened up to heterosexual couples. However in January 2020 the House of Bishops issued guidance to the clergy saying, “sex belongs only in heterosexual marriage, and Christians in either gay or straight civil partnerships should have sexually abstinent friendships”.
This guidance has created consternation from members of the LGBT community who wrote an open letter to senior members in the church condemning it. Those signing the letter include the clergy and members of the General Synod.
The missive said, “The Church of England has this week become a laughing stock to a nation that believes it is obsessed with sex.” It further added, “The statement is anything but ‘pastoral’ – it is cold, defensive, and uncaring of its impact on the millions of people it affects.”
A Church Of England spokesman commented that the decree reflected the fact bishops were, “open to opposite-sex couples as well as same-sex couples. While the document states the long-standing teaching of the Church about sexual relationships within marriage, the bishops are aware of the diversity of views and practices among members of the Church and wider society.”