OTTAWA, July 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The Anglican Church of Canada has followed the lead set last year by the Episcopal Church USA and voted to conduct same-sex 'marriages.' Meanwhile, the Church of England is holding discussions on the issue in preparation for a later decision.
The decision in Canada was far from clear-cut. While a decided majority of Canadian clergy, bishops and laity at the general synod in Ottawa voted Monday for the departure from traditional Christian teaching, it appeared at first that the required two-thirds majority was not achieved among the clergy, thus defeating the motion. But advocates for the change complained that their votes had been missed, and when the ballots were checked, it proved to be the case and the decision was reversed.
Leaders of the dissenting Anglican Network in Canada expressed dismay at the decision, which they said was “clearly in contrast to the scriptural teaching of marriage and moves the Anglican Church of Canada apart from the Anglican Communion worldwide.”
Others were more blunt. Baptist pastor Dr. Joe Boot of Westminster Chapel in Toronto declared frankly: “With the recent vote to officially endorse same-sex marriage, the Anglican Church of Canada has at last demonstrated its faithless and apostate leadership. True Christians must get out.”
The decision will not become canon law, however, before 2019, when the next synod must ratify it. But same-sex wedding services will doubtless be staged in Anglican churches soon, because some bishops at the synod vowed to permit them regardless of how the vote went.
The Canadian church has been soft on homosexuality for more than a decade, allowing some dioceses to “bless” same-sex couples who were civilly married elsewhere. This caused believers in Biblical orthodoxy to leave the denomination, both individually and as entire parishes, to form the Anglican Network in Canada in 2005. It now has 6,500 members spread over 72 parishes.
The Anglican Church of Canada, on the other hand, reports just under 600,000 members, a far cry from 1.2 million during its peak in the early 1960s, when it baptized 10 percent of Canadians. Since then, the Canadian population has grown 60 percent, and in-house analysts predict the church will disappear by 2050.
Three bishops of the Anglican Network in Canada responded to the vote with a short statement that they were “truly saddened by the decision made by the Anglican Church in Canada at their 41st General Synod to change the Canon (and definition) of Marriage.”
Noting that the worldwide communion of Anglican churches recently expelled the Episcopal Church USA for doing the same thing, Bishops Charlie Masters, Stephen Leung and Trevor Walters said the ACC was acting “in defiance of biblically faithful Anglicans worldwide.”
The Rev. Joe Boot went further. In an article published on the London-based Christian Concern’s website, he likened the ACC’s action to that of arsonists who hope to rebuild their home with insurance money.
“God will not underwrite such fraud,” Boot said. “Apostate institutions are cast aside by God with their culpable leaders; he does not rebuild his church in the image of sinful man.” Citing James 3:1 and 1 Peter 4:17, he targeted the ACC’s bishops. “Such leaders have certainly forgotten that judgment begins at the house of God and that those charged to teach are subject to stricter judgment.”
Boot said the bishops “appear ready to hammer the last nails into their own coffin of spiritual apostasy and cultural irrelevance.” Though advocates of marrying homosexuals argue that such openness will encourage membership growth, Boot predicted growth would come only to churches “that remain faithful to God, to scripture and to the eternal truths of the gospel — truths set forth so powerfully in the marriage covenant. This is the end of the line for the ACC as we have known it.”
Meanwhile, the Church of England addressed the same issue, but in a way designed to avoid division. According to Andrea Williams, the co-founder of Christian Concern, delegates were first subjected to “stage managed” presentations on sexuality and then split up into discussion groups representing a cross section of “opinion” for “shared conversations.”
“Any attempt to give Biblical truth any kind of authority,” Williams reported, “was resisted.” Opinions contrary to orthodox Christian teaching on homosexuality were given equal status with that teaching. “It was all about how we feel.”
Williams still hopes for the Church of England’s bishops to halt the LGBT drive but laments that even the orthodox among them seem cowed and willing to give in. “If they don’t stop this, it’s not possible to stay,” she told LifeSiteNews. Dissenters in England and Canada who hold to traditional Christian teaching have the support of most of the world’s Anglicans, who live in Africa.