UPDATE, AUGUST 3, 2008: Archbishop Rowan Williams has capitulated to the bullies among the Anglican Bishops, not realizing that "unity" at the expense of "justice" will gain neither, as one can never satisfy a bully by either seeking to mollify him/her or by capitulation to unGodly principles and forces.
This is an article worth reading for a number of reasons.
"[Rev. Peter] Beckwith, who also attended last month's Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in the Holy Land, said that he had doubts about whether to attend the Lambeth Conference. Not only was it expensive, but he asked, 'Is it appropriate to sit and talk with folks who seem to be on a totally different page -- but not simply a different page, or a different book, a different library?'
"Beckwith said that going to GAFCON [that was held in Jerusalem last month among Anglican bishops, most of whom are against the ordination of Gay people and the ordination of women] was worth the trouble. 'It's refreshing to get together with people who believe in a creedal faith, the faith once delivered to the saints,' he said. As for Lambeth, 'My situation is that I'm dealing with what I consider interfaith relations within The Episcopal Church. We've heard talk that there are at least two gospels being preached in the Anglican Communion.' Indeed, the nasty rumors are true, Beckwith said.
"Beckwith spoke much about grace, too. He said that he was born again in 1940, that he has devoted his career to The Episcopal Church and his life to the cause of Jesus Christ. 'I'm to give up everything for Christ,' he said."
"Pressed by a reporter for a gay and lesbian publication to explain his opposition to homosexuality, Beckwith posed another question: 'Is there any chance that homosexuals -- and heterosexuals -- use sex for a purpose instead of God's?' The problem with homosexuality is 'that it divides people,' he said. 'It divides people from God and one another.'"
This is a very revealing article on a number of levels regarding the homophobia that exists among most clergy in the Anglican communion and even among many clergy within its American affiliate, the Episcopal Church and, in fact, exists in most all of the denominations within the institutional Church.
I'd like to enumerate some irrationalities that jump out at me just from reading this article:
1. Rev. Beckwith is quoted as rhetorically asking, "Is it appropriate to sit and talk with folks who seem to be on a totally different page -- but not simply a different page, or a different book, a different library?" First of all, it is incumbent upon all Anglican Bishops to attend the Lambeth Conference that is held every ten years in the Anglican communion. To do otherwise, is not only a slap in the face to the other Bishops and the Archbishop, but offends the existence of the basic structure of Anglicanism, as I understand it. It is to Rev. Beckwith's credit that he did attend that conference! However, he says that some of those who did attend are on "a different page," as it were. However, it must be understood that the Spirit of God transcends "pages," and assorted Scriptural interpretations, and doctrines and creeds made by mere fallible human beings. Many homophobic clergy and other professing Christians elevate their own feeble understandings of certain selected passages of the Bible over and above the worship of God, and that is the epitome of idolatry, the major sin that is listed in the first two Ten Commandments! They set up as an idol, not Jesus' Great Commandments that we love God and love and not judge others but, rather, their idol is their own human interpretations of their selective reading of selected parts of Scripture that they interpret according to their own prejudices. [And, in all fairness, it must be stated that Rev. Beckwith is not the most strident homophobe in the Anglican communion or in the institutional Church by a long shot. ]
2. Rev. Beckwith is quoted as saying, "It's refreshing to get together with people who believe in a creedal faith, the faith once delivered to the saints." Jesus makes it crystal clear that we are to have unity among all Christians (John 17:21-23), and to in any way disdain communion, be it at the Lambeth Conference or anywhere else, with Gay Christians, or Gay-affirming Christians, clergy or otherwise, grossly violates that part of the prayer of Jesus! Those Bishops within the Anglican communion who refused such communion at Lambeth, or any Christians who show disdain for any of God's children, show not only great disrespect to others, but violate Jesus' High Priestly Prayer for believers. To avoid Christian unity, or approve of discrimination against anyone for the sake of one's own prejudices, and to seek to link those prejudices with the will of God, is nothing short of blasphemy, given the Great Commandments Jesus has given us to love and not judge others; given the Gospel message of grace; Jesus' prayer to God the Father for those who are His disciples; given the the Godly plea of the prophet Micah: "He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"! (Micah 6:8)
3. The article states that "Beckwith spoke much about grace, too." "Grace" means unmerited favor! How is Rev. Beckwith and his allies in the institutional Church defining or showing grace by seeking to exclude any of God's children from full fellowship and association? Since when does one have to do anything to merit a freely given gift by God? Many, if not most, of those within the institutional Church worship their own god of legalism over and above the God of grace, and thereby deny the very essence of the Gospel message! The Gospel is solely about grace! And the only way we appropriate God's free gift of his unmerited favor is by having unwavering trust in Him to keep and deliver us now and throughout eternity, and there's not a damn thing we have to do, or can do, to merit this free gift that God has given to us! (See, for example, Ephesians 1:4; Romans 8:29; Romans 9:10-16.) The very Personification of the Gospel is that of Jesus, and He not only saved His harshest words for the religious legalists and perfectionists of His time, but for all times! He told us to manifest "love" and not to judge others; He told us to show mercy and compassion to others, and to not in any way hurt other human beings; He told us to seek the things of God and not fall under the spell of mere fallible and sometimes malevolent human beings; He hung around with the "misfits" and the outcasts according to the "good, decent, religious (and other) folk" in the society of His time. The Bible teaches us, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5) You ask yourself if the homophobes of the religious world manifest these Commandments of Jesus, and do they manifest the "Fruit of the Spirit" as explicated by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23?
4. Rev. Beckwith is quoted as saying, "I'm to give up everything for Christ." Is it possible that He's willing to give up everything but his homophobia and contravention of the very Gospel of grace itself?
5. The article states, "Beckwith posed another question: 'Is there any chance that homosexuals -- and heterosexuals -- use sex for a purpose instead of God's?' The problem with homosexuality is 'that it divides people,' he said. 'It divides people from God and one another.'" This last quotation is the epitome of the irrationality that defines virtually all homophobia, particularly when it comes from professing Christians. How does homosexuality divide people? Who is doing the "dividing?" It's the Bishops who refused to attend a significant ten year meeting with other Bishops in the Anglican communion; it's the clergy and professing Christians who refuse to have fellowship or communion with out and proud Gay people; it's the clergy who seek schism within the Anglican communion; it's the clergy who poison the minds of their followers and all who will listen concerning their own ignorant and/or warped views of love and sex; it's the clergy and professing Christians who believe in the false gospel of Genital Theology; it's the clergy and professing Christians who seek to limit or prevent the acquisition of full and equal civil and sacramental rights for LGBT people; it's the clergy and professing Christians who cause, through their rhetoric and/or actions or silence and inactions, untold psychological damage to LGBT people and their families; it's the clergy and professing Christians who help create and reinforce the climate, indeed the culture, of hate that gives tacit approval for the untold numbers of Gay people's suicides, as well as the indignities and brutalities suffered by LGBT people, and even the killings of LGBT people. And these homophobic clergy and professing Christians contribute to these atrocities and sins that cry out to God for retribution? And Rev. Beckwith has the temerity to say, regarding homosexuality, "It divides people from God and one another"? Now, that statement is irrational, if not bizarre, to say the least!
The very essence of the above cited article is just one example that highlights some of the irrationality of religiously "justified" homophobia, and the bankrupt nature of homophobia that can never in any way be tolerated by any Christian worthy of the name, or by anyone who considers him/herself to be a "decent" and "civilized" human being!