After suggesting on an LBC radio talk-in that African Christians have been massacred due to the acceptance of homosexuality in America, and more Africans may be killed if the Church of England accepts equal marriage, reactions to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s comments continue from around the world. The round-up at Thinking Anglicans has the latest analysis and reactions.
From the Episcopal Church, bishop Marc Andrus of California responds to what he characterizes as Welby’s “empire thinking.” In connection with today’s reading on Jesus and Lazarus from the Gospel according to John, Andrus reflects upon the faithful women and men in his diocese who stand against injustice, evil, and sin:
Twice in the hour-long phone-in program in which the archbishop made his remarks, Archbishop Welby used the modifier, incredibly to describe how the Church must attend to the witness of the LGBT community – listen incredibly carefully and be incredibly conscious. To remember a great line from The Princess Bride, I’m not sure the archbishop knows what incredible attentiveness means.
We should remember that the archbishop has made his views on same-gender marriage clear. In an address to the House of Lords he reiterated, as he did in the radio interview most recently that marriage is a sacred institution reserved for heterosexuals. In fact, in this most recent interview the Guardian wrote that the archbishop did not want LGBT people to be treated with any greater severity than adulterous heterosexuals are treated. The core idea here if anyone cares to look closely is that same-gender relationships are sinful.
Today, local media in the diocese I serve showed one of my priests, a partnered, gay man being led away by law enforcement officers for an act of civil disobedience on behalf of immigrants in danger of deportation. Such acts on the side of justice are, I’m happy to say, commonplace in this diocese, done all the time by gay and straight folks. Faithful, rather than sinful seems a better word to describe this priest and the many like him here.
Archbishop Welby asserts that marriage should be only between a man and a woman, and says that scripture supports his position. I would hope for a better reader of scripture in the spiritual head of our Church. Let me point to this coming Sunday’s Gospel, the Raising of Lazarus from the Dead, in the Gospel of John as a good place to look for guidance on the issue of the safety of Christians, both straight and LGBT in Africa and elsewhere.
Jesus is so deeply moved – by the death of his friend, by the oppression of his people, by the suffering of the world – that he risks everything to go to the cave where Lazarus is buried to raise him back to life – Thomas says, “Let us go with him and die.” In order to raise Lazarus from the dead Jesus has to go right into the turbulent political waters in and around Jerusalem, where his life is danger, and where he will shortly be betrayed, tortured and killed.
This courage and compassion should be my guide, and I suggest our guide as we identify with Christ, as Christians. There are other scripture passages that might point us to how to view the question of same-gender marriage; the Raising of Lazarus from the Dead gives us guidance on how we should act when we confront injustice, evil and sin.
For the full reflection from Marc Andrus, please visit bishop Marc’s blog.