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Christians react to Church of England's new material on sexuality

Christians from across the Anglican spectrum have been commenting on the Church of England's new resources on sexuality.

Podcasts, films about people's relationships and a course have been produced by the Church of England to urge Anglicans to understand different Christian views on sexuality, gender and identity and talk together. 

The Living in Love and Faith (LLF) project includes a five-part course and videos, featuring stories from people from all points of view on sex and marriage within the Anglican church - including a young couple who saved sex for marriage (pictured) and a gay couple who met through a choir. 

Those wanting a more 'inclusive' position from the Church of England on topics such as gay marriage and trans issues have suggested the appeal in the LLF book to do more talking is shying away from action, as it suggests another year of discussing matters of sexuality before a vote in 2022. 

Those who think the Church's teaching is slipping away from the Bible on issues of marriage and gender have suggested that the introduction video to the course mostly features people commending LGBTQ+ sexual relationships or accepting a different gender to the one they were born as.

The president of the Church of England Evangelical Council and Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, who affirms heterosexual marriage, said: "For us, this is about following Christ by submitting to what Scripture says, just as He did. So we will need to discern which of the materials in LLF do that by evaluating all of the various resources in the light of Scripture. While discussions about these issues are always welcome, the key question is not one of church procedure but whether we think that the teaching of Scripture is right. So we will engage, but this is actually about obedience to Scripture."

Rev Hugh Palmer, rector of All Souls' Langham Place, commented: "To those in the Church of England who are calling for change, we must genuinely hear you and take the opportunity that LLF provides to be sure that we do. Yes, the way Christians have treated LGBT people is shameful, and we all want to recognise that. But we also hear the under-heard voices of countless same-sex attracted but celibate Christians whose lives bear witness to the radical way of Jesus and the New Testament, and we cannot, and will not, let them down."

Jayne Ozanne, a gay Christian and member of the General Synod wrote on Twitter: "To all those who say we must 'listen & learn' to the 'other side', may I respectfully remind them that some of us lived under the teachings of the 'other side' and it nearly killed us. Homophobic teaching, no matter how civilly expressed, is both dangerous & harmful. Full stop!"

The Student Christian Movement, who support LGBTQ+ Christians having the same opportunities, released a statement saying: "it is encouraging to see these laid out so clearly for those who may not previously have been aware. We welcome the Church of England’s recognition of the absolute necessity of treating LGBTQ+ people with the same dignity, respect, and love that others are afforded.  

"Tragically, for some, it is important to say this publication is too little, too late. The rejection some face within their church communities can do and has done real damage, negatively impacting both mental and physical health. Equally, this discrimination has caused irreparable damage to some individuals’ faith in God and their relationship with the Church. For us, looking after the health and wellbeing of our LGBTQ+ siblings is one of the most fundamental expressions of loving our neighbour."

The material is designed to encourage discussion about what the Bible says before the church votes on matters in 2022. 

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