Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Archbishop of Wales: Gospel must be good news for gay people
From a Church in Wales press release:
Christians need to show how the Gospel of Jesus is good news for gay people, the Archbishop of Wales said today (WEDNESDAY APRIL 18).
Dr Barry Morgan said he was concerned about the welfare of gay people whom he feared could feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in churches over the coming months as Government proposals for same-sex marriage are debated nationally.
In his presidential address to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body in Llandudno, the Archbishop said same-sex relationships was a moral issue facing the Church and the world, on which there was no single Christian opinion. His concern, however, was that the Church should offer gay people pastoral care and support…
The full text of the address by Archbishop Barry Morgan is available here.
Also from the press release:
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 12:00pm BST
Dr Barry Morgan said the Church would not be able to ignore the new legislation on civil marriage proposed by the Government, despite the fact that the legislation would not allow gay couples to marry in church. He called on the Church to discuss how it would respond.
He said, “If the legislation to allow civil marriage is passed, I cannot see how we as a church, will be able to ignore the legality of the status of such partnerships and we ought not to want to do so.
“The question then as now is, will the church protect and support pastorally, faithful, stable, lifelong relationships of whatever kind in order to encourage human values such as love and fidelity and recognise the need in Christian people for some public religious support for these. As Helen says in the novel “Nightwatch” by Sarah Walters – a novel written in 1947, ‘what could she do to say to the world that Julia was hers?’ She could have gone on to ask ‘what can the church do to show that this relationship is not simply something between my partner and I but that somehow God is in our midst as well and longs for our wellbeing?’ It is a discussion we need to have.”
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Church in Wales
The novel was written in 2006, though set in the 1940s
This is right on the button. Like William Fittall in his memo about the O'Cathain amendment last December ("a gentleman's outfitter cannot be required to supply women's clothes") it recognizes that same-sex civil marriage, unlike civil partnerships on religious premises, requires a church response. Unlike the Fittall memo it proposes a sympathetic one.
I am not sure that calling same-sex blessings or relationships a "moral issue" is appropriate. It has a note of judgement and still makes it seem that there is a chasm between straight and gay people's relationships in terms of their "morality". We don''t usually say that heterosexual relationships are, in themselves, a "moral issue". This kind of language can fan flames rather than quell them. When you put the word "moral" in the same sentence as "gay", it implies a different set of values in how gay people may be judged and gives comfort to those who simply say that being gay or having same-sex relationships boils down to nothing more than "morality". The default anti-gay position is that gay relationships are always "immoral", and this kind of language gives them an opportunity to frame their argument that way.
The Church in Wales was once very conservative on marriage , having very high standards on divorce and re-marriage, right up until the early 1990s.
When I was a boy, I was taught by a brilliant RE teacher, who was a divorced vicar... his wife had just walked out on him. He didn't re-marry, but I felt it was really unfair that he had to resign.
He's still alive.. I wonder what he makes of this.
Evangelicalism is growing in the Church in Wales, but it will be interesting to see their reaction.
Very fair comments.
People's love and care still matter, whether you agree with their moral positions or not. Their values of love and fidelity still matter, and they need to be affirmed by a community that follows God, not excluded or marginalised or vilified for their love.
Instead of a simplistic and polarised stance, the Archbishop's remarks invite the courage to recognise complexities, and the primary call to keep loving, to keep supporting.
I know nothing of the Archbishop's personal views on LGBT issues, but his comments here are sane, fair, and a challenge to Christians to live together, not shut out or stigmatise.
In the end, the Church can't control who people love.
But it can support, it can care, it can include.
With all our differences, we are One in Christ.
"I am not sure that calling same-sex blessings or relationships a "moral issue" is appropriate.
- Adam Armstrong -
Adam, I would rather these matters be called a 'moral issue' than an immoral one. Whether we like it or not the dissenters will refer to same-sex relationships in this way. For some of us, the lack of morality might be in their rejection of people who are in some way 'different'.
I agree with Susannah - thank you Archbishop for speaking with clarity and compassion.
I just want to note that the Archbishop's remarks are ---for a change--- giving very positive, very loving face of the Church, to the wider community.
[I'm reading "THANK YOU, Archbishop Morgan!" All Over the Place, in quarters where the usual commentary on ANYTHING Christian is more apt to be of the "Eff You" variety. Need more like this! :-)]
Thank God for Primates like Archbishop Barry Morgan. The Gospel, after all, is primarily about Justice!
Actions speak louder than words.
The danger is that, if we run scared of the language of morality, it arouses the suspicion that we're running scared of morality itself, and thereby the suspicion that we're proposing something immoral and trying to conceal it. I think to make progress, we need to feel confident in saying such things as "discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is morally repugnant", or indeed "discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is a sin".
Morality ? Yes.
The moral failing of our hetero-normative society are crystal clear, and not yet fully repented of by Church and State.