Still shocking

I’d have thought that I would have lost the capacity to be shocked in the debates within the Anglican Communion.

Not so though. I was quite shocked by the ethical reasoning that Rowan Williams was using this afternoon in his speech to the the General Synod of the Church of England.

Fullness of freedom for each of us is in contributing to the sanctification of the neighbour.  It is never simply a matter of balancing liberties, but of going to another level of thinking about liberty.  And the ‘purity’ of the body of Christ is not to be thought of apart from this work.  It is not to put unity above integrity, but to see that unity in this active and sometimes critical sense is how we attain to Christian integrity.  The challenges of our local and global Anglican crises have to do with how this shapes our councils and decision-making.  It is not a simple plea for the sacrifice of the minority to the majority.  But it does mean repeatedly asking how the liberty secured for me or for those like me will actively serve the sanctification of the rest.

Sometimes that may entail restraint – as I believe it does and should in the context of the Communion – though that restraint is empty and even oppressive if it then refuses to engage with those who have accepted restraint for the sake of fellowship.  The Covenant specifically encourages and envisages protracted engagement and scrutiny and listening in situations of tension, and that is one of the things that makes it, in my view, worth supporting.

I don’t understand how the archbishop can believe gay Anglicans to be free to feel, do or act towards anyone else when he, the Archbishop advocates that gay people choose between ministry or human intimacy. That is what the official policy of his church is. What rights does he have to impose restraint?

I don’t believe that the unity he says can lead to integrity can be gained by conformity to this.

And yes, I’m still shocked at his ethical thinking.


  1. I think that should be called the Palpatine manoeuvre.

    What an idiot – we’ve had real liberty (in the form of inclusivity) over here in the basically liberal camp since forever. Not our fault others refuse to see or honour that.

  2. Andrew Heatlie says

    I welcomed Archbishop Rowan’s profound words here, until I went back to read the jarringly illogical sixth sentence which discloses he is still thinking about inclusion coming from a heterosexual standpoint only… which logically is not in itself truly inclusive at all. Perhaps he should reread his seventh sentence also, then reconsider?
    Let’s remember he is trying to nurse the whole Communion along together… but a deal more honest integrity and patient tolerance worldwide is going to be needed than this article displays.

  3. Rosemary Hannah says

    I never find Williams very easy to understand, and I find his use of English terribly convoluted, leading to my doubting how far I follow the intent of his words.

    As I understand it, and I could easily be wrong, what he is saying here is that Christian integrity must be exercised with regards to the edification of others.

    In very very general terms I would tend to agree (with many caveats). Granted this is so, I would then say that all committed and loving human intimacy with other adults would tend to be edifying, in this sense. Further, I would say that same sex commitment would be especially so. The negative popular cultural suggestion is: most people should leave a relationship if the going gets tough; men are especially likely to leave a relationship if the going gets tough; same sex relationships are especially likely to be lacking in commitment. Therefore any long term committed same sex relationships tend to speak strongly of the same loving kindness we associate with God.

    I would think the logical out working of Williams’s hypothesis would be the especial desirability clergy and laity who are in same sex relationships.

    I’m with you in suspecting that this is not however what he meant. Logic is a bit of a Pandora’s box, isn’t it?

    I think he is running into this error because he confuses what ACTUALLY edifies others, with what pleases them. There are a number of very vocal people in the church who are greatly displeased by same sex relationships. This does not mean that same sex relationships are not, in fact, very edifying for society.

    Do I make any sense?

  4. Am appalled as everyone else with ++Rowan’s statement, but I couldn’t let this :

    >>I think that should be called the Palpatine manoeuvre.

    go without a : lol! 🙂

    Amusingly, I have a Emperor Palpatine Pez dispenser which looks uncannily like Pope Benedict.

    Practically speaking, there’s no real danger of the SEC signing up to the covenant I hope?

  5. Ryan, I would also laugh if I weren’t being surprisingly serious.

    Andrew, yes: unity (with some glossing over integrity) from a heterosexual standpoint is just like “ecumenism” that says “you can come back to the true church any time you like”.

    Is there anywhere, ever, and example of Jesus showing “restraint”? Just pondering on the nature of conservatism…

  6. Robin says

    I told you all this months ago 😉

  7. Rowan blamed oppression of Malaysian Christians on ordaining partnered gay Americans. That’s a DISGRACEFUL “Blaming the Victim” . . . for making more victims!

    Those who OPPRESS are responsible for it. Period. End of discussion.

    TEC’s Bishop of New Hampshire—and Suffragan Bishop-Elect of Los Angeles—have had NOTHING to do w/ that oppression.

    Rowan is an embarrassment to the Cantuar cathedra. I want him outta there!

  8. Much of the contortions through which Dr Williams put himself arise from the silly idea that a formal international organisation can purport to be a “church” at all. Let Archbishop Rowan to lead the English church and let the Americans, Canadians, Malaysians, Australians, etc., etc., to each manage their own affairs. In other words what USE is the Anglican Communion and what value is an international covenant? God’s covenant in Jesus Christ will do just fine, thanks.

    Why on earth, for example, should the institutional decisions of American Episcopals be of the slightest concern to Malaysian Anglicans, other than in mutual love, personal fellowship and prayer.

  9. Zebadee says

    Brian I totally agree with your comments. I have asked the question for some time ” Why do we need an Anglican Communion?” Is the concept of an Anglican communion all about power?


  1. […] Liberals are upset because Rowan is still not “fully including” homosexuals in the life of the Anglican church, even though he did issue a rather grovelling apology – perhaps what was missing was an obsequious Obama Bow™. […]

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