Archbishops’ statement upsets people on both sides

Aug 3, 2017 by

from CEN:

50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexual acts sparked criticism from both sides in the debate.

Archbishops Welby and Sentamu noted in their statement that the Church of England, led by Archbishop Michael Ramsay, supported the decriminalisation.

And they noted that as of January 2016 the majority of the leading Archbishops of the Communion ‘confirmed the longstanding view of the Communion that diminishing and criminalising homosexual people is wrong’.

“The Church, not just the Church of England, but all those who follow Jesus Christ and whose lives are committed to his worship and service, has very often been defined by what it is against,” said the Archbishops.

“It has condemned many things, and continues to do so, very often correctly, for example when they involve the abuse of the poor, or the weak, or the marginalised,” they added.

The statement explains that the Church ‘is called more to be identified by what it loves, most of all by its pointing to Jesus Christ, not merely by what it condemns’.

“Many people who have nothing to do with the institutional Church and who seldom, if ever, attend it, nevertheless see in Jesus Christ someone of startling and extraordinary attraction,” said the Archbishops.

“Many homosexual people follow Christ, drawn to him by his love and his outstretched arms welcoming all those who turn to him,” they added.

However, when they referred to the Bible text from Matthew chapter 11: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”, opinion divided.

Jayne Ozanne, a member of General Synod, said that she was ‘saddened and perplexed’ by the statement on what she explained ‘should be a day of clear celebration, and in the church’s case – repentance’.

“There are still many countries around the world that criminalise homosexuality, often with the Church’s support,” she said.

“To talk about sin and ‘burden bearing’ at a time such as this is at best misguided and at worse offensive to those of us who have constantly been told that our sexuality is a ‘burden to bear’ and that any demonstration of it is ‘sinful’,” she added.

The statement‘shows just how far the Church still has to go in understanding the damage it has caused, and the pain it continues to inflicts – unwittingly or otherwise’.

However, Canon Dr Chris Sugden,the Convenor of Anglican Mainstream, said that while he welcomed the Archbishops’ reminder that the Church of England supported ending the criminalisation of homosexual behaviour, he said that ‘to live in accordance with his standards for marriage and sexuality which are plain and clear in the Bible should not be seen as passing judgement on or condemning anyone’.

“Why might taking a stand on God’s standards in challenge to the prevailing cultural preferences be seen as condemnation? If it is judged to be a condemnation, what is operating is not a moral approach but a political one that panders to the lobbies who will label as condemnation anything that questions their behaviour,” he added.

The Anglican Peace and Justice Network said they celebrate a ‘long journey to end the victimisation and diminishment of LGBT people by decriminalising consenting homosexual acts in private’.

However they lamented that more progress has not been made.

They said that the recent commitment of the Archbishops to a ‘radical inclusion’, ‘signifies a new path for the Church of England’.

“None of this would be possible if the first step of decriminalisation had not been taken,” they added.

But they were critical of the fact that homosexuality in some form or other remains criminalised in 72 countries around the world.

“LGBT people continue to face diminishment and victimisation and where one suffers we all suffer. Our humanity is diminished when sisters and brothers are victimised,” they said in a statement.

“In many countries the laws are rarely used, but their existence breeds a culture of fear and legitimises violence, intimidation, and bullying. People are not free to be who they are and it is impossible for their voice to be heard.”

They welcomed the fact that the Archbishop of the West Indies and the Bishop of Jamaica have both spoken out ‘publicly and courageously for decriminalisation in cultures where homophobia is rife’.

They are now calling on people to support the campaign ‘Anglicans for Decriminalisation’ by signing the petition.

See also:

Archbishops’ statement on the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexual acts

Response by Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream

A lot of people are upset by the Archbishops’ latest on gays: here’s why, by Ian Paul, Christian Today



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