Speaking in the House of Commons, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has expressed his disappointment following the rejection of a report by the Church's governing body General Synod.
The Bishop's report called for the #Church Of England to pursue a "fresh tone and culture of welcome and support" towards homosexuals, but retain its opposition to same-sex marriage.
Mr Bradshaw said: "Isn't it increasingly untenable for our established church, which enjoys significant privileges in this country because of its established status, to continue to discriminate against its own members simply because they happen to be gay?"
A growing divergence
Mr Bradshaw highlights a growing problem faced by the Church of England. As the established church in England, they are effectively viewed by the Government as a part of the State with the Prime Minister even playing a significant role in selecting Bishops for the church. This places the Church of England in an awkward position when government social policy diverges significantly from the historic teaching of the church.
How can one branch of the State see any group of people as able to fulfil any role, while another branch of the State restricts the roles that group can fulfil? In this case the issue is homosexuality, a few decades ago it was female ordination. Soon it will probably be transgender rights, or whatever social issue is current.
If the Church of England remains a part of the national political establishment then they will be expected to abide by whatever the currently accepted cultural standards are. If they can't do that their position must become untenable.
What will be more concerning for genuine believers who remain within the Church of England is Dame Caroline Spelman's response to Ben Bradshaw. She said, "The Church of England is working towards a culture change which is inclusive within the current legal and doctrinal context."
If they really think they can produce a “culture change” that can be inclusive within the current legal and doctrinal context they will soon discover a problem. The existing legal context and the historic doctrinal context are now mutually incompatible. The Church of England is supposed to derive its authority from the bible which says one thing, while the law says something different. This creates an impossible situation for those who must frame Church of England policy. Their traditional approach to this has been to fudge the issues and try to frame a compromise, but these two positions have diverged so far that this is becoming ever more difficult.
The Church of England cannot change the law, so if they which to remain a part of the government they will be left with no option but to change their doctrine. If they do that they will alienate a large part of those who identify as #Anglican churchgoers, as well as much of the Anglican communion worldwide. They will become little more than a religious club to maintain historic buildings while offering feel-good platitudes at weddings and funerals.
Disestablishment: The way ahead
If the Church of England wants to survive as a church then the only way forward for them is to apply for #disestablishment Independence would give them the freedom to speak without fear on the issues of the day. If the church of England took the radical step of employing clergy that embraced the historic teaching of the church, then they would start to grow again as a denomination. Other Christian denominations are seeing growth yet the CofE stagnates because it no longer takes a clear position on any of the issues of the day.
A coming split
It appears inevitable that whatever the Church does there will be a split within a few years. Their continual compromising ultimately satisfies neither the liberal or the conservative, and one of these groups will ultimately abandon them. They would be best advised to take the bold course and disestablish now while they still have a church to save.