The General Synod of the Church of England on Thursday voted by 250 to 181 votes to approve the offering of blessings to same-sex couples in civil marriages.
It narrowly approved an amendment endorsing marriage as only between a man and a woman. By a margin of 52% to 45%, the synod defeated a proposed amendment demanding a vote on a proposal to recognize same-sex unions as marriages within two years, the U.K. newspaper The Guardian reported.
While the synod’s bishops, clergy, and laity all voted to pass the measure, the vote among Church of England bishops was especially lopsided. They voted in favor of the measure 36 to 4, with two abstentions.
The move drew criticism from the Church of England Evangelical Council, which characterized it as a “lose-lose” position that would demoralize orthodox believers while not appeasing advocates of the redefinition of marriage.
“We are deeply saddened and profoundly grieved that General Synod has given a ‘green light’ to the proposals put forward by the House of Bishops,” the council said. “The Church of England now appears set on a course of action that rejects our historic and biblical understanding of sex and marriage, by departing from the apostolic faith we are called to uphold.”
The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches, representing more than 20 provinces of the Anglican Communion, said it “deeply regrets” the decision, charging that it “goes against the overwhelming mind of the Anglican Communion.” It was skeptical of the claim that doctrine had not changed, citing the principle that “Anglican liturgy expresses its doctrine.”