Archbishop of Canterbury responds to resolution on marriage

Posted Jun 30, 2015

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on June 30 expressed deep concern about the stress for the Anglican Communion following the Episcopal Church House of Bishops’ approval of a resolution to change the definition of marriage in the canons so that any reference to marriage as between a man and a woman is removed.

While recognizing the prerogative of The Episcopal Church to address issues appropriate to its own context, Archbishop Justin Welby said that its decision will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole, as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith relationships.

At a time of such suffering around the world, he stated that this was a moment for the church to be looking outwards. We continue to mourn with all those who are grieving loved ones and caring for the injured from the terrorist attacks in Sousse, Kuwait and Lyons, and from the racist attacks in Charleston.

He urges prayer for the life of the Anglican Communion; for a space for the strengthening of the interdependent relationships between provinces, so that in the face of diversity and disagreement, Anglicans may be a force for peace and seek to respond to the Lord Jesus’ prayer that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17: 21).


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Comments (16)

  1. Jeremy Bates says:

    Once again the Archbishop of Canterbury places the theological desires of Global South conservatives ahead of the wishes of Episcopalians to marry in their own church.

    The Archbishop’s statement is so wrong, on so many levels. There is much suffering around the world. But why does that justify preventing people from marrying?

    Because some people are suffering, other people should forgo the joy of marriage?

    There’s no logic in this statement. Or Christian ethics. Just theopolitics.

    1. Mark Shortt says:

      That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife and they become one flesh. — it all seems so clear to me what the church should be doing. What is wrong with the episcopal church?

      1. Jeremy Bates says:

        Sounds as though we would disagree about, among other things, hermeneutics.
        What do you make of 1 Corinthians 14:33-35? Here it is:
        “As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”
        Mr. Shortt, do you believe this passage to be the Word of God, “once delivered,” forever true and unalterable? Must Scripture’s ban on women speaking in church be obeyed?
        Or Scripture subject to interpretation, using tradition and reason? That is, after all, the Anglican/Episcopalian approach.

  2. Randy Marks says:

    Perhaps the Archbishop did not intend to send this message, but I found painful the juxtaposition of the discussion of our decision on marriage and the statement “At a time of such suffering around the world, he stated that this was a moment for the church to be looking outwards. We continue to mourn with all those who are grieving loved ones and caring for the injured from the terrorist attacks in Sousse, Kuwait and Lyons, and from the racist attacks in Charleston.” It landed as though he thinks we are more concerned about pastoral care of my LGBTQ tribe than the violence. We are, of course, concerned about both and it’s a cheap shot for him to imply otherwise.

  3. Michael Grear says:

    Who can be surprised by his ridiculous statement? After all, Britain just got its first femal bishop in 2015. I guess we, Episcopalians, will not see an invitation to the Lambeth Conference the next time around because we offend some African bishops who love to hate us, yet love the money we send them through mission work. Weed out the hypocrites! No wonder so many off our youth don’t find the church appealing. They have eyes and minds to think, and they see many of our church leaders sadly lack true charity…for all of God’s children.

    1. Tod Roulette says:

      Michael, not only do many in the Global South take money from the West, but they engage in keeping several wives themselves. There is no House of Deputies in these places and the people in the pews are given no say. More than that, they blaspheme the scriptures by hurting LGBT people in the church and outside it. The ArchBishop is hurtful to everyone who is LGBT if he thinks God loves and cares more for certain people in the Anglican Communion than others. What happen to pastoral care? I don’t see the Global South largely reaching out to other parts of the Anglican Communion on very much at all. And I am a person of color dedicated to ministry in these areas–you can’t Pick and Choose what you want to minister to–who to minister to or address in the Bible. What happened to reason? I feel sorry for all the LGBT and questioning persons in the Global South and the lies they are being told to live by their Bishops and the ArchBishop of Canterbury.

  4. John Robertson says:

    Perhaps it is time for the Episcopal Church to rewrite the Scriptures according to their own desire.

    1. Jack Hinton says:

      John, you just hit the nail on the head, bravo! I think the Episcopal church has been rewriting the scriptures to suit them for a long time. How can they call themselves men or women of God , hold up the bible as the Gospel and then turn their backs on the scriptures as if God was wrong.?

  5. david bacon says:

    Paul, Romans 1, 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    Is the above still valid? Am I missing something?

    1. Theolinda Knight says:

      You are missing Romans II: 1-8 — Read it carefully in whatever version you like.
      i. Therefore thou art inexcusable, man, whosoever thou art, that judgeth. For wheresoever thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself.
      3. And thinkest thou, o man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shall escape the judgement of God?
      4. Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering: not knowing that the goodness of God leadest thee to repentance.
      In other words, worry about your own spiritual state, sins, etc., and let God do the judging of those others you are gossiping about. Because God will both judge and justify, you and everyone else.

  6. Howard Blunt says:

    I guess the archbishop is only concerned with the feelings of his fellow bishops in Africa or other such places where suffering prevails. What he misses is that great suffering is now rampant in America
    and that is because one people and their concerns wants to prevail as they always have. And we again
    see that “they” will want to prevail by any means including violence. Charlston, S.C. and all the other
    long story here shows where we are headed if our church and all faiths can or will not reach out to all. I have been in this church since 1952 and I have seen lots of changes. Some of them I like others I do not. But I suspect, pray and hope that all of them are addressed to ALL YE the HEAVY LADEN.
    I hope in the midst of the Archbishop’s words he knows the ALL YE goes to all suffering around the world. I like him will also hope that this Communion can and stay together. God help us so

  7. Peggy Kay says:

    It is most helpful for us to read what the article says, that the Archbishop has “express[ed]…concern” about “stress” in the Communion. He does not make a right-or-wrong judgement, he is highlighting the distress this may bring in other areas of the Communion, for which we should be just as concerned. We Episcopalians should be concerned because they are our sisters and brothers and we want to be in Communion with them. Within our own polity we have experienced stress between disagreeing parties, and we in the Episcopal Church have had as deep pain as anywhere in the Communion. We have forged ahead because of our spiritual discernment, but we must all have concern for one another, and continue to work together in our missions. This article begins with the Archbishop expressing his concern about stress of divisive opinions, and concludes with a direction of unity for the Communion. Unity does not mean we are all alike or believe the same things, but it does mean that we remain in community as we have concern for each other and go on. He also “recogniz[es] the prerogative of The Episcopal Church to address issues appropriate to its own context” (which I prize highly after the previous silence we have heard on this point), and in so doing, within the same paragraph of the article, recognizes both our integrity and the pain and stress it may cause. He is recognizing all parties and issuing a call for concern for each other and for unity. We have had to do this within our own ranks, so we can understand how it can be so within the larger Communion. We have felt our own pain, so we can relate to and should have compassion for the larger pain. As First among Equals the Archbishop is leading us in this direction in this way, with the end goal of unity and unified efforts in mission. We have done what we have discerned necessary for the Episcopal Church, and now we will do well to share his concern about stress and to have a view toward unity in the Communion. Thanks be to God that we are Episcopalians and Anglicans.

  8. Selena Smith says:

    Since the SCOTUS ruling regarding marriage, friends of mine who are gay partners and have been together for 23 years will be married this month in a secular setting by an Episcopal lay minister with an on-line ordination (secular) certificate. My friends who are both Christians have attended the local Episcopal church’s worship and activities, and yet they did not join the church. I wonder if it was because of a lack of welcome?
    So what will changing the marriage canons mean for the church? Is there a hope that gay couples will join the church in order to be married by its ordained ministers? Is the change being done out of a sense of justice, meaning equality with heterosexual couples? Have several gay persons been asked about this change or is this another situation of a majority (non-LGBT persons) deciding for a minority group of persons?
    Rather than focusing on marriage which is not for all people and can be done in other ways, I think the Church should be primarily offering the unique gifts of baptism and communion which Christ gave the Church to invite all persons to share.

  9. William A. Flint, PhD says:

    Americans have long held that they would have no bishops on foreign soil dictate to them as to how to live. We are a free society and TEC is the most open of all the Anglican Communion’s members. The ABC has done nothing to prevent the other Primates from invading the TEC jurisdictional boundaries to establish parishes, ordain priest and elect bishops. If you want to get this House in order start by restricting Primates from jurisdictional creep. The UK will have to deal with marriage equality soon enough. RE: The Republic of Ireland. the Global South has problems and until they address those problems they shouldn’t be telling others how to act.

  10. Stewart David Wigdor says:

    The Archbishop is right. Marriage is even compared to how Jesus loves His Church as it is His Bride, His Head and His Body,. Therefore She is the most Glorious of all Enlightenment for He Creates It Himself. . To re write the prayer book proves how cuckoo man’s and and myopic canonical reasoning has become in this atavistic day. Next we alter Genesis the story of Adam and Eve? The Episcopal Church more wonderous than all in Her history and Her love for God has to decide now what is its Soul? Is the Church for Holiness or for Friendship? Remember God said friendship with the world is anathema to Him. I believe in the right to marry whom you want but I discredit any idea of humankind to diminish the Holiness of Jesus’ Church not made from His Judgments but His Own Body and Blood. Thus a new definition may surface in Law called Seperation of Church and State. The Supreme Court made same sex marriage equal to marriage as defined as a sacrament in all religions and the celebrity of love in all traditions. But in no way did It say God did not create man or woman so the Heavenly nature of the Church should stand to make love after seeking the Presence of God. What now is Soul? How does the Church want God to reveal Himself to the Soul? For God seeks to dwell within us in our hearts and Soul. The Episcopal Church authored the exigency of Robin Hood and now Lancelot based on its legal and romantic cuckoo ideas. Can you add the hope the learning of war will end in the minds of all nations so humans would seek Heaven on earth? That truly would let love shine. And the Church would be Divine as our Lord intended.

  11. Robert Horwath says:

    Our Mother Church rightly has the vocation of prudence and caution….while we have the vocation of a prophetic Church…we take the risks the other Churches will not take…and decades later they thank us for it and jump on the bandwagon…a truly expected cautionary attitude by Archbishop Welby…not surprised.

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