How the Anglican Communion’s authoritative teaching about same-sex attraction is ignored

Thirty-five Primates of the Anglican Communion met at the Dromantine Retreat Centre in Newry, Northern Ireland, from 20 to 25 February 2005. Section 6 of The Dromantine Communique issued at the end of the meeting concluded with these two sentences:

“We also wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship (vii).”

Any action or language which leads to the victimisation or diminishment of people who love others of the same sex is anathema to the Primates of the Anglican Communion. This is the policy of the Anglican Communion and the reason why Andrea Minichiello Williams speech in Jamaica has been so strongly criticised, why Anglican Mainstream’s stance and editorial policy is criticised, and why Primates and bishops in Uganda and Nigeria who support the anti-gay bills and all anti-gay rhetoric is criticised by Changing Attitude.

The Anglican Communion assures homosexual people in Lambeth 1.10 and the Dromantine Communique that we are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best pastoral care and friendship.

Many Anglican bishops and leaders are selective in their use of agreed statements. We accept that there is a variety of theological positions within the Communion. What we do not accept are statements that encourage the abuse, criminalisation, imprisonment and murder of homosexuals. The majority of people in the UK identify such attitudes as scandalously unchristian. Changing Attitude is clear that any organisation or individual which fails to adhere to this basic minimum of agreed teaching must be challenged.

The West Indies

The pastoral stance of Anglican teaching was endorsed by the Archbishop of the West Indies in an article posted on the Don’t Throw Stones web site.  He said:

“The book [Jonah] can be compared with the parables in the Gospels, and must rank as one of the most powerful rejections of one of the plagues of humanity. What is this plague? It is that of rejecting those who differ from us, and assuming that God rejects them as well. Those who are not like us are deemed to be not of God. It could be the case of declaring that African slaves have no souls, or those who are Muslims fall easily, if not naturally into an ‘arc of evil’. In the present discussion on human sexuality, homosexuals can suffer the same fate.
“This human weakness is projected onto God and so he is made into our own image, and made to sort out his children in terms of race, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and many other categories. We can treat those who differ from us as those for whom God, like us, has no concern.

“The writer of Jonah sets out to rescue the inherited understanding of God from this new dangerous threat, indeed from this new heresy. The inherited understanding presents God as compassionate, and forgiving, and shows concern for all people, as compared with the new understanding that presents God as very exclusive, and concerned primarily, if not only, for the Jew.”

The Church of North India

Those who follow international affairs will know that India’s Supreme Court recently overturned a lower court’s ruling that had decriminalized gay sex. In 2009, the Delhi High Court ruled that the Anti-Sodomy laws from the 19th-century that effectively banned gay sex shouldn’t apply to consensual acts. The Supreme Court rejected that decision, saying the old law was still constitutionally valid and could only be changed or erased by Parliament. Because of the conservative religious values of most of India’s major religions, it is unlikely that any legislative changes will happen.

However, Christian leaders in India said that while they believed homosexual behavior was sinful, the church should offer its love and support as gays and lesbians were not “outcasts”. A spokesman for the Church of North India said India’s Anglicans endorsed the principles of the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 and sought to offer prayer, welcome and support to all. The General Secretary of the CNI qualified this by saying “the Church of North India does not support same sex marriages or gay marriages.” Alwin Masih told Anglican Ink. 

American Anglican Council and ACNA

However, Bishop David Anderson of The American Anglican Council (an integral member of ACNA, the Anglican Church of North America (the secessionist body which has Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream as a regular commentator) also ignores Anglican Communion teaching against victimising or diminishing homosexual people. In his recent letter, linked on Anglican Mainstream’s web site, he rejoices at the reversal of the ruling in India, contrary to the stance of the Church of North India. David writes obsessively about homosexuality in his letters to ‘the friends of the Anglican realignment’.
Another member of General Synod is involved in this network of groups and people, all acting in defiance Anglican teaching expressed in the Dromantine Statement. David Anderson was the ACNA Bishop hosted by Anglican Mainstream when they were trying to get recognition in General Synod.

At the February 2010 session of Synod, Lorna Ashworth proposed the following motion: “That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.” Four members of ACNA, one of the, being Bishop David Anderson, spoke at a lunchtime fringe meeting on the Tuesday of Synod. I reported the meeting here.

I’m told Lorna Ashworth is still supporting the ACNA goal of being recognised by the Church of England by asking the Doctrine commission to accept ACNA orders. If they do this, they will be recognising a schismatic Church where its bishop is in favour of the criminalisation of any non-straight sex.

Christian Legal Centre and Anglican Mainstream

And to bring us full circle, Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Christian Legal Centre is speaking at conferences in Ireland and London organised by CLC and Core Issues Trust. Dr Michael Davidson of Core Issues Trust and Professor John Nolland of Trinity College, Bristol. Professor Nolland is married to Lisa Nolland of Anglican Mainstream who advertise the conference here.

The themes of the post-Pilling conference, title ‘Setting Love in Order: Protecting the freedoms to believe, to exist and to change when homosexual feelings are unwanted’, are Homosexual orientation and practice – what did Jesus say? Straight, gay, bisexual – what about ex-gay and post-gay? “Don’t want to be gay any more? Sorry we’re not allowed to help you!” Is that ethical?

None of the organizations named in this article respect the commitment of the Anglican Communion to be unreservedly committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people and to anathematize the victimisation or diminishment of those whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex.

There is a direct relationship between their teachings and the abuse, victimization, criminalization and murder of LGB&T people. It is time for the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the House and College of Bishops and members of General Synod to wake up and make clear their total support for Anglican teaching that at least protects LGB&T people

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