Archbishops’ statements will not halt progress towards acceptance
Many people have been left sad and angry by the outcome of a gathering of Anglican primates from across the Communion. The Episcopal Church has been sanctioned for allowing same-sex couples to marry while churches which promote persecution of LGBTI people have not. In other denominations too, international gatherings have sometimes led to feelings of disappointment and rejection and damaged the church's witness to Christ in today's world.
However those seeking further punishment of provinces that seek to treat all God's children equally were disappointed. And, now as before, such measures have not weakened the Episcopal Church's commitment to a more loving and inclusive stance. What is more, over the next few years several other provinces – including the Scottish Episcopal Church – also seem likely to open the door to celebrating marriages of same-sex partners. There is a strong possibility that the Church in Wales and indeed the Church of England may join them in the not-too-distant future, as the power of the theological case for equal marriage is increasingly recognised.
If the Holy Spirit is behind this shift, the disapproval of church leaders – however powerful and holy they think themselves to be – will not in the end prevail. We can all play a part, recognising that the church is a community of which we are as much a part as the bishops. We are called to be merciful, even to those who wrong us, but also assured that our hunger and thirst for right to prevail will be satisfied, including in those countries where LGBTI people face the most brutal oppression.
Yesterday evening, I was dismayed by the Primates' statement but took heart at the reminder in the order of evening prayer that day that 'you are God’s field, God’s building… Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?' (1 Corinthians 3). We are deeply loved and, by God's grace, we can help to transform the world, and church, into a place where all are welcomed and treasured.
Savi Hensman, Chair of LGCM