Various statements issued prior
to the 1998 Lambeth Conference
Two statements were issued by
conservative Anglican bishops in 1997, in pre-Lambeth meetings.
John Shelby Spong, bishop of Newark NJ,
responded in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Kuala Lampur Statement (1997-FEB):
This statement on human sexuality was adopted unanimously by the 80
delegates to the "Second Anglican Encounter in the South"
in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. Bishops from Africa, Asia, Latin America and
Oceania attended. Some excerpts are:
"Jesus' teaching about lust in the Sermon on the Mount...makes it
clear that sexual sin is a real danger and temptation to us all.....We
are convinced that this includes homosexual practices."
God's clear will is that human sexuality "is to be expressed
only within the life-long union of a man and a woman in (holy)
"This conference, in view of the
teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man
and a woman in life-long union, and believes that abstinence is right
for those who are not called for marriage. . . . (and) cannot advise the
legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions or ordaining of those
involved in same sex unions."
"We are deeply concerned that the setting aside of biblical
teaching in such actions as the ordination of practising homosexuals and
the blessing of same-sex unions call into question the authority of the
Holy Scriptures. This is totally unacceptable to us."
"As provinces and dioceses we need to learn how to seek each
other's counsel and wisdom in a spirit of true unity, and to reach a
common mind, before embarking on radical changes to Church discipline
and moral teaching."
The statement emphasizes two matters:
The range of ethical sexual behavior is to
be defined in accordance with the traditional interpretation of the
In an apparent reference to the six "clobber
passages" they assert that the Bible is clear and unambiguous in its
condemnation of homosexuality.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey,
and 88% of the bishops who voted approved of the document. Archbishop Carey
said, "I see no room in Holy Scripture or the entire Christian tradition
for any sexual activity outside matrimony."
Bishop John Spong of New Jersey, USA, attended
the conference. He was unable to get sufficient support to have a report
issued which expressed minority views on homosexuality.
This is a non-binding resolution. However, the
high percentage of bishops from the southern hemisphere who voted in favor
of the statement and the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury provides
the statement with a great deal of moral authority. 1,2,3
Dallas Statement (1997-SEP):
In preparation for the 1998 Lambeth Conference, 49 religiously
conservative bishops and archbishops from 16 countries met in Dallas, TX.
They attended a five day meeting, starting 1997-SEP-20. They issued "The
Dallas Statement" which dealt in detail with two issues of
concern to the Communion: international debt and human sexuality. Some of
the points raised by the statement on sexuality are:
The statement on human sexuality issued at the
conference at Kuala Lumpur earlier in 1997 was affirmed.
The Bible is "the rule and ultimate standard of faith."
It is clearly written and adequate for the guidance of Christians.
It is not from isolated texts but from the consistent teaching of
the whole of Scripture that: "...lifelong heterosexual
monogamy...[is] the God-given norm for sexual relationships."
"Scripture offers no positive examples of non-marital sex;
and it contains specific condemnations of fornication and homosexual
practice as sin."
"Biblical teaching thus protects the sanctity of sex within the
marital commitment and liberates humanity from unrestrained sexual
obsession and abuse."
"Full humanity has consisted of two genders from the very
beginning male and female. The created order comprises sexual
differentiation as God-given and good."
"...only both genders together can mould the world in a
The Bible provides no justification for the church to ordain
non-celibate homosexuals or bless same sex relationships.
The "...persecution and ostracism of homosexual persons as
well as sexual hypocrisy are evils and have no place in the church."
"Forgotten by the church were often those homosexually orientated
men and women who want to change. More and
more Christian resource groups have developed and many individuals have
found with the help of God a way out of a destructive lifestyle."
"It is not acceptable for a pro-gay agenda to be smuggled into
the church's programme or foisted upon our people and we will not permit
A statement by Bishop John S. Spong of Newark
Bishop Spong is perhaps the most prolific
liberal author within the Anglican Communion. He has written a series of
books which recommend abandonment of many historical beliefs in the church.
One is "Living in sin: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality."
5 In it, he develops a more inclusive and flexible
approach to human sexuality.
Bishop Spong and the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon.
George L. Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, exchanged letters which dealt
with homosexuality and the Kuala Lampur statement, the Dallas statement, and
the upcoming 1998 Lambeth Conference.
The following is an excerpt from a letter that
Bishop Spong sent to Archbishop Carey concerning homosexuality:
The church has "...had deep divisions
before over important issues like slavery, segregation, apartheid and
the full humanity of women and their right to pursue equality in both
church and society. The Church can live with divisions. The issue is not
that these divisions exist, but who is right. Church unity is important
to me, but it is not an ultimate value. Truth and justice are. A Church
unified in racism, chauvinism or homophobia cannot be the Body of
Christ. Our task as God's Church is to discern truth and to proclaim
justice, and if that disturbs the unity of the Church, then so be it."
"In our effort to discover truth, however, we cannot close our minds
or ignore new insights that challenge even the literal truth we quote
from holy Scripture. I am aware, as I am certain you are, that church
people have used biblical quotations, as well as what you have called
'theologies and reasons' for centuries to justify attitudes that today
are universally rejected. Why do we not recognize that quoting an
ancient text to try to solve a complex moral or scientific issue is as
irrelevant today as it was when the book of Joshua was quoted to condemn
the discoveries of Galileo? I am amazed that this is not clear. It
certainly is to so many in the secular world who have rejected the
Church as no longer viable for their lives."
"How many more moral debates will we have to undergo in the Christian
Church before people recognize that the literal Bible was wrong on the
seven day creation story, wrong on epilepsy being demon possession,
wrong on sickness resulting from sin, wrong on the sun rotating around
the earth, wrong on slavery, wrong on defining women as inferior people,
and is now wrong on the origins, causes and meaning of homosexuality?
How many irrelevant rear guard battles must we Christians lose before we
give up this tactic? How much longer will we pretend that this is about
divisions in the Church?" 6