Rector of St Ebbe’s Response to the Bishop of Oxford
The Revd Vaughan Roberts, long-time rector of St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford Diocese, has written a forty-seven page response to the fifty-four page essay where his bishop argued in favour of same-sex marriage, conducting ceremonies for such in Church of England buildings, and allowing clergy to determine their own sexual conduct—apart from biblical standards.
Roberts has long acknowledged that he is same-sex attracted but that he has chosen to follow biblical standards of morality and remain celibate. His response met with general support within the conservative evangelical community but drew critical responses from those who felt he had somewhat blurred the lines (see one such response from A Loyal Layman) in this edition of the English Churchman.
“In his essay, Together in Love and Faith, Bishop Steven Croft explains how he came to change his mind concerning committed same-sex partnerships and argues that they should now be fully recognised and celebrated by the Church.
“He also proposes a settlement, which would provide for differentiation of provision and oversight for those who could not support this change. Given that he makes it clear that he writes self consciously as a bishop, his arguments will no doubt receive careful attention, not least in his own diocese. As an incumbent in Oxford, I feel a sense of responsibility to explain why I, along with many others in the diocese, do not agree with him that the Church should change its position on this matter. I do, however, believe that elements of the second part of his proposal offer a hopeful basis for a potential way forward for the Church of England out of the present unsatisfactory situation.”
Later in his response, he described how society has changed in the thirty years he has served at St Ebbe’s.
“Although I have stayed in the same place during those 30 years, the surrounding culture has certainly not stood still, not least in matters relating to sexuality. In 1991 the notorious Clause 28, introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government, which prohibited the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ by local authorities, was ﬁrmly in place, the age of consent for homosexual acts between men was 21 and civil partnerships, let alone same- sex marriages, were unthinkable to most people. The changes since then, both in legislation and in public attitudes to homosexuality, have been dramatic and have led, understandably, for increasing calls, from without and within, for the Church of England to catch up with society and change its own teaching and practice.”
A link to Roberts’ entire response can be found at: ridley.cam.ac.uk