Earlier this week we made the decision to engage in the debate around the Sexual Orientation Regulations, in the light of the protest outside the House of Lords on Tuesday night (9th January). It is important to explain to you what we did and why we did it.
When consultation on the proposed legislation took place earlier in 2006, we welcomed the SORs as an attempt to ensure goods and services are delivered inclusively and in non-discriminatory ways.
We released a statement to the press on Monday, voicing our concern at the aggressive and virulent approach that some parts of the Church appeared to be taking on the issue. I appeared on various news programmes and websites the following day, including BBC News 24 and News at Ten, and also went down to observe the rally outside Parliament, and to talk to some of the people down there. Since then, other Christian leaders have spoken out to agree with our views.
This is why we did what we did:
The SORs are designed to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the delivery of goods, facilities and services. Our engagement with this issue sits firmly within our stated aims and objectives, which are:
- To empower and inspire individual Christians and local churches to develop their role at the hub of their community.
- To challenge and change the public perception of the Church by engaging with media and government.
- To encourage unity and partnership, to meet the needs of local communities.
The tone and context of our engagement reflects the ongoing position of Faithworks. We seek to be distinctively Christian, and enable our members to engage positively with their communities.
We celebrate the different contributions and views of the whole Christian church to the issue of human sexuality. We believe that our approach to the SORs and to Equality & Diversity legislation, which focuses on human dignity and unconditional service, allows for distinctive Christian views of sexuality while encouraging unconditional love and service. This is the Jesus model.
Christians are called to follow Jesus’ example, and he says remarkably little about sexuality in scripture. Rather, he treats all people he comes across with love and acceptance, and does not refuse his service to anyone, even if he does not agree with their lifestyle.
We encourage our members, and all those of Christian faith, to follow Jesus’ example, and to serve all people, regardless of their lifestyle, by expressing welcome and recognising the dignity of every human being. We believe that a strong sense of Christian identity and purpose enables the Church to provide goods and services in a non-discriminatory way, without that identity being diminished.
The Faithworks Charter expresses our commitment to the equal value of all people, setting out 15 high quality standards for the delivery of public services, including non-discriminatory delivery.
Having seen the rally outside parliament for ourselves, we are concerned that the tone of the debate has become aggressive and virulent, creating an unattractive witness. We call on the Church to reposition itself in a more confident and compassionate way. This is an opportunity to demonstrate positive Christian faith in action, rather than to build a fortress mentality.
The Church is not called to judge the world but to serve all people with a clear commitment to the values and example of Christ.