The Church in Wales: Bishops’ statement on homosexuality 2005
Official Press Release here
The Bishops of the Church in Wales recognise that its members hold a wide range of views on a variety of ethical, social and theological matters. One such issue is the Church’s approach to homosexuality.
For some time, we have recognised that there are honest and legitimate differences on this subject. The church needs to engage prayerfully in this debate with humility, generosity of spirit, reflection on biblical witness, mature thought and careful listening. The harsh and condemnatory tone, which at times has coloured this debate, is unacceptable.
We uphold the traditional Anglican emphasis on Scripture read in the light of reason and tradition. We recognise that the interpretation of Scripture is in itself an area of divergence among Christians. We are at pains to emphasise the need to respect one another and remind the Church that everyone is created in the image and likeness of God. Sexuality is only one aspect of a person’s humanity.
As with many issues there, exists a wide range of Scriptural interpretation within the Christian church. On same-sex relationships we acknowledge that the following fairly reflect the range of views held within the Church in Wales.
Some people, reading the Scriptures with integrity, reach the conclusion that the only proper context for sexual activity is marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union. Homosexual practice of any kind is therefore rejected.
Others, reading the Scriptures with integrity, adopt a more sympathetic understanding of homosexuality, but would not at present wish the Church to sanction homosexual practice.
Others, reading the Scriptures with integrity, conclude that orientation and practice are to be distinguished and that the Church can welcome same sex relationships provided they are celibate.
Others again, reading the Scriptures with integrity, conclude that the Church cannot dismiss as intrinsically disordered permanent and committed same-sex relationships; they believe that through their internal mutuality and support, these bring creativity, generosity and love into the lives of those within them.
Others, reading the Scriptures with integrity, conclude, in the light of a developing understanding of the nature of humanity and sexuality, that the time has arrived for the Church to affirm committed homosexual relationships.
The challenge and call of our discipleship is to live, worship and work together in all our diversity. Rejecting all forms of stigmatisation we commit ourselves to listening to people whose sexual orientation may be different from our own.
25 November 2005