Bible supports gay partnerships, says leading Anglican bishop
-28/05/06 -- Ekklesia News
The Rt Rev Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, has declared that anti-gay proponents in the churches need to be "converted" to see that homosexual unions are supported by a faithful, modern reading of the Bible.
He also reaffirmed his conviction that an openly gay man should be allowed to be appointed a bishop – as has already happened in the USA, with Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Bishop Harries, who is one of the Church of England’s most senior bishops, and who retires this week, expressed his regret that Canon Jeffrey John, now Dean of St Albans, had been forced to withdraw as Bishop of Reading
after it emerged that he had a long-term partner.
In 2003 Archbishop Rowan Williams bowed to pressure not to appoint Dr John, even though his relationship was celibate."I'd still like him to become a bishop," Bishop Harries told Jonathan
Wynee-Jones. "He has all the gifts … but there is still a process of discernment going on. For there to be change, evangelicals have to be convinced that a permanent, faithful same-sex partnership is congruous with biblical truth."
Dr Harries continued: "It's difficult to have gay partnerships fully accepted by the Church, a Church in which evangelicals are a valued part, if they are so strongly opposed to it. There has to be a conversion to a new way to see that gay partnerships are not contrary to biblical truth. They are congruous with the deepest biblical truths, about faithfulness and stability."
The Rev Dr Giles Fraser, the chair of Inclusive Church and an Ekklesia associate, responded: "His comments will be received with joy by the majority of ordinary churchgoers. It is absolutely clear that the Church needs to have a more welcoming and loving attitude to
Bishop Harries, who was made a life peer last week, said that the Jeffrey John affair had made people think about the issue in way that they never had before, reports the Sunday Telegraph.
The Anglican Communion is currently embroiled in a spat over the Bishop of Guildford, John Gladwin, who was forced to cut short a pastoral and aid visit to Kenya when the media accused him of belonging to "a gay club", actually the respected group Changing Attitude.
The Rev David Peak, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Secretary for International Development, who has been in Sudan, is going to Kenya to try to calm the escalating row. And in a recently published book 'Other Worlds, Other Voices', Esther Mombo, Academic Dean at St Paul’s United Theological College, Limuru, in Kenya expresses an understanding approach to homosexuality. She is a member of the Inter-Anglican Doctrinal Commission and served on the Lambeth Commission that produced the Windsor Report.
Oxford New Testament professor Christopher Rowland is among the many other Christian academics who say the Bible can support an affirmative approach to homosexuality. The conservative Anglican pressure group Reform was today among the first to condemn Bishop Harries remarks.