Issue No. 13Wednesday 5 August 1998
The Official Newspaper of the
Lambeth Conference

Web highlights provided by Anglicans Online from the official edition.

Front page of this issue

Lambeth section report on sexuality charts middle course
by David Skidmore

A fter two weeks of closed-door discussions, sexuality moves to the public forum of a full Lambeth Conference plenary this afternoon as the bishops consider the draft report and resolutions of Section One. The two debatable resolutions from the section address sexuality (I.10) and euthanasia (I.14). The plenary also is scheduled to consider resolution IV.26 from Section Four, which also deals with sexuality.

At two pages---the shortest of any of the six subsections in the 36-page main report from Section One---the sexuality report stakes out a middle-ground position, affirming past Lambeth Conference statements on the sanctity of marriage but also opposing homophobia and ``any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.'' The report declares that sexuality, as understood by scripture and Christian tradition, is ``intended by God to find its rightful and full expression between one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage.'' Holy matrimony, the report continues, is ``a life-long, monogamous and unconditional commitment between a man and a woman.''

While affirming marriage as the only acceptable means for sexual expression, the report recognises that gays and lesbians are loved by God,and that all baptised members of the Church, regardless of their sexual orientation, ``are full members of the Body of Christ.''

Strong support

The report, which tackles five key social issues in addition to sexuality (human rights and human dignity, environment, modern technology, euthanasia, and international debt), received overwhelming support from the section's 200 bishops.

According to the report, some forms of sexual expression are ``inherently contrary to the Christian way and are sinful,'' including adultery, incest, paedophilia, promiscuity, prostitution, female circumcision and rape. Homosexuality, though, is not included in the list. ``We must confess that we are not of one mind about homosexuality,'' acknowledges the report.The report also urges churches to encourage young people to abstain from sexual activity.

According to the report, bishops generally subscribe to four main perspectives on homosexuality: those who see homosexuality as a disorder but subject to healing; those who see genital sexual activity by homosexuals as going against scripture and the Church's teaching and, if unrepented, serving as a barrier to salvation; those who regard committed homosexual relationships as outside biblical norms but preferable to promiscuity; and those who advocate the ordination of homosexuals and the blessing of samesex unions. Most bishops are not ready to bless same-sex unions or ordain non-celibate homosexuals, the report observes, and many bishops support a moratorium on these actions. Lacking a consensus on the scriptural, theological, historical and scientific questions surrounding homosexuality, the bishops are asking the primates and Anglican Consultative Council to develop a way to monitor the Communion's work on these issues, the report said. Exactly how this procedure should be developed was unclear.

Resolutions address sexuality

Section One's resolution on sexuality (I.10) calls for the Church to ``minister pastorally'' to all people regardless of their sexual orientation, and to condemn homophobia, domestic violence and the commercialisation of sex. It also echoes the section report recommendation by requesting that the ACC and the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates monitor any work done in the Communion on sexuality, and see that the information is shared among the provinces. The resolution from Section Four (IV, 26) would have the Conference endorse the Kuala Lumpur statement on sexual morality, to ``have and promote credibility with our brothers and sisters in new churches and independent Christian groups.'' The Kuala Lumpur report was issued after the second South-South Encounter meeting of 80 bishops in Malaysia in February last year and calls the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions ``unacceptable.''

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