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God's revelation is ongoing. Scripture is non-negotiable on both sides, says Archbishop of Cape Town

By David W. Virtue in Canterbury
August 5, 2022

Southern Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, a leader in designing the Lambeth Conference agenda, affirmed that the communion as a "family" is divided over sexuality issues, and that he accepted the reality of who we are. He also acknowledged "robust discussion" in the bishops' groups, who engaged in long and sustained prayer to God about their conversation.

When challenged about the absoluteness of Scriptural prohibition on sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman, Archbishop Makgoba said "Scripture is non-negotiable on both sides."

Asked by Mark Michael of The Living Church; "You affirmed the validity of Lambeth 1.10. What does that mean?" the African archbishop said it means that Lambeth 1.10 is not rescinded. It is part of our history. We have given an assessment of where we stand."

Makgoba said for him the issue is one of prejudice, which he described as "painful as segregation was to other people. We are wrestling with the issue, there are no clear-cut answers. We must confront prejudice. We must not demean the integrity of the other person."

Dr. Chris Sugden of the Church of England newspaper, in response to Makgoba's "wrestling with scripture" comment, asked where in Scripture does God bless same-sex unions, Makgoba replied; "Where in scripture do we approve inequality, undermining government, bankrupting countries and wrestling with debt? It is a theological wrestling."

Told how the LGBTQ community felt lost and confused and questioning their place as Anglicans, Makgoba was asked what he would want them to hear. He replied, "I want them to hear that each one of us is loved by God. We are all created in the image of God."

Canon lawyer Phil Ashey, who heads the American Anglican Council said, "The Windsor Report identified an ecclesial deficit in the structures of the communion and if decisions already made were not followed. We are still at that place. If the "calls" are an acknowledgement of facts on the ground but not affirmed, what is the way forward for the Anglican Communion regarding issues of creation, marriage and leadership in the church that Lambeth 1.10 addresses?"

Archbishop Makgoba replied; "We pray that the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) will take up the issues and redirect them to the relevant bodies within the Anglican Communion. The structures at present are not able to do this. There was a hopeful energy in the chamber. There were people there for the first time (he clarified that this referred to newly consecrated bishops) and with fresh ideas. This issue will not be resolved by this conference. These are long contested issues."

Another questioner asked; "Is not the Anglican Church then out of step with society (because it has affirmed 1.10)?"

Makgoba: "Lambeth 1.10 should be taken in its totality. It declares that homophobia is sinful and that we should care for all. This part is not normally looked at. How do we care for those in South Africa pained by the fact that the country legislates for same sex union and for those who celebrate that legislation? We are a family under stress and strain. But the church has never been without its tensions."

When asked whether, if a majority of bishops supported the GFSA call to abide by doctrine in faith, order and practice, that would that be binding, Makgoba replied; "If a majority of bishops in a province were to support any call, they have to test that call at Provincial Synod, with bishops, clergy and laity, and then we can amend whatever we want to amend. Those dioceses and provinces which moved ahead in this matter (referring to the ordination of women to the priesthood) did not take a unilateral decision by the bishops, but the provincial synod took that decision. I want to underscore that we are forty-two autonomous provinces. Those decisions would not be taken here at Lambeth even if there was an alternative resolution. We would still need to take that to our provinces."

Andrew Brown of the Religion Media Centre said, it (1:10) did not seem very friendly to the gay community in 1998. That was 24 years ago, has anybody changed their minds since then?

Makgoba: "Some people have changed their minds; others have dug in their heels. God has not finished with us and his revelation is ongoing. We will keep on understanding each other differently."

Same-sex issues have driven this 15th Lambeth Conference, and the hope that "bigger issues" of climate change, persecution, poverty, war and inequality would dominate the conference has not materialized. Some 57 South Sudanese bishops led by Archbishop Justin Badi have put Lambeth 1:10 on the front burner where it has simmered throughout the 10-day conference. Archbishop Justin Welby just wishes it would all go away.

But his refusal to call sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman sin, has blotted his copybook with orthodox Anglicans in the Global South.

His comment to the London Times, "I will not punish churches for conducting gay marriages" publicly affirmed that "gay marriage" is not sin despite the fact that in a letter he confirmed to bishops that the validity of Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference - which said that marriage was 'between a man and a woman', and that same-sex relationships were unscriptural - was 'not in doubt'.

In a private letter to the lesbian humanist TV personality Sandi Toksvig which she made public on Twitter, Welby also said that "the Church of England vigorously opposes 'conversion therapy'" But the gay lobby does not acknowledge that the historic cases of such therapy which they cite as 'harmful' was medical therapy carried out by doctors, not the counselling talk therapy now offered by trained professionals.

As one astute observer noted; "So where does that leave people with unwanted same sex attraction who want to be faithful to Christ and deal with this temptation? It condemns them to sin."


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