Church of England Evangelical Council has published a statement on marriage which is well worthy of study.
The St Matthias Day Statement (14 May 2012) is an update of the 1995 St Andrew’s Day Statement on homosexuality and seeks to help Anglicans understand their church’s teaching in the area of marriage and sexual relationships and its relevance today.
It does so by providing a five-fold summary of that teaching based in Scripture and Anglican tradition under the following headings:
1 – God’s love and call to love
2 – God’s Word and Church
3 – God’s gift of marriage
4 – God’s grace and call to holiness
5 – God’s people united in and by God’s word
As would be expected the statement takes a very high view of Scripture and is unambiguous about taking the whole of Scripture seriously.
I was particularly struck by the principles in section 2 which need far wider promulgation, especially 2b which addresses a major heresy in the church today.
The essential flaw of this heresy is that it tries to affirm ‘God is Love’ (I John 4:8) whilst ignoring ‘This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments’ (I John 5:3).
The commandment to love our neighbours (Exodus 19:18) cannot be used to justify sexual sin.
But this notion, popularised by Joseph Fletcher the founder of situation ethics in the 1960s, is now endemic in sections of the church and is doing tremendous damage.
In fact President Obama fell into a similar trap last week when he attempted to use Jesus' golden rule to justify same sex marriage.
Like most heresies it emphasises one biblical truth to the exclusion of another. This is how the St Matthias Statement handles it:
2a. The authority of the Church to decide its own actions is limited by the word of God in Holy Scripture.
2b. The Church is not free to use certain parts of the Bible, such as the commandment to love our neighbours, as a justification for setting aside teaching contained in other parts of the Bible, such as the rejection of same-sex sexual activity.
2c. The Church therefore does not have the authority to introduce any form of marriage that differs from the form of marriage authorised and commended in Holy Scripture or to commend sexual behaviour forbidden by Holy Scripture.
But don't stop here. Take time to read the whole St Matthias Statement for yourself. It is eminently worthy of study by evangelicals and non-evangelicals alike.