Reclaiming Lambeth I.10

When I was choosing the name for this site, one thing that was never in doubt was the use of Queer.  There was discussion about other letters and whether to use a + but Q was always going to be part of this.  It is not exactly how I would define myself, but the word fits for those who choose to use it about me or about themselves. 

But it was not always like that.  The use of the word Queer has a long history, from a term of abuse and repression to the reclaiming and ownership of the word by the community.

Now it is time for those who are Christian and especially Anglican to reclaim something else too – the 1998 Lambeth resolution I.10.

Ironically it was archbishop Justin Welby who has shown us the way to start doing this.  Now, in the interests of full transparency, I am not archbishop Justin’s greatest fan.  I probably wouldn’t make the top million on that one, but here he has done something that I can applaud.

On February 26th Nigerian archbishop Henry C Ndukuba issued a statement, in response to events in American churches, in that statement he described homosexuality and homosexual relationships in very negative terms.  A pdf of the statement can be read here:

Church-of-Nigerias-Position-on-the-Recent-Developments-in-ACNA-February-2021-.pdf (thinkinganglicans.org.uk) but I would advise against it.  I include the link for completeness.

Archbishop Justin’s response can be read in full here:

Archbishop of Canterbury criticises Primate of Nigeria | Thinking Anglicans

The important parts are two paragraphs in the middle of the statement

I completely disagree with and condemn this language. It is unacceptable.It dehumanises those human beings of whom the statement speaks.

I have written privately to His Grace The Archbishop to make clear that this language is incompatible with the agreed teaching of the Anglican Communion (expressed most clearly, albeit in unsuitable language for today, in paragraphs c and d of resolution I.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998). This resolution both restated a traditional view of Christian marriage and was clear in its condemnation of homophobic actions or words. It affirmed that “all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”

This is the first time I have seen Lambeth I.10 used affirmingly like this by a bishop, and when it is the Archbishop of Canterbury it shows a shift is happening.  It may be a small shift, but a welcome one.  A policy statement that has been used to oppress LGBTQI+ Christians around the world for 23 years now has precedent to use as something positive.  So – let’s start to reclaim it.

The full resolution and supporting documents can be accessed here  Section I.10 – Human Sexuality (anglicancommunion.org)

Lambeth conference resolutions are not binding on provinces in the Anglican communion, but they do carry weight.  The Church of England has never chosen to adopt or ratify Lambeth I.10, but the attitudes in it have been used against us for too long.  We have been treated as if this resolution were entirely negative. 

Archbishop Justin used paragraphs c and d in his argument, even expressing the idea that the language used was unsuitable.  Paragraph c is already something that we can reclaim as positive.  We are loved by God and are full members of the body of Christ.  I know too many Christians who have been told that their sexual orientation and gender identity and unacceptable to God.  Let us reclaim this idea which is, after all, an orthodox Anglican belief.  Paragraph c says:

recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;

Paragraph d should come with a trigger warning.  It does get to the affirming material after some negativity.  It says:

while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;

Ministry should be always pastoral and sensitive.  Unfortunately, what many of us experience is the exact opposite.  This resolution says what we should receive and what we should expect from the Anglican churches we belong to. 

In time we can work to reclaim other sections relating to marriage, relationships and blessings.  But for now, we must insist that the church abides by its own rules.  We have to start somewhere and this is as good a place to start as any.