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Archbishop of Canterbury Admits 'I Am Copping Out' When Asked 'Is Gay Sex Sinful?'

Archbishop in church robes giving a sermon behind a podium in a church

In an interview with GQ earlier this week, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby dodged the question of whether gay sex is sinful. He admitted to acting like a politician and to "copping out" on the answer, despite the fact that most Anglicans in the global church agree that gay sex is wrong, as it has been consistently condemned by the Bible and church tradition.

GQ's Alastair Campbell asked Welby point-blank: "Is gay sex sinful?" After balking at the question, the archbishop gave a very telling answer. "You know very well that is a question I can't give a straight answer to," Welby said. "Sorry, badly phrased there. I should have thought that one through."

This immediate dodge is telling enough, but the archbishop went on to explain his tortured position on the issue.

"I don't do blanket condemnation and I haven't got a good answer to the question," he added. "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 be to be absolutely central are around faithfulness, stability of relationships and loving relationships."

When pressed, Welby admitted that his own personal view of marriage as companionship in this way "could be" between two men or two women.

"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," the archbishop added. "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."

Welby admitted that he is "having to be a politician," and that is quite a telling statement. It appears that he personally professed a companionate view of marriage which is open to same-sex couples, while representing a church wherein the majority holds to a traditional view of marriage as a one flesh union between one man and one woman.

"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," the archbishop said. "And I haven't got a good answer, and I am not doing that bit of work as well as I would like."

Welby even admitted that the differences between the historic Christian consensus on marriage and the same-sex view are "irreconcilable."