Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies used his presidential address to the Sydney Anglican diocese synod to argue the church couldn’t bless same-sex marriage because it couldn’t bless sin.
The church’s frequently affirmed belief that “marriage is between a man and a woman” was not popular in Australia or consistent with the legal definition of marriage since the Marriage Act was amended in late 2018, Dr Davies acknowledged on Monday.
“Nonetheless, God’s intention for marriage has not changed … we cannot bless same-sex marriages for the simple reason that we cannot bless sin,” the archbishop said in his speech.
The archbishop took issue with the diocese of Wangaratta, in Victoria, which this year passed a regulation with the intention of blessing same-sex marriages, Dr Davies said.
That synod’s decision has been referred to an internal tribunal by the head of the Anglican Church of Australia, Dr Philip Freier.
The national Anglican synod will hold a special session in 2020 on same-sex marriage and blessings but, the Sydney archbishop said, the “time has come to take action and make decisions”.
“My own view is that if people wish to change the doctrine of our church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views – but do not ruin the Anglican church by abandoning the plain teaching of scripture,” Dr Davies said.
“Please leave us. We have far too much work to do in evangelising Australia to be distracted by the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world.”
It’s also proposed that a doctrinal statement on gender identity be adopted by the Sydney synod.
The statement says a person’s humanity isn’t diminished by conflict between their biological sex and gender identity, but the experience is “one of the consequences of the fall (of mankind)”.
“Blurring the distinctions between male and female, or seeking to present as a sex opposite to one’s biology, is a denial of the significance of the biologically-sexed body that God has given to us,” the statement reads.
“Seek options that maintain the integrity of your physical and mental unity, and which honour and preserve the maleness or femaleness of the body God has given you,” one of the guidelines states.
Pastoral care guidelines for the diocese’s churches, schools and organisations are also up for debate.
The guidelines encourage Christians to show compassion, love and care to those struggling with the issue as “they too are made in God’s image”.
Proposed policy on guidelines for churches says ministry staff should indicate to Christians considering or already transitioning to “indicate all forms of gender transitioning are against God’s purposes for the person … but continue to provide pastoral and practical care”.
For those who have already transitioned, ministry staff are to encourage the person to “consider de-transitioning, where possible, and to be content to live in accordance with their biological sex”.
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