Bishop Condie’s Speech in Support of the SEC Motion

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Motion 22.8 Scottish Episcopal Church.

We Anglicans are people of the Book. Marriage is a big theme of the bible inextricably linked to our salvation. The Bible opens and closes with a marriage. The opening marriage between Adam and Eve referred to by Jesus, is brought to its fulfilment in the marriage supper of the Lamb in the book of Revelation.

Holy matrimony, as BCP puts it, signifies “unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church”. As such marriage is unity in diversity. It only makes sense, as a signifier of our union with Christ, if there is diversity (male and female) within it. The church as the bride of Christ, married to the Lamb is a beautiful expression of that unity in diversity.

In a world where gender diversity is often lost (as we have lamented in the representation of women in Anglican bodies); here in the God-given institution of marriage is perfect gender balance.

Jesus recognises the importance of this in his words in Mark 10:6-9

6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,  8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

But more importantly the biblical trajectory of marriage is a symbol of our salvation. Revelation 21 recounts the triumph of our redemption with the pictorial language of the bride, the wife of the Lamb, coming down from heaven as the new Jerusalem.  We are united with Christ, and the church is his bride, a glorious picture of our union, with the other, the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is why the SEC’s decision to remove gender from the marriage Canon is such a big deal.

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Revd David Chillingworth, said of the decision:

“This is a momentous step. By removing gender from our marriage canon, our church now affirms that a same sex couple are not just married but are married in the sight of God.”

It is indeed a momentous step. A momentous step away from our formularies, our prayer books, and the teaching of Christ, and indeed our understanding of marriage as a symbol of our salvation.

We want to express a deep welcome to homosexual people in our church. We should treat all people with love and respect. We shun actions and words that demean and marginalise; we reject discrimination, and especially grieve the way people who identify as homosexual have been treated in our society and churches.

While the SEC’s action is ostensibly about the inclusion of homosexual people in the church, it actually undermines the Biblical witness to the ultimate trajectory of salvation, our union with Christ. We must not fall for the world’s view that holding to the teaching of Christ on marriage means we can’t be welcoming to homosexual people in the church.

This act of the SEC really is out of step with the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia.

I would urge the Synod to side with our constitution, with our fundamental declarations, with the doctrine of Christ, and send a strong signal to the Anglican Communion that we reject this revision of the doctrine of Christ. Please support the motion.

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