Dr Barry Morgan
The head of the Anglican Church in Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, has expressed his support for same-sex marriage and gay sexuality.
He made the comments during a remarkable final address to the Governing Body of the church ahead of his retirement.
Morgan said that it was important to understand that “Biblical texts are not God’s words, dictated by Him to human authors, but are the inspired response to revelation”.
He pointed out that there is “overwhelming biblical support for slavery” but that this is no longer acceptable in today’s world. “There is no one settled understanding of what the Bible says about a number of subjects and… reading it as a whole can alter one’s total perspective.”
This meant, he said: “Given that each of the passages purported to be about homosexuality can be interpreted in more than one way, we come to the fundamental question as to whether taking the Bible as a whole, we can come to the same conclusions about committed, faithful, loving, same-sex relationships as we did about slavery.
“What all this amounts to is that one cannot argue that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned … so taking the Bible as a whole and taking what it says very seriously may lead us into a very different view of same-sex relationships than the one traditionally upheld by the church.
“We are not thereby abandoning the Bible but trying to interpret it in a way that is consistent with the main thrust of the ministry of Jesus,” Morgan said.
“It absolutely will not do to quote texts from parts of the Bible in a simplistic way without reference to their contexts,” he insisted.
“So for past generations, homosexual practice was seen as a moral failure because people had no understanding of human sexuality and how humans are formed biologically, psychologically and socially. For them, it was a disorder. We now know that sexual orientation is not a matter of personal choice but of how people are and that ought to make a huge difference to the way we view things.”
Morgan went on to say: “Christians have discovered that most people flourish best when… living for others finds its focus in a commitment to one other person: when a couple make a lifelong commitment within which sex properly belongs.
“Those of us who were or are married have found that to be the case. Why would we want to deny such a possibility for those who are attracted to their own gender?” he asked.
The Anglican Church is under enormous strain due to differences over homosexuality, same-sex marriage and gay clerics. While some Anglican provinces (branches) of the church are more embracing, conservative Anglicans, largely from Africa, have threatened to walk out of the global body over these issues.
Read Morgan’s full speech here.