The recent debate and subsequent vote by the United Methodist Church over the acceptance of same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ individuals isn’t the only theological scuffle playing out within a mainline denomination. Three Episcopal bishops from New York City are upset that the international Anglican Communion has forbidden the spouses of LGBTQ bishops to attend the 2020 Lambeth Conference.
The Anglican Communion is made up of a variety of providences, diocese, parishes, and, of course, churches from 165 countries. Because of that, international meetings are often characterized by clashes between the leftists from the Global North who bow to the gods of identity politics and the LGBTQ agenda and conservatives from the Global South who are intent on remaining faithful to God’s Word. Similar to the UMC, African Anglicans are consistent in their defense of God’s sexual ethics and in their rejection of same-sex marriage. This puts them at odds with many other Anglican and Episcopal bishops from other countries. Thankfully, though, because of their presence and faithfulness, African Anglicans have been able to prevent a wholesale slide into apostasy and rebellion against God by the Anglican Communion.
This divide has been brought to the forefront during the run-up to the once-in-a-decade meeting called the Lambeth Conference. Religion News Service reports that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was worried that if “he invited same-sex spouses to the Lambeth Conference there wouldn’t be a conference at all. I think he felt that it would be a step too far for some of the bishops if they were to attend.”
This, of course, has raised the ire of progressive bishops. Although angry, the group of leftist, LGBTQ-affirming bishops, has decided against boycotting the Lambeth Conference, explaining in a letter, “We have concluded that we cannot in conscience remove the voice of the Diocese of New York from the larger conversations at Lambeth regarding sexuality and the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the full sacramental life of the church.”
The disinvitation of same-sex spouses is actually in line with the Anglican Communion’s official teaching that marriage is the life-long union between a man and a woman. Section 1.10 of the resolution passed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference clearly says of marriage that “in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage.”
As an outsider to both the Anglican Communion and the UMC, it’s interesting to watch the growing divide between the leftists and conservatives in those denominations. No doubt, in the coming years these types of disagreements are going to happen more frequently and with greater intensity as leftists attempt to force conservatives to abandon their Creator and serve the rebellious sexual revolution instead. That being said, it’s encouraging to watch God spread His Kingdom throughout the Global South. Those brothers and sisters in Christ are to be commended for their courageous faithfulness to God’s Word.