Homosexual Marriage and the Real Divide

Last week a group of bishops from the global South (who therefore represent the majority of Anglicans worldwide) announced a meeting in London to push for a return to traditional values in marriage. This article from the Daily Telegraph reports the saber rattling that is going on from the traditional side of the church as the Anglicans worldwide anticipate a change of leadership early next year as Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams steps down.

Meanwhile the Telegraph also reports that another group of Anglican senior clergy can’t understand the fuss and insist that the Church of England should “rejoice at the prospect of gay marriage.” The official view of the CofE is that they are in favor of gay civil unions, but not homosexual marriage. Their statement is here.

Nobody should be surprised that the rift in the Anglican Church continues. The real division is not between those who want homosexuality in the church and those who don’t. The division is at a far deeper and more fundamental level. It was expressed well by a frustrated Anglican bishop after yet another round of “discussions”. As a traditionalist he said the meeting with the liberals was like trying to play tennis with someone in an adjacent court. About right.

The real division in the Anglican Church reflects the real division at the heart of modern Christianity. This division is felt most keenly in the Anglican Church,but it echoes through all the churches–including the Catholic Church. That is the question of the very nature of Christianity itself.

Is Christianity a man-made religion which is a product of a certain time and place and people which can (and should) therefore be adapted to the culture, the morals, the beliefs and customs of each particular age–or is Christianity a religion revealed by God in which there are certain immutable doctrines and disciplines–truths which are eternal and which can never be changed? The progressives believe the first and therefore expect Christianity to change and adapt–even at the most basic level of human sexuality. The conservatives believe the second–that we follow a revealed religion which can be adapted in some outward forms, but which, at the foundation, cannot be altered and adapted to the whims of human beings and the winds of fashion.