Monday 27 July 2009

Archbishop's Reflections impossible for Changing Attitude supporters to accept

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflections on the Episcopal Church's 2009 General Convention are going to satisfy very few, if any, people. Perhaps that’s the intention.

Conservatives posting on Stand Firm think this is just a form of words to ‘suggest’ TEC is little bit ‘hasty but not wrong while the rest of the communion is just slow and dumb. Conservatives think +Rowan Williams and +Katherine Jefferts Shori are allies. The Archbishop is judged to be not orthodox but 100% liberal to his core and in grave theological and moral error throughout, determined to keep TEC in the family, no matter what, and willing to redefine the Anglican Communion in order to do so.

On Thinking Anglicans Fr Mark, a partnered gay priest, comments that he was:
“brought up in a Church of England which has all my life surrounded me with partnered gay priests and laypeople. I find this really horribly and personally offensive in its degree of failure to recognise the lived reality of members of the Church of England. According to this statement, no-one living in a same-sex relationship can ‘have a representative function’ in the Church. That means farewell to partnered gay singers, organists, teachers in church schools, as well as clergy in civil partnerships.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury says: “ … no Anglican has any business reinforcing prejudice against LGBT people, questioning their human dignity and civil liberties or their place within the Body of Christ.” We in CA agree with that. The “particularly bitter and unpleasant atmosphere of the debate over sexuality, in which unexamined prejudice is still so much in evidence and accusations of bad faith and bigotry are so readily thrown around” which the Archbishop describes is bitter and prejudiced exactly because of the church’s traditional teaching about homosexuality.

He then recommends a course of action which does just that – reinforces prejudice and questions human dignity and our place in the Body of Christ. The Archbishop writes that it is hard to see how a partnered lesbian or gay person “can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate” requires because “a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle.”

That puts the Archbishop of Canterbury at odds not just with the supporters of Changing Attitude but with the majority of the bishops, priests and lay people of the Church of England. Members of our congregations no longer believe that the church can draw lines where it used to. The CofE I know has always ordained partnered lesbian and gay people. Bishops have turned a blind eye to the partners of lesbian and gay clergy. With the advent of Civil Partnerships the majority and priests and laity can see no reason why the church should not bless those unions and that is true even of FoCA and HTB churches. Couples are welcome by most congregations who see no reason why faithfully partnered people should not be ordained and minister to them.

If the process of accepting the Anglican Covenant, and the Covenant itself, is intended to impose the teaching of Lambeth 1.10 for the indefinite future then Changing Attitude is totally opposed to the Covenant. We will work with our partners in the church to ensure that the Church of England never adopts a Covenant designed to inhibit our full place in the church of God.

With our brothers and sisters in the USA and Canada, we refuse to accept the imposition of a moratorium on our place in the church. We are here now, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, single and partnered, lay and ordained. Our sexual identity is not malleable but as with every person, we hope to mature with age.
We are not leaving the church, not denying our orders, not abandoning the love and intimacy of our partners to whom we remain more faithful than the church is faithful to us.

One trustee of Changing Attitude identified three things in the Reflections that make life impossible for LGBT Anglicans:

1. Does the Archbishop really and truly expect LGBT Anglicans living in 21st century western countries to wait a matter of decades until churches entrenched in deeply homophobic African cultures have come to terms with same-sex relationships before we are allowed to form relationships?

2. Does the Archbishop really expect those of us living in long-term relationships, whether the church recognises them or not, to break up with our partners and live solitary lives, even though there is nothing in our conscience or our own theology which would suggest it was a bad thing? Or is he happy for us to lead those 'lifestyles', as he puts it, as long as we keep them separate from our church and our God?

3. In paragraph 14 the Archbishop talks about a local church becoming 'isolated and imprisoned in its own cultural environment'. At the moment the Church of England is isolated and imprisoned from her own cultural environment. We are being expected to cling onto outdated and desperately damaging prejudices from our past, which impair and undermine our mission to our own society. What use is a church which is 'in communion' with churches overseas, but is a laughing stock and a peddler of bigotry within its own constituency?


  1. I´ve read and reread...I just commented at Integrity U.S.A. and thought I had missed something honorable in +Rowans Reflections...I hadn´t and you´ve confirmed it here.

    Won´t this man resign? He´s driven so many away and he continues to facilitate damage to The Body of he simply snide or overlycooked?

    Thank you,
    Leonardo Ricardo

  2. I hope that we end up with seperate churches so that we are not dragged down to the pit with you

  3. Oh anonymous, won't you come out and put a name and/or face to your kind comment? No, I suppose I wouldn't want to either. Bless you, and my prayers are with you as you go.

  4. Anonymous, why not check out 1 Corinthians 13:1?

  5. I'm afraid the more the ABC writes, the more irrelevant he becomes.

  6. It's anonymous again...I'd dearly love to reveal who I am, but cannot, not for the sake of cowardice (It's OK if you perceive that it's for this reason).

    I was going to go through the rigmarole of bringing scriptures to Alex, but what is the point anymore frankly.

    I find increasingly in these debates that the liberal side of the church tend to interpret scripture to fit their lifestyle, or simply disgard it altogether and I'm sure you could level the same accusation against us 'fundies'.

    I have learnt that we will never move you from your postition and visa versa.

    I honestly believe it is time for the church to split, for the sake of everyone and perhaps even for the sake of the Gospel and for us to go our seperate ways.

    That's how I feel personally. I am witnessing in every sphere a bitter polarisation inside the church and it will not get any better now.

    It's heartbreaking, but there you have it...

    All blessings Anonymous

  7. Since when has the CofE become a congregational church where what the folks in the pews is what determines church polity?
    As Keith Green memorably sang going to McDonalds does not make you a hamburger - sitting in a pew does not make you fit to pronounce on theology.

  8. Surely CA is not advocating deception and disobedience in the clergy? "turning a blind eye" is hardly what we would expect of our ordained representatives and certainly not what Jesus taught or practiced.

  9. 1Cor 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

    Love means what is best for the object of your love; which may not be what the object would wish for themselves; I am sure many parents can empathise with that!

  10. (It's OK if you perceive that it's for this reason).

    Dear Coward,

    How dare you lecture us on personal morality have no virtue or standing in anyones life other than your own.

    Clang with your selfrighteousness in the mirror of your know nothing of me, my character, my love for God, or Gods love for are noisemaker, beating on a tin can on the to Church, sit quietly in the front pew and LISTEN instead as the words for REALITY and leave the hallucinating behind...God will help you, that is, if you are sincere and humble...emotional disease driven by fear, loathing and hate is a terrible thing...Trust God.

  11. The Anonymous poster is a hit a run coward. This is why he/she does not have the backbone and decency to reveal his/her name. Far right wing fundamentalists do this sort of thing every day. Rowan William's moment to show some backbone has passed, as has Joseph (Bishop of Rome) Ratzinger. The little dog in the fairy tale exposed "The Great Wizard of Oz" by pulling down the curtain and revealing a very flawed and human being. This has now happened in various ways to both of these men. History will not judge them well.

  12. Gosh look at you aggressive I only posted the first 2 anonymous wonder we want to stay anonymous...scary are the first to judge and then accuse us of having no love....


  14. The Corinthians passage was quoted in reference to the hateful tone of the comment about other people being 'dragged into the pit'.
    Whenever Paul referenced the lost, it was with sadness, so I find it difficult when fellow Christians take such delight in the fact that they believe other people are going to hell. (or when liberal Christians throw around hateful labels too, for that matter)

  15. Hi Alex you are right and I am sorry, that dreadful comment came off the back of just being quite brutally bashed for being a 'fundie'.

    I apologise, please forgive me I didn't mean to cause offense.

    This whole issue has got me very upset and I vented it on this blog..

  16. I just think I'm losing the plot a little at the moment. Recent open warfare - which is quite new to me - seems to be breaking out everywhere between right and left, maybe it has always been like this and I didn't notice, but it just seems to be everywhere at the moment and it seems really bloody. If it's not greenebelt it's something else.

    Some say it is God seperating His church, others the Devil head is spinning...

    Where will it end?

  17. I absolutely agree. I've been on both sides of the argument myself, and currently attend a church which takes a conservative stance, so I’m also really struggling with watching the church rip itself apart over this.

    We all want to see people come to faith in Christ, we all want to work for a more faithful and just society, and this whole fight is really compromising that, which is the real tragedy.

    My hope is that if we at least keep talking, and keep the debate reasoned and respectful, then it will at least take the heat out of the debate. Through debates we’ve led at Greenbelt between those who are liberal on this issue, and those who are not, we’ve found that often the outcome is not that either side changes perspective. However, it does help people realise that there are those with genuine faith on both sides.

  18. It's funny (but not in a ha ha way) I found myself (by accident) in the centre of two powerful warring factions (I didn't even know they were at war in my naivity) and the trading of insults is staggering.

    It can be that those of your own fanily know how to hurt the most and know what 'pulls your strings' would be easier to be warring against atheists than members of your own family.

    What seems to happen (and I confess this has happened to me as well) is that on this battlefied you can get so swept up that you can find yourself becoming more and more hardline as you defend your position and you can actually see the other side doing the same.

    It gets to the point whereby we are all 'experts' in the debate but just end up going around in vicious circles.

    Gosh it is a pickle...I'm glad for the opportunity to write all of this down anonomously, its almost therapeutic..

  19. I've just read the Rowan response and it does seem to be lacking integrity, honesty - or maybe just a sense of reality? Status quo just about sums it up. Frustrating!

  20. Rowan has managed to appease nobody...

  21. As I read the comments all I feel is a profound sadness.

    To those who would quote scripture or cite tradition, they would do well to meditate upon the Christ who welcomed all but challenged those with fixed perceptions of 'who is in, who is out' in God's Kingdom. Our Lord welcomes the lepers, the adulterers, the Samaritans AND the Pharisees, The Romans, etc. I will not use the word 'sinners' - that was imposed on him by those who would judge. He simply welcomed openly, challenged where necessary, loved totally.

    What Jesus condemned, quite voraciously, were those who placed burdens upon those simply trying to feel their way in finding God and reminded us all of the need for humility when proclaiming the limits of God's love: Judge not, lest ye be judged.

    For those who would point to isolated scriptural texts or point to tradition, let's remember a Christ who sat lightly to the letter of Shabbat restriction, placed mercy above the death of an adulterous woman and rejoiced at a Samaritan's faith - hmmm - all of which would have been roundly condemned by many of the religious professionals of his time.

    As Anglicans, our way has always been the three ingredients of scripture, tradition and rationality, feeding each other in dialogue and within a context. We are not a Church of Sola Scriptura - the Anglican Communion fought long within itself for a modest approach that counted all things as provisional before the unfolding of the Kingdom. For me at least, that is the great gift Anglicanism has given the world. It would be a shame now for the World to do so much better with it than us.

    I am heterosexual, married, ordained and I will rejoice in the day when matters of sexuality, race and gender are placed in the context of all are one in Christ.

    As for Rowan, there I feel truly depressed. He is a man of amazing talent and I respect his theological talents. I believe him to be a man of integrity trying to do what he thinks is right in the longer term. How long, though, must we be asked to understand the African context and yet not have the same requirement to understand the North American context, or any other for that matter? Today we remember William Wilberforce. As he was continually forced to go back to the drawing board men and women suffered greatly. Do we not find ourselves shocked that such suffering continued as those in power repeatedly said 'no' or the much more sinister 'we need to wait until the time is right' - a euphemism for 'we'll keep our economic power base for as long as we can thank you very much'.

    If there should be a moratorium, perhaps it should not be on Provinces acting on their discerned conscience but rather on the continual war of words, which seems far more destructive and pours shame on the Church in the eyes of those we would seek to call into Christ's Kingdom. As a Zen saying has it - 'when words are no better than silence, one should remain silent'.

    Perhaps it will be in silence that we will truly end up walking the road God wished us to walk down. It may be naive hope but at least it's a good one. If not, then at least in silence we can leave it all to the love and the judgement of the One who alone is fit to judge any of us.

    So now I will follow my own advice and be silent!