Last Friday, Lorna Ashworth resigned from a high leadership position in the Church of England over the “heresy” and “revisionist agenda” of LGBT activism within the church. Ashworth opened up about her reasons for leaving and her plans going forward in an interview with PJ Media.
“It begins with rejecting the authority of scripture as the self-revealed will of God for humanity. This includes the salvation plan of God and the resulting holiness asked of God’s people. Both salvation and holiness are not and cannot be self-defined,” Ashworth declared.
“Therefore I believe that the embracing of same-sex relationships and practice by the Church of England is heresy because it is contrary to the plain teaching of scripture,” the former Church of England leader added.
Debates over same-sex marriage have raged in the church for years, but issues came to a head this year when the General Synod voted to consider a special church ceremony for gender transitions. While the Church of England does not formally recognize same-sex marriage, an openly lesbian clergy member held a wedding reception in a church and a few churches have hosted LGBT-themed communion, with the rainbow flag draped over the altar.
On October 31, the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses onto the church door at Wittenberg, anonymous Anglicans posted complaints on LGBT issues to the doors of five cathedrals. The document charged that “the Church of England claims it has not changed its doctrine but its practice on the ground has already changed: clergy are adopting lifestyles which are not biblical and teaching that such lifestyles are holy in the sight of God.”
Ashworth had served on the Archbishops’ Council, an executive committee in the church. “In light of this revisionist agenda and the heretical teaching that comes with it, I am no longer willing to sit around the table, pretending that we, as a governing body of the Church of England, are having legitimate conversations about mission,” she said Friday.
In the interview with PJ Media, she quoted Jude 3, explaining that she had to take a stand “to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” She argued that the heresy and revisionism have made the church unable to preach the gospel.
“The Church of England as a collective body have become unable to articulate the saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ashworth said. She noted that bishops, clergy, and laity are allowed to have a range of different beliefs on how salvation works and how Christians ought to live.
“The priority of the church seems to have become focused on demonstrating ‘good disagreement’ (look how we can all believe different things, yet serve and worship together), and ‘unity’ (unity for the sake of unity rather than a unifying bond that comes from knowing Christ Jesus as Lord),” she explained.
Ashworth then asked a chilling question: “How could I sit around the table to plan mission and ministry with people who are not only teaching what is contrary to scripture, but who are living it out as well?”
Although she has stepped down from the Archbishop’s Council, this evangelical Anglican told PJ Media she “will continue to attend and serve in my local parish church where the Bible is faithfully taught week on week.” She is not leaving the Church of England — yet.
On same-sex marriage, some evangelicals have started to argue that the Bible does not actually forbid life-long homosexual relationships modeled after heterosexual marriages. Those who take up this argument inevitably have to explain away clear condemnations of homosexual activity in Leviticus and Romans, however.
Wesley Hill, a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction, upheld the traditional view against such arguments, however. He even attacked “gay identity,” which makes it difficult “to comprehend the gospel’s demand that all of our assumed identities be relativized in the light of the ‘new name’ (cf. Rev. 2:17) given to each of us in baptism.”
Even those who uphold the Bible’s teaching against homosexual identity and activity still condemn heterosexual sin, and insist that “straight” people are not “more holy” than those who struggle with same-sex attraction.
Despite this nuanced position based on scripture, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — head of the Church of England — recently admitted to “copping out” when asked whether same-sex intercourse is sinful.
This past week, the Church of England released a fifty-two page report targeting “homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic (HBT) bullying” in schools, which fully embraced the LGBT agenda and encouraged children to “explore” their “gender identity.”
“This is another example where the church is bowing the knee to culture and to society rather than to the God who created us — male and female,” Ashworth told PJ Media, responding to the transgender report. “The church is paralysed by the ‘fear of man’ and not the fear of God!”
The evangelical Anglican explained this “fear of man,” noting that even when Christians emphasize the love of the gospel, their opposition to LGBT issues is dismissed as “hateful.”
“Sadly, it does not matter how loving and gracious I try to be when presenting biblical orthodoxy because as long as I disagree with the liberalism of the Christian faith, it is always interpreted as hateful,” Ashworth told PJ Media.
She also dismissed the idea that opposition to LGBT issues is “her interpretation,” rather than the plain meaning of scripture. “The whole trajectory of the Bible is one of a God who loves to forgive those who come to him in humility and repentance,” the evangelical Anglican said.
“He took the initiative to offer us forgiveness through the shedding of his own blood and our own response to this generous gift is found in Romans 12:1-2, ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.'”