An Unfinished Reformation (article)

Susan Gilchrist (2013)

There were many doctrinal changes that the Church adopted in regard to the role of women, gender equality and transcendence and to gender and sexual variance during the first three centuries of its existence. This study uses the results of recent research on gender dysphoria and personality development as a tool to re-examine the historical backgrounds and the reasons for these changes.

The results of this analysis challenge many of the traditional doctrines that the Church has adopted on the role of women, gender equality and gender and sexual variance. In some Churches the social changes of the last fifty years have promoted a re-evaluation of Christian teaching, but also a retrenchment into literalism and fundamentalism in others. This analysis supports this re-evaluation and gives historical and theological support to the changes that are being made.

Please note that this material is offered for discussion and comment. It does not represent the current policy or the current attitude of the Coalition, or any of its constituent groups.

This document has been updated to include comments on the Pilling Report. (12 December 2013)

Article [PDF].

Comments on the role of liturgy in the Pilling Report

The Church of England report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality, or the Pilling Report, was commissioned by the House of Bishops of the Church of England in January 2012, and was published on the 28 November 2013. The issues of providing liturgies for the celebration or blessing of same-sex marriages and civil partnerships were discussed, and the following arguments were made:
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Response to the Pilling Report

For immediate use: press release in response to the report from the House of Bishops’ working group on human sexuality (the Pilling Report)

The Coalition welcomes the publication of the Pilling Report and we appreciate that it was made public so soon.

It is good that the report recognises the diversity of theological views on this issue, including within the Evangelical wing of the Church. We are glad that the report denounces homophobia (though it is not clearly enough defined). We believe that it makes it easier for clergy to bless partnerships publicly and it calls for further discussion to try to discern where the Spirit is leading the church.

It is also good that LGB&T clergy will not face intrusive questioning though they are still asked to promise to abide by a code which would exclude most from the kind of loving and supportive relationship which others can enjoy.
We are disappointed that the Report has only mentioned rather than included transgender people in the discussion, despite submissions from transgender and LGB&T Christian organisations.

We are also disappointed that no liturgy of thanksgiving or blessing is proposed, but overall we are thankful for the working party’s effort. We trust and hope that the report may move the Church of England forward.

The Coalition and its member organisations stand ready to support the proposed facilitated conversations both in dioceses and nationally. We look forward to being fully included in all steps to help the Church of England find a way forward and we value the Pilling report as a useful contribution to the coming debate

We are also convinced that there must be a greater openness to, and a wider understanding, of the extensive range of scientific and theological work that has been, and is currently being undertaken on transgender issues and same-sex issues in addition to those relied upon within the report. We believe that what is presented there is insufficient to provide a strong and reliable foundation for the proposed conversations and we trust that these issues will be further addressed in the coming debate.

Press Release [PDF].