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Religious Tolerance logo

The Anglican Communion and homosexuality

Events since the 2008 Lambeth Conference

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2008-AUG: Old letters from Rowan Williams revealed:

Between the years 2000 and 2001, Rowan Williams answered inquires from Deborah Pitt, a psychiatrist and evangelical Christian concerning same-sex marriage. He subsequently became the Archbishop of Canterbury and the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion. He allegedly wrote:

"I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness." 1

Many religious liberals would agree with Williams' statements. However, Leviticus 20:13 which is part of the Mosaic Code allegedly given by God to the ancient Hebrews, requires the execution of ancient Hebrews who engaged in certain same-sex behavior.

The range of forbidden behaviors differs among modern-day theologians. It has been interpreted as including:

  • All same-sex sexual behavior whether by men or women, whether it is during a "one night stand" or within a loving committed relationship.
  • As above, but for two men only.
  • Men who engage in sexual behavior with male prostitutes in Pagan temples.
  • Two men who engage in sexual behavior in a bed belonging to a woman.
  • Two men who engage in sexual behavior with each other during which one dominates the other.
  • One of the above behaviors, but only by Jews, since Leviticus 20:13 -- part of the Mosaic Code -- is not binding on Gentiles.

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2009-SEP-11: World Anglicanism Forum rejects Anglican Covenant:

In late 2004, the Windsor Report attempted to respond to the Anglican Communion's internal conflict after some Canadian dioceses started blessing same-sex unions, and Gene Robinson. a gay man, was elected and subsequent consecrated of as bishop of New Hampshire in the U.S.. The Communion's solution was to create a covenant. After three drafts of a covenant were rejected, a fourth was sent to the provinces in late 2009.

Bruce Kay of the World Anglicanism Forum expressed concerns about the Covenant. He wrote:

1. "It is against the grain of Anglican ecclesiology (what we think the church is)."

2. "It is an inadequate response to the conflict in the Anglican Communion."

3. "In practical terms it will create immense and complicating confusion about institutional relationships and financial obligations."

4. "It does not address the key fundamental issue in this conflict, how to act in a particular context which is relevant to that context and also faithful to the gospel."

He concludes that:

"... conflict is appropriately dealt with in relational terms and through conflict resolution methods which are well known in the wider community. These were not tried. ... The appropriate way to respond to this conflict was to embrace it directly and help those involved to engage with each other on the actual issue at stake. " 2

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2010-NOV-11: U.S. Primate sees conflict over sexuality lessening:

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, primate of the U.S. Anglican province, said that tensions between the Episcopal Church, USA and many in other provinces of the Anglican Communion have eased in the past two years. She said:

"The conflict has been an encouragement and an invitation to deeper dialogue and conversation. ... It takes a long time for people’s prejudices and people’s justifications for things we think are wrong to be overturned. "My hope is that eventually people will come to understand human sexuality in a broader context." 3

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2011-FEB-18: Dialogue continues between African and North American wings of the communion:

The Anglican Journal reported that two primates and 18 bishops from Canada, Central Africa, England, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and the United States. They will meet in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for a five day meeeting starting on 2011-FEB-24. Appropriately, the location is translated into English is "house of peace." It is expected to include four "interweaving" components: Testimony, Theology, Liturgy and Mission. 4

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Davod Stringer, "Same-sex relationships okay: Archbishop of Canterbury ," Associated Press, 2008-AUG-07, at:
  2. Bruce Kaye, "Why the Covenant is a bad Idea for Anglicans," World Anglicanism Forum," 2009-SEP-18, at: http://worldanglicanismforum
  3. Kristen Moulton, "Top Episcopal bishop sees less conflict over gay issues," Salt Lake Tribune, 2010-NOV-11, at:
  4. Marites N. Sison, "Healing relations through Bishops’ dialogue," Anglican Journal, 2011-FEB-18, at:

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Home>Conflicts>Homosexuality>Religious groups>Christian groups>Anglican Communion>here

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Copyright © 2008 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2010-NOV-02
Latest update: 2010-NOV-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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