Friday, 15 March 2013

Archbishop Welby interviewed on Equal Marriage

Iain Dale interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury on his radio show, and reported afterwards on his own website: Archbishop Softens Line On Gay Marriage

ID: You said once that you’re always averse to the language of exclusion and what we’re called to do is love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us, how do you reconcile that with the church’s attitude on gay marriage?

JW: I think that the problem with the gay marriage proposals is that they don’t actually include people equally, it’s called equal marriage, but the proposals in the Bill don’t do that. I think that where there is… I mean I know plenty of gay couples whose relationships are an example to plenty of other people and that’s something that’s very important, I’m not saying that gay relationships are in some way… you know that the love that there is is less than the love there is between straight couples, that would be a completely absurd thing to say. And civil partnership is a pretty… I understand why people want that to be strengthened and made more dignified, somehow more honourable in a good way. It’s not the same as marriage…

ID: But if it could be made to work in a way that’s acceptable to the church you would be open to discussions on that?

JW: We are always open to discussions, we’ve been open to discussion, we’re discussing at the moment. The historic teaching of the church around the world, and this is where I remember that I’ve got 80 million people round the world who are Anglicans, not just the one million in this country, has been that marriage in the traditional sense is between a man and woman for life. And it’s such a radical change to change that I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution.

There is a link to the audio recording of this here.

Subsequently, Savi Hensman has written about this for Cif belief in The archbishop of Canterbury must follow up on praise for gay relationships.

…Welby could start by taking action to protect LGBT lay people in every parish, celibate or otherwise, from discrimination, and clergy from invasive questions. There are disturbing instances where people are made to feel unwelcome or humiliated and this should stop.

He could also encourage more thinking about how churches provide, and could improve, pastoral support for same-sex couples, including celebrating civil partnerships. In time, the Church of England might agree an order of service which clergy could use if they wished.

While all Anglican churches should indeed consult others in the communion before major decisions, this cuts both ways. The archbishops most opposed to greater inclusion have resisted repeated calls by international gatherings since 1978 for “deep and dispassionate” study of the issues, taking account of scientific research, and for dialogue with homosexual people and support for their human rights. Yet these leaders have not even bothered to explain why. Their treatment of their LGBT members falls far short of gospel values of love and justice.

Within the Church of England and beyond, Welby could promote awareness and discussion of developments in theological thinking on sexuality, including marriage. Overseas leaders could participate, but would have to engage seriously with others’ arguments.

The current situation is harming LGBT people and Christian witness in England. It is time to start moving forward on inclusion.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 4:15pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

It sounds positive, of sorts. But I have to admit, I don't really understand it.

"And it’s such a radical change to change that I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution."

As Parliament has decisively voted in favour of equal marriage, who is he planning to have that conversation with? Who is the “we” who has to find others ways?

Supporting people in Civil Partnerships and wholeheartedly welcoming them is a very very positive move.
But who will still be civil partnered after marriage equality has been introduced and people are allowed to convert their CPs into marriages?

What will it mean for gay married priests?

This statement seems to be very positively and affirmingly address yesterday's questions.
Which is nice as far as it goes...

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 4:50pm GMT

Unfortunate double talk and hemming and hawing from the ABC. He should stop worrying about the "80 million Anglicans worldwide." We didn't select him. We had no representation what-so-ever.

However, if he wants to consider us, then I would suggest that it is quite hurtful to hold up justice and inclusion for LGBT persons in his home because of human rights abusers amongst the 80 Million.

To use outright abusers to justify continuing bigotry is ... I don't have kind words. It's been proven time and again that the only way to stop bullying is to stand up to the bullies. Uganda and Nigeria have to be told that their hateful laws and practices are in violation of human rights and the dignity of all people. Coddling from the ABC doesn't forward justice or basic humane treatment, it exposes LGBT persons to more violence and pain.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 5:12pm GMT

Generally speaking, as a gay man, I'd say that those who want to deny me equality who are nice or who are trying to be nice whilst denying it are a good deal more bother than those who are just plain nasty.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 5:29pm GMT

I find it worrying that he says he only has 1 million anglicans in England. Even if you restrict the count to those who are baptised within the church it must be a lot more than that, but the CoE should be there for all the people of England unless they specifically opt out - surely that's the point of establishment. He's the Primate of All England. He's not in charge of the whole communion, surely? Primus inter Pares by all means but if the ABC doesn't represent the church in England, who will?

Posted by: Will Douglas Barton on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 6:39pm GMT

A comment on Welby's numbers. He claims 80 million Anglicans in the world but only one million in "this country," presumably meaning England. The only way one gets to 80 million is to include a nominal membership in the Church of England of 26 million or so. One website has recalculated the numbers by reducing the CofE figure to 2.6 million, which reduces the total to just under 62 million. http://frbkirk.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/anglican-membership-numbers-worldwide/ Under Welby's "one million" figure, the figure would be closer to 60 million. I don't think Welby can have it both ways.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 6:59pm GMT

Extraordinarily inarticulate answers from someone who has been ABC for some weeks now and must have known that these sorts of questions would be asked.

And what does he mean when he says that the 'gay marriage proposals don't include people equally'? If he means that he supports civil partnershps for opposite sex couples, why doens't he say so? This was one of the objections raised by my MP who abstained on the recent House of Commons vote. And in any case, as I pointed out to my MP, isn't half a loaf better than no bread?

As for the 80 million other Anglicans around the world, I for one an fed up with this as an excuse. Sometimes, just sometimes, it would be nice to hear an ABC saying that developments in the west are good and just and should be followed by others in the church. I am fed up with this post colonial guilt which so inhibits the promotion of what is good and true and panders to the murderous homophobia which seem to be rampant in the former colonies.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 7:29pm GMT

Refreshing and surprising words. Still, there's that "without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution." I just can't understand, not being a trademarks lawyer, how the blessing of the one takes away from the value of the other. Would someone who understands this assertion please explain its underpinnings?

Posted by: TDuBose on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 7:32pm GMT

As the very most his comments might indicate the AoC is 'open' to discussion.
However, if those discussions are to be frank and honest that he recognize that the one-man-one-woman-marriage he is upholding is a medieval invention, and that within the span of Biblical time domestic arrangements were non-sacramental and often included one man and more than one wife; or one man, a wife and concubines.
Bottom line: seems to me Justin is implicitly admitting that his understanding of our faith is unable to sacramentally engage with current realities. Sad thing is it is the Church which is being left behind, as the Holy Spirit is our here among us: blessing, nurturing, upholding.

Posted by: David@Montreal on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 8:36pm GMT

Well, here's a recent turn around: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2013/03/15/gay-couples-also-deserve-chance-to-get-married.html

Maybe there's hope for the ABC.

I agree with you Kelvin. It hardly matters if they are "nice" if they are actively working to deny justice and equality, to expose me and our brothers and sisters to outright harm, and to simply deny that we are created in the image of God, same as all others.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 9:30pm GMT

Archbishop Welby may be trying to get himself out of a very deep hole dug for him by certain vocal factions in the Church of England. If so, I wish him success in finding the right form of words.

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 10:30pm GMT

"As Parliament has decisively voted in favour of equal marriage, who is he planning to have that conversation with? Who is the “we” who has to find others ways?" - Erika Baker.

Actually, *Parliament* hasn't voted decisively in favour. The House of Commons has. There are two houses and, as far as I know, the upper house, of which +Justin is a member, hasn't yet expressed a view.

Posted by: RPNewark on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 10:54pm GMT

My initial impression is that this is - yes - welcome but essentially window dressing.

On the other hand he is a new Archbishop of Canterbury who one can assume (one hopes) knows what he is doing.

The tune is definitely changing. Even if one concludes it's waffly flim flam (as I do) the mood music is 100% better than the bile that was being churned out a few months ago.

One assumes a new ABC has seen how the previous ABC's time was totally dominated by the topic of 'gays' and reached some preliminary views about how he wishes to lead the CofE and, more widely, the Communion.

Is it though 'reality'? Will gay couples and indeed LGBT people generally be treated any different? I'm sorry but this is the crux of matters. Otherwise we are merely talking about a whited sepulchre of homophobia, words no substance, no reality, merely diversion from the reality.

For the time being I am a sceptic. Much more hopeful about the new Pope.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 11:00pm GMT

While I take the point about damning with niceness, and slithering with compassion and no honesty - to be fair I have watched a lot of people go through this stage before coming to realise that no, marriage is not about gender roles, and yes it is about mutual support and commitment. We have to keep hoping as well as working and arguing. And hope that one day logic and rationality will start to prevail.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Friday, 15 March 2013 at 11:25pm GMT

So Archbishop Justin says he's open to discussion on gay marriage: that's good of him.

What speaks volumes is that Welby accepts that the love within same-sex relationships is not inferior to love between mixed-sex partners, yet still somehow not the same to be worthy of being called "marriage". Is he saying marriage is not a matter of love but about semantics?

I'm inclined to find those remarks more offensive than encouraging. The position the Archbishop ends up in is ridiculous.

Posted by: Tim Moore on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 8:54am GMT

Well, at least, Her Majesty the Queen will apparently be signing the Commonwealth Charter which decries discrimination against people on the basis of their gender or innate sexuality. Perhaps H.M. and the ABC need to talk to one another about this.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 9:45am GMT

PRNewark,
I stand corrected.
But I hope that your comment is only a point of order, because the generally genuine tone of Justin Welby's words makes it hard to believe that he is really saying "let's wait until we can get this thrown out in the Lords despite the overwhelming support in the House of Commons and in general society for this".

I believe he is genuinely welcoming and that he is in that half-way state where you truly believe that equal but different is still equal and an acceptable solution for all.
He's wrong, of course, but I don't see him as someone who is making pleasant noises while hatching secret plans to sabotage legislation.

From Parliament's response to the women bishops vote in the CoE he must know that this would completely destroy his credibility and the little standing the church still has in England.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 9:46am GMT

Nice or not, most of the Western world (and some of the non-Western world) are way ahead of the Archbishop on same sex equality.

I agree with Kelvin Holdsworth and with Savi Hensman.
"Niceness is the enemy of fairness."

Posted by: Counterlight on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 12:22pm GMT

It seems clear to me that the most urgent duty of our Archbishop is to 'open a discussion' on LGTB issues. He cannot do this effectively in private 'asides'. There already exist good working models for thoroughly inclusive consultations in other more enlightened Provinces. During these consultations truth emerges as to what it means to live in Christ as a valued and effective member of the LGTB community. Conflicts arise when valuable lay and ordained ministry is considered to be a problem. In the same way as theologians are saying that women are not a problem to be solved but a gift to be celebrated with a recognition of their pastoral and prophetic gifts so it is with the LGTB community. Our Archbishop will only discover this when he gathers a theologically representative group together for such a consultation process. These soundings need to be in camera. We are hearing the informed voices in a fragmented fashion at the moment and there is surely a more wholesome way – we have no right to speak as church without a thorough consultation.

In the absence of a collective, deep rooted consultative process I fail to understand how Archbishop Justin may be other than inarticulate. He has not been called by God to be a lone voice on deeply pastoral issues. He has been called by God to the highest representative position in the Church of England. All her members have a right to expect an urgent, inclusive and profound discussion round an open table. As someone with a proven record on conflict resolution, I pray he will now realise why he is for the moment inarticulate - and somewhat conflicted himself - which illustrates that he simply requires the grace and courage to let his people be heard in an authoritative setting. In the meantime we are all diminished and to some degree voiceless in a society evidently better educated by God, with God and in God.

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 3:01pm GMT

"In the meantime we are all diminished and to some degree voiceless in a society evidently better educated by God, with God and in God." Rosie Bates

Or without God.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 3:21pm GMT

“I understand why people want that to be strengthened and made more dignified, somehow more honourable in a good way.”

Huh? More honorable in a “good” way? Does this have any meaning at all?

“I’ve got 80 million people round the world who are Anglicans…”

“I”? If “I,” then why does he not reprimand the dreadful things perpetrated with the local church’s approval in place such as Nigeria?

The C of E seems more irrelevant by the day. No women bishops, tepid toward GLBT people at best, of little or no influence in TEC – hardly a “world church,” and seemingly terrified of actually taking a leadership role.

I regret it deeply, but I feel astonishingly alien when I worship in a C of E church on my frequent visits to the UK. As an American, and a gay man, and as one deeply committed to women in the bishop’s chair I find it very difficult to do so at all.

Twaddle and waffeling.

Posted by: Nat on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 4:22pm GMT

The URC has produced a very good discussion document for congregations. A pity the CoE doesn't follow suit.

Posted by: Helen on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 4:23pm GMT

Rosie, I have to admit that yours is the voice of reason. There needs to be dialogue and process.

In this conversation, people need to know the pain that has been caused by the church. There's no sugar coating it; the church has caused real pain and suffering and it must be acknowledged. LGBT members have an obligation to Witness to that suffering, for ourselves and most of all for those who can't speak for themselves (suicidal teens in the US hearing the message "God hates fags," and our brothers and sisters in oppressive situations in places like Uganda and Nigeria).

Rowan unleashed a horrible dynamic, just awful. And Justin has inherited that terrible dynamic. It would be very good for Justin to engage in the process you've described. He would do well to leave out the "80 million" and simply work the problem at home. The theological revelations of God's love in these dialogues in the UK will be relevant to others in the communion, over time.

I am hopeful and prayerful that he can work it through. Some are understandably apprehensive, given his previous writings. But I admit that this piece shows a sea change and new openness to dialogue.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 5:59pm GMT

Laurence 'Or without God.' Not possible as all are made in the image and likeness. Distanced, and in ignorance maybe (include myself) but always with. If not we have no Gospel to proclaim to ALL. I shudder every time I hear someone use the phrase 'Godless society'. All or nothing!

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 7:26pm GMT

Cynthia - 'In this conversation, people need to know the pain that has been caused by the church. There's no sugar coating it; the church has caused real pain and suffering and it must be acknowledged. LGBT members have an obligation to Witness to that suffering, for ourselves and most of all for those who can't speak for themselves....'

Yes, Cynthia and God alone knows how many. Some of us carry certain holy memories and voices of the wounded, the dying and those so sickened and depressed by CofE theology - and perhaps self denial - that they took the suicidal route. Enough - and with Christ we want to be able to say with integrity 'It is finished'. I truly believe their voices will be heard and we are called to prayer that this may indeed come to pass for now is the acceptable time. Every day we procrastinate we bear the burden of increasing tragedy - a tragedy far greater than some aspects of schism in my view.

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 8:51pm GMT

"Laurence 'Or without God.' Not possible as all are made in the image and likeness" Rosie Bates

This is probably not the forum to play ping-pong on this point and I'm genuinely not wishing to be rude but please do try to realise that some people are atheists and that a God has played no part in the development of their understanding of LGBT justice issues - or anything else for that matter. The fact that you believe that something is 'not possible' does not make it so for everyone.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 10:46pm GMT

"we are called to prayer that this may indeed come to pass"

I heard Desmond Tutu speak about 10 years ago. He spoke of meeting an American woman way out West (I think it was Oregon, further west of me in Colorado). She said to him that she was an insomniac and every night she prayed for the end of apartheid. Tutu responded something to the effect of "now I know we can't lose because this lady thousands of miles away is praying through the night so fervently."

Prayer is truly a wonderful force and I shall remember to pray for all of my brothers and sisters in the CoE each night.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 11:16pm GMT

"Is he saying marriage is not a matter of love but about semantics?"

Tim, isn't that pretty much the thrust of the entire "contra" case?

Posted by: Geoff on Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 2:31am GMT

As an American (once again....) I would cite Brown vs the school board of Topeka Kansas:separate is never equal.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 5:27am GMT

It was wonderful today to hear again the story of Mary Magdalene's anointing of the feet of Jesus, and wiping therm with her hair. How often is the Church like the onlookers, who wondered whether Jesus "knew the character and disposition of the person who was extending these courtesies".

Of course He did. And he reprimanded them for their meanness of spirit. Is that what is happening in our Churches at the present time. Are we jealous of the love spent by Jesus on the nurture of Women and Gays in the Church?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 9:10am GMT

Laurence, I do not consider you are being rude - you made me think and laugh. I am something of an insomniac and I often question God in the middle of the night about certain atheists/humanists who seem to be doing very good work in this world. There is one in particular who is on a mission for LGTB and other good causes. Do I feel called to pray for his conversion? -er - No. I don't pray for his conversion because I reckon he's doing a pretty fine job of lambasting us and our hypocrisy and neither do I suppose that God hasn't gifted him in a remarkable fashion. Would I pray for him to be doing anything differently just now? Hell No! -he's 'fearfully and wonderfully made'. All I feel called to do is thank God for him while I sit at his feet occasionally. I enjoy the mystery of the bigger picture. Pax

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 12:18pm GMT

@Rosie Bates.

Thank you for your reply.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 7:45pm GMT

I agree with Cynthia.
I think a lot of atheists are way ahead of the Church on a major human rights issue of our time. It looks like on this issue, as on so many other major humanitarian issues over the last 2 centuries, the Church will bring up the rear, dragged kicking and screaming. Considering that history, why should not Almighty God make atheists and secularists the instruments of His purposes?

Posted by: Counterlight on Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 8:35pm GMT

Erika at 9.46 am on 16 March:

Yes, it was only a point of order.

I certainly wouldn't attribute any sort of deviousness to +Justin but he is not the whole House of Lords. It would not surprise me a bit if Conservative peers managed to scupper the bill and a game of inter-house ping-pong resulted. I don't think that the Parliament Act can be invoked for the Commons to get its way (tho' I may be wrong on that).

For the record, I believe that marriage is the loving, life-long, monogamous union of two people for the mutual support each should have of the other and that society as a whole is strengthened thereby and that the gender of the parties to the marriage is irrelevant.

Posted by: RPNewark on Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 9:13pm GMT

Well, here's a recent turn around: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2013/03/15/gay-couples-also-deserve-chance-to-get-married.html

Maybe there's hope for the ABC.

I agree with you Kelvin. It hardly matters if they are "nice" if they are actively working to deny justice and equality, to expose me and our brothers and sisters to outright harm, and to simply deny that we are created in the image of God, same as all others.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 at 2:14am GMT
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