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The Church of England: Facing Reality

By Cornelius Harding
January 19, 2023

"In Oldspeak it is called, quite frankly, 'reality control'. In Newspeak it is called doublethink, though doublethink comprises much else as well.

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt." George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Part 2, Chapter 9

The Church of England has officially announced that it will release unofficial new liturgies, which will in fact not contradict the old liturgies, though in order to ensure the fact that this is appreciated these new liturgies must be officially received without having been seen or even yet written by its ruling body the Church synod, who themselves will not officially approve of them as to do so would require a two thirds majority which they don't need because officially there is no change to the liturgy.

The Church of England officially believe that sex belongs only within marriage, and that marriage is a life long monogamous relationship between one man and one woman. Also officially the Church of England will now bless other sexual relationships as long as some sort of legal commitment has been shown using its officially agreed unofficial liturgies. The Church of England believe that its clergy should be examples to the flock in their faith and living. To ensure this is the case the Church of England will officially remove the requirement that its clergy not engage in sexual acts outside of marriage, whilst unofficially maintaining the requirement that they maintain the official teaching which is that sex belongs within marriage.

The bishops are to take a lead in expounding this teaching with new pastoral guidance although it must be made clear that only the guidance is new whilst in fact the teaching has not changed. In fact many Bishops wanted change to the teaching of the Church of England and are upset that no change has been made. Nevertheless the Bishops wanted to issue new pastoral guidance to celebrate this historic occasion whereby the clergy will now be able to officially bless same-sex sexual relationships whilst maintaining that sex is not allowed outside of marriage between a man and a woman. The Bishops see this as the end a process of finding a long term solution to disagreement within the Church of England about the church's teaching on sex.

This first step, however, does not in any way imply the Church of England has reached the end of its journey in regards to its approach to human sexuality but rather that it is listening to God and to the people it serves. To show its sincere desire to listen the Church of England will issue an apology to the LGBT community for the rejection they have felt due to the Church of England's teaching that their sexual relationships are sinful, and in order to right this wrong it will now enter into a new culture of radical inclusion as demonstrated in its introduction of blessings for their relationships. At the same time to show its sincere desire to listen the Church of England will maintain its teaching on marriage and sexuality, however, further listening may lead to different results with exciting new potential discoveries having been made by a few bishops.

These Bishops have discovered that the requirements in the New Testament in regards to marriage are somewhat different to those in the Old Testament causing them to doubt whether either set of requirements was ever required by God. They want to make clear, however, that they do not doubt the accuracy of the recording of these requirements in God's word. They can see that Jesus taught clearly that marriage was between a man and a woman but they find no data which says Jesus taught marriage is not between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. They have therefore come to the conclusion that what God has not condemned let man not condemn. Some have argued that this is precisely what the bible does in both the Old and New Testaments, but, these bishops want to point out that this was done by Jewish teachers who understood things from a Jewish perspective and as we are not Jewish we need not follow their line of thinking. That being said they also want to point out that they do not believe these condemnations are in fact condemnations of same-sex relationships at all but rather of rape.

Some have complained that these Bishops are teaching something in contradiction to the Church of Englands teaching. However, the Bishops maintain that no change of teaching has in fact been made but rather that they are simply advocating one. The Archbishop has assured those who are concerned that there is no change in teaching whilst also commending those bishops who have made these new discoveries as faithful teachers. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has decided as chief shepherd in order to maintain unity he will not issue any teaching as he wants to make sure that he doesn't come in to conflict with the teaching of any other bishop; this he feels is his responsibility as he is called to uphold the teaching of the Church.

This is not a joke; this is reality.

Cornelius Harding is an Anglican lay theologian living in Norwich, England.

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