The Church of England has been mocked after it was at pains to make clear that it believes sex should be reserved only for married heterosexual couples.
New guidance issued by bishops following the the introduction of mixed-sex civil partnerships states that Christians in gay or straight civil partnerships should stay away from sex.
The new, opaque declaration refers to marriage as “the lifelong union between a man and a woman”, and says this “remains the proper context for sexual activity”.
The church seeks to “uphold that standard” in its approach to civil partnerships and believes that sexual relationships “outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings”.
What’s more, civil partnerships should be no more than “sexually abstinent friendships”.
“The introduction of same sex marriage [...] has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships,” it underlines in the document referred to as a “pastoral statement”.
Same-sex civil partnerships have been legal since 2005 and same-sex marriage was introduced in 2013.
While the statement from the House of Bishops may please conservatives, there were some eyebrows raised by Twitter users – notably over how Henry VIII observed many of the church’s tenets less than impeccably.
In fact, most people appeared to be happily going about their business when the bishops’ advice dropped.
Some spotted loopholes.
Others had their own advice for the church.
And the responses soon went beyond perhaps what the church expected.