A Statement by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala—The C of E and Civil Partnerships

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As we enter the season of Epiphany we rejoice in the splendour of the light that has dawned upon us in the appearance of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Yet it is a great sadness that before the New Year has hardly begun, the life of the Anglican Communion has yet again been clouded by compromise with the secular preoccupations of the West.

The decision by the Church of England’s House of Bishops, just announced, that clergy in Civil Partnerships can be eligible to serve as bishops will create further confusion about Anglican moral teaching and make restoring unity to the Communion an even greater challenge.

The provisions of the UK’s Civil Partnership legislation mimic marriage for same sex couples and are clearly designed on the assumption that such couples are sexually active. While it is true that the House of Bishops require bishops with Civil Partners to be celibate, this proviso is clearly unworkable. It is common knowledge that active homosexuality on the part of Church of England clergy is invariably overlooked and in such circumstances it is very difficult to imagine anyone being brought to book.

However, the heart of the matter is not enforceability, but that bishops have a particular responsibility to be examples of godly living. It cannot be right that they are able to enter into legally recognised relationships which institutionalise and condone behaviour that is completely contrary to the clear and historic teaching of Scripture, as reaffirmed for Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10.

The weight of this moral teaching cannot be supported by a flimsy proviso. In his teaching about marriage, Jesus reaffirms that marriage is the coming together of a man and a woman in accordance with the pattern of creation itself when he says ‘from the beginning of creation God made them male and female’ (Mark 10:6). For the health and well being of both church and society we must promote this great God given gift of marriage without compromise and ambiguity.

The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala

Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya and Chairman, GAFCON Primates Council.

Epiphany


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of KenyaChurch of England (CoE)Global South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

9 Comments
Posted January 7, 2013 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Undergroundpewster wrote:

The Archbishop doesn’t agree with what the revisionist church has defined as “godly living,” and to me this is the heart of the matter: convinced that when they see loving homosexual relationships that these are examples of godly living, it then becomes a requirement of the revisionist leader to force it down everybody else’s throats.

January 6, 2:18 pm | [comment link]
2. carl+ wrote:

First a refresher in vocabulary: celibate itself means unmarried, the word for which it is being improperly substituted, and which is presumably meant, is chaste, which means abstaining from carnal relations.  Many, including those who actually know better, use the terms interchangeably, and therein miss the essence of the Bible’s teaching with respect to “sex, sexuality, etc”. 

The Bible unequivocally teaches that there are only two “states” blessed by God - marriage and chastity.

Where we begin to go wrong is in thinking that the Church can proclaim the disordered (to use the traditional term) state of “gayness” as acceptable to God.  This is to completely misunderstand “holiness”, and worse still, to empty the Gospel, and the Cross, of its secondary purpose of Redemption. 

Of course, disordered states are not limited to “gayness” - at my age, I am unfortunately well acquainted with many of my own disordered states!

The Gospel is not truncated with respect to the conversion it brings nor the demands it requires.  Abstention from sexual relations does not satisfy the biblical understanding and teaching of chastity - if so, then Matthew (5:27-30) has really mangled not only Jesus’s words, but limits the effect of the Cross.  As Paul says: “May that thought not even have the possibility of existing!”

What is involved in chastity (and what makes it so difficult for all of us fallen creatures) is not merely our actions, but the desires and motivations of our hearts - they are indicative and determinative of our “state”.

If the Church cannot bless an “action” which is itself disordered, it surely cannot bless the underlying “state” which desires that action - this basic theological principle is what is missing the CoE’s deliberations.  All of us in our struggles with holiness -  “gay” or not - need the support and encouragement of the Church, what we don’t need is confused thinking passed off as pastoral care.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me, a sinner.

January 6, 2:30 pm | [comment link]
3. Katherine wrote:

carl+, of course language, especially English, is always evolving; however, according to my Merriam Webster dictionary, 1995, and my own experience of the words, “celibate” means either “unmarried” or “abstaining from sexual intercourse,” while “chaste” means “innocent of unlawful sexual intercourse.”  This means that married couples are “chaste” if their sexual activities are appropriate and confined within the marriage, while a “celibate” person is understood to be abstaining from sex entirely.  This is more or less the opposite of your usage.  Perhaps the meanings have changed since I learned the words.

The problem, as I see it, with the compromise the Church of England has been forced into is that a civil union partner is generally understood to be far more than just a roommate, and the assurances which some clergy give that the relationship is non-sexual may not be believed by all parishioners.  The CofE statement apparently extends this (in my opinion) flawed situation to the episcopate as well.

January 6, 4:05 pm | [comment link]
4. carl+ wrote:

Katherine,
Thanks for making me look the words up - in Webster’s 3rd New International (unabridged).  I had not done so, and was relying on my memory for the distinction between the two words to make the more important point concerning “chastity”. 
The first use of celibacy means “without a spouse”; the second use means “abstention from sexual intercourse”.  With respect to “chaste”, the first use is as you indicated but focuses on what is “moralily or religiously” permitted, not legality.  The 2nd use means abstention with respect to actions, and/or thoughts.
Not the opposite of my usage.  So while I stand corrected with respect to my dogmatic statement; the distinction I made stands.
We are in complete agreement with respect to the general understanding of civil unions as being more than that of roommates!  After all, their civil union “proclaims” their intention to be more than that. 
And I quite agree - parishioners may not (most likely won’t) believe the assurances.  Thereby making their lives subject to even more speculation, etc… and lessening the value of their witness to the transformative nature of the Gospel.
If that priestly witness is diminished, how much more so with the episcopate that authorizies such!
Thanks for your critique.

January 6, 7:56 pm | [comment link]
5. Katherine wrote:

carl+, not only will parishioners tend to disbelieve the assurance, but as I understand it the British law requires this to be a sexual relationship; that is, sisters, brothers, parent and disabled child, or other non-sexual combinations may not establish civil unions for inheritance and insurance purposes.  The relationship, for civil purposes, has to be sexual, making the Church compromise hard to believe.  You’re right; we are in agreement on the principles involved, and I am a compulsive dictionary reader.

January 6, 8:05 pm | [comment link]
6. carl+ wrote:

Katherine,
I did not know that sex was a requirement of British law.  I am ... er, shocked, to put it mildly. 
So the way it stands now, parishoners must rely on the “priest’s’” assurances that the “couple” are not having sex; while the gov’t must rely on assurances to the opposite, that they are having sex.
There must be words to describe the sheer folly, deep delusion, and hypocritical immorality - but it is beyond me.
And I confess, I too am a compulsive reference user.
Thanks.

January 7, 2:04 pm | [comment link]
7. St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse wrote:

How do Anglicans treat “avoiding the near-occasion of sin” in this instance? Really, it’s no different than a couple cohabitating, yet assuring their pastor that they aren’t sexually active..

January 7, 6:10 pm | [comment link]
8. Katherine wrote:

St. Jimbob, I think that’s what Archbishop Wabukala is talking about.  And he’s right; you are, too.

January 7, 6:33 pm | [comment link]
9. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

Thank you Archbishop Wabukala.

January 7, 8:12 pm | [comment link]
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