By Michael Coren
In early November the Church of England announced its new Archbishop of Canterbury, the man who is the primate of the world’s Anglican communion. Justin Welby was the lucky fellow, a former oil trade executive, educated at the elite of the elite Eton school, and one of Cambridge University’s most prestigious colleges. He’s a good and intelligent man, a former worshipper at Holy Trinity Church in Brompton, London, where the Alpha course was conceived and taught, and someone renowned for his evangelical rather than liberal beliefs.
What has to be immediately understood about Anglican politics if we are to appreciate its delicate yet often absurd realities is something called the three-step rule. In other words, any and every subject will always be a mere three steps away from the subject of homosexuality. As an Anglican minister friend of mine once said: “We were discussing retired vicars. First, where should they live? Second, where should the married ones live? Third, where should the same-sex married ones live? Thing is, there weren’t any same-sex married vicars in the entire diocese.”
As we discovered long ago, it is not conservatives but radicals who are obsessed with the subject. And so with the challenges of the new Archbishop of Canterbury. He has been known for some years as a serious Christian and thus an opponent of gay marriage. He’s also been known for dozens of far more important things. But within moments of the announcement, activists and their friends in the media demanded to know how the new man would handle this allegedly vital issue.
Instead of telling them to wait or to concentrate on more important challenges, Welby promised to examine his own thinking on homosexual marriage “carefully and prayerfully” and made a point of explaining that we must guard against “exclusion.” Well of course we must. It’s a fundamental of Christian belief that we are all made in the image of God and every human being must be welcomed into the Church. But every human being is not the same thing as every human action, and as fallen people we do get things wrong; yes, we sin. Because of the complex nature of sexuality we must be empathetic and compassionate, but this is not the same as accepting and affirming lifestyles that are completely contrary to the teachings of Scripture, the Church Fathers, the deposit of faith and all historic and contemporary teachings of Christianity. It’s not simple, in spite of what gay activists would have us believe.
Yet according to Archbishop Welby, it seems, if we examine our own thinking “carefully and prayerfully” for long enough we might change our minds. And I will bet the house on the fact that after that careful and prayerful thinking Welby will change his mind in some way or another. One would have thought that before becoming an archbishop a Christian would already have spent a great deal of time considering such difficulties and that promotion would not suddenly change what is true and good, and what is not true and not good.
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