The Bishop of Leicester has spoken out against adversarial campaigning which he said had been hurtful to LGBTQI+ people in our worshipping communities.
At a debate on Living in Love and Faith at the February 2023 General Synod in London, Bishop Martyn was called to speak in response to an amendment (item 44, see Synod papers here) which was lodged by a Synod member who wanted to amend the motion by the Bishop of London to include a welcome of reaffirmation by the College of Bishops that “marriage is a union permanent and lifelong of one man with one woman” and reaffirms that “sexual intercourse as an expression of faithful intimacy belongs within marriage exclusively”.
Following the General Synod debate, Bishop Martyn publishes the following, reporting the essence of what he said at Synod:
"I hold to a traditional view of marriage and therefore I am broadly in support of the amendment seeks to do in terms of preserving the Church of England’s current view of marriage.
"However, I cannot for a moment condone the way in which this campaign has been conducted both here in Synod and more broadly in terms of his media campaign.
"I do however need it to be known that untold hurt has been caused to LGBTQI+ people in my diocese and therefore as chief shepherd of the Diocese of Leicester, I cannot stay silent while people are hurt in this way.
"I will therefore be voting against this amendment - not because I necessarily disagree with all the content – but because of the way in which this campaign has been conducted. I suspect other bishops may well be with me on this, and therefore I want to stress that those voting against this are not necessarily disagreeing with the content – they simply cannot align themselves with such an adversarial approach to this discernment exercise.
"Furthermore, I appeal to all those who like me hold a traditional view, to consider carefully how we go about arguing our case.
"In a recent meeting with LGBTQI+ people in my diocese, I listened to story after story of people who have been greatly hurt by the church. And some of course were open in their criticism of me for seeking to uphold the traditional view of marriage. I have had to search my own soul to ask whether my doctrinal beliefs are causing others to stumble.
"But I remain convinced that it is possible to be pastoral and to show love and respect, kindness and friendship, even while believing that the case for changing our doctrine has not been made. So I am doing my best to hold together a diocese which is split down the middle on same sex marriage and maybe I’m naïve in thinking that is even possible. But come what may, I will support LGBTQI+ people in my diocese and defend them against those who use hurtful words.
"I urge Synod to resist this amendment not because of the content but because of the method."
Synod resisted the amendment. You can watch General Synod livestream or playback here.
Bishops Martyn and Saju have stated their commitment to holding the unity of the Church in our diocese across difference, and one of our diocesan priorities is to be reconciling communities.
They have also invited people in our congregations to email them with feedback on the Living and Love and Faith proposals discussed at the February 2023 General Synod.
If you do wish to send them feedback to the LLF proposals, even after Synod, please do email the Bishops at this address: Bishops.Chaplain@LeicesterCofE.org including your name and which worshipping community you are part of. Please keep your response to a couple of hundred words so that they have time to read everyone’s views.
You can follow or watch back the General Synod livestream here: Watch General Synod live | The Church of England