Consider the Topic of Sexual Ethics Currently Under Discussion in the Anglican Communion Today. Answer the Following Three Questions on It: A. What Do You Think Are the Key Issues in the Debate? B. How Is the Anglican

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A. Introduction

The issue of sexual ethics is concerned with the intimate relationships which we form. Three aspects currently under debate are cohabitation, polygamy and same sex relationships.

B What do you think are the key issues in the debate?

Any debate regarding sexual ethics lies in whether or not our behaviour is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. The difficulty for Anglicans however, lies in the fact that we also look to tradition and reason to guide us.

1. Cohabitation

The question here is whether cohabitation is acceptable. Scriptural teaching regarding the sanctity of marriage[1] and the unacceptability of premarital sex[2] appears clear, but there are Anglicans who argue that a faithful and committed relationship with another person is acceptable in the eyes of God.

2. Polygamy

This debate demonstrates the tension that exists between cultural practices and Christianity. It is an issue of particular significance within the West African Province where polygamy is common. The debate centres on what happens when a polygamist converts to Christianity, both in terms of their own practice and what it means for their spouses.

Within the Old Testament, there is evidence that the practice of polygamy was acceptable[3] but there is no explicit teaching within the New Testament. [4]

3. Same Sex relationships

This debate addresses whether homosexuality is acceptable according to Scripture and whether or not active homosexuals should be ordained or even consecrated, and whether those in same sex relationships should be allowed to be married or have their relationships blessed in Church?

This debate also reminds Anglicans within the United Kingdom of the tensions between Church and State. The government’s Civil Partnerships Act 2004 allows registration of same sex relationships, and this has been followed up by the Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises)(Amendment) Regulations 2011, which allows civil partnership ceremonies in places of worship.[5]

The teachings of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; I Corinthians 6:9-10 and Romans 1:26-27 are often used as evidence against homosexuality, though there are some who argue that the relationships of Ruth and Naomi and David and Jonathan contradict this.

C How is the Church going about debating these issues (what is the process and how is it going)?

1. Global Processes

Anglicans rely on three Instruments of Communion, to provide guidance for global issues affecting the Anglican Church, with the Archbishop of Canterbury acting as the focus of unity:

1. The Lambeth Conferences, held every 10 years

2. The Primates’ meetings

3. The Anglican Consultative Council.

I. Lambeth Conferences

In 1998, the Lambeth Conference issued Resolution 1.10 On Human Sexuality. [6] This laid out the position of the Church, affirming the sanctity of marriage and celibacy as an alternative.

However the 2008 Conference did not re-open the debate, with Archbishop Rowan writing to the Primates before it to say:

“ In my judgement, we cannot properly or usefully re-open the discussion as if Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998 did not continue to represent the general mind of the Communion.”

I. Primates Meetings

These are called at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and can bridge the gap between one Lambeth Conference and the next. Primates’ Meetings were called in 2003 following Gene Robinson’s election as Bishop of New Hampshire, in the Episcopal Church of the USA. (ECUSA) This led to the reaffirmation of the Anglican Communion’s position as set out in Lambeth 1.10. It called for the voluntary withdrawal of the Anglican Church in Canada and ECUSA until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008, and for a Commission to look into the issue, resulting in the Windsor Report of 2004.

II. Anglican Consultative Council.

This...
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