The House of Bishops has commended for study a guide to some aspects of the debate on human sexuality. Some Issues in Human Sexuality: A Guide to the Debate, requested by the House three years ago, sets out a variety of views on homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexualism and seeks to promote informed reflection on them. It neither changes nor suggests changes to current Church policy.
“Recent events have highlighted the need for such a guide,” said the Rt Rev Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford and chairman of the group of bishops that produced the Guide, “and the House of Bishops believe it has become timely to publish this study guide now to help Christian people think through different aspects of gay, lesbian and transsexual relationships.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said that the report was intended to deepen the Church's study on the issue: "It is clear that there is a real need for more study of the issues raised by human sexuality. We have done a great deal of work as a church on this matter and we know that there is much still be to be learned.
“I hope that this report will help us to develop our understanding and to address the challenges that we still face."
When the House asked a group of bishops, in 1999, to prepare a study guide on some issues in human sexuality, it was conscious of the need to listen to the experience of homosexuals as called for in the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10. Furthermore there has also been a great deal of published material in this field since the House’s 1991 Statement Issues in Human Sexuality appeared.
In June 2003 the House of Bishops – following discussion at the annual meeting of all Church of England bishops – agreed to publish Some Issues in Human Sexuality: A Guide to the Debate under its authority and to commend it to the Church for study. As is stated in the Foreword to the document, ‘it works within the parameters of the House’s 1991 Statement Issues in Human Sexuality and does not seek to change the position of the House of Bishops from the one expressed there’. It is a study guide, designed to complement Issues rather than to make specific policy statements or recommendations.
The document is intended as a resource to enable people within the Church to understand these complex and sensitive matters more clearly and reflect more deeply on them. A short accompanying booklet, A Companion to Some Issues in Human Sexuality, with study material for individuals and groups, is being provided to assist the wider Church – in the General Synod, dioceses, parishes and elsewhere - in its continuing reflection.Sample chapters for the two new titles are available to download as PDF files. Use the links in the right hand column to view or download the files.