The Apostle Paul once had to defend his integrity against charges of double talk from some people in Corinth. He vehemently repudiated the accusation, realizing that for anyone, but especially for a man who claimed to be an ambassador of the God of truth, it is a shameful thing to practice duplicity. He was reflecting the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ who commanded us, "Let your yea be yea and your nay, nay." In other words, speak the truth and eschew double talk. I wish the bishops of the Church of England shared this commitment to plain speaking and honesty.
How's this for an exercise in duplicity? Listen to this statement from the bishops: "The Church's teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged." That teaching is that sexual relations properly belong "within marriage exclusively." The bishops' statement goes on to say that marriage "is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society." So far so good. This sounds like the bishops stand firmly for the biblical standard that excludes such relationships as cohabitation outside of marriage and homosexual partnerships. Nothing could be further from the truth. Out of one side of their mouths the bishops speak of marriage as a "faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman," the only sphere for lawful sexual relations. But listen as they proceed to speak out of the other side of their mouths:
"While the same standards apply to all, the Church did not want to exclude from its fellowship those lay people of gay or lesbian orientation who, in conscience, were unable to accept that a life of sexual abstinence was required of them and instead chose to enter into a faithful, committed relationship. ‘The House considers that lay people who have registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and communion.'"
You may recall the furor when Bill Clinton's regime established the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for homosexuals in the military. Well, that policy was the soul of perspicacity and honesty compared to the conflicting statements of the Anglican Bishops. Having hopefully lulled their conservative elements into a state of unsuspecting acceptance by their unambiguous statement on the exclusive sanctity of marriage they proceed to say that practicing homosexuals should not even be asked about the nature of their relationship and should be admitted to baptism, confirmation and the Lord's Table even if they are living in defiance of the very standard that the bishops described as the exclusive and divinely sanctioned sphere of sexual relations.