Friday, January 15, 2016

Response to the 2016 Primates Meeting

The Primates (chief bishops) of the Anglican Communion met at Canterbury, England this past week.  They discussed religiously motivated violence, the refugee crisis, the real-life impact of climate change, and evangelism.  But the topic that has gotten the most public attention is the disagreement regarding the Episcopal Church’s decision last summer to formally change its teaching regarding marriage and the creation of rites for same-sex blessings and marriage.

The Primates issued a communique reiterating the fact that this is contrary to the understanding of the majority of the churches in the Anglican Communion. It acknowledges that this has caused pain in other parts of the Communion. As the consequence of that the communique states,

“It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

It is important to note that this is not about whether or not the Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion. We are. That has not changed. Rather, this is a recognition of the deep disagreement with the decisions we have made. I have argued more or less in support of the position taken by the Episcopal Church. I still believe we are on a faithful path. But, I take seriously the strains this has put on our Communion. It is possible to believe that one is right while accepting that acting on that conviction might come with consequences. And then to accept the consequences.

I love the Episcopal Church. I love the Anglican Communion. They are inseparable. Whether the majority of the Episcopal Church and those throughout the Communion who agree with it are right or if the majority of the Anglican Communion and those within the Episcopal Church who agree with them are right, we need each other. We need to be encouraged and challenged by one another in order to grow into the truth and love of Jesus Christ.

We belong to one another. But, we have been reminded again this week that such belonging can be difficult. Perhaps the most significant and encouraging line in the communique is this one,

“Over the past week the unanimous decision of the Primates was to walk together, however painful this is, and despite our differences, as a deep expression of our unity in the body of Christ.”

To be a member of the Church is to be bound to all other members by the enduring bond of baptism. Because we are bound to one another, we walk together. Because we sometime disagree with one another or act in ways that hurt one another, that can be a painful thing. It is the pain of love. To be in real communion is difficult. It requires dying and rising. It requires patience, perseverance, and endurance. It requires the power of the Holy Spirit. And, as Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Province of Southern Africa said at the press conference at the close of the meeting, “The Holy Spirit is not done with us.” 


  1. I am sad when a Christian group forgets what the Word of God says, that "marriage shall be between one man and one woman". God looks down from heaven and weeps when His word is forgotten.

  2. Dear Anonymous, the Bible does not actually explicitly say "marriage shall be between one man and one woman." Which is not to say that the traditional teaching is not grounded in the scriptures. But, as I have argued elsewhere, it is a bit more complicated than that.

    1. Your are wrong! The Bible does say that marriage shall be between ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN.
      I WILL HAVE TO CHECK WITH MY PASTOR HUSBAND, IF YOU NEED THE PLACE TO FIND IT! You of all people should know this without a doubt!!

    2. Bible References: 1 Romans: 19: 16-24; 1 Timothy: 8-16; Jude: vs.7 Matthew 19: 4-6; Mark 10: vs. 5-9; 1 Corin. 6: 9-11; Leviticus:18: vs. 2; also 20:13. And don't forget Genesis: 19: 1-11. Please read these prayerfully. Some of these things herein, certainly show God's displeasure in the way the country and the world are going! May Our Lord bless your reading, and again Bless America!

      PLEASE do read these prayerfully! I love the Episcopal and Anglican Churches, and do not want to see them follow the wrong path! After you hopefully read all of these, I think you will see it is not at all complicated, but true to the will of God!!

    3. Dear Anonymous
      all the references that you wrote are taking out of context,all of them referring to pagan idolatry where sex acts was taking place in honor of pagans gods like bahal,ashtarte etc.. you must read my brother the whole chapter and you will see what they talking about.actually the original textus receptus mention the words gadesh or gadesha in leviticus and arsenocoites in new testament....which mean a male or female prostitute in the pagans temple. that what god was prohibited to moses. do not do like those people do. even they sacrificed their children to moloch having sex

    4. These are NOT taken out of context. My husband who is a Pastor, and we read them together last night. If you read each ONE of these references, you will learn the truth! How can you read and not understand what these scriptures have to say! You cannot self interpret. God is not mocked!! I truly hoe the Bishop will read these completely and re-think his teachings!

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    Let me clarify my initial response. The quote in your first comment is not in the Bible. That said, it is certainly the assumed norm in of New Testament is that marriage is one woman, one man for life. It is also true that to the extent that it refers to same-sex sexual behavior, it is negative. Still the question some of us are asking is whether it might be less straightforward than that.

    I have written on the passage from Mark 10:

    I have also argued that same-sex unions are not the same as marriage between a man and woman:

    As for the other passages you, some of them have other problems. Neither Genesis 19: 1-11 nor Jude: vs.7 have anything to do with marriage and are only indirectly about same-sex sex.

    That does not mean that the traditional understanding of what the scriptures teach is wrong-headed. But, it is less simple than some think.

  4. I hope you read ALL of the Bible references that I supplied you with! I can hardly believe that you do not see what God REALLY DOES SAY about marriage, etc. Maybe you need a new Bible! I am truly sad for how you are leading your flock! God is NOT mocked!