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Church of England: Bishop Threatens to Quit Over Controversial Teachings

A Bishop has threatened to quit the Church of England over his concerns about the relaxation of traditional teachings on LGBT+ relationships.

The Rt. Rev Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn, made the controversial comments ahead of the annual meeting of the General Synod, the Church’s legislative body, which met on Monday.

In a 30-minute video produced by the C of E Evangelical Council (CEEC) – of which the Bishop is President – and which sets out orthodox biblical teaching on sexuality and relationships, he said that he and other conservative evangelical Christians would  consider leaving the Church if it changes traditional teaching on sexuality and identity.

He added that such a move would be “a moment for people to have to reconsider their allegiance to the church”.

It is unusual for a serving Bishop – of whom there are 42 within the Church of England – to threaten to quit and the Bishop of Blackburn is the most senior figure to suggest there could be a big split in the Church over sexuality.

His comments come after earlier this month, the House of Bishops published its long-awaited report, “Living in Love and Faith”, in a bid to hold “open and honest” discussions and learn about gender identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage – subjects that are controversial within the Christian faith.

The Most Rev. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York, apologized for the “huge damage and hurt” that has been caused to LGBTI+ people within the church.

However they also gave an indication of the timeline for “decision-making” on issues such as same sex marriage, saying they hoped to come to conclusions by 2022.

The Rt Rev Henderson, who took up his seat as one of the ‘Lords Spiritual’ in the House of Lords in February, said in the video: “At the moment, I want to be in the Church of England, I want to fight for the traditional teaching of the church on these matters.

“But the time may come when it’s going to be essential for those who hold to scriptural teaching on marriage and same-sex relationships to say, ‘We cannot operate under this particular system and support this kind of doctrine and practice within the life of our church.’

“And that may then lead to having to look for alternative solutions.”

Currently, the Church of England does not allow same-sex marriage and does not officially bless same-sex civil marriages. Furthermore, gay members of the clergy are permitted to be in relationships ,so long as they are celibate.

The CEEC film entitled, ‘Beautiful Story’ urges evangelical members of the church to stand for election to the General Synod, in order to oppose and vote against any change to traditional teaching.

In response, Jayne Ozanne, a prominent LGBT campaigner and former member of the Archbishops Council, described the video as “horrendous”.

She said that the video “sets out the harmful teaching to which many evangelical churches are subjecting their congregations – including their LGBT+ congregants”.

In a blogpost for ViaMedia, an online publication of which she is editor, she called for an independent inquiry into the “harmful practices and rhetoric that LGBT+ people are being subjected to in our society, and by certain religious groups in particular.”

She added: “Make no mistake about it, Church of England, this sort of teaching is wrong, harmful, dangerous and must be stopped. What is it going to take? Another young person deciding to take their life?”

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