Genesis’ teaching on marriage needs to be ‘reconsidered’, a Church of England Bishop has stated, but The Christian Institute says the Bible’s message is clear.
The Rt Revd Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, is one of a number of Anglicans who have contributed to a book on “Revisiting scripture and sexuality”.
In it, he says: “Some reconsideration of how we should now understand the Genesis perspective on marriage is necessary, as well as exploration on how far that should affect the underlying principles.”
However, Head of Communications at The Christian Institute Ciarán Kelly, said: “The Bible is clear that marriage is between one man and one woman, and any attempt to ‘reconsider’ this is profoundly misguided.
“Genesis speaks about one man and one woman being brought together by God in marriage. Jesus and the Apostle Paul both refer back to Genesis as the foundation of our understanding about marriage.
“The different natures of men and women complement each other. Being opposite sexes is integral to the design of marriage.”
Mr Kelly also said Scripture teaches that homosexual acts are wrong, but that forgiveness is possible through repentance and faith.
He said: “The Christian faith has always affirmed biblical teaching that homosexual acts are always wrong.
“So too are sexual acts between men and women outside marriage.
“Christians must act both pastorally and publicly. The Church must care pastorally for those facing homosexual temptation, but also teach publicly that homosexual practice is always wrong. There is no contradiction between the two. Both are needed.
“Homosexual acts, like adultery and other sexual sins, can be forgiven provided there is faith and repentance. 1 Corinthians 6 makes clear that some members of the church in Corinth had previously been involved in homosexual activity, but God’s grace had transformed them.”
Bishop Bayes said he had been “profoundly changed” while considering the issue and that he had “come to believe that we need to change the church”.
He also said he was open to new interpretations of biblical texts on homosexuality.
The Bishop said he maintains official Church policy in his teaching, but that the “present situation is unsatisfactory”.
Editor of the book Jayne Ozanne, who is a lesbian, claims there is a growing number of people who “believe that it is possible to hold an affirming biblical view of same-sex relationships”.
The book comes ahead of the Church of England’s General Synod next month. At the end of formal Synod proceedings, members will discuss the issue of sexuality.