- Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies is angry after a church tribunal voted to celebrate same-sex couples.
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney has said a church tribunal has dishonored God by allowing the blessings of same-sex marriages.
Archbishop Glenn Davies comments are the latest chapter in an argument that blew up among Australian Anglicans last year. The Diocese of Wangaratta, in north-east Victoria, made history by allowing its clergy to bless married same-sex couples.
Now the church’s highest court, the Appellate Tribunal, has voted five to one in favor of the blessings continuing.
The tribunal’s vote is not a ruling. But the court members concluded bishops could bless a couple who are already married under Australia’s equal marriage law.
However Archbishop Davies told clergy the Appellate Tribunal’s opinion is ‘hard to fathom, as it is contrary to the teaching of the Bible’.
Davies said the tribunal’s view ‘undermines the clear teaching of scripture and thereby dishonours God.’
He claimed previous decisions ruled that ‘the teaching of the Bible, and therefore of the Anglican Church, was that the sexual union of two persons of the same gender was sin’.
And he added: ‘That is why clergy are forbidden to solemnise same-sex marriages. To bless such a union would amount to the blessing of sin.’
Decades of debate over LGBT+ inclusion
The Anglican Church has argued over the right approach to LGBT+ people and same-sex couples for decades.
A particular row blew up when its US branch – the Episcopal Church – voted to allow same-sex unions in 2009.
Meanwhile church leaders fear the issue could split the Anglican communion worldwide, with homophobic churches separating from modernizers.
Right now, the Church of England, is considering recognizing same-sex couples, although it won’t decide until 2022.
However, that decision will be particularly significant as the Church of England is led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is also the leader of the Anglicans worldwide.
‘God’s love is the paramount virtue’
But right now at least one former bishop is celebrating.
Reverend John Parkes was bishop of Wangaratta until he retired. His decision to bless gay couple Rob Whalley and John Davis – both Wangaratta priests – was at the center of the row.
Parkes told ABC: ‘I’m highly delighted for same-sex couples who love each other and are faithful to each other.
‘And who, for a long time, have been on the fringes of the church. This, I hope, is a sign that God loves you and we welcome you.’
Parkes also said why the church should move with the times:
‘Some dioceses, Sydney among them, who take a very literal view of the black-and-white words of scripture.
‘However, there are many dioceses that want to look behind the words and consider the circumstances in which scriptures were written.
‘The contemporary theological perspective says God’s love and God’s acceptance is the paramount virtue.’