Rowan Williams: Moral debates over abortion and homosexual marriage are being used as ammunition in “culture warfare.”
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, warns on a yet-to-be-aired radio talk show that moral debates on topics like same-sex marriage and abortion “have been weaponized in the current culture wars,” wherein any opposing view is perceived as “monstrous and tyrannical.”
What about the Christian registrar who refuses to perform same-sex unions? According to The Telegraph, which has an advance copy of Lord Williams’ lecture, “What about the legal accommodations made for Catholic doctors who would not perform abortions?” is one of the questions he raises in his talk for the BBC’s Reith Lectures series, which has not yet been broadcast.
“How disruptive can the public manifestation of convictions be allowed to become in a diverse society?” continues the former head of the Anglican Communion. “Questions like these have become weaponized in the current culture wars raging across North Atlantic societies in particular, in ways that more or less rule out nuanced exploration of what’s going on.”
It’s not good to “demonize those with inconvenient consciences as automatically monstrous and oppressive,” he adds. “You can’t simply ascribe deliberately evil intention to someone who disagrees on principle with the principles you think self-evident. Think, for example, of the debates over abortion or physician-assisted dying.”
The Guardian stated in 2012 that “he has failed to mend a slowly increasing division in the global Anglican church” during his tenure in office. Williams has been under fire from both liberals and conservatives for failing to uphold these ideals as well as for holding liberal views on homosexuality. However, he has earned the respect of all for his abilities as a preacher with remarkable eloquence and moments of lucidity.
Some CofE bishops favor amending the denomination’s doctrine on marriage that adheres to the biblical definition of being exclusively between men and women, not lesbians or gay couples. Last month, the Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, became the senior-most cleric to support same-sex marriage.
In a lengthy essay titled “Together in Love and Faith,” he argued that the CofE should remove its prohibition on blessing same-sex unions.
“I reaffirm my admiration and respect for individuals who would want to debate change and potential provisions for such change in good conscience. Croft stated in his preface, “I also make no claim at all to infallibility: I may be mistaken, either in the particulars or in the general argument.”
The Church, however, will only be guided towards real and accurate discernment if each of us, honestly and sincerely, shares the best perspective we can and subjects those perspectives to the wisdom of the entire Church.
Vaughn Roberts, a theologically Evangelical same-sex attracted clergyman who Croft dialogued with in advance of announcing his views, wrote an essay in disagreement with Croft’s push for the floundering denomination to support and advocate for same-sex marriage.
One point of content put forth by Roberts was his belief that the bishop had failed to adequately engage with same-sex attracted Christians who had chosen celibacy over homosexual romance.
“There is a reference to one meeting with some same-sex attracted Christians, who hold to the traditional teaching of the Church, but there is no evidence of any greater engagement with what is a significant group,” wrote Roberts.
“The deep pain they feel at being undermined by church leaders who are, in effect, telling them that their efforts to remain godly are unnecessary, needs to be recognized, along with any wider engagement with the experience of LGBTQ+ people in our churches.”
In 2014, Williams told a newspaper that Britain was a “post-Christian” society, which, though remains haunted by Christianity.
Britain is “post-Christian in the sense that habitual practice for most of the population is not taken for granted,” Williams, told The Telegraph in an interview. “A Christian nation can sound like a nation of committed believers, and we are not that.”
William said, “The key is to define the phrases.” a nation of believers that practices Christianity? No. a Christian nation in the sense of still being profoundly influenced by and molded by this worldview? Yes.”
According to data from a survey released by the Office for National Statistics late last month, 46.2% of people in England and Wales identified as Christians in 2021, down from 59.3% in 2011. The Telegraph noted that every other major religion saw growth over the preceding ten years except for Christianity.