Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Archbishop of Wales speaks on Homosexuality
Archbishop Barry Morgan addressed the Governing Body of the Church in Wales today.
Press Release from the Church in Wales:
Studying the Bible in its full context can lead to a very different view of same-sex relationships than that traditionally held by the Church, the Archbishop of Wales said today (SEPT 14).
In his final address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, responded to claims that he and his fellow bishops had been “swayed by the liberal culture of our age” and “ignored Holy Scripture” in issuing prayers earlier this year that could be said with same-sex couples following their civil partnership or marriage.
He showed how the Bible had more than one view on homosexuality, as well as other important issues, as the authors of its books developed and changed their opinions. To understand God’s will, he suggested, meant seeing the different views in the context of the Bible as a whole, and, in particular, the ministry of Jesus.
Dr Morgan, who will retire in January, said, “It absolutely will not do to quote texts from parts of the Bible in a simplistic way without reference to their contexts. One has to treat the Bible as a whole and discern, often through stories, the direction in which it is leading. Holy Scripture, in other words, contains not just ethical injunctions but stories, and stories convey truth about peoples’ understanding of God. After all, Jesus spent most of His life telling stories to get people to understand the nature and character of God.”
He compared biblical interpretations of same-sex relationships with those of slavery – a practice once defended by the Church. As opinions on that changed, he suggested, so may the Church’s view on same-sex relationships.
“In spite of all the passages in favour of slavery, when you examine the Scriptures as a whole and the ministry of Jesus in particular, you realise it is about freedom from all that diminishes and dehumanises people. No Christian I hope would today argue that slavery is good, but for nineteen centuries the Church accepted it and defended it. God through His Holy Spirit has led us into the truth of seeing things in a totally different way today and we are rightly horrified when we read about people who have been kept as slaves by others.
“What all this amounts to is that one cannot argue that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting Scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned. Scripture itself is diverse and theological views held in some biblical books are reshaped in the light of experience by other writers….
“So taking the Bible as a whole and taking what it says very seriously may lead us into a very different view of same-sex relationships than the one traditionally upheld by the Church…..
“Given that each of the passages purported to be about homosexuality can be interpreted in more than one way, we come to the fundamental question as to whether taking the Bible as a whole, we can come to the same conclusions about committed, faithful, loving, same-sex relationships as we did about slavery.
“We are not thereby abandoning the Bible but trying to interpret it in a way that is consistent with the main thrust of the ministry of Jesus, who went out of His way to minister to those who were excluded, marginalised, and abandoned by His society because they were regarded as impure and unholy by the religious leaders of His day, either because of their gender, age, morality or sexuality. Taking Holy Scripture seriously means paying attention to Jesus’ ministry of inclusivity.”
The Archbishop concluded his address by quoting from a book edited by Andrew Davison, called Amazing Love:
“We are most truly ourselves when we live for others and we gain life not by clutching to it but by giving it away. Living for others underlines the truest meaning of sexuality. Christians have discovered that most people flourish best when this living for others finds its focus in a commitment to one other person: when a couple make a lifelong commitment within which sex properly belongs.”
He said, “Those of us who were or are married have found that to be the case. Why would we want to deny such a possibility for those who are attracted to their own gender?”
The full text of the address is available here.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Wednesday, 14 September 2016 at 2:30pm BST
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Church in Wales
The godly Archbishop speaks as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Praise God for an Archbishop who speaks with sincerity and truth....God Bless him.
Let other Archbishops and Bishops follow his humble, Godly example.
He makes me proud to have a Welsh middle name Emlyn, the home from which my ancestors came.
Perfect...thank you, Archbishop Morgan.
I applaud Morgan's intent, but disagree with his method: there's nothing wrong with being swayed by the liberal culture of our age, not when it's backed by reason and evidence; and nothing wrong with saying, plainly, that the Bible, as a fallible human creation, is wrong about homosexuality.
The tacit endorsement of biblical authority that comes from refusing to do so ensures that this continues to be fought on the opposition's terms, and ducks confronting a dogma that, in subordinating reason and evidence to the opinions of men who lived millennia ago, is wrong in itself. This "debate" is crying out for a strong liberal voice, making the case in liberal terms, and more, making the case for liberal theology across the board.
At last, a British archbishop who isn't suggesting this is about a clash between the Bible and 21st century social ideals but is simply that the Bible supports same sex relationships.
"He showed how the Bible had more than one view on homosexuality, as well as other important issues, as the authors of its books developed and changed their opinions."
Yup. That's about it. In fact, the bible has more than one view about just about everything--except the commandments to love God and to love our neighbor.
Strange how stuck some people are on plucking one particular proscription from among the hundreds of barbarianisms in the scriptures and destroying live with it--even to the point of killing them.
"taking the Bible as a whole, we can come to the same conclusions about committed, faithful, loving, same-sex relationships as we did about slavery."
Um, since w/ the latter Christians have come to universally reject it, I'd say that's some *unfortunately phrasing*, Archbishop! O_o
...but I do appreciate the larger point of your address. Godspeed, Dr Morgan.
If only the church had allowed herself be 'swayed by secular culture' on so many counts in the last couple of hundred years, we would not have been left with so much egg on our face. The world does get it right sometimes, Archbishop, and recently, often. Morality is not a matter of revelation. It does not pass our understanding. if it did, we would not even be able to give assent to the Gospel as something good. Enough with Biblical morality already.
Thank you, James. Many of us, I suspect, think the present fraught situation in Anglicanism has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with failing to say what we mean by the inspiration and authority of the scriptures.
I would not myself use the term liberal as you have, because in Church matters I think one has to be a liberal something or other - say Catholic or Evangelical - but I hope we would agree that the crying need is to show that it is perfectly possible (and desirable) to revere the scriptures and to listen for the voice of God through them without buying into a literalism which is actually the opposite of faith.
Hurrah for Archbishop Barry.
He probably should have said all this much earlier in the conversation. however, much better 'late' than 'never'. Perhaps he will encourage other due-to-retire bishops in Anglican churches to s[peak the Truth in Love, before they retire.
"In fact, the bible has more than one view about just about everything--except the commandments to love God and to love our neighbor."
There's more than one view even on loving your neighbor, I think. For example:
"But as for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded." (Deut. 20:16-17)
Retire ...nice pension....then bravely speak out.....
At the risk of going off-topic, @ dr.primrose:
I think Jesus fairly addressed this point w/ the Parable of the Good Samaritan ("who is my neighbor?"). In times of the conquest, the Israelites did NOT view the "the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites" as their neighbors, to be sure!
"Retire ... nice pension....then bravely speak out....."
Entering "Archbishop Barry Morgan" in the search facility on this Thinking Anglicans site will show the salutary record of Archbishop Morgan and the wisdom and liberality of his Christian witness and may disabuse one of the unfairness of the above comment.
Give thanks for the ministry of +Barry Morgan.
"Retire ...nice pension....then bravely speak out....."
Which is part of the argument as to why we should abolish stipendiary ministry but in this case I am inclined to believe that the timing was governed by external events - he can hardly be unaware of the developments in Scotland and the battle underway in England - rather than his personal retirement.
Of course, the Parable of the Good Samaritan provides an opposite view to that I cited in Deuteronomy. That's the point -- both views are still found in the Bible.
I think most of us at least try to follow the Good-Samaritan view of "neighbor." But I think we would be quite naive to think that no one follows the Deuteronomy view. Those people may be extreme and, fortunately, small in number. But they're there.