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An initial reflection on the UCA Report on Marriage

The 2018 Report on Marriage and Same-Gender Relationships or The Interim Report on Sexuality - Mark II?

It is no surprise to see this report. It is simply keeping up the tradition of the liberal agenda and owes a considerable debt to the semi-failed 1996 Interim Report on Sexuality (IRS - presented to the 1997 Assembly). 

The ACC National Council will provide an initial official response and also further material to help our members and the overwhelming number of members of the church who would simply be amazed at the point the church has got to. I thought I would provide a few initial reflections and will endeavour to say more in my column in the June ACC Magazine. Hopefully the voice of the whole church will be truly heard at the Assembly in July and the more moderate members will realise the deep seriousness of the whole situation. 

I am sure that over the next few weeks there will be many critiques and detailed responses, perhaps even from some liberal theologians who at least in 1996 were brave enough to critique IRS for its theological failures and worldly context.

This is not a report putting forward different positions and providing equal opportunity for critique and review and eventual recommendation. It is similar in ethos to the IRS and is put out there for assent and adoption as a whole. I hope there will be substantial analysis of the one-sided scientific material and especially of the nature of biblical reflection - the side-stepping, if not dismissal of the foundational Genesis passage and what I see as a simplistic almost “South Park” view of Jesus. These are just some aspects that need a fuller critique, but one question, why in a diverse church are there not coherent expressions of other theological views?

The report is very well-managed, much like the process in the whole church has been. It strikes me though as the main idea is that some people in the UCA are saying “you still have not got it - you need to change your view and come on board, or at least not resist”.

Even though some liberals express the view that evangelicals should be (or are part) of the diversity of the Uniting Church, I wonder if they believe that really we should only be involved as “neutered three-legged animals”, basically in this analogy, members who may even be put to sleep (told to leave the church) if we really provide too much trouble. 

Ministers of evangelical, orthodox and reformed foundation should be especially alarmed by these proposals as they can only be seen as a step to require full involvement in the liberal agenda, or an encouragement to leave. 

In a nutshell, my view is that the adoption of the proposals would make the Uniting Church cease to be the Uniting Church and end the grand experiment that was begun in 1977 of a church movement that was not “its own denomination”, but part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Peter Bentley is the National Director of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations.