jQuery Slider

You are here


She ripped the Church of England's Decision to Restrict Sex to Heterosexual Marriage
They have not made a decision for the rest of us, said the Rev. Dr. Helen Jacobi

By David W. Virtue, DD
February 20, 2020

The Rev. Dr. Helen Jacobi, Vicar of St. Mathew in the City of Auckland told The Spinoff, a weekly newsletter, that unmarried Anglicans can still have sex. "Yes, absolutely. Rejoice, all who appreciate a church hymn while also appreciating a bit of hanky panky. You may be falling short of God's purposes for human beings in England but in New Zealand, you're doing just fine."

"I'm sure there'll be some Anglican clergy in the more conservative group who would teach abstinence before marriage," said Jacobi. "But you know [laughs], that's just not reality. That's not what people's lives are like. So good luck to them."

In 2018, the general synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia voted to allow clergy to bless same-sex civil relationships. It was a progressive step forward, though perhaps a half step. In America, the bishops voted in 2015 to allow priests to marry same-sex couples, shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized. In New Zealand, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013, "we can bless them but we still can't marry them."

Given the lack of a unified front, it was down to individual clergy to determine their teachings, she said.

Jacobi took a swing at the Church of England's recent statement affirming heterosexual sex and that it must stay between a man and a woman in marriage.

"The Church of England does not speak for New Zealand churches. People misunderstand the authority of the Church of England," she said. "It's not that they've made a decision for the rest of us, it's that they've made a decision internally for England itself," said Jacobi.

The decision wasn't shared by most Western churches, with all but Australia and England allowing same-sex blessings in some form. "They've made themselves a complete laughing stock," said Jacobi. "They have absolutely misread the public mood. It's a PR disaster."

Same-sex marriage has been a contentious issue within the church for decades, and New Zealand's decision to make minor provisions was a balancing act, said retired bishop Richard Randerson.

Conservative Anglicans were not happy, aligning more with the Church of England's stance that same-sex relationships go against the doctrine of the Church. "But for those, of whom there are many, that believe a committed relationship of two same-sex people is acceptable in the eyes of God, they are, to a certain extent, happy with the provision that's been made. But they say it still falls short." For those, only acknowledging civil relationships when marriage for all is legal is simply separating same-sex couples from the institution of church and marriage.

Since 2018, Jacobi says she has blessed just one same-sex civil relationship. "People aren't exactly knocking down the door for these blessings because what they want is full marriage."

Recently, twelves churches throughout New Zealand made up of evangelical Anglicans met in Christchurch and broke away from the official Anglican Church in New Zealand to form the Synod of the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand. They ordained their own bishop. The new Anglican Diocese said they stand firmly in Anglican faith and practice, and are structurally distinct from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. They swore allegiance to GAFCON, a global Anglican fellowship of orthodox Anglicans that upholds the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.

The Anglican Church of New Zealand hasn't made a statement agreeing with the Church of England because it hasn't made a statement at all, said Randerson. "I don't think we've made a statement as to whether you can have sex before marriage," he said, "but I would think that most people would assume that marriage was the starting block."

Jacobi agreed, in part. "Traditionally, in the past, the church would have said that sexual activity belongs within marriage. But if push came to shove now, I would say that we would want to emphasize that sexual relationships are something to be treasured and that it belongs in a relationship of some kind of permanence or commitment but we wouldn't go so far as to say it only belongs in heterosexual marriage. It's just so narrow, in this day and age, to say that."

"I've been ordained for 27 years and I have never married a couple who weren't already living together," she added.


Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Prayer Book Alliance

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

Drink Coffee

Do Good

Sustainable Ministry

Coffee, Community, Social Justice


Go To Top