Permitted to Hold Evangelical Views On Homosexuality Not Permitted to Express It

Permitted to hold Evangelical View on Homosexuality,
Not Permitted to Express it

Sacked College Lecturer Speaks Out

Dr Aaron Edwards who was sacked by Cliff College for allegedly “bringing the college into disrepute” on social media has spoken of his experience, including the threat of a Prevent counter-terrorism referral.

On 19th February 2023, he tweeted: “Homosexuality is invading the Church. Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this b/c [because] they’re busy apologising for their apparently barbaric homophobia, whether or not it’s true. This *is* a “Gospel issue”, by the way. If sin is no longer sin, we no longer need a Saviour.”

Cliff College, the Methodist establishment in Calver, Derbyshire, asked him to take the tweet down as they believed it ‘contravened the College’s Staff Social Media Policy.’ The College dismissed Dr Edwards in March after he refused to do so, on conscience grounds.

A spokesman for the College said, “As a Methodist institution, Cliff College is committed to being a safe and hospitable place where those with differing convictions are welcomed and encouraged to live and learn together as faithful disciples of Christ.”

Speaking to the English Churchman, Dr Edwards, 37, who is married with five children, spoke of his future plans to gather like minded theological and missiological leaders to work on various writing projects to awaken and equip the Church.

Reflecting on his experience in the last few months, he lamented what his former college had become. “Whilst Cliff College certainly has a wonderful heritage of evangelical emphases and maintains this stance in its vision statements, its attachment to the Methodist Church in Britain has eroded the functional outworking of these beliefs over time, particularly in recent years since the same-sex marriage vote within that denomination,” he said. 

“When I first arrived at Cliff seven years ago, the talk was about retaining the college’s ‘distinctly evangelical voice’ within British Methodism and as a witness to it. My sacking for expressing the implications of the evangelical view on homosexuality proves that whilst you may be permitted to hold such a view, woe unto you if you dare express it.”

Dr Edwards explained how the culture of British Methodism changed after the denomination voted to permit same-sex marriages: “it became more unthinkable for an evangelical to truly express the reality that homosexuality is sinful and under the judgement of God, due to the offence this would cause. I raised this several times within the college and to various Methodist leaders. I was never given a clear answer; I was merely told that both views are respected… The vast majority of the higher-ups in British Methodism are progressive, and a number are themselves in same-sex relationships or marriages, so they were clearly not prepared to ‘tolerate’ being told that what they believe God celebrates is in fact an ‘invasion’ upon the Church. This is what Methodism failed to understand about the conservative view on homosexuality: the only conservatives really permitted to hold it are those who will not talk about it too much, and if they do talk about they will need to spend a great deal of time apologising for their view rather than truly proclaiming it with conviction.”

He drew lessons from the Methodist experience for what might lie ahead in the Church of England: “Those seeking to be biblically faithful in the CofE will be told that their view will be respected until so many years down the line when their view will eventually be viewed with incredulity… This is the long-term effect of the yeast in the dough, as Biblical beliefs are imperceptibly eroded.

Dr Edwards issued this warning to Anglican evangelicals seeking special differentiation or accommodation within the Church: “The very fact that the biblically faithful view is the one spoken of as requiring ‘accommodation’ within the CofE is itself an indicative metaphor. Jesus said that to hear and obey His Word is to build our house on the rock (Matt. 7:24). Those who seek to be biblically faithful are not the controversial ones. Why are we the ones being offered ‘accommodation’ within our own house…?”

The full English Churchman interview with Dr Edwards can be found on page 4.