>The Anglicans and Gay Rights

>Is division the best solution to the issue of gay rights within the worldwide Anglican Communion?

The Washington Post is reporting that Bishop Steven Charleston, president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts is willing to accept the possibility of a schism in the Anglican communion rather than revert the church’s position on gay rights. Alan Cooperman, a staff writers for The Washington Post wrote:

Several leading liberal Episcopalians said yesterday that they would rather accept a schism than accede to a demand from leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion for what they view as an unconscionable rollback of the U.S. church’s position on gay rights.

The defiant reaction to the communique issued by the primates, or heads, of the Anglican Communion’s 38 national churches on Monday at the conclusion of a weeklong meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, reflected a growing feeling on both sides of the dispute that time for compromise is running out.

“Yes, I would accept schism,” said Bishop Steven Charleston, president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. “I would be willing to accept being told I’m not in communion with places like Nigeria if it meant I could continue to be in a position of justice and morality. If the price I pay is that I’m not considered to be part of a flawed communion, then so be it.”

The issue of gay rights is dividing the church and people are being alienated on both sides. How can the church be divided by internal issues and still be faithful to its nature as the body of Christ? In addition, how can the church proclaim its faithfulness to the Bible as the Word of God when the leaders of the church cannot agree on what the Bible teaches on this issue?

The world is watching. The decision to be made by the Anglican church will have an impact on the witness of the church in the world. My fear is that, whatever final decision is made by the Anglican church, the witness of the church in the world will be affected again.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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