Welby unable to affirm personally Christian teaching on marriage

Gavin Ashenden reflects on Welby’s inability to give a ‘straight answer’ on whether gay sex is sinful.

The GQ Interview:

“Asked by Campbell if gay sex was sinful, Welby said: “You know very well that is a question I can’t give a straight answer to. Sorry, badly phrased there. I should have thought that one through.”

Pressed on why he could not answer, the archbishop said: 

“Because I don’t do blanket condemnation and I haven’t got a good answer to the question. I’ll be really honest about that. I know I haven’t got a good answer to the question. Inherently, within myself, the things that seem to me to be absolutely central are around faithfulness, stability of relationships and loving relationships.”

In response to Campbell’s assertion that those could be characteristics of same-sex relationships, Welby said:

“I know it could be. I am also aware – a view deeply held by tradition since long before Christianity, within the Jewish tradition – that marriage is understood invariably as being between a man and a woman. Or, in various times, a man and several women, if you go back to the Old Testament.

“I know that the church around the world is deeply divided on this in some places, including the Anglicans and other churches, not just us, and we are – the vast majority of the church is – deeply against gay sex.”

He added:

“I am having to struggle to be faithful to the tradition, faithful to the scripture, to understand what the call and will of God is in the 21st century and to respond appropriately with an answer for all people – not condemning them, whether I agree with them or not – that covers both sides of the argument. And I haven’t got a good answer, and I am not doing that bit of work as well as I would like.”

Asked if he was trying to reconcile Anglican church l leaders in places such as Uganda and more liberal churches principally in the UK and north America, Welby said: “It is irreconcilable.”

But, he added, 

homophobia was sinful “because you are hating individuals. I don’t think it is sinful to say that you disagree with gay sex. But to express that by way of hatred for people is absolutely wrong in the same way as misogyny or racism is wrong.”

In response to Campbell’s suggestion that his answer was “morally a cop-out”, Welby responded: “Yes. I am copping out because I am struggling with the issue.”

I have moved from being simply critical of the Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, to feeling sincerely sorry for him as well. He experiences confusion where he need only find clarity in the words of Jesus; he experiences conflict where he might find peace in the words of Jesus; he is immersed in doubt where he might find ground under his feet, in the words of Jesus. This is a sad and demeaning place for any Christian to be; but especially one whose primary responsibility if s teaching and guarding the faith.

I feel very sorry for him in the face of his pain and difficulty.  He is trapped. He knows that the Bible and tradition are authoritative, and has said so in this interview. (Perhaps an Archbishop could do no less, but he must be credited with that.)

At the same time, he says he feels confused and conflicted. He has other ideas running around in his head which he hasn’t examined properly and which disturb his allegiance to Christian revelation.

When a journalist asks a very straightforward question, to which there has only ever been one answer in the whole history of the Church, until just now……what does it say when the holder of such an office cannot discharge the duties of the office?

Culturally progressive propaganda has put several misleading and flawed arguments into the public debate, and Justin Welby has been captured by them.

It helps us to look at them, because Justin Welby is not alone. So many people have been bemused and misled as he has been.

The first is that the quality of a relationship matters much more than the category; 

the second is the implication that because polygamy features in the early parts of the Old Testament it undermines the later teaching and the dominical witness in the Gospels that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Thirdly, that culture is progressive and demonstrates an improved (kinder) humanity, (on account of human progress) and God alters his views accordingly.

These are rather serious errors of basic Christian understanding. They are a distortion of the Gospels.

He is not alone in being bewitched by these simple sleights of hand, so let’s look at what they are.


The progressive assault on marriage has often used this argument. If same sex attracted people really love each other, it must be as equally a valuable experience as straight people loving each other? After all, straight people don’t manage love all that well. Marriage is difficult. Faithfulness, forgiveness, compassion, mutuality over a life time is a huge challenge. So, if same sex attracted people can experience the joy of erotic and romantic love together, perhaps that authenticates the experience in God’s eyes, even though he forbids it.

If both categories can experience romantic and erotic love, what is the difference between them, apart from God telling us one is blessed and the other is flawed?

The category of marriage is given to us as a complementary coming together of a man and a woman, who together are in the image of God, to receive and live out the privilege of becoming co-creators of life in cooperation with God.

A woman and woman, or a man and a man, are both sterile relationships. They can’t co-create. There are no children. There is no complementarity. Instead there is a form of psychological and sexual narcissism. Man gazing adoringly at man; woman gazing adoringly at woman, – unable to pair in a way that would allow them to fulfil their biological potential of bearing life.

There is an ultimate sadness to this sterility, and the sterility is a function of the category error. (Which is party why gay couples buy in children from elsewhere to paper over their biological sterility.)

But the argument in favour of quality ignores this uncomfortable truth, and says that homosexual erotic love can be just as qualitatively good as heterosexual love’ “faithfulness and stability of relationships” repeats the Archbishop.

He is of course just echoing what the secular propagandists have told him (and the rest of us). But it isn’t true.

The evidence ( https://ashenden.org/2017/07/19/gay-love-roman-decadence-christian-virtue-a-response-to-steve-chalke/ ) is that 50% of gay males marriages are ‘open’/promiscuous – that is, not faithful at all within any meaning of the word.

The evidence is that 45% of lesbian relationships contain significant degrees of domestic violence.

The evidence is that (in research in Sweden where the experiment has been going longest), is that male unions are 50% more likely to end in divorce than heterosexual marriages and the risk for female partnerships is nearly double that for men.

So, the qualitative argument that the Archbishop advances is not evidence, it’s not even hearsay, it’s progressive propaganda, swallowed whole; without examination.

But even if it were true, that homosexual relationships were as stable as nonviolent and permanent as heterosexual ones (which they aren’t) why would that be an argument for forsaking the teaching of Christ and the revelation of the Scriptures?  Is there any other way of life, or ethical teaching that the Archbishop would ditch because it appears ‘more attractive’ or more functionally effective for example?

Let’s apply his argument about quality being preferable to category to euthanasia. The quality of life that elderly people suffer when they are ill and frail is much improved by killing them. Well, then, put an end to their lives. Apply the argument to abortion. It is after all the justification behind the practice. The quality of life of a pregnant woman who doesn’t want the child she has conceived is much improved by the ‘terminating’ the child. So ‘terminate’ it. And we do.

How is it possible that a Christian teacher can take ephemeral notions of quality or convenience or even personal taste in preference to the solemn commandments of God, in a revealed religion where the mind of God is expressed by the prophets and confirmed by His Son?

As it happens, as it so often happens, the template of heterosexual marriage which provides a forum for less domestic violence, gives a greater emotional stability and the ability and place for co-creating children. It is in fact a relationship of even greater quality as well as being, as we are told the right category.

In homosexual marriage, children are denied access to their parents. Where does the Archbishop think that the ‘equal’ quality of love lies for them, when they are forcibly detached from one half of their biological parenting and placed in the hands of a biological stranger?


It isn’t immediately obvious why the Archbishop should want to introduce polygamy into the conversation.

“I am also aware – a view deeply held by tradition since long before Christianity, within the Jewish tradition – that marriage is understood invariably as being between a man and a woman. Or, in various times, a man and several women, if you go back to the Old Testament.”

Bless him. Just at the moment that he says something faithful and represents the faith truthfully, almost like a reflex, he throws in a bit of the progressive propaganda that lurks uncorrected in his mind.

“A man and several women.”

Any 1st year theology student knows there is a progressive developing revelation in the Bible that culminates in Jesus. The violence of the early texts gives way inexorably to the turning of the other cheek. No one would ever consider legitimising tribal violence by obliquely referring to it as having happened once. The Christian ethic is humble non-violence. Why then the reference then to polygamy, since Jesus categorically states that the father’s intention is the union of one man and one woman for life?

It is hard to escape the thought that the next campaign the progressives will be waging is in favour of polygamy and polyamory. And so some of the argumentative rhetoric has been to say “see, even the Bible has polygamy in it.” This is of course a facile argument, but there is the Archbishop, paying brief lip service to it in passing. Why?


“I am having to struggle to be faithful to the tradition, faithful to the scripture, to understand what the call and will of God is in the 21st century and to respond appropriately with an answer for all people – not condemning them, whether I agree with them or not – that covers both sides of the argument.”

One might feel sorrier for the victimhood of the Archbishop if the pressure that causes him this struggle wasn’t located in his attachment to a heresy and a myth that he ought to know better than to hold.

Justin Welby has swallowed whole the Enlightenment myth of social and ethical progress.

If one only goes back 30 years an enormous amount was made of the fact that society and managed to abolish slavery, and if we had abolished slavery then we ought to abolish the distinctions between men and women as well.  It turns out that we have not abolished slavery at all. There is still child slavery and the slavery of the trafficked women.  But still the people who push this myth of social progress ignore the facts and continued to imagine that somehow society is getting better and that the revelation of Christianity needs to keep up.

In another interview radio, a few days ago the Archbishop offered his opinion the world is becoming a nicer and gentler place.

In the London Times newspaper, today (3.10.17) the Jewish journalist Melanie Phillips excoriates him for his poor judgement, lack of historical analysis and failure to understand his own texts.   She uses example after example to indicate the increasing brutality, lack of civility, lack of tolerance our society is caught up in. And she can’t understand the Archbishop failing to grasp the theology of his own text.

The theology of the Bible is that human beings are inexorably flawed and cannot improve themselves morally, but instead need forgiveness by Jesus and the recreating work of the Holy Spirit. The Archbishop on the other hand thinks that human beings can achieve a slow steady incremental progress in their moral virtue.

This is a heresy. It is Pelagianism. It is a serious problem to have an Archbishop who believes contrary to the Scriptures and contrary to the lived experience of the Scriptures, tradition, that there is moral and ethical social progress.

It may be that both his muddles come from not reading or not understanding the Bible.

It is to his credit that he sees that the two positions held by Anglicans on homosexual marriage are not after all capable of mediation. It is such a tragedy that he is so in thrall to existentialist culture, which does all that it can to prop up the fragile narcissism of the self-pleasuring ego, that he is terrified of anything that feels like condemnation.

But the experience of condemnation is an artificial construct. It flows from the progressive insistence that narcissism shall never be contradicted. All narcissists experience criticism or contradiction as ‘hate’.

So bound up are they in their own terms of reference, so closely attached is their sense of their own welfare depending on other people validating their self-referential choices and preferences, that any refusal to do so is experienced as a rejection not only of their views, but themselves; ‘hate’.

This is the root of all the hate crime hysteria. The narcissists shriek with genuine agony, that not to do as they want, is an offense of some kind against their very person. There is a disturbing similarity to the early stages of personality development documented by developmental psychology. The young narcissistic child, who still thinks that the universe revolves or ought to revolve around its own pursuit of pleasure, throws terrifying tantrums when it doesn’t get its own way.

The narcissistic tantrum has generated the ‘hate crime’ revolution. “If you don’t do what I want, I must assume it is because you reject me, and therefore you hate me.”

The bible knows nothing of phobias. They are the invention of psychobabble. Poor psychotherapeutic theory mixed up with a giddy dose of Marxist power relations to create a victim culture, – that only Marxism can then put right.

But Archbishop Welby is suddenly on firm ground. THIS, homophobia, is a sin. (Even if he doesn’t know if sex outside heterosexual marriage is.)

This can only be because he is more versed and more comfortable in the cultural Marxist narrative than he is with the Gospels. ‘Chaque ‘un a son gout’. But it hardly bodes well that his allegiances lie more in that direction than the other.

Hatred is a sin. Any hatred. It needs repenting of. But there are no special categories of victim where the hatred become quantatively more sinful. The sin lies in the person sinning, not in the category of the victimhood.  It’s about the spiritual struggle, not the political struggle. You might hope that an Archbishop might be able to tell the difference.

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