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Ireland, Australia and Diocese of Polynesia Reject Same-Sex Relationships

Ireland, Australia and Diocese of Polynesia Reject Same-Sex Relationships
Indigenous Bishops in Canada have also refused to accept same-sex marriage

By David W. Virtue, DD
May 17, 2018

Two Anglican provinces -- Ireland and Australia, along with the Diocese of Polynesia in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, have publicly rejected same-sex marriage, putting Archbishop Justin Welby in the untenable position of having to choose how the Church of England -- under mounting pressure to accept same sex marriage -- will fare, as the global Anglican Communion polarizes into two irreconcilable camps.

Recently, the Irish House of Bishops issued a statement from the General Synod saying that there was little appetite to discuss further these issues in parishes and further there was no consensus in General Synod, the House of Bishops, or in the church island-wide to change the Canons of the Church of Ireland on the matter of marriage.

The statement went on to say that the Church of Ireland marriage service remains unchanged and marriage may be solemnized only between a man and a woman. No liturgy or authorized service is provided therefore for any other situation.

"We affirm the responsibility of ministers to pray with and care for same-sex couples in informal settings. Bishops trust that ministers will exercise discretion in their pastoral care for same-sex couples, acting in accordance with the doctrines and discipline of this Church."

The Church of Ireland bishops said: "As the archbishops and bishops have already made clear to the clergy of the church of Ireland, it is not possible to proscribe the saying of prayers in personal and pastoral situations, but if clergy are invited to offer prayer after a same sex marriage, any such prayer must remain consonant with the spirit and teaching of the Church of Ireland."

They added: "It is widely recognized that there is no simple solution for these and other issues of human sexuality; but with compassion, humility and concern, we offer our continued commitment to attentive listening and to respectful discussion."

The Australian bishops' statement reiterated that the doctrine of this Church is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. "If we as a Church are to change this doctrine to permit same-sex marriage, the appropriate mechanism is through the framework of the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church of Australia. Bishops should give leadership in demonstrating trust in this framework as the way to move forward together, recognizing that this will require care, persistence and generosity. The bishops commit to working together to manifest and maintain unity, as we together discern the truth.

"The bishops commit to act within the framework of the Constitution and Canons of this Church, and to encourage those under their episcopal oversight to do so."

Both provinces expressed concern for the pastoral implications of their statements.

In New Zealand at a biennial synod a majority group of members supported a motion to allow bishops to authorize blessings of same-sex relationships. However, the Pacific arm of the Anglican Church opted not to support this move by passing a resolution that they would not vote on the issue, a move that could lead to the church officially recognizing same-sex marriage. The Diocese of Polynesia released a statement saying the "constitutions and cultures" of its nations were reflected in its position on the issue.

Driving home the point from Africa, the Archbishop of Kenya, Ole Sapit, said recently he won't allow same-sex marriage or polygamous marriages in his Church.

It is deeply ironic that aboriginal groups in Australia and Canada are profoundly against same-sex marriage, with one indigenous Australian group declaring, "Our continuing cultures and traditions are 1000s of years old and are recognized as the oldest on Earth ... Our Fathers and Mothers are also honored and form the foundation of our families, clans and systems, and pass down our teachings, our culture, our traditions, from generation to generation. It is therefore an affront to the Aboriginal People of Australia to suggest another definition of marriage."

In Canada, Indigenous Anglican bishops are resisting change to marriage between a man and a woman, saying they would resist having "Western cultural approaches" imposed on them.

It is not a far cry then from African Anglicans raised in the faith by Church of England missionaries holding traditional views of marriage, to resist the imposition of the new moral order being thrust upon them by imperial western homosexuals anxious to change the Church's teaching to accommodate their unbiblical 'devices and desires'.

The rise of GAFCON and the growing insistence by African evangelicals and traditionalists in Southeast Asia, South America and various orthodox dioceses in liberal provinces, speaks to a defiance and rebellion that will not be squelched by calls of the Archbishop of Canterbury for "good disagreement", which is code for 'we can all get along if we don't push too dogmatically for our position.' That dog won't hunt.

In an address to General Synod in February 2017, Archbishop Justin Welby called for a "new radical Christian inclusion," but did not specify what he had in mind. When asked the question during an interview for GQ magazine in October 2017 'Is gay sex sinful?', he replied 'You know very well that is a question I can't give a straight answer to'. But in a review of his recently published book 'Reimagining Britain', journalist Rod Liddle in The Times concluded that despite his previous ambiguity, the Archbishop was now 'forthright and pristinely modernist, praising the advent of gay marriages'.

"The nature of families has changed enormously. The introduction of equal marriage in many countries including (since 2014) the UK, the transformation in habits of cohabitation before marriage from something regarded daring and scandalous to something accepted as normal, and other trends and changes, have all combined to challenge the image of the classical family. In many ways, because the image was probably a myth, and where it existed it was often patriarchal, hypocritical and deceptive, these changes have often been more honest," wrote Welby. (pg.55)

But that view is not shared by Anglican provinces who are watching as their numbers fall as compromise on sexuality is not seeing a rush of LGBTQI persons through red doors. There is little appetite for change wrote the Irish bishops and that will be reflected next month at GAFCON in Jerusalem, when 2,000 orthodox Anglican believers reaffirm the Jerusalem Declaration statement on sexuality, which says, "We acknowledge God's creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married."

That is not a message Archbishop Welby any longer believes or wants to hear.


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