An Anglican bishop has urged conservative Christians to stay within the Church of England despite its changing attitudes about gay marriage.
Rod Thomas, The Bishop of Maidstone, has noted that several bishops are calling on the Church to be more affirming of same-sex relationships. But he said that conservative parishes should not abandon the Church despite the "false teaching."
"In the face of false teaching, the Apostle Paul tells Timothy both to keep his distance from it but also to continue in patient teaching," Thomas wrote in his blog. "He recognises that this may involve suffering," he added.
He pointed out that when the Apostle Paul warned against false teachers, he did not tell the Ephesians to run away, but he told them to "guard the flock" instead.
"So we need to stand firm – continuing to teach and do the work of evangelism, continuing to turn up at Synods in order to contend for the gospel, continuing to encourage one another by meeting together, and continuing to support those who run into difficulty," he went on to say.
The General Synod of the Church of England has recently rejected a report that upholds the traditional view that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
The majority of the Synod supported the motion to take note of the report, gaining 106 votes from the laity, 43 from bishops and 93 from clergy. But the motion, which needed majority votes in each of the three sectors, failed to pass as 100 members of the clergy voted against it.
Although the vote is not a formal rejection of the proposals, the House of Bishops will be using the views aired to inform their future work.
The report recommended that the Church uphold its teachings on traditional marriage, but it also called for the promotion of "maximum freedom" within its current laws and doctrines, without changing them. It suggested that guidelines could be created to encourage clergy to pray and offer guidance to same-sex couples, without blessing such marriages.
Thomas has previously warned the Church against adopting liberal views regarding human sexuality, saying it would be "a fundamental breach with historic Christian teaching." He said that the Church of England should recognize that "God's Word is not always popular."