Wednesday, August 6, 2008

ABC and gay relationships

An exchange of letters between an evangelical and the ABC show that he believe same sex relationships can be equivalent to straight marriage:
The Times, Ruth Gledhill reports and publishes the letters.

Gay partnerships pose the same ethical questions as those between a man and woman and the key issue for Christians is that they are faithful and lifelong, he believes.
Dr Williams is known to be personally liberal on the issue but the strength of his views, revealed in private correspondence shown to The Times, will astonish his critics.
In an exchange of letters with an evangelical Christian, written eight years ago when he was Archbishop of Wales, Dr Williams describes his belief that Biblical passages criticising homosexual sex are not aimed at people who are gay by nature.

Instead, he argues that scriptural prohibitions are addressed “to heterosexuals looking for sexual variety in their experience”.

He says: “I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.”

Although written before he became Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, Dr Williams describes his view in the letters as his “definitive conclusion” reached after 20 years of study and prayer. He refers to it as his “conviction”.

Read more here.


Anonymous said...

Just like Jesus, who thought that the unity of the temple cult was paramount over everything else.

The institutional church sometimes does horrible things to good people.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this, er, straight: he abandoned his convictions when he became ABC?

What power does to people...>!

Ann said...

Episcopal Cafe has the letters up now and some other links.

James said...

Yes, IT; when he became the archbishop, he had to give up his principles

Cany said...

It's just gets weirder and weirder.

So it's unity that he is bashing everyone with. What an incredible contradiction.

Anonymous said...

"when he became the archbishop, he had to give up his principles"

As someone on another forum commented, +++Williams was selected as ABC, at least in part, because of his known views; now that he resides at Canterbury, it appears he has concluded that he has to set aside those very views.

It seems to me, if the point is that an ABC always set aside his own views, maybe we should choose Rowan's successor by just drawing a name out of a hat.

Anonymous said...

Of course, Rowan's predecessor, Carey, did not give up HIS views when he became ABC, did he? No, he did not. Instead he bludgeoned us with them at Lambeth 1998 and the infamous "resolution" which has become "the mind of the communion".

It's vacation time - beginning on Saturday. I'm taking a break from all this - don't let anything important (or destructive!) happen while I'm away! Visit my blog if you want to know where I'll be and what I'll be doing. (Sorry all, for the shameless self-promotion.)

Have a great rest-of-the-summer, y'all!

Anonymous said...

I'm totally with IT.

In fact, I'll take it a step further in saying that any person who would abandon his own principles for the sake of his "position" has no business lecturing other people on principles, ethics, or just about any other subject. Except maybe on the benefits of cowardice.

rick allen said...

On the other hand, what would we think of a judge who consistently bent his judgments to impose his own values rather than those of democratically-promulgated legislation (think of examples where you might agree and might disagree with such rulings).

Unless an official is an autocrat, whose will is by definition law, his function is to administer a given set of governing norms. A bishop is charged to confess and teach the faith he has received from the apostles. There is of course much "play" in how the deposit of faith is to be understood and developed. But if his proper role is to only promulgate his convictions, we then have something quite different from what we signed up for.

So, yes, I think any conscientious official, even in--or especially in--the church, has to constantly be on guard against mistaking his own deepest convictions for what he is charged with proclaiming.

klady said...

Hello everyone,

I'm still adjusting to being home after some time away dealing with family matters, but just thought I'd give you the heads up about a webcast ++Katharine will be making today. Details are at

About Rowan, I'm afraid this was all rather old news but it speaks volumes about where his head is (and his heart isn't, if you'll forgive my lack of "sophisticated" theological terms to describe it).

Ann said...

rick allen - he is not a judge - I think it is possible as a leader to hold and discuss your views in a way that does not impose them. As in this is how I see it - YMMV. He could model how to make space for one another rather than pretending is he is something he is not. Talk about a closet!!

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Rowan Williams doesn't see it as you do Ann. He apparently sees his role as that of the voice of the perceived majority of the AC.

I like what Marc Andrus has to say on his blog, "Archbishop Rowan in his final presidential address, given just after we received the reflections document noted that, “There will be some who cannot abide by these moratoria, and in this they signal that there are steps to deeper unity they cannot take; or it may be that they conceive of deeper unity in other ways.” I take this to be a profound and generous idea. In not abiding by the moratorium on same-sex blessings I take it as incumbent on me and on us in the Diocese to actively labor to both understand the position of those to whom that moratorium is important, and to convey the reality of our life together to the world. I must redouble my efforts at inhabiting a deeper unity.


Anonymous said...

+++Williams is not a judge. He's a leader of the Church, an institution meant to proclaim (1) the Truth and (2) the good news of Christ. As leader, +++Williams should be doing everything in his power to accomplish those goals.

If his convictions -- his understanding of Truth and the good news of Christ -- includes the conviction that same sex relationships can reflect the Love of God in much the same way that a heterosexual marriage does, then from where I stand, his duties as church leader is to speak for that Truth and good news and encourage others in the church to come to that understanding.

It is not his job to represent "majority opinion within the Church." To do so would suggest that the Truth and good news of Christ (the business of the Church) are up for majority vote. They're not.

episcopalifem said...

I think he'd have far less criticism at the moment if he'd been able to say, as the nominal leader of the Anglican COMMUNION (not CHURCH), I have to uphold the majority opinion, even though it goes against my own personal convictions, and I believe it to be in error - which is apparently, as we all well know, exactly the situation.


Anonymous said...

Eileen: Speaking only personally, it'd at least earn him my respect for being more honest. I'm not sure it'd totally end my criticisms, though.

And my apologies for the whole Communion/Church confusion.

episcopalifem said...

Jarred - ++Rowan himself is creating the church v. communion confusion/distortion through his own rhetoric - not you - so no apologies necessary on your part!

I have no doubt his honesty wouldn't end the criticisms of his decisions - personal dishonesty isn't the only misstep he is perceived to be making. But, respect or personal integrity go a long way in helping a discussion.

Paul (A.) said...

Diane, I'd more easily buy the "voice of the perceived majority" bit if he would allow people to speak rather than stifling anything contrary to his offhand "perception".

Anonymous said...

"My guess is that Rowan Williams doesn't see it as you do Ann. He apparently sees his role as that of the voice of the perceived majority of the AC."

In which case, he had no business allowing his name to be put forward as ABC, if his own convictions set himself outside "the perceived majority of the AC."

Perhaps, in contrast to Sir Thomas More, +++Rowan shall eventually be known as "A Man for No Seasons"...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps his "instituional views" were among those that led to his appointment as AB and that if he was willing only to speak hs personal opinions, he would never have become the AB.

Anonymous said...

"The Body's Grace" was published in 1989, Anonymous/Dan. His "personal opinions" WERE known, prior to his becoming ABC (and arguably, they were partly responsible for his appointment: "Liberal Anglo-Catholic", as pendulum-swing from "Conservative Evangelical" Carey)