Monday, April 26, 2010

Are Global South Anglican churches compliant with 1.10?

Let me remind you of what GSE4 said a few days ago about the Covenant (my emboldening):

"21. Global South leaders have been in the forefront of the development of the ‘Anglican Covenant’ that seeks to articulate the essential elements of our faith together with means by which we might exercise meaningful and loving discipline for those who depart from the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints.’ We are currently reviewing the proposed Covenant to find ways to strengthen it in order for it to fulfill its purpose. For example, we believe that all those who adopt the Covenant must be in compliance with Lambeth 1.10. Meanwhile we recognize that the Primates Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Covenant in its implementation, not the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion."

Here for refreshment is Resolution 1.10 from Lambeth 1998:

"Resolution I.10

Human Sexuality

This Conference:

a. commends to the Church the subsection report on human sexuality;
b. in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;
c. recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;
d. while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;
e. cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions;
f. requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us;
g. notes the significance of the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality and the concerns expressed in resolutions IV.26, V.1, V.10, V.23 and V.35 on the authority of Scripture in matters of marriage and sexuality and asks the Primates and the ACC to include them in their monitoring process."

I have emboldened some important phrases in the resolution concerning pastoral care for homosexual Anglicans.

Are all churches in the Global South (and those represented by observers at GSE4) compliant with these parts of Resolution 1.10?

The trumpet sound coming from Uganda and Nigeria recently "condemning irrational fear of homosexuals" seems to have been hard to hear. Indeed some have wondered if what we have heard has supported irrational fear.

As for listening to the experience of homosexual persons, would it be irrational to guess that for many GS churches this amounts to nil?

But my guess is that none of this will matter should the Covenant be signed to: compliance with 1.10, in reality, will mean compliance with 1.10 apart from the words I have emboldened.

To be clear: I think it a good idea that Covenant signers are compliant with 1.10. Such compliance would rule out member churches signing to the Covenant who practise the opposite of the teaching of Scripture expressed within 1.10. It would mean that those signing the Covenant were on the same page of understanding of Scripture and thus any future "Covenant discipline" would be about future departures from Anglican teaching and practice, not about our messy past. But I doubt that more than a few member churches are actually compliant with 1.10 in every respect. Indeed, it may be that there are no compliant churches at the moment. Of course listening processes could be instituted tomorrow, and statements condemning irrational fear of homosexuals could be made at the same time ...

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