Andrea Williams, lay General Synod member in the Church of England and chief executive of Christian Concern comments on yesterday’s statement from Archbishop Justin Welby and Archbishop John Sentamu:
It amazes me that I continue to be surprised by the Church of England. This week it is astonishing that the Archbishops have issued an apology for the pastoral statement issued by the House of Bishops last week. The pastoral statement merely reiterated church teaching that marriage is a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman and that sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage.
An apology should only be made when you have done something wrong. This apology does not regret anything that was said in the pastoral statement. It is therefore a non-apology. Of course, there are people who disagree with church teaching; there always have been. This is no reason for the Archbishops to apologise for church teaching.
We are left with the appearance that the Archbishops are sorry for the offence caused by proclaiming the doctrine of marriage! This is a ridiculous position for them to be in.
Marriage is a beautiful gift of God for the benefit of society and for the raising of families. It is the bishops’ job to discipline clergy who deliberately and openly promote and practise sex outside marriage. To instead apologise for jeopardising trust and the ‘hurt’ this caused is to fail to give broken people the liberating hope they need – found only in Jesus and his truth.
Marriage is not something to be apologised for, it is something to be celebrated and upheld by our Bishops. It is tragic that the Archbishops are apologising for clearly stating the doctrine of marriage. They should be clear and unashamed about what marriage is and how it is the best foundation for a vibrant and flourishing society. Marriage is good for men, women and children and exactly what the House of Bishops should be championing.