Sunday, November 18, 2012

From a Speech by Justin Welby, Soon-to-be-Archbishop of Canterbury

"We also face deep differences over the issue of sexuality. It is absolutely right for the state to define the rights and status of people co-habiting in different forms of relationships, including civil partnerships. We must have no truck with any form of homophobia, in any part of the church. The Church of England is part of the worldwide church, with all the responsibilities that come from those links. What the church does here deeply affects the already greatly suffering churches in places like northern Nigeria, which I know well. I support the House of Bishop's statement in the summer in answer to the government's consultation on same sex marriage. I know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully. I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us. Above all in the church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed honestly and in love."

Isn't there a certain contradiction between the first sentence I italicized, and the second? How can you avoid the language of exclusion if you insist that you can have no truck with homophobes?

Am I supporting homophobia? No. I am in fact complaining about the stupid use of the term "exclusion". It is not a helpful word. It performs no useful work. Christians should of course be loving and open to all their fellow men and women, but the very fact that a Christian Church is Christian and not Buddhist, secularist or Rastafarian immediately entails exclusivity.

The good Bishop is also rather behind-the-times in his use of "LGBT". Apparently it is now "LGBTI", as "intergender" folks hitch a ride on the caravan. Isn't it rather insensitive and brutish to yoke lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intergender people together in one crude category, anyway?

I accept this is all rather carping. Justin Welby seems like a very sincere and zealous Christian, after his own conscience. I wish him well. I would love to see a revival of the Church of England, and also a return of the Church of England towards historic Christian orthodoxy.


  1. Not yet, but I will as soon as I have the opportunity- thanks for the link!

    Bruce Charlton commented on this blog some months back-- I was most honoured! I was reading his book "Thought Prison" again only a few weeks ago.

  2. Wow! I think Bruce Charlton has made lots of good points here, and I generally agree with him, but I definitely wouldn't call Rowan Williams "mostly bored by and indifferent to Christianity". "Muddled and ineffective" seems fair enough (we're talking about a guy who agreed to be made a Druid-- admittedly purely a ceremonial Druid, but how could he not have realised what symbolic undertones that would have?).

    But I have watched at least a dozen of Rowan Williams's videos on Youtube and I think the man radiates sincerity, zeal and a profound commitment to Christ. Of course I can't read his soul, and of course I strongly disagree with many of his positions, but I always come away from listening to him feeling rather awed and humbled.

    I did, however, find this very funny:

    "...The House of Bishops is very wise.

    Comment: no comment."