The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a statement marking the fiftieth anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexual acts in England.
The Church, not just the Church of England, but all those who follow Jesus Christ and whose lives are committed to his worship and service, has very often been defined by what it is against. It has condemned many things, and continues to do so, very often correctly, for example when they involve the abuse of the poor, or the weak, or the marginalised.
The Church is called more to be identified by what it loves, most of all by its pointing to Jesus Christ, not merely by what it condemns. Many people who have nothing to do with the institutional church and who seldom, if ever, attend it, nevertheless see in Jesus Christ someone of startling and extraordinary attraction. Many homosexual people follow Christ, drawn to him by his love and his outstretched arms welcoming all those who turn to him. …
Still, the archbishops’ statement about sin is ambiguous, and they miss an opportunity directly to name discrimination as a sinful burden placed upon those whom the culture singles out.
Every single one of us needs to lay our burdens on Jesus. For every single one of us, the burden that is most onerous, most difficult to bear, is the burden of what the Bible calls our sin, our failure to live as we ought, our continued falling short of the mark. It is the universal characteristic of being human that we are sinners.
Sin is not a characteristic of a particular group of people. Sin is the same for all of us. And the challenge to take onto ourselves the obligation to be yoked with Christ, to bear the load he gives us, is the same for all of us.
This day of anniversary of the 1967 Act is one when the Church in this land should be conscious of the need to turn away from condemnation of people as its first response. When we rightly celebrate what happened 50 years ago today, we do so best by turning to him and saying, “Yes, we take your yoke on our shoulders with you”.
The Archbishops also refer to the Primates’ Meeting in January 2016, at which “the majority of the leading Archbishops of the whole global Anglican Communion – almost 80 million people in 165 countries – confirmed the longstanding view of the Communion that diminishing and criminalising homosexual people is wrong.”
Even fifty years after the British Act of Parliament, the Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands is making news by affirming this Anglican stance against opposition from other Christian churches in Jamaica. The Stabroek News reports
Head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Bishop Howard Gregory, has broken ranks with many of his Christian brethren and urged the parliamentary committee examining the Sexual Offences Act and related laws to recommend the removal of the offence of buggery from the law books, widen the definition of rape, and recognise marital rape.
Gregory submitted a written statement to the committee, emphasizing that this is his personal view, according to the report. The committee is expected to report back to Parliament by November.
This post has been corrected: the Act of Parliament decriminalized homosexual acts in England but not in the whole of Great Britain as originally stated.