He had long supported the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. His theological attitude to homosexual relations depended in part upon finding in the Bible a condemnation of homosexual acts performed for gratification, but no biblical distinction between such acts and homosexual disposition.
It would, the argument went, be unjust to consign to celibacy those who had never known sexual attraction to the opposite sex. Logically, homosexual partnerships would be acceptable to all who endorse contraception, the thinking being that once the link between sex and procreation is broken, then other forms of sexual relations cannot be ruled out.
Within the Anglican Communion, some believe that the plain words of the Bible condemn homosexual acts, and others insist that the clear universal teaching of the Church cannot be overturned unilaterally by local churches (that is, individual bishops). Between them, they form a big enough group to threaten the Anglican Church with a permanent split.
Canterbury's authority is in theory merely that of Primate of all England. In practice that position has grown, as if in an unwritten constitution, into a figurehead for the entire Anglican Communion. So Dr Williams has tried to hold together Anglicans by sticking to an agreed position, and discouraging unilateral actions such as ordination of bishops living with gay partners, even if that seems to go against his private opinions in the past.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
These sacred mysteries: Gays, marriage and Rowan Williams :: The Telegraph