Although for many of us, the Archbishop of Sydney’s recent comments that those who disagreed with ‘orthodox’ doctrine on sexuality and same sex marriage should leave the church came as no surprise, I realise that for many LGBTQI people who are part of the Church, these words have been extremely hurtful. For all those who have been hurt yet again by such words, I offer my sincere apology as the Rector of this parish, on behalf of the church to which I belong.
It is important for us to remember, however, that the view of Sydney Diocese is not necessarily the view of everyone in the church. In Australia, and indeed globally, the Anglican Church is a great umbrella under which shelter a whole range of people with different theological positions, and different views about what it means to follow Christ. Indeed, there are many who would still describe themselves as ‘Bible believing’ Christians who do not share the interpretation of Scripture put forward by Sydney Diocese.
During Jesus’ life and ministry, he struggled with the Pharisees, who rejected him because he didn’t follow the rules, or encourage others to follow the rules according to the way they interpreted the Torah. Jesus always stood for a different way, a way that was about compassion for people in the first instance, rather than unquestioningly following a set of rules or orthodoxy. For Jesus, unlike Sydney Diocese, for whom the answer is ‘leave’, the important word, the important call is always to ‘come’. It is hard to imagine how a church that claims to follow this Jesus, can be anything other than welcoming, compassionate and loving. Harsh, divisive words should have no place in the Church.
At All Saints, we make it plain that we welcome all people regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or race. We aim, even though we are human and fail at times, to live this out, so that we can truly claim to follow the one we serve. Overwhelmed by the challenge of Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler in today’s Gospel, the disciples ask ‘who then can be saved?’ How can any of us live up to this? Jesus answer that we take away today is ‘what is impossible for people, is possible for God.’
In peace, Mother Lynda