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You bless it, you bought it

The Church of England’s bishops descend into utter nonsense


Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks during the annual Lord Mayor's Banquet at the Guildhall in central London on Nov. 28. Belinda Jiao/PA via Associated Press

You bless it, you bought it

After years of study, bishops of the Church of England have announced that they will not allow same-sex marriages within their churches, nor allow their clergy to perform them, but they will allow their priests to “bless” same-sex unions after a civil marriage. In other words, they lack the courage to go ahead with same-sex marriage as a rite of the church, but their backup plan for now is to allow clergy to bless the unions they cannot approve.

The Church of England was famously born in compromise, but at least it once produced bishops like J. C. Ryle, definite statements of doctrine like the Thirty-Nine Articles, and theological achievements like the Book of Common Prayer. I am an unrepentant Anglophile, though certainly not an Anglican. Nevertheless, a portrait of 16th century Archbishop Thomas Cranmer hangs in my library. I can only imagine what bishops like Ryle and Cranmer would say to their contemporaries today. It might not be polite.

The bishops’ most recent statement is almost majestic in its obtuseness and political correctness. The bishops express regret and sorrow and apologize to those they identify as “LGBTQIA+ people” for “homophobic response in our churches” and “for this we repent.” But this is the language of the self-congratulatory apology that so characterizes the moral confusion of our day. What, pray tell, is homophobia, exactly? Would preaching on Romans 1 qualify? Do the bishops repent of once holding to biblical truth? At times, the Christian church has indeed sinned against sinners by resorting to slander and caricature and hatred. But the church has never sinned by preaching the Holy Scriptures and upholding holiness. The bishops repent of what they will not define.

Britain is an increasingly secular society with an increasingly hostile edge. A small fraction of U.K. citizens ever darkens the door of a local church and one of the church’s biggest challenges is how to maintain all its empty buildings. Clearly, it cannot. The Church of England is an established church and its bishops are simultaneously clerical and political, with some sitting in the House of Lords. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was identified as an evangelical of some sort when he was elevated to that high office. It does appear that he is the sort of evangelical who is no evangelical at all.

Predictably, the bishops were also unclear about what exactly they were allowing under the rubric of “blessing” same-sex unions, except that the unions, which cannot be performed in a Church of England parish and cannot be presided over by a Church of England minister may nonetheless be blessed by the same minister in the same church by means of a structure not yet determined which will nonetheless be some kind of blessing that will, you know, bless.

Now that the sexual revolutionaries are in control of the society and ready to bare their teeth against any who resist, the bishops of the Church of England reveal themselves to be toothless tigers.

The bishops also do a ridiculous two-step on the issue of sex itself, and admit they are doing so, describing the issue as a question that “arises.” You can’t make this up.

The real point of all this is that the Church of England is now to bless same-sex unions in clear defiance of both the Bible and the tradition of the Christian church. It will do so even as many of the more conservative churches in the Anglican Communion threaten to break from Canterbury. It will do so even as those identified as LGBTQIA+ in the bishops’ statement are outraged that the church is so tepid. It will do so even after evangelicals rightly call the move outright rebellion against the Word of God.

Anglicans pride themselves on their traditional via media, or way between. They were born in an effort, at least by some, to find a third way between Protestantism and Catholicism. They are proud of their supposed openness to both believers who hold to historic Christian doctrines and heretics who deny them. Now that the sexual revolutionaries are in control of the society and ready to bare their teeth against any who resist, the bishops of the Church of England reveal themselves to be toothless tigers who hold to an imaginary third way between biblical Christianity and the ideologues of the sexual and gender revolutions.

In the Book of Common Prayer’s rite for the consecration of a bishop, the candidate is required to pledge fidelity to the Bible. Then they are asked this: “Will you then faithfully exercise yourself in the same Holy Scriptures, and call upon God by prayer, for the true understanding of the same; so as ye may be able by them to teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine, and to withstand and convince the gainsayers?”

Now, the bishops of the Church of England are the gainsayers. If you bless same-sex unions, you are buying the entire package demanded by the moral revolutionaries. This isn’t a third way. This is just old-fashioned surrender. You bless same-sex unions, dear bishops, and you just bought them.


R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Albert Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College and editor of WORLD Opinions. He is also the host of The Briefing and Thinking in Public. He is the author of several books, including The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. He is the seminary’s Centennial Professor of Christian Thought and a minister, having served as pastor and staff minister of several Southern Baptist churches.


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