YORK, U.K. — The Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, has voted overwhelmingly to “welcome and affirm” transgendered persons, and might now also offer special liturgies to mark the person’s “transition” and accept them in their new perceived identity.
According to the denomination’s website, the General Synod voted on Sunday to approve a motion that “recognizing the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call[s] on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.”
An outline of the proposal explains that the materials “may be used in parish churches and chaplaincies to provide a pastoral response to the need of transgender people to be affirmed following their long, distressing, and often complex process of transition.”
The House of Bishops voted 30-2 in favor of the motion, with two abstaining, and the House of Clergy voted to approve the measure 127-28, with 16 abstentions. Similarly, in the House of Laity, 127 supported the motion versus 48 opposed, with eight abstaining from the vote.
Chris Newlands from Blackburn, Lancashire proposed the motion, stating, “I hope that we can make a powerful statement to say that we believe that trans people are cherished and loved by God, who created them, and is present through all the twists and turns of their lives.”
As previously reported, in 2015, Newlands told reporters that he concocted the idea after being approached by a girl who identifies as a boy, who wished to be baptized again under her male name.
“I said, ‘Once you’ve been baptized, you’re baptized,’” Newlands recalled to the Guardian at that time. “[But] he said, ‘But I was baptized as a girl, under a different name.’”
“I said, ‘Let me have a think about it.’ So we did, and then we created a service, which was an affirmation of baptismal vows where we could introduce him to God with his new name and his new identity,” he said.
An amendment proposed by Nick Land of the Diocese of York, which called upon the House of Bishops to consider the theological and pastoral ramifications of gender transitions, was rejected by all three houses.
The synod also voted on Saturday to call upon the government to ban homosexual “conversion therapy,” with Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, asserting that it is not sinful to identify as homosexual.
“As the world listens to us, the world needs to hear us say that LGBT orientation and identity is not a crime. LGBT orientation and identity is not a sickness. And LGBT orientation and identity is not a sin,” he claimed. “In the Church we are certainly called to help one another to conform their lives to Jesus Christ and to live lives of holiness, but we do not need to engage people in healing therapy if they are not sick.”
However, some lamented the development, stating that it is an affront to the very heart of the gospel and the meaning of being a Christ-follower.
“To be a Christian is to surrender our appetites and longings, ordered and disordered to Christ. That’s what it means to take him as Lord,” wrote Gavin Ashenden for Anglican Ink. “That is what he encourages us to do in Matthew 11, when he says “Come unto me all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy. My burden is light.”
“The great travesty committed by the Church of England was to put forgiveness out of the reach of Anglicans. It did this by insisting that there was nothing to repent of, nothing to be sorry about, nothing to ask for help over in the face of sexual desires that were at odds with our biology or our commitments to Christ,” he explained.
Ashenden said that the Church of England has now presented a false Jesus to the world—which is especially dangerous and damning to those who are perishing.
“Where the real Jesus saves us from our sins and offers us renewal in the image and furthers the likeness of God, the fake Jesus offers to make us comfortable in our skins, cosy with our sexual appetites and untroubled by having the central areas of who we are off limits to the interference of God,” he outlined.
“This comes under the historic categories of both blasphemy and heresy,” Ashendon continued. “It interferes with peoples’ salvation. It replaces faith in the Living Christ with pseudo-therapy. It is an abandonment of the heart of the gospel; and this is done by people who when they use the words ‘Jesus, holy, love and acceptance,’ have twisted the words to mean very different things from what the Church has always intended.”