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Who’s the troublemaker?

…Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals.”

This week the General Synod of the Church of England voted to encourage the Bishops to make available same-sex blessing services, on an “experimental” basis. Such services may start being used within months.

The motion was passed by the tightest of margins: just 51% in favour and 49% against among the non-ordained Synod reps. The pattern amongst the clergy was similar. Even among the bishops, the vote in favour was just 62%. Synod was a house divided.

Real questions have emerged about the process followed. Normally for major changes of official doctrine or liturgy, Synod is required to have a ⅔ majority, recognising the need for consensus and that such changes can never be made lightly. But the bishops who promoted the motion dodged this on a technicality by using the word “experimental”. Promised supporting materials were never provided, and there is some evidence that the bishops had received legal advice which they’ve not made public. The Bishop of Rochester, who courageously spoke against the motion, warned of a breakdown of trust in the Bishops which would result. Indeed.

But of course our grief at this goes beyond mere process. Let’s be clear that it does not stem from homophobia, as is alleged of us; indeed, some of those who spoke against the motion have been candid that they experience same sex attraction. At StAG, we welcome all to come to hear the life-changing news of Jesus. Rather, at the heart of the matter is that our Lord’s words (which are so clear) are being brazenly disregarded, His government of His church rejected. This is a watershed, because the Church of England’s founding documents show we are a denomination supposed to be governed by the Lord’s words in the Bible. In rejecting them, we are rejecting Him.

Inevitably, much disruption will now follow. Because (as we saw at church in His letter in Rev 2:18-29) Jesus calls His people not to tolerate those who promote sin, churches who hold to His truth must distance themselves from bishops and other churches who don’t. Increasingly, churches are questioning the stewardship of their parish share (a voluntary payment local C of E churches to the centre). Some local working relationships will, with regret, be suspended – including with bishops. Living churches will have to bypass official structures to fulfil their mission. And more. It will be – indeed already is – very painful.

In this, churches such as ours will be accused of being disruptive and schismatic. But so was Elijah, in the verses quoted above. King Ahab had led the nation away from the true and living God, to worship gods of human invention. Elijah prayed drought upon the land, to bring the king to his senses. Ahab then accused Elijah of being a troublemaker. See how the prophet replied: it has a very contemporary ring.