Why is the Church doing this?
The Living in Love and Faith project is propelled by the Church’s desire to learn how relationships, marriage and sexuality fit within the bigger picture of a humanity that is liberated by Jesus Christ and infused by the Spirit to reflect the image of God in which we are created.
Perspectives on gender, identity and sexuality are evolving and the Church wants to explore these matters by studying what the Bible, theology, history and the social and biological sciences have to say. We hope to stimulate thinking and learning that helps us to understand what it means to embody a Christian vision of living in love and faith in our culture. The project is led by the bishops because of their particular responsibility for upholding and teaching the Christian faith.
The Church of England is keenly aware that issues of gender and sexuality are intrinsic to people’sexperience; their sense of identity; their lives and the loving relationships that shape and sustain them. We also know that the life and mission of our Church – and of the worldwide Anglican Communion – are affected by the deep, and sometimes painful, disagreements among us which have been debated and discussed on many occasions over the years.
These divisions have come into sharper focus because of society’s changing perspectives and practices, especially in relation to lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex people. The Church wants to understand what it means to follow Christ in love and faith given the questions about human identity and the variety of patterns of relationship emerging in our society, including marriage, civil partnership, cohabitation, celibacy and friendship. These are vital matters which affect the wellbeing of individuals and communities and which have a profound spiritual dimension founded on the truth that every human being is of infinite value in God’s sight.
That is why this project involves many people across the Church and beyond, bringing together a great diversity and depth of expertise, conviction and experience. We believe that the Holy Spirit will be active among us as we pray, study and deliberate together to discover Christ’s call to the Church today. We do this with a deep sense of hopefulness for a future in which Christians can follow Christ together joyfully, fruitfully and with integrity.
What are we hoping for?
We hope to produce resources that will help bishops to inspire people to think more deeply both about what it means to be human, and to live in love and faith with one another. It will tackle the tough questions and the divisions among Christians about what it means to be holy in a society in which understandings and practices of gender, sexuality and marriage continue to change.
We are planning to produce a range of resources in a variety of formats that we hope will be accessible, helpful and attractive to a wide range of people.
We are inviting everyone involved in producing and engaging with the resources to do so with a desire to see Christ in one another as we forge deeper relationships with people from whom we differ. We are embarking on this project with an openness to being surprised and challenged by what it means to be the body of Christ in England in the 21st century.