A queer perspective on the Anglican Communion

December 1, 2009

in God Made the Rainbow

Originally posted on God Made The Rainbow on the 4th August, 2008.

Recently, the Anglican Church has been somewhat overly pre-occupied with the discourses surrounding homosexuality, and the place of lesbian, gay and bisexuals within the Church as a body. The media has reported with some zeal on the gay bishop Gene Robinson’s absence from the talks, as well as the resignation of Rev Dr Martin Dudley, who came under fire from conservative traditionalists after officiating at the blessing of two gay reverends. This whole “scandal” has left me, as a queer bystander, somewhat sceptical as to whether the arguments raging over homosexuality and the Church are actually about the Biblical interpretations of Leviticus 18, or simply a political fight between liberals and conservatives for the heart and soul of the Church.

Any biblical theologian worth their salt could easily put together convincing arguments for liberal interpretations of the few and far between passages dealing with homosexuality in the Bible. So, I start to wonder, are the conservative Christians, much like their party political namesakes in the 80’s, using homosexuality as a stick to beat liberal members of the Church with? Anglicans of the global south are starting to clamour for more of the kudos within the Church over their more liberal western peers; Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigerian even went so far as to accuse Rowan Williams of apostasy over this issue. It is easy to see why the global south’s more conservative church is fighting for more power in the Anglican Church as a whole; they have far more regular churchgoers than we do in Britain, with less than a million people attending church every week here.

Whilst I am all for increasing democratic processes within the Church, I do find the proliferation of conservative biblical interpretation used by right-wingers within the Church quite unsettling. I want to tell Archbishop Akinola and his mates just how accepting Jesus really was about homosexuality. I want to tell them the story of how Jesus healed the Centurion’s male lover in Matthew 8, about how the Gospels are there to challenge the patriarchal institution of the Old Testament with something fundamentally more liberating; for women, for gays, for trans-people, for everyone. If anything else I want to tell them the words of Jesus: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18 NIV).

Jess is an anarcho-queer activist who currently teaches about the environment and sustainability in Bradford. Follow her at @charliethescarf.


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