[PLUG-TALK] Another use of speck in your brother's eye log in your own...
plug_1 at robinson-west.com
Sat Jan 3 16:40:49 PST 2009
The issue of gay bishops and gay unions dominated the news and concerns
of our Anglican brethren in 2003. As a Roman Catholic and convert from
Anglicanism (of the evangelical variety), I have found that the issue of
homosexuality must be placed in a wider moral context. Sexual sin is
serious, whether homosexual or heterosexual.
For instance, in 2002 the Church of England officially threw out its
belief in the indissolubility of Christian marriage, a belief that had
forced King Edward VIII to abdicate the throne sixty years ago and
Princess Margaret to give up the man she loved forty years ago. This
change on marriage hardly raised a protest from Anglicans. Even the
conservative Anglo-Catholics made little of the change; indeed, they
have been virtually silent on the gay issue, as it is a problem that
riddles their own constituency.
Despite the divorce of Henry VIII, which gave rise to the Church of
England, remarriage after divorce had been forbidden by the canon law of
the Church of England. (An excellent recent study of the Anglican
witness to the indissolubility of marriage, The Great Divorce
Controversy, has been written by Edward Williams—no relation—a concerned
Anglican who holds to the traditional and biblical view.)
As I write, I have before me two books written by clerical members of a
conservative Anglican lobby group called Reform. In Church and State in
the New Millennium, Rev. David Holloway asserts that the New Testament
teaches that marriage is an indissoluble union and remarriage after
divorce is adultery. He asserts that this is biblical and traditional
Church of England teaching.
The other book, The Hundred Top Questions, is by Rev. Richard Bewes,
rector of All Souls, Langham Place (John Stott’s old church), who
asserts that marriage can be dissolved in the case of adultery, in which
case the innocent party may remarry. Yet both of these men affirm that
the Bible is clear on all the fundamentals.
What, I ask, can be more fundamental than the holy bond that joins man
and woman? Anglicans have no consensus as to what constitutes the sin of
adultery, a sin so serious that, according to the Bible, it can just as
much exclude one from heaven as can homosexual sex (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9).
Although Reform makes statements affirming "lifelong heterosexual
marriage," nowhere does the movement officially define whether or not
marriage is an indissoluble bond. Members of the movement are hopelessly
divided. They have never broken ranks over the difference, since it
would make a mockery of their stand against the homosexual lobby and
their claim that the Bible is clear on morality.
Anglicans within Reform have concealed their differences and have made
common cause on the gay issue. The resolution drafted by the 1998
Lambeth Conference, a worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops, states
"This conference, while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible
with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and
sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn
irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any
trivialization and commercialization of sex; [and] cannot advise the
legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved
in same-gender unions" (Resolution I.10 d, e).
Bishops who do not sign up to this resolution are to be ostracized and
boycotted. Witness what happened in the Worcester diocese when Fr.
Charles Raven and his congregation left the Church of England, or the
boycott of the bishop of Newcastle by conservative Anglicans. Yet these
same conservatives hold up Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia,
as the very model of a Reformed Anglican bishop—and yet he asserts that
Christian marriage is not indissoluble and believes in divorce.
While some Anglicans were denouncing the current Prince of Wales’s
adulterous relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, fellow Anglican Lord
George Carey (archbishop of Canterbury, 1990–2002) was telling Prince
Charles not to leave his mistress but to marry her. He also sent his
congratulations to Bishop Mark Santer, who, while bishop of Birmingham,
married the divorced wife of one of his clergymen in a registry office.
No reference at the time was made to Paul’s admonition that a bishop
must have a blameless family life, in sharp contrast to the barrage
against V. Gene Robinson, the openly homosexual bishop at the center of
the 2003 Anglican furor.
Conservative Anglicans always are pushing the Lambeth declaration of
1998, which, "in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness
in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union" (Resolution
I.10 b). Note the careful wording of this statement: There is no mention
of indissolubility, since the Anglican communion is divided over the
issue of divorce.
There are some provinces of the communion (which in reality is not a
communion but a federation) that still hold true to the traditional
teaching, while others have long abandoned it. The American Episcopal
Church did so as early as 1808. There may be only one openly gay
Anglican bishop, but there are dozens of divorced and remarried ones of
But Lambeth declarations, besides having no binding authority, can be
superseded and contradicted. For instance, take Lambeth 1948, which
condemned female ordination, and Lambeth 1908, where contraception was
declared to be sinful and a threat to Christian morality. In 1930 that
latter declaration was overturned, and contraception was allowed for
serious reasons. The Anglican communion became the first major
Protestant denomination to give way on this issue. In 1958, even the
"serious reasons" proviso was scrapped, and sex became primarily
recreational bonding with children as an option.
In 1930, there was much controversy and conservative opposition, and
Anglican bishop Charles Gore predicted a sexual revolution as a result.
All the nations that have accepted contraception (including nominally
Catholic ones) are in sharp decline in both morality and population. In
Britain, births are exceeded by deaths in Scotland and Wales. In
England, if it weren’t for massive immigration and high fertility among
the immigrants, it too would be below replacement levels. So desperate
is the British government, with the looming pensions and welfare crisis
caused by this population implosion, that the doors are to be opened to
As for Anglicans, contraception is now a non-issue, or at most a Vatican
conspiracy to fill the world with Catholics. Many Anglican books on sex
and marriage advocate contraception, masturbation, and oral sex. So
ingrained is the contraceptive mentality that few Christians (Catholics
included) now want their quiver full of arrows; instead they defer to a
"comfortable" lifestyle. Anglicans may assert that Catholics are against
the pleasures of the flesh, but it was the sixteenth-century Reformer
Thomas Cranmer who took out of the English marriage vows the wifely
pledge to "be bonny and buxom in bed and board"! Catholic theology, on
the other hand, views the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage as
What the Anglican communion fails to see is that acceptance of
contraception by society also opened the door to homosexuality. If sex
is primarily for bonding and recreation and can be engineered to be
deliberately sterile, how can we deny the legitimacy of the ultimate
sterility of same-sex relationships? The late Lord Robert Runcie
(archbishop of Canterbury, 1978–1990) cited this fundamental change in
the Anglican view of sex in order to justify the fact that he had
ordained active homosexuals and lesbians to the Anglican ministry.
In contrast, Catholic teaching on marriage and procreation is biblical
and consistent with historical tradition and scriptural teaching. Christ
turned marriage into a sacrament that, validly entered into and
consummated, only death can put asunder. Furthermore, the sexual union
that ensues must be open to the gift of life. Of course, the Bible rules
out homosexual sexual practice completely.
Conservative Anglicans are fond of Paul when it comes to doctrines of
grace, headship, the role of women in ministry, and homosexuality. After
all, he is an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was our Lord who said of
his apostles, "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects
me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me" (Luke 10:16). But
there is one area of Paul that conservative Anglicans are as neglectful
of and embarrassed about as the liberals: the teaching in 1 Corinthians
7 that the unmarried state allows for a more dedicated service to God.
Conservative Anglicans need to reexamine their entire teaching about
what constitutes human sexual relationships, marriage, divorce, and the
family. As our Lord taught, it is easy to criticize the speck in your
brother’s eye when you have a log in your own. Surely adultery and the
holiness of marriage is as fundamental an issue as homosexuality. With a
selective attitude toward sin and Scripture, Anglicans have little
chance in converting homosexuals, let alone fulfilling their noble aim
of winning the world for Christ.
Robert Ian Williams is a former Anglican whose conversion story can be
found in the book Home at Last (Catholic Answers, 2000). He writes from
Wales, Great Britain.
This Rock -- Free Offer
More information about the PLUG-talk