In his most widely anticipated address since taking over the leadership of the Church, the Most Rev Justin Welby insisted that it was now “absurd and impossible” to ignore an “overwhelming” change in social attitudes.
In a deliberate echo of Harold MacMillan’s 1950 speech which attacked apartheid in South Africa, the Archbishop warned church leaders that they needed to reassess their own attitudes to gay people – even if they do not “like it”.
While insisting he had no immediate plans to change policy on issues such as gay marriage, he announced a major campaign to curb anti-gay bullying in the Church of England’s more than 5,000 schools.
He is understood to have approached Stonewall, which led the campaign in favour of gay marriage, to invite it into church schools to teach up to a million children about homosexuality.
“We may or may not like it but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality,” the Archbishop said.
And, I would hope he would add that we must be prepared to accept martyrdom for standing for the Truth, and for the givenness of our sexual identities as male and female.
Well, maybe the address is not quite so bad. Here’s more:
“Anyone who listened to much of the Same Sex Marriage Bill Second Reading Debate in the House of Lords could not fail to be struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland. Predictable attitudes were no longer there.
“The opposition to the Bill – which included me and many other bishops – was utterly overwhelmed, with amongst the largest attendance and participation and majority since 1945.
“There was noticeable hostility to the view of the churches”.
He admitted that it had been “close to the bone” to evidence of young gay people driven to suicide because of uncaring attitudes from churches.
“In some things we change course and recognise the new context.
“In others we stand firm because truth is not set by culture, nor morals by fashion.
“But let us be clear, pretending that nothing has changed is absurd and impossible.”
Stand firm, Archbishop Welby. Stand firm. And the evidence of young gay people driven to suicide because of the uncaring attitudes of the churches is propaganda. It’s all of a piece of radicals seeking to force acceptance of a new sexual dogma on any who dissent, using threats and the power of the state if necessary.
We have a young Catholic man here in Ottawa who committed suicide after a lifetime of bullying. He has become a poster boy for this kind of gay propaganda even though his own father says the reasons for his suicide and the reasons he was bullied are more complex, including a fight with severe depression. He was out in terms of his sexual identity yet loved and accepted by his family and I am sure his local church community.