Following his speech
at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday July 24th, Anglican Mainstream
has sent this letter to the Prime Minister asking him to correct his serious misrepresentation of the teaching of the Church. His Grace is happy to reproduce it:
The Rt Hon David Cameron P.C. M.P.,
10 Downing Street
July 25 2012
Dear Prime Minister,
We write to ask you to correct a serious misconception in the speech you made to representatives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Groups at Number 10, reported on your website on 25 July 2012.
In that speech you say that opponents of the redefinition of marriage within the church are “locking out people who are gay, or are bisexual or are transgender from being full members of that Church.” This is simply not the case. It is in fact the teaching of Christian churches that all people, including those self-identified as gay, bisexual or transgendered, are to be welcomed as members.
Your misconception suggests, first, that you are not adequately informed about the terms being used in the debates about same-sex attraction. For example, when you refer to ‘people who are gay, bisexual or transgender’, do you mean people who experience these attractions or people who engage in such experiences? For the churches, the distinction is critical: those who experience the attraction have always been fully welcomed. This is because ‘full membership’ of a Christian church comprises those who are baptised, i.e. those who have repented of their sins, and declared their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Since we are all sinners, all people are welcome. You are perhaps familiar with the most famous verse in the Bible: God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, emphasis added). That is why the gospel is such good news for everyone.
Second, your statement suggests that you have not understood what ‘full membership’ of a Christian church actually means. When we are baptised, we make a commitment to live no longer according to our own lights but according to the love of God as expressed in the teaching of Jesus and the scriptures. This teaching allows for physical sexual expression only within marriage of a man and a woman, and calls for repentance when we transgress. This applies, of course, just as much to hetero-sexual activity outside marriage as it does to homosexual activity.
We are sure that you will agree that, whatever people’s views about a public policy issue such as your Government’s proposal for same-sex marriage, the public debate about them should be conducted as far as possible on the basis of correct information. We make no progress if we misrepresent the views of those with whom we disagree. We therefore invite you, in the interest of promoting healthy and effective public debate, to correct the misconception contained in your statement of 25 July.
Please be assured that, notwithstanding our differences with you on this question, we as Christians will continue to pray for you and your colleagues in government in the heavy responsibilities you bear at this challenging time for our nation and a needy world.
Dr Philip Giddings (Convenor)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Executive Secretary)
on behalf of Anglican Mainstream