On April 9, 2014, the news broke. In one foul swoop, the head of the worldwide Anglican Church has come up with the most cowardly excuse for maintaining the status quo of bigotry and exclusion that I have ever encountered. While members of the Anglican Communion the world over begin to embrace their fellow humans regardless of difference, Archbishop Justin Welby feels it best to remain anti-gay in order to avoid violent confrontation with those who feel compelled to attack perceived homosexuals. I won’t go into details, you can read the article here ( http://americablog.com/2014/04/anglican-church-archbishop-must-discriminate-against-gays-lest-someone-think-were-gay-and-bash-us.html ), but the beef I have is with how un-Christian this actually is.
The article points out that the cowardice of Welby’s stance is contrary to the teachings of Jesus, and indeed the author is correct. Inherent within the character of Jesus was love, compassion, and respect for all people. He didn’t hang out with the rich and powerful, but with the poor and destitute. If walking the world today, Jesus would not be keeping company with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He would have the courage to keep company with those who the Archbishop is afraid to help. When you claim to walk with righteousness, when you say you stand for “what is right,” when you preach about laying down your life for your faith … you had better be prepared to back it up. Justin Welby has shown himself a coward, happy to proclaim his undying faith in an ever-loving God, but not willing to act on that faith by defending the downtrodden. Acting upon nothing short of an ill-conceived bias, he has seized upon the fear of physical confrontation with those who seek to do harm, and in so doing has taken a path of shameful cowardice; completely abandoning the action that his faith requires him to take.
Now, to be fair, Archbishop Welby has since stated that we must treat all human beings with equal dignity and love. In the same interview, however, he re-iterated that the church cannot support same-sex marriage because there are people in Africa who would never accept it. In short, he is worried about two things. (1) Physical confrontation with violent homophobes, and (2) Division of the Anglican communion. What this says to me is that this top cleric of the Church of England would prefer to avoid confrontation AND protect the unity of his precious church before acting as Jesus commanded all of his followers to act.
There are people who feel that I am being unjust, that Welby has taken a perfectly acceptable stance in order to protect the well-being of his fellow Anglicans, and that the tenet of treating all people with dignity and love has not been violated in the least. Those people are gravely mistaken. Many non-believers are willing to lay down their lives to protect the dignity of ALL people … it’s sad that a denomination of Christ-ians are not willing to do the same. To all of those in the Anglican communion who still have the courage to stand for social equality and human dignity, I applaud you. To all others, particularly Archbishop Welby, I am disappointed in your readiness to turn from opportunities to act ‘Christ-like.’