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Head of Church of England: 'I Can't Give a Straight Answer' on Whether Gay Sex is Sinful

Michael W. Chapman
By Michael W. Chapman | October 4, 2017 | 2:40 PM EDT

Archbishop Justin Welby, the primate

of the Church of England, second

only to Queen Elizabeth II. 

(Screenshot) 

In a recent interview, the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, said he was not sure if "gay sex" -- anal and oral sodomy between people of the same sex -- is "sinful," stating he "can't give a straight answer to" the question, and that he lacks "a good answer to the question."

"I am struggling with the issue," said the archbishop, who heads the state church established by King Henry VIII in 1534. Back then, King Henry broke with the Catholic Church because then-Pope Clement VII refused to grant him an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn. (During his reign, King Henry VIII was married six times.) 

In the October issue of British GQ,  interviewer Alastair Campbell asks Archbishop Welby, "Is gay sex sinful?" 

(davexrobb.wordpress.com) 

Archbishop Welby says, "You know very well that is a question I can't give a straight answer to. Sorry, badly phrased there. I should have thought that one through."

Campbell then asks why the archbishop cannot give a clear answer.

Archbishop Welby says, "Because I don't do blanket condemnation and I haven't a good answer to the question. I'll be really honest about that. I know I haven't got a good answer to the question. Inherently, within myself, the things that seem to me to be absolutely central are around faithfulness, stability of relationships and loving relationships."

As the conversation continues, the archbishop adds, "I am having to struggle to be faithful to the tradition, faithful to the Scripture, to understand what the call and will of God is in the 21st century and to respond appropriately with an answer for all people – not condemning them, whether I agree with them or not – that covers both sides of the argument. And I haven’t got a good answer, and I am not doing that bit of work as well as I would like."

However, when asked if "homophobic hated" is "sinful," the archbishop says, "Yes. Because you are hating individuals. I don’t think it is sinful to say that you disagree with gay sex. But to express that by way of hatred for people is absolutely wrong in the same way as misogyny or racism is wrong."

Campbell then asks, "Is that not morally a cop out?"

Archbishop Wilby answers, "Yes. I am copping out because I am struggling with the issue."

It seems strange that the primate, the senior cleric of the Church of England cannot say whether gay sex is sinful.

Under King Henry VIII, the first criminal law against sodomy was codified, by Parliament, in the Buggery Act 1533. The law prohibited anal sex and bestiality. Persons convicted of buggery could be sentenced to death and have their property confiscated by the State. The law was replaced in 1828 with the Offences against the Person Act. Buggery remained a capital crime in England until 1861.

The Church of England had maintained clear teachings on sexual morality until recently. Even in February 2014, in its Pastoral Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage, the Church of England made clear that homosexual behavior is sinful. It also stated that people with same-sex attractions are beloved by God and should be treated with respect and counseled by clergy with charity. 

Regardless of the moral confusion of Archbishop Welby, the book of Romans states, "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 

"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done." (1:24-28)

Jesus Christ Himself, in Matthew 19, teaches, "at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (19:4-9)

The Marriage Feast at Cana by Vasili Nesterenko. (Art and Faith blog.) 

 


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Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman