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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 11:21 GMT
Can Anglicans resolve the gay clergy row?
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams

Leaders of the Anglican Church in Africa have condemned Sunday's consecration of the first openly gay bishop.

Gene Robinson, who lives with his male partner, was formally made bishop of the US state of New Hampshire.

The Nigerian clergy has described the new bishop's appointment as appalling and the Ugandan Church has vowed to cut all ties with the New Hampshire diocese.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has said the divisions arising in the global Anglican Communion following the consecration were "a matter of deep regret".

Do you think there will be reconciliation? What does the row mean for the Anglican Communion?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Gene Robinson's actions come across as totally self-motivated
Matthew Clements, UK
Where is the Christian love here? The Bible is most clear on loving other people but Gene Robinson's actions come across as totally self-motivated and without regard for the hurt and pain he is causing to millions of Christians.
Matthew Clements, UK

I'm not a Christian or gay but it's fun to watch the Anglican church refusing to move out of the dark ages with regards sexuality. Still, that's religion for you!
Andy S, UK

At the end of the day, no-one follows what the Bible says 100%. That would be impossible as it contradicts itself so often.
John Weldon, UK

The only point about Gene Robinson is that he has been honest about his sexuality. This seems to be what upsets people. There are other homosexual priests and bishops in the CoE, even in Nigeria, they just aren't honest about it.
Simon O'Brien, UK

I really do think it's about time the church sorted itself out. If they can't decide what interpretation to put on various parts of the bible then who can? There are so many interpretations of each section of the book anyway, so what difference does it make. It is about time the church stopped discriminating, last time it was women now it's gays - what will it be next? The institution is an old fashioned idea that not many people take much notice of, if it does tear itself apart what difference will it make to society, very little I should say?
Pete, UK

If Christianity requires a person to abstain from sex to be a priest, then it should be all forms of sex - male-female or male-male. But why should a priest have to abstain from sex which is a god given impulse?
I'm a Hindu - and in Hinduism priests can lead normal lives. But when a person dedicates himself totally to the spiritual path, only then do they voluntarily give up all material cravings - and are called 'sadhu'. Maybe Christianity will find it useful to adopt this.
Ramanujam Chary, Mumbai, INDIA

A decision needs to be made and made fast or many followers will suffer
Misha Likhterov, UK
Christ taught forgiveness, he taught to love thy neighbour, but the bible also says that homosexuality is a sin. How can a man who's lifestyle is detested in the bible be allowed to become a bishop? This will cause many to wonder whether the church is moral or corrupt,. A decision needs to be made and made fast or many followers will suffer. No one wins in a fight, no one comes out on top, so this should end quickly because there will be no reconciliation.
Misha Likhterov, UK

I think that a lot of people are missing the point. Of course God forgives all and if someone is homosexual we are not saying they can't be and go to church, but when someone wants to represent the church then they have to follow what ever is God's words and the Bible is a series of books with the words from God in them. When you head the Church you must follow this. That is why I totally agree that the Monarch on our throne is head of the whole of the Church of England and should not be allowed to divorce or marry a divorcee and stay in charge. If the head of police was to suddenly be found to have murdered someone or robbed, they would not stay head of the police or be a policeman would they?
Nina, UK

To Timothy Gyang, Nigeria,
Leviticus 18 - Homosexuality is an abomination
Leviticus 11 - Shellfish are abominations

Seems pretty clear to me.
Simon, London, UK

Reconciliation is a good word, but only within moral confines. Hopefully good and evil (or right and wrong) will never be reconciled -for when that happens it is evil that wins and not good. The Anglican church has to draw the line somewhere - come what may!
Neil, India

People that advocate equal rights for homosexuals in Christian Church are simply not aware that homosexuality is condemned by God. It said in the Bible that a man should not sleep with other man, and that it's disgusting to God. How could a person be openly gay become a priest? He cannot, unless this Church is a man's institution rather than God's.
Dmitriy, Russia/USA

I don't understand, it's ok for priest who can abuse small kids who didn't had their say when they were being abused against their will, and pay off their sins in church's money and nobody was complaining, I am not a Christian, is it written somewhere in bible that it is ok to abuse kids and not ok to be anyone whom you love male or female?
Sailesh, US

As Nigeria is listed amongst the world's most corrupt nations, it would seem that the Nigerian clergy would be more concerned with the morals of their own flock than what is happening half a world away. I seem to recall a passage in the New Testament that is attributed to Jesus... about casting the first stone!
J. Ripley, United States

Reconciliation doesn't mean compromise
Penny, USA
I don't thing there will be any reconciliation nor should there be. Either you hold the Bible to be God's Word or you don't. Reconciliation doesn't mean compromise.
Penny, USA

As a secularist I was going to keep out of this debate and have a quiet laugh at the religious brigade making fools of themselves yet again. However, the intolerance, prejudice and sheer stupidity of some of these comments forces me to write. Please understand - there is no God, of whatever persuasion or choice, so stop using 'him' to excuse your own personal bigotry.
Ian Marlow, UK

"Good Christians" everywhere also have a right to know how many bishops eat shellfish and therefore go against the will of God as expressed in the bible.
C Wright,UK

All food is declared clean by the Bible. Homosexuality is condemned. Guzzling shellfish does not make a man unclean. Homosexuality comes out from the heart and is condemned. There is no brilliance in likening homosexuality to eating shell fish.
Timothy Gyang, Nigeria

Any church that cannot keep up its moral stance in the face of modernisers deserves to fail. If homosexuality was wrong 200 years ago it is still wrong, as is adultery, murder and theft. By all means be a homosexual but do not expect me to respect you for it, or to accept your moral leadership. Perhaps it is time that someone nailed his theses to the Cathedral door and we had a new Reformation.
Barry P, England

If God made man in his own likeness and "was pleased" then it should not be for any other human to differentiate. Like other religions most splits and problems are man-made. Live and let live and use any spare time being a Christian.
Tim Mcmahon, Pennar, Wales

This will be a grievous blow to the church
Emyr Williams, Wales
This will be a grievous blow to the church. The word of God must be stood upon without compromise. One can't help feel this will to promote sin within the church will make it fall apart. Jesus himself said that a divided kingdom shall never stand! We need strong leadership at the head of the church, or we'll simply fall away.
Emyr Williams, Wales

For those who think the Anglican Church needs to change with the times: That is precisely the reason the Christian church has lost members. Changing with the times, and not staying true to the faith makes the church appear worldly and not of God. People are looking for something outside their normal existence in the world. If the Church is just as sinful as the world, there's no reason to come.

Religion says nothing to the people of my generation. It all just causes hurt and upset and death across the world. I couldn't care less if they consecrated a one legged baboon...it might be a laugh though.
Max, UK

I think people's attitudes here are disgraceful. Gene Robinson has not killed somebody. He is open about his sexual orientation and no matter what anyone says here it's the year 2003, nobody should be ashamed because of their sexuality, colour, race, religion etc. Who's to say Gene Robinson could be one of the best Bishops ever appointed? He is open for a start, which is a lot more than a lot of people. I really think fair play to him, he has stuck to his guns against public opinion and in my eyes that can only make him stronger. I honestly think some of the most evil people in the world are the judgmental ones, they are against everything.
Aileen Walshe, Ireland

Christians are called to be in the world, not of it
Stephen McLaren, UK
I have been an Anglican for all my life and I have to say that this is a very difficult matter. I respect the fact that Bishop Robinson has been honest with about his lifestyle. I also respect the fact that others have stood up and declared their beliefs. What is right? God knows! And I mean that literally. The bible does indeed say that homosexuality is wrong, and yes it also says that eating shellfish is wrong. However, this law is effectively "repealed" in the New Testament. The question is, are sexual laws the same? If homosexuality is effectively approved by the church, what other sexual practices will be allowed? Christians are called to be in the world, not of it. Called to be relevant to the world, but not a carbon copy.
Stephen McLaren, UK

The present debate has concentrated on gayness; perhaps it would be better to focus on local autonomy. I respect the right of any country to choose its Bishops. Those outside of that country should have no say in the matter. The Americans have had the good grace not to influence the selection of African Bishops. Why do the Africans consider themselves entitled to select American Bishops?
Raymond Knowles, England

Yes. I think Anglicans can solve this row but I think it will take a long time. The only way for rows like this to be solved is for the Church to stop being so inward looking. The Church MUST start to appeal to the real world or else it's in real trouble!
Robert Slater, United Kingdom

A similar situation happened with the ordainment of female priests some years ago. At that time many priests (and I think some bishop as well) left the Anglican Church and joined the Roman Catholic Church, conserving their rank. Given the similarities between both churches, it would not surprise me if a similar thing happened now. It would be a very reasonable thing to do since the schism between the two churches was due to political reasons, that had nothing to do with religion.
Ed, Netherlands

The Anglican community will remain split for the rest of time
Oula David, Uganda
This is a serious problem that is threatening to destroy the Anglican Church Community in the world. In Africa, people now know that America has shown how crazy it is as regards their own policy and their civilization. That problem will never be resolved. The Anglican community will remain split for the rest of time and history will remember the Hampshire diocese as the major cause of that split. God knows they have made a serious mistake and they will be punished for violating God's arrangements
Oula David, Uganda

I am not a religious person but I consider myself to be quite spiritual. I know I have a good outlook on life, I love my family and live an honest and decent life. I don't need any clergy to tell me how to live. Before Christianity existed gay people lived quite happily among their fellow citizens, look at the Romans and the Greeks. Then the church stuck its oar in and since then gay people (among others) have been persecuted and ridiculed. I have two children and both have gay, male godparents. I didn't think about their sex lives when choosing them, but at the way they can enrich and enlighten my children's lives as they grow up.
Jonathan, London, UK

The only way the church can resolve this problem is for the clergy to go back to the fundamental reason why they are there and that is the Bible. They should live by the content of what they preach each and every Sunday...even if it means going against what the modern society wants. If they stand by what they are supposed to believe in then they would gain and not lose the respect of the people.
Malcolm Geal, England

The only sexual misconduct which Jesus Christ specifically condemned was adultery - which obviously annoyed him because he rather harps on about the subject. However, he also said (and I paraphrase), "Love your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Committing adultery clearly offends against the second of these commandments. But against which of them does living in a stable, loving, homosexual relationship offend? If I could see the answer to this question I would find it easier to understand the row that is tearing the Anglican Church apart.
Nicholas Harington, England

I don't think the Church can survive this issue
Jill Forrest, USA
I don't think the Church can survive this issue. What it seems to boil down to is a split in fundamental beliefs - one side believes that the Bible is the truth, and the other believes that it is a nice story with some truth in it. It is rather like the abortion issue, with one side believing in life at conception, and the other believing in life at birth. We're not going to change each other's minds, and a line has been drawn.
Jill Forrest, USA

The fact of the matter is that the Anglican Church has to move with the times if it is to survive as an organisation. Times and people change and institutions, such as the Church, have to adapt. If it didn't we'd still be burning heathens at the stake!

Of course there will be reconciliation. The Third World churches are too poor to go it alone. And anyway, all churches will eventually reconcile the humanist philosophy with the Bible, and pretend the awkward verses don't exist.
Maurice Achach, Kenya

I wonder how many of the so called Christians above have actually read the Bible. I am a Christian myself and I am aware of a lot of unpalatable stuff in the Bible about Women (a man's property - keep them uneducated in the home as servants),slavery (okay if they're from another nation), it's okay to stone adulterers, etc. What's important is Christ's teaching about LOVE. And Richard in Malawi (below) who wonders if god had been here - god is here!

Both sides have a legitimate point
Jim, NJ, USA
We are talking about a church splitting over differences in religious beliefs. Why is that wrong? Why can't both parties believe what they want? Aside from the central organization of the church becoming less wealthy, there is no harm in these two groups parting ways. One side is taking the bible literally, the other believes it is following the spirit of tolerance taught by Christ. Both sides have a legitimate point.
Jim, NJ, USA

I don't think it is possible as both sides have strong views. One believes in biblical truth and feels this undermines the integrity of the faith and the other party feels the fundamentalist are unloving. Reading most of the comments so far, some people have problems with the conservatives because they belief in absolutes. Well for those of you who do not believe in absolutes and everything is subject to interpretation - that is also an absolute. You have to absolute views that can not co exist. I believe we should not have openly gay bishops or priests.
Olu, UK

As an outsider and agnostic, I can't help feeling that religion is very much like politics - my interpretation is right and everybody else's is wrong. The fact that some religions are based on a rigid belief system that excludes change automatically makes them irrelevant in a changing world. Don't forget that people are interpreting bibles that are, in themselves, an interpretation or translation of earlier text. It could be suggested (without intention to insult or slander) that what people consider to be 'Gods Word' is simply an interpretation of 'Gods Will' described in limited human language.
Edward, Scotland

Why is it important to have all the world's Anglican churches doing the same thing?
Peter, UK
Why is it important to have all the world's Anglican churches doing the same thing? Surely the issues in Africa are very different than those in America. I doubt that the members of the relevant churches have any interest in what a church in another part of the world preaches or allows. Surely if you are a member of any church it is because it accords with your views and outlook on life and religion. Why worry about something that has no bearing on your life.
Peter, UK

As Christians surely we should be preaching a Gospel of Salvation through repentance and the forgiveness of sin. This American 'bishop' openly admits to committing sin and has shown no remorse or any intention of repenting and turning away from his sin. Therefore I urge him to read The Scriptures, The Lord's message, then perhaps by GOD'S Grace he will repent and turn from his evil practices.
Mrs. Frances Mitchell, England

No - there will be no reconciliation - and there should not be! The time has come for Christians to stand up for their faith, stand up for the word of God, stand up for the ethics inherent in the scriptures and which are rapidly being eroded away by those who advocate "moving with the times". All good Christian men should stand beside the African communion and the conservatism which binds them together, unlike their "enlightened" brothers in our part of the world.
Virginia, UK

The notion that the church should come into line with "modern thinking" is problematic. There is also a tendency to judge what is acceptable by today's standards in western terms. Certainly in Africa where the church is relevant and growing, Robinson's consecration has been a blow to Anglicanism. I think that in a church where women priests are still a huge issue, the consecration of a gay, divorced bishop is difficult to accept. Sooner or later the Anglican communion will have to accept that the church cannot be all things to all people. It is this wishy washy approach that has led to its demise in the West.
Nunu, South Africa

I am an Anglican Priest and I feel that there are far more important challenges that face the church than the issue of gay clergy. The Church has ceased to be relevant to the lives of the majority of people, yet many people search for a spiritual dimension to their lives and often find it regardless of the Anglican Church or any other church for that matter. As a church we need to get back to the idea of being the servant people and that might mean getting back to the developing community of the first followers of Jesus, possibly before St. Paul, who seems to have created all the difficulties that conservative Christians seem to get their cassocks in a twist about.

Continued dialogue will eventually bring out a way of living with difference
Geoff, England
Yes, of course the row can be resolved. The very first Lambeth Conference was called in part to resolve a dispute on the issue of polygamy in the African Anglican Churches. Dialogue kept the church together and, through dialogue, the identity of world Anglicanism was defined. Sexuality is not a church-dividing issue. Continued dialogue will eventually bring out a way of living with difference.
Geoff, England

I don't think the Church can survive as long as people treat it as an institution. The Anglican Church is about the religion of Christianity which is based on the Bible. How can it take itself seriously if it doesn't hold to the teachings of its Bible? It will water itself down until it is ineffective and obsolete. If this issue came up in any other religious forum, such as an Islamic community, there would be no public outcry - they are entitled to their beliefs. Christianity has long since ceased to be a national institution to be shaped and moulded by society and as such should be allowed to live out the values of the Bible without society interfering.
Emma Duncan, UK

People go on about the Church's decline, but Christianity coves the globe, it is in countries that even democracy has not yet reached, and it has never been bigger than it is today. It'll take more than our short lived obsession with liberalism to down it. Great Empires have come and gone, but the Christian church has always remained, and always will
Paul Sealey, England

How can you tell who are the "true" Anglicans/Episcopalians? The ones who follow the tolerance and acceptance of Christ or those who ignore Christ and believe the supposed letters of Paul who preached to kill homosexuals, to keep women from being teachers etc? They seem to be completely opposite messages. Who do you believe?
Jane, USA

Frankly, the longer this dispute goes on, the more irrelevant the Anglican Church becomes in my eyes. It is fast becoming an anachronism. The only thing of interest to me is why Gene Robinson should want to be part of a Church which seems in the majority to condemn his way of life?
Jon Humphreys, UK

The Anglican Church is, by its very nature, a liberal institution that sees the bible as a guide rather than a rule book. There are plenty of Christian churches that take the bible to be the literal truth - why don't those who wish to do the same join one of those instead? As an atheist, this entire situation confuses me immensely.
Matt, UK

The Bible is very vague most of the time and everyone seems to pick and choose bits they want to defend their views. For instance the Nigerian church allows polygamy that most would probably find odd. Stop nit picking and look at the general message. At least the church is now moving to be more inclusive.
Mark, York, UK

Had God himself been here today, I doubt if he would have accepted this either
Richard, Malawi
I am a Christian and I am not impressed by this decision. The problem with this is that many believe that this is in direct conflict with Christian teachings. I doubt if they will be able to persuade anyone let alone myself to accept it. Had God himself been here today, I doubt if he would have accepted this either. I have nothing against the man, merely the lifestyle he leads.
Richard, Malawi

Are you serious! The BBC included this view from Richard, Malawi; "Had God himself been here today, I doubt if he would have accepted this either." Where does one think God was at the time? On holiday in Tahitti or Saturn? How exciting that the church is allowed to grow and multiply, each seeing God as God appears to them. God created man in his image and we in turn created God in our image!
Joe Edmonson,California, USA

I doubt it. A religion that calls for tolerance in society is shown to be full of intolerant bigots. This seems to be true of all religions and has been the cause of many wars over the centuries. If they didn't want a gay Bishop they should never have allowed gay priests. Once that had happened it was only a matter of time. If they had failed to do this would they have been open to anti-discrimination law suites?
Ian, UK

In every part of society today, we are told that it is wrong to discriminate against people because of their race, religion, colour, ethnic origin, sex or sexuality. To the best of my knowledge Bishop Robinson has not broken any law and therefore should be given equal opportunity to serve in his church. When a church believes it has the right to discriminate in this manner, I believe it has lost its moral authority. It is its inability to embrace modern society that is at the heart of the churches decline.
Keith Andrews, London, UK

The matter is quite simple. Whose church is it anyway? If it is the church of man with man's philosophies mingled with some scripture then man is at liberty to change whatever doctrine it likes. If however it claims to be the church of God, then it should abide by God's teaching and stop this debating as to whether God's word is good enough or relevant.
Paul, England

I am always surprised and angered by the almost certainty some people pretend to 'know' the will of God, as if they - and only they - have a sort of direct line with Him. As a simple earthling I can only establish this whole discussion really is nothing more than a mere insult of and for all (openly) gay people. I congratulate Canon Robinson wholeheartedly with commission and his courage. I wish him all the best in the difficult times ahead.
Abel van Weerd,Netherlands

The desire of the Anglican Communion to be all things to all people has led it to this pass
ames Sanderson, United States
The desire of the Anglican Communion to be all things to all people has led it to this pass. The Church has seen itself as a middle way, a path of reason which allows it to compromise on theological questions and so appease differing views, allowing differing views to have a place in which to worship. While this may seem commendable, it has made its leader unable to take a clear and concise stand on an issue upon which, in reality, there is no compromise. The traditions of the Church do not change for the desire of men to make acceptable that which is and has been understood to be wrong from the beginning.
James Sanderson, United States

I am a Muslim and in my faith we believe in all the prophets, this includes Jesus. I can't imagine for a second that Jesus would have allowed such a happening. People are not living by their holy book, but changing its true meanings so they can live a life to the way that they desire. Also I ask is this the religion you want the young generation to see!
Aysel Demirci,UK

The Anglican Church must stand fast against the politically correct pressures and fashions and trends of today's society. The Bible is a Book for all time from its inception until the end of the world and it quite clearly condemns homosexual sex. It is not up to the Church or the Bible to change to conform to the trends of present day sinful society but for society to bend to the Will of God as expressed in the Bible. It is testimony to the monumental pride and arrogance and ignorance of the Christian faith of our society that it persistently expects the former to happen.
Karl Rolewicz, UK

The contrast between the words of Gene Robinson and his supporters with those of the outspoken members of the Evangelical wing of the Anglican community clearly show who is talking of Love in Christ, inclusiveness and in the spirit of the Bible. When will these bigoted people accept that different is not the same as evil and that they are not the sole interpreters of God's word?
Barbara Laing, UK

There has got to be more important issues for the church to be dealing with at the moment, dwindling numbers of church goers for example.
Nick Corney,Cyprus

I commend him for his stand
KCS, Hong Kong
As a Roman Catholic, I am of the opinion that what Bishop Gene Robinson has done is nothing more or less than be totally honest. And God bless him for being doing so. What's more, anyone with an ounce of common sense knows full well, or at least has an inkling that homosexuality is rampant just about everywhere, also, within the Catholic Church too. It's a pity a few more of the Holy Roman 'pink brigade' aren't as open and honest in their 'relationships' as is Bishop Gene Robinson. I commend him for his stand. And for those who seek to see the splinter in their Christian "brother's" eye' - look first to the log in your own. God bless us all. Pax

History will judge all those who have committed this act against God and the Christian religion. Because of Rowan Williams' hidden agenda he has allowed this to happen. Remember God is a God of judgement and He will fight his war on generations to come. Read your bible and know God's teaching about this. The Anglican Church headed by Rowan is only interested in money they can make not on spiritual growth and teaching people to adhere to God's standard. Shame on you Rowan and all your followers you have finally divided the church.
Busola, Nigeria

The church has only to lose if it splits over the Robinson appointment. What the church badly needs is to come in touch with the modern society and not discriminate against gay people. Who gave the church (and some of the people expressing their opinions in this debate) the right to classify Robinson's personal sexual life as sinful? This is 2003, for heaven's sake.
Andrei Bernevig,USA/Romania

The the early Christian church (before the denominational splits)had insisted on celibacy among its clergy, which in turn, imposes on the individual a total devotion to God and his work here on earth. Admittedly, as humans go, there are evident defects, but the option remains for a priest to leave the clergy and maintain a partnership if it is their calling; which in my mind, was an option open to Canon Robinson without any detriment to his faith or commitment to work for God's greater good. The early Church, ancient Roman culture had see this comming. The gap is now too wide. One soultion would be a reversion to a celibate clergy.
Stephen Holloway, Malaysia

Can the person do the job? Or are we back to unrelated things like how one looks, who one knows. I'm sure Jesus selected people because he thought they could do the job.
Sheila Melvin,UK

It is hard to see how the differences can be resolved
Andrew Murray, UK
If Anglicans are to be honest with each other and the wider world, it is hard to see how the differences can be resolved. The two sides don't have anything in common! Their different views on Scripture mean they have different understandings of who God is, of who Jesus is and of what the gospel is. With such different messages, what do they actually share?
Andrew Murray, UK

As an Anglican lay minister I can say truthfully that being a homosexual or lesbian is not sinful. What is sinful is the sexual act between two persons of the same sex. Unless the Church is going to rewrite God's given word, same sex relations are against the wishes of God for mankind.
Mike Hall, UK

I'd just like to point out that Christians in the UK and the US, in the so-called "developed" nations, also oppose the election of openly gay clergy. I really resent this idea that it's only really old fashioned people who oppose such "new", "modern" things like homosexuality. The fact homosexuality is in the bible shows it isn't "new" or "modern". It's up to Christians not to go with the flow but stand up for what the Bible says, and this attitude isn't confined to "less developed" nations.
James Reade, UK

Yes, over time we can resolve our differences, as long as there are enough people with the deepest of Christian values. These values place love before all else, and leave the judgement to God.
Gill, Wales

The Church most certainly will not "heal in time". It is sad that we should have such a good and gentle man as Archbishop, because it is time for the licentious of Britain and the US to be placed where they should be, outside the Church. The rest of the Anglican Communion is right in the matter. If Archbishop Williams does not demand that a line be drawn he should resign and make way for a man who will "stand up to be counted".
Andrew Johnston, USA

Church gay summit begins
15 Oct 03  |  UK


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