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Topical Tuesday: The Southwark Declaration

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Posted by Lee Gatiss, 10 Mar 2015

Church Society Council commends the Southwark Declaration as a clear outline of basic Christian truths on the subject of sexuality.

Recently, several incumbents and churches in the Diocese of Southwark got together to make the following simple declaration. It affirms basic Christian truths and calls upon the bishops there to affirm, live by, and teach these things in their diocese. At a time when many are confused about issues of sexuality in particular, it is a useful reminder of the clear teaching of Scripture and the Anglican formularies.

When they met today, the Council of Church Society resolved to commend this declaration to others, as a model and template of what might also be affirmed by all orthodox people in any diocese. The text of the declaration is as follows:

As clergy and lay people in the Diocese of x:

We affirm the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and their supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. We affirm with Canon A5 that ‘the doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.’’

We affirm, with Article XX, that ‘it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written.’

We affirm the teaching of Scripture (Genesis 2.24, Mark 10. 7, Matthew 19.5), the Book of Common Prayer, and Canon B30 (‘Of Holy Matrimony’) that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. We affirm it is the one God-ordained context for sexual intercourse. We affirm resolution 1.10 on human sexuality of the Lambeth Conference (1998).

We call upon all the Bishops, Archdeacons, and the senior staff of the Diocese, alongside all clergy and licensed lay ministers, to affirm these truths, live by them, and to teach in accordance with them.

We call upon the Bishops to appoint to positions of teaching authority only those who hold to these truths in good conscience.

Is this the kind of thing which you and others in your diocese might also “declare”, for the sake of clarity and love at a time of confusion? We commend this very straightforward idea to your thoughts and prayers, as a concrete proposal for broadly-based joint action, whatever the situation might be in your particular diocese at the moment.

Revd Dr Lee Gatiss is the Director of Church Society

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