Changing the tenor of the sexuality debate within the churches

By Press Office
January 25, 2014

Ekklesia has just published what Thinking Anglicans (http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk) is kind enough to call "a major commentary" on the Pilling report, written by our associate Savitri Hensman.

The report which we analyse and constructively critique, published last year, was the product of a working party on sexuality within the Church of England, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling. But the issues it tackles have their equivalence in many other churches, and will be discussed in circles far beyond their bounds.

We argue that while the report is a small step forward towards a theologically resourced acceptance of diversity, it is far too cautious. Its handling of historical and scientific evidence is weak, this detailed analysis from Ekklesia suggests. It is also unbalanced, giving too much space to one dissenting member of the working party who opposes a more pluralistic stance on same-sex partnerships. It is based on 'us' and 'them' thinking, one commentator observed.

Yet Pilling also acknowledges the existence of diversity, encourages openness to listening and growth, and may, says respondent Savi Hensman, "lead to further progress in enabling the church to value its lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) members and credibly witness in today’s world to God’s love for all."

Ekklesia's handling of these issues seeks a tradition-based case for change within the Christian community, rooted strongly in scripture and discipleship (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/about/faqs/25), while engaging the multi-voiced reality of the churches and paying serious attention to social, cultural, scientific and other factors that need to be acknowledged and accounted for in a rounded theological approach.

* The full Ekklesia document, Edging towards accepting diversity: the Pilling Report on sexuality, can be found, read and downloaded here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/pilling

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.