Bishop of Gippsland supports Synod motion endorsing non-marital relationships

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The Diocese of Gippsland, at it’s recent synod, has voted to change it’s own version of Faithfulness in Service, the national church’s guidelines for standards in ministry, to remove the classical definition of chaste relationships (marriage between a man and a woman) and replace it with a more ambiguous definition of “committed and monogamous relationship”. The resolution came from Bishop-in-Council and was endorsed by Bishop Richard Treloar in his Presidential Address.

The move, not the first in Australia, effectively announces to the diocese that sexual relationships outside marriage (including homosexual relationships) are no bar to ministry.

The Gippsland Anglican reports in its June edition:

One of the Bishop-in-Council motions was to add a preamble to Section 7 of Faithfulness in Service so that a member of the clergy or church worker in a committed and monogamous relationship is not considered to be breaching two clauses therein “because that relationship does not have the status of a marriage solemnised according to an Anglican marriage rite.” The clauses in question refer to “chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.”

In his presidential address, Bishop Richard said, “… for years, we have been expecting people who are in faithful, committed relationships that either do not constitute marriage, or do not correspond with our church’s doctrine of marriage, either to sign [up to Faithfulness in Service] with their fingers crossed, or to walk away. Why should their conscience bear that burden?”

This was, therefore, not a motion from the floor of the synod but one directly endorsed by the Bishop Richard Treloar. He is now on the record as telling his diocese (and the wider Anglican Church of Australia) that marriage is not the standard for chastity and that sex outside of marriage is a moral good, albeit within a “committed and monogamous” relationship. How “committed” is to be defined is not clear.

Dr Treloar’s appointment was announced three years ago and it was clear even then that he would be at the vanguard of pushing doctrinal revisionism in the Anglican Church of Australia. He made a submission to the Australian Parliament considering amending the Marriage Act and stated,

I would rejoice in the privilege of solemnising the marriages of dozens of same‐sex couples whose relationships we have celebrated in other ways over the last decade.

At the time asked,

Given the overwhelmingly conservative nature of the 2017 General Synod motions and the recent bishops’ agreement (albeit the exact details remain unknown), how can Treloar be consecrated as a bishop who promises to uphold, promote and defend church teaching when he is not only on the public record as being categorically opposed to it on a (perhaps the) key issue of contention but has even indicated that he may have already broken church law and teaching on the issue on multiple occasions?

How can Treloar himself make those promises in good conscience?

How can other bishops consecrate him when they now know for sure he does not genuinely believe and support “the doctrine of our church and the teaching of Christ” in this key matter?

New Bishop for Gippsland – We Should “Rejoice” at Same-Sex Marriage

Gafcon Australia has issued a clear response:

This statement follows on from last year’s “Commitment 2020” which stated:

We know that some bishops already have failed to discipline clergy for breaking biblical standards of conduct. Some dioceses have changed their official standards (through changes to Faithfulness in Service) to allow those who do not practise chastity in singleness to exercise ministry and leadership. We suspect that some of our bishops hold doctrinal positions that are contrary to the formularies of the Anglican Church of Australia.

We recognise that for some orthodox Anglicans these changes will be intolerable. Clergy and lay people will find they cannot accept the leadership and authority of their bishop in these situations and will not be able to submit to the resolutions of their Synods. We know that many Anglican clergy, lay people and congregations will feel they have no other choice than to disaffiliate from the Anglican Church of Australia because of these things.

The decision by the Bishop of Gippsland to promote such a move is something obviously directly addressed by the Commitment 2020 document.

edit: the original headline containing the description “extra-marital relationships” may have been misinterpreted and so I’ve renamed it.

feature image: “Our Bishop”, Gippsland Anglican

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I’m sickened to the core by the duplicity implied by: “In his presidential address, Bishop Richard said, “… for years, we have been expecting people who are in faithful, committed relationships that either do not constitute marriage, or do not correspond with our church’s doctrine of marriage, either to sign [up to Faithfulness in Service] with their fingers crossed, or to walk away. Why should their conscience bear that burden?”.

    “Signing up with fingers crossed” is a concept that has no place among clergy.

  2. Lumphead

    Speaking as an exasperated Gippslander and Anglican – the shame of it is, Bishop Treloar could actually be a good bishop if he just pulled his head in.

    1. Andrew K

      I’m curious.

      In what way(s) could he be a good bishop assuming that ‘he pulled his head in’?

  3. Paul Nolan

    Another indicator of the ACA’s rapid demise. Christ said to Pilate my kingdom is not of this world, not yet anyway. While faithful billions wait, many Australians despair at the abyss His interim realm is being steered towards.
    Paul Nolan

  4. Robert Bruce

    As a faithful Christian married for fifty years to my lifelong friend and soulmate, with whom I am still in love and in lust thanks to the Lord, I simply cannot understand how Treloar and others of his ilk can compare a relationship like ours to that between people who are “committed” outside marriage for the time being. Married love is one of the Lord’s greatest gifts. For Treloar to claim that temporary “monogamous” relationships of any duration are the same as Christian marriage is simply absurd. The poor fool does not know what he is talking about.

    1. Robert, therein is the very problem of ‘Zombie Church’; the current leaders use up the assets that have been built up by faithful monogamous traditionally married Christians while at the same time destroying their relationship with the traditional set (all in favour of a fleeting contemporary set). Treloar and his lot will have sunshine for a day, yet they will leave behind ruin.

      Ergo, I can point you to one SE Qld Anglican church that has adopted a current year (1 Jan to 31 Dec) deficit budget that erodes (uncannily to the dollar) all their current assets. It will be a church left only with illiquid fixed assets from 1 Jan 2022.

  5. Lumphead

    It gets worse, reading The Gippsland Anglican, I discovered Bishop Treloar is under the influence of a dubious catholic-in-name-only thinker Richard Rohr. Robert Bruce, I also came away with the same impression as you, he’s basically slandering (my) Christian marriage.

    1. Lumphead

      oops, comment not meant as reply

  6. Syd

    The church has changed many of its positions after it became clear that a literal interpretation was incongruent with scientific, social and medical advancements, and thank God she did. It never meant the Bible was wrong, but just that our use of it hadn’t appropriately considered the historical and cultural nuances it contained. A heteronormative interpretation of Jesus answers to questions on divorce are reasonable, but so to is it reasonable to note that a committed same sex church attending couple, have little in common with the offences Paul is outlining in Romans. Slavery and segregation, once considered appropriate and even endorsed by ‘the Bible’ failed the ‘good fruit’ test and the church changed its position. We are in the middle of another significant shift with high tempers on both sides. How we treat each other through the journey will be just as important, if not more, than being ‘right’ in the end.

    1. chris russell

      Some interesting comments, Syd, albeit they’re off the mark.

      “… a literal interpretation was incongruent with scientific, social and medical advancements”.

      I guess that I know what people are trying to say along these lines. However the Bible is a collection of historical documents that need foremost to be read in context. When those documents are read in a manner that is “incongruent with scientifc, social and medical advancement”, the fault is in the reading.

      It would help if you could locate for us where the Bible endorses slavery and segregation. I know Bob Jones Sr (of Bible Belt fame), held forth that segregation was scriptural, but he was adept at firing texts loosely.

      Further, what is a “heteronormative interpretation”? Maybe I do mean to be facetious.

      “.. [it is] reasonable to note that a committed same sex church attending couple, have little in common with offences Paul is outlining in Romans”.

      What you are noting, here, is the absence of a biblical mind when some people read what Paul is saying in Romans. It is very common for evangelical Christians to compartmentalise their biblical consciousness. Some don’t even have a biblical consciousness to compartmentalise. That is why they can say such things as you do above in respect of the offences Paul is outlining in Romans.

  7. Paul Nolan

    Yes Syd, I will try to be kind. Where in the New Testament does Christ convey God’s view of slavery or (I assume you mean racial) segregation? Saint Paul was not Jesus. The Pharisees did not ask Paul about divorce, nor did he venture a view on parties to a marriage.

    The Australian Parliament decided to put same-sex marriages on the same legal footing as marriages between men & women. Caesar makes many decisions. On this occasion the ACA chose to go along with Parliament by continuing to use its amended Marriage Act.

    A well-led Christian church would have followed Christ’s teaching & stopped using the Act. The ACA a well-led church? – of course not.

    Hence the entirely predictable emergence of calls for ACA clergy to bless the civil marriages of same-sex couples and, that accomplished, for a re-write of the marriage liturgy to enable ‘religious’ marriages of same-sex couples in our churches.

    Paul Nolan

    1. chris russell

      A good point you make, Paul, as always. I note further that the Apostle Paul did not endorse slavery, whereas relevant comments by him that fail to prioritise justice constitute a fair reflection of the teaching of Christ.

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