Church Of England Archbishops ‘Apologise’ For Saying Sex Is Only For Straight Married People

by : Emily Brown on : 31 Jan 2020 14:41
Archbishops apologise after saying sex is only for straight marriageArchbishops apologise after saying sex is only for straight marriagePexels/PA Images

Archbishops from the Church of England have responded to backlash after saying sex should only be for married heterosexuals. 

Justin Welby and John Sentamu, the respective archbishops of Canterbury and York, took responsibility for releasing last week’s statement, which claimed those having sex outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as ‘falling short of God’s purpose for human beings’.


The ‘guidance’, as it was labelled, also stated people in gay or straight civil partnerships should abstain from sex.

Couple hugging at prideCouple hugging at pridePA Images

The controversial release was prompted by the introduction of opposite sex civil partnerships in 2019, but the archbishops responsible have now admitted their claims ‘jeopardised trust’.

In a joint statement released this week, Welby and Sentamu said:


We as archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.

At our meeting of the College of Bishops of the Church of England this week we continued our commitment to the Living in Love and Faith project which is about questions of human identity, sexuality and marriage.

This process is intended to help us all to build bridges that will enable the difficult conversations that are necessary as, together, we discern the way forward for the Church of England.

 Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury Justin WelbyPA Images

Notably, the archbishops did not take back or specifically apologise for their comments about sex and heterosexual marriage, but rather they apologised that it offended people.

The statement implied the ‘guidance’ should not have been issued while the Church of England (C of E) is in the midst of the ‘Living in Love and Faith‘ project; a review of its teaching on sexuality and marriage. The review hopes to ‘forge deeper relationships with people from whom [the Church] differ[s]’. The C of E is due to report on its findings later this year.


Jayne Ozanne, a leading campaigner for LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the church, told The Guardian she was grateful for the statement but feels the Church should offer ‘more than words’.


The campaigner, who contributed to an open letter saying the ‘guidance’ had made the C of E a ‘laughing stock’, added:

We await the evidence that they have truly heard and taken onboard our concerns by what comes out of the Living in Love and Faith report.

I – along with thousands who signed our letter – look forward to understanding what a ‘new radical Christian inclusion’ means for those of us who have been excluded for far too long.


The release of the ‘guidance’ was not fully supported by the entirety of the Church of England, as was made clear by a number of bishops who actively distanced themselves from the statement.

Rachel Treweek, the bishop of Gloucester, described the publication of the ‘guidance’ as ‘perplexing and upsetting’.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, LGBTQ+, Relationships, Sex


Church of England and 1 other
  1. Church of England

    Statement from Archbishop Justin and Archbishop Sentamu following the College of Bishops Meeting

  2. The Guardian

    Church sorry for saying that sex is just for married heterosexuals