Multiple bishops in the Church of England publicly called for the institution to begin conducting same-sex marriages last week.
The Right Rev. Dr. Steven Croft, who serves as bishop of Oxford, became the first serving senior bishop in the Church of England to affirm homosexual unions last week, according to The Sunday Times.
Croft’s affirmation was echoed by the Right Rev. Dr. John Inge, the bishop of Worcester, and the Right Rev. Martin Gorick, the bishop of Dudley, both of whom are also high-ranking prelates.
Croft, who sits in the House of Lords, said he once held an “orthodox” Christian view regarding sex and marriage but has since “slowly but surely experienced a change of heart and mind.”
The bishop maintained that it is “unjust” for the Church of England to keep refusing to marry gay couples, claiming that the historical Christian position has engendered “manifest unfairness, anger and alienation among a whole generation.”
Croft also called for a change in ecclesiastical law that would allow for “the solemnization of same-sex marriage in the Church of England” and backed a move to provide laity and clergy the “freedom to marry same-sex partners [and] freedom to be sexually active.”
In a 52-page essay entitled “Together in Love and Faith,” Croft likened homosexuality to being left-handed, writing, “It is unclear to me what is the harm that allegedly flows from the blessing of same-sex unions or marriage.”
“The present position of the Church of England on same-sex relationships no longer seems appropriate. Change is needed,” he wrote.
Inge and Gorick supported Croft’s position in a joint letter, writing in part: “We believe that the time has come for the church to honor and celebrate same-sex relations. Our preferred option would be for same-sex couples to be able to marry in church.”
The bishops urged the Church of England to begin blessing same-sex unions and called on church leaders to stop “whispering in private” about their support for changing the Church’s position on homosexuality.
Bishops in the Church of England are slated to present recommendations to the General Synod in February regarding whether to revise the millennia-long standard that marriage ought to be between one man and one woman, which could open the door for an unprecedented vote on the issue.
“At last we have a senior diocesan bishop who is willing to break the self-imposed collegiate silence of English bishops and call for an end to the manifold injustice in the way the Church of England treats LGBT+ people,” said Jayne Ozanne, a gay rights campaigner who sits on the General Synod, according to The Sunday Times.
“Bishop Steven must be applauded for setting out clearly what he believes and being one of the few serving diocesan bishops to risk the wrath of the conservatives by saying in public what so many whisper in private. I hope this brave step will encourage others to be open about their own views.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the London-based nonprofit Christian Concern, blasted Croft, Dudley and Gorick as “revisionist bishops” in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.
Williams’ nonprofit has advocated for multiple people who have taken legal action against Church of England institutions for what they allege to be discrimination against their Christian beliefs regarding sexuality and gender.
Williams said the stance from the bishops poses “a radical change” that threatens to tear “a rupture in the Anglican communion” worldwide.
“The Church’s official position matches the clear teaching of Scripture by saying that sex belongs within one-man, one-woman marriage,” Williams said. “Nevertheless, bishops and clergy have been allowed to sow endless doubt about what Christians throughout history and around the world have recognized is God’s pattern for sexuality.”
“Their theological arguments have been debunked time after time by genuine scholars,” she continued. “Jesus himself clearly upheld the sexual ethics of the Old Testament while demonstrating grace and offering forgiveness to all who sought it.”
Williams went on to claim that such positions from church leaders are driven by “a relentless desire to mirror society’s values,” and that they are exhibiting views that are “rank heresy” and “no less than apostasy.”
“The apostolic gospel calls all people, everywhere, to repent — to turn away from their sins and toward Christ,” she added. “Such a radical change to the nature of repentance, to the doctrine of marriage, alters the gospel itself.”
“This alternative gospel which approves of sexual chaos fails to love or serve both God and society,” she added.
“Any move by the Church of England to revise the doctrine of marriage will cause open rupture in the Anglican communion, not only in the U.K. but all over the world,” Williams warned. “Faithful bishops the world over now need to stand up and defend the historic and biblical doctrine of marriage as between one woman and one man for life.”