Is there a connection between the Church adopting the western divorce culture of serial monogamy and the Church adopting the basics of the LesbiGay agenda?
Anglicans (apparently modern Evangelical & Charismatic) have been deeply shocked by the recent events in the Diocese of New Westminster (Vancouver) in British Columbia in Canada. Michael Ingham, the Bishop (who, significantly, was the person chosen by the House of Bishops to commend the new Canadian [less than orthodox] Prayer Book of 1985 - NEW RITES FOR A NEW AGE) has stated his intention to proceed with blessings of innovations in sexual relations since his diocese, by a majority vote, adopted the basics of the modern LesbiGay agenda of rights for homosexually-active persons.
Let me state immediately that what the Bishop intends to do, as well as the majority vote of his diocese, are acts of rebellion against the God of righteousness and He will deal with those who disobey his holy law.
But let me go on to state that this decision has not come out of the blue. It is not only imitative of what has been happening in the Episcopal Church of the USA for a decade or more; it is also the continuing expression of a Church that has lost a deep sense of being both in Christ unto salvation and under His Law unto obedience.
Since the middle of the twentieth century we have seen in North America within the two Provinces of the Anglican Communion a sustained and continuing move away from received traditional & orthodox worship, doctrine, morality, discipline and order. Some of this movement for change, but only a small part, was justified (e.g., the better insights of the liturgical movement and of moral theology).
But we need to recognize that this movement into innovation has been fired by the agenda of modern western society (feminism, human & civil rights, pragmatism, utilitarianism etc.) and much of it arises from the perennial desire of religious man to have an imperfect and easy way to worship and serve God in the world and in the church. Thus original sin as a powerful force cannot be ruled out of this situation in the continuing reduction of the high calling and standards of the Gospel of the Father and the Son.
Signs of this movement away from orthodoxy include changes in Christian worship where there has been a tendency to lose the classic doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the Person & Work of Christ Jesus and to put in its place simplified and unsatisfactory doctrines. Also there has been more than a tendency to minimise the nature and effects of human sin. The new Prayer Books of 1979 & 1985 and more clearly the new Rites of the last decade well illustrate these doctrinal changes which have had an impact on the character and content of worship and of the meaning of the Christian life.
Further, significant changes in the expression of divine Order, both in the order of creation and the order of grace, have been made to accommodate to the human rights agenda. The ordination of women has proceeded apace and become not merely an option but a necessary doctrine to be believed by all office-holders! The acceptance of the rights of the divorced to be remarried in church has proceeded rapidly since the 1950s.
So today when people who have a "sexual orientation" that is towards the same sex, and who find a person to be a partner, then in the name of human rights and of the human need for love and companionship they ask for and are granted the same privileges as those who are divorced. If you relax the rules for the divorced and introduce blessings of serial monogamy why not also do the same for serial partnerships in same-sex arrangements. If God through his ministers blesses one innovation why not bless the other also - let us be fair, let us recognize people's rights!
Arguments from biology that serial monogamy is better than serial sodomy have merit but they do not really have a place in this argument!
For people in New Westminster or elsewhere to claim that they have been orthodox up to the present, and that only now is their orthodoxy being threatened, is I think to deceive themselves and their supporters. Why did they not declare themselves in impaired communion years ago over the issues I raised above? Apparently because many of them, as many "orthodox" in the Anglican Church of Canada & the ECUSA, have already embraced in whole or part as acceptable (a) the divorce culture & serial monogamy, (b) the ordination of women and the mandating of this innovation as a church teaching, & (c) the new Prayer Book and further Rites wherein are less than acceptable - even erroneous doctrines.
I wholly support them in their opposition to the policy of their radical bishop but they (and the rest of us) I believe need to surround this opposition with prayer and fasting, with ashes of repentance and of penitence. The General Confession from their old Prayer Book (1662 revised in 1960 or 1928 USA) would make an excellent form of approach to God the Father at this time. Instead of expressing horror at what is seen as about to happen (blessings of same-sex partnerships etc) we all need to express horror at our own sins and failures and negligences..LORD HAVE MERCY UPON US.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America