SEX should only take place between married heterosexual couples, the Church of England has declared.
In a statement issued by the House of Bishops, the church also stated sexual relationships outside of opposite-sex marriage were regarded as ‘falling short of God’s purposes for human beings’.
The pastoral guidance comes after a Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that paved the way for opposite sex civil partnerships, which have been allowed since New Year’s Eve.
Marriage was ‘a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman making a public commitment to each other’, and ‘central to the stability and health of human society’, the bishops wrote. They add: ‘We believe it continues to be the best context for the raising of children.’
Urging abstinence between gay and unmarried couples, the advice concludes: ‘For Christians, marriage — that is, the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows — remains the proper context for sexual activity.’
Civil partnerships were legalised in December 2005, affording same-sex couples legal status and property rights. The Church of England already bans same-sex marriage, which was legalised in 2013, but permits clergy to enter same-sex civil partnerships if they are sexually abstinent.
The church, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (pictured), has for decades grappled with how it addresses LGBT rights as society becomes more liberal.
It is conducting a ‘major study’ on sexuality called Living in Love and Faith, due to be published later this year, which it said would ‘inform further deliberations’.
LGBT campaigner Jayne Ozanne, a member of the church’s General Synod, was ‘deeply saddened’ by the tone and content of the guidance.
‘It will appear far from “pastoral” to those it discusses & shows little evidence of the “radical new Christian inclusion” that we have been promised,’ she tweeted.
Another person commented: ‘You do know that people will have sex regardless of your policy, right?’