Archbishop Rowan Williams’s most recent remarks about homosexuality have been widely interpreted as “gays must change”. Speaking in the Sunday Telegraph last month, ++Rowan said:
“I don’t believe inclusion is a value in itself. Welcome is. We don’t say ‘Come in and we ask no questions’. I do believe conversion means conversion of habits, behaviours, ideas, emotions,” he told a Dutch journalist.
“Ethics is not a matter of a set of abstract rules, it is a matter of living the mind of Christ. That applies to sexual ethics.”
To me this sounds like more of the fudging for which the Archbishop has gained a reputation. He also discussed an essay he wrote when he was an academic, in which he voiced his support for gay relationships:
It did not generate much support and a lot of criticism – quite fairly on a number of points.
Again, he doesn’t say he was plain wrong – but he does seem to be fudging the issue whether his views have changed substantially. In any case, the media in general has taken his remarks as a signal that he has come round to the conservative view that all homosexual activity is wrong. Alan Chambers of Exodus leaps on the news enthusiastically, which surely says something:
“We applaud the archbishop’s courageous stand for the truth,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International. “The lack of biblical clarity on the issue of homosexuality is rampant in far too many congregations. Ours is a passionate call to the global church to extend the love and kindness of Jesus Christ, the hope of freedom for those who seek it and the steadfast truth of the Scriptures.”
If the Archbishop did not mean he had not changed his views wholesale, he has certainly done nothing to stem the tide of commentators saying he has done exactly that.
This is deeply disappointing for me, a source of pain. I was confirmed an Anglican three years ago because I had finally found a spiritual home where everyone was welcome. I and many of my fellow gays and lesbians in the Church of England thought we had found an advocate in ++Rowan, and yet he consistently appears to be kowtowing to the conservatives, never more so than in this latest announcement.
Most maddening is that in declaring the sinfulness of homosexuality, the Church is shunning the men who have been its backbone for years. Gay clergy in the Church of England are like sheep in Wales – numerous. Many of the finest pastors are also those who have found love and support in the companionship of another male – and these are the very ones on whom the Church is now turning its back.