The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, has warned that quoting the Bible won't settle arguments about same-sex marriage or assisted dying. He told the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in Llandudno that attitudes depend on upbringing, education and which part of the Bible is emphasised.
We often see what we want to see. We often use Scripture to reinforce viewpoints that we have already arrived at in other ways and for other reasons. Some people have changed their minds for example on women’s ministry and same-sex relationships when they have experienced the ministry of a woman priest in the one case, or discovered their own son or daughter to be gay in the other.
Holy Scripture itself is far more nuanced, subtle and complex than we often realise..... We cannot just quote Biblical texts on different subject matters and think that that settles an issue.
The Governing Body includes the six Welsh bishops as well as representatives of the clergy and of church-goers. The Archbishop reminded them that the Church could change its mind. Today it disagreed with the state's view on same-sex marriage, in the past the disagreement had been about divorce.
The State allowed the possibility of divorce and re-marriage for a long time before we did as a Church. Not only do we now bless such unions, we actually re-marry divorced people in our churches. In the past, if a cleric divorced and re-married, that person could no longer continue in the ordained ministry in Wales, whereas now that is no longer a bar to continuing in ministry. So our views have evolved and changed on a subject which Jesus pronounced very clearly. He had nothing to say about same-sex relationships.
Dr Morgan said peoples’ lives would be affected by the Church’s response and warned of the danger of the Church being seen as homophobic. However, he urged clergy keen to redress the balance and publicly bless same-sex marriages to be patient.
Will we, as a Church, eventually adopt the same approach as far as same-sex relationships are concerned, as we have done about re-marriage after divorce, or is gay marriage in a different category from the re-marriage of divorced people? Whatever our viewpoints, I hope that our discussions can be charitable.
Much as some people may want [blessings of same-sex marriages], the rule is the same as was the case over the re-marriage of divorced people – we need to wait for the Church, as a whole, to decide the matter – and we are beginning that process at this Governing Body.
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