Statement by the College of Bishops of the United Anglican Church
Concerning Proposals to Give Ecclesiastical and Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons In Conclave, Clearwater, Florida 18 August 2003
Many individuals have addressed questions to the bishops of the United Anglican Church concerning ecclesiastical as well as legal recognition of unions between homosexual persons. The College of Bishops of the United Anglican Church affirms the following statement seeking to protect and promote the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society.
The College of Bishops supports and affirms the position of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church, released by the Holy See on 3 June 2003, entitled Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.
The nature of marriage is an inalienable characteristic of the natural relationship between males and females. It is a union solely between a man and a woman and is a mutual personal relationship which is proper to be exclusive. This natural truth about marriage is stated in the biblical accounts of creation as the natural plan. (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:24) Marriage is a holy act between a man and a woman. (Ephesians 5:32; Matthew 19:3-12; and Mark 10:6-9)
We align ourselves with the clear position of the Holy Scriptures which militate against homosexual practice. Homosexual acts are condemned by the Holy Scriptures as sinful and reflect human depravity. (Romans 1:24-27; I Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10)
We are committed, however, to provide pastoral care to homosexual people who are in our churches and communities. We accept with respect, compassion, and pastoral sensitivity persons with homosexual tendencies. We seek to avoid unjust discrimination of these individuals. We, with our brothers of the Roman Catholic Church in the aforementioned statement, see homosexual inclination as “objectively disordered” and homosexual practices as sins which are “gravely contrary to chastity.”
We find and declare that it is contrary to Holy Scripture to recognize unions between homosexual persons by ecclesiastical actions of blessing. We must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the unions between homosexual persons. Hence, no sacramental or other ecclesiastical blessing is possible of such unions. We must oppose any legal recognition by civil authorities of homosexual unions, because such action is inconsistent with natural moral law. The state that does give such recognition fails in its duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the common good.
We also find and proclaim that it is contrary to Holy Scriptures, faith, and to ecclesiastical tradition to receive into Holy Orders an active homosexual man as deacon, priest, or as bishop.
A Declaration and Re-Affirmation of the Sanctity of Life
All life has its source and continuance in the sovereign Will of God. God alone is the lord of life from its beginning in conception to the natural end of its mortal term. Every created being remains forever in a uniquely special, dignified and sacred relationship with the Creator. All l ife is therefore to be treated with reverence by humankind as holy and sanctified to God’s purposes and glorification. The right to life is God-given and inviolable.
Except in the defense of life only, and in pursuance of lawful military orders, no person, individual or collective, has any countervailing claim or right to destroy the life of another for any reason or cause. Any who purport to have or exercise such a claim or right are in rebellion against God, and participate in the disordering of His creation. To assert such is to put the claimant/actor in the place of God, to become an enemy of God, to lose his or her true personhood in the illusions of vanity and emptiness. Unrepented, this sin of idolatry inexorably leads to the sins of desecration, wrong-doing of every kind, violence, murder and moral suicide. And anyone who gives consent either passively or actively to such a claim or act becomes a participant in its sinfulness and further, with the perpetrators, assumes a measure of responsibility and accountability before God for the ensuing murder of persons and inevitable consequence in the death of any society or culture which continues to condone it. The epidemic of drug abuse and violence in our country are but warning signs of the wrath to come in consequence of the unrepented irreverence of our time.
Two pervasively accepted destroyers of life, sanity and sanctity in the practices of the modern secular world evoke our special concern as Pastors and Guardians of the Faith of God’s people: sexual licentiousness and abortion. A third is the looming tendency of social approval for so-called mercy killings in the forms of euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide by which life is deliberately and prematurely extinguished in the elderly, the infirm and the incompetent. Particularly reprehensible to our consciences is the use of abortion as a means of birth and population control – supported as they are by the decrees of our highest civil courts. Such decrees allow a woman who is pregnant with an unwanted child together with the complicit approval of her doctor-abortionist, to conclude the child’s presence in her body endangers her health (mental or physical) simply by being there. As a result of which conclusion and to the exclusion of the natural father’s knowledge or consent, the woman and the doctor/abortionist have a legal right to cause the termination of the child’s precious and holy life.
Recognizing the pervasive presence and lethal threat of these practices in the secular culture of which we are inescapably members, we call upon those to whom God has appointed us as their principle spiritual teachers and guides, to repent of these abuses and misuses of life and to re-affirm their dedication under God to life’s sanctity. And we call upon the faith community everywhere to do likewise. Further, we call on the same, particularly the young, to commit themselves openly and forthrightly to personal constancy in the defense of life by living chastely, modestly and reverently with respect to the God-given faculties of holy love and sexuality. Finally, we call upon all to exercise the privileges of membership in society and their civic communities by joining in unceasing proclamation of life’s goodness, in the teaching and fostering of reverence for life, and in lawful community action in defense of life. Finally, towards this end and confident of the divine mercy for all those who seek it, we hereby declare and appoint for ourselves and our flocks the thirteenth Friday of every calendar quarter as a day of repentance, mourning and prayer for all whose lives have been corrupted or destroyed by abuse of the body via drug and alcohol addiction, by wanton physical violence, by the misuse of sexuality, by abortion, and by euthanasia. In so doing, we invite all people of good will to join therein and in the renewal at that time of our mutual compact of dedication to life’s goodness and holiness.
In the Name of God. Amen.