I am sure we shall all rest easier in our beds tonight knowing that the Church of England regards itself as responsible only for the behaviour of their clergy. The statement they issued (for which they are now apologising) was not directed at every person in Britain.
ITV News, 31 January 2020: Church Apology after Guidance Declares Sex Only for Married Couples: “The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have apologised after the Church of England said that only heterosexual married couples should have sex... The pastoral guidance was issued to clergy after a recent change in U.K. law allowed straight couples to tie the knot in a civil ceremony instead of a traditional marriage following a lengthy legal battle” (sic).
I don’t know which I find more offensive – the misrepresentation of the facts and the sensationalism or the inability to write a properly constructed sentence. Does this journal not employ an editor? Are couples only allowed to enter into a civil partnership after a lengthy legal battle?
A different news source (The Daily Telegraph) presented the facts without sensationalism or inaccuracy. After a recent landmark legal battle resulted in the recent introduction of mixed sex civil partnerships, the Church of England concluded that sex belongs only within heterosexual marriage. Clergy who are in either gay or straight civil partnerships should remain sexually abstinent. Sex outside of marriage “falls short of God’s purposes for human beings” and marriage is only to be between a man and a woman.
The statement was aimed at Church of England clergy who have now been told that same sex couples who are in a civil partnership must be celibate if they want to be ordained in the church. Clergy can be in same-sex civil partnerships providing they are celibate.
It’s about the new English law that says heterosexual couples can now opt for a civil partnership instead of a traditional marriage. That, by the way, is what the lengthy legal battle was all about. The Church has to tread extremely carefully with regard to the legal implications arising from this new law in order to avoid offending anybody.
Original Daily Telegraph article-Bishops have now issued pastoral guidance to clergy on how to deal with the issue: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/23/civil-partnerships-should-no-sexually-abstinent-friendships/
Edit: Please note that the statement issued by the Church of England was aimed at their clergy, specifically those who are in either gay or straight civil partnerships. The advice was that they should remain sexually abstinent. The Church of England is responsible for the behaviour of their clergy and for any disciplinary action that might be needed should their clergy flaunt their rules.
The statement issued by the Church of England said the pastoral guidance was issued to clergy. That does not mean to say the pastoral guidance should not apply to Church of England members, only that the Church of England was not suggesting that they are responsible for the behaviour of the general populace, which is what was being asked.