Sat | Oct 31, 2020

Anglican Church distances itself from same-sex unions

Published:Wednesday | September 23, 2020 | 12:09 AM
Reverend Michael Maxwell
Reverend Michael Maxwell

BRIDGETOWN (CMC):

The head of the Anglican Church in Barbados, Reverend Michael Maxwell, says the church is not supportive of the idea by the Mia Motley government to recognise same-sex unions.

Bishop Maxwell told the online publication, Barbados Today, that the Anglican Church in Barbados and the rest of the Province of the West Indies remained fortified in its position stemming from a decision of the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops in England that marriage is a lifelong union of a man and a woman.

“The position really is that our church continues to stand against what it considers to be same-sex marriages. Civil union is, of course, where the Government itself is putting in their own spin on the whole thing in terms of not being discriminatory, in terms of persons’ rights of being able to have freedom of choice as what they see as their way of life,” he told the publication.

Last week, Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, addressing the opening of a new term of the Barbados parliament, said that the island has always been in the vanguard of pioneering social justice, the protection of civil rights, and the battle to ensure dignity to the poor, marginalised, vulnerable and dispossessed.

Dame Sandra said that the legal systems of modern societies recognise many different forms of human relationships and that Barbados is now increasingly finding itself on international lists, including within the multilateral system, which identify the island as having a poor human-rights record.

HUMAN-RIGHTS RECORD

“Barbados does not conduct business, trade with itself or give itself loan funding. In some cases, our human-rights record, when viewed against modern international standards, impacts these other issues and how we are viewed amongst the global family of nations.

“On this matter, the world has spoken. If we wish to be considered amongst the progressive nations of the world, Barbados cannot afford to lose its international leadership place and reputation. Nor can a society as tolerant as ours, allow itself to be blacklisted for human- and civil-rights abuses or discrimination on the matter of how we treat human sexuality and relations.”

She said that the Mia Mottley administration will do the right thing, understanding that this, too, will attract controversy.

Bishop Maxwell said the Anglican Church will “continue to follow what is the ruling of our Lambeth Conference, which is a conference that is held by all of the bishops of the world coming together”.

“They would have made a statement abiding by the principles that we understand the Scripture outlined to us, of the fact that a marriage is really between a male and a female. It is the best arrangement towards family life.

“We are not condoning the whole thing in relation to same-sex union, but the civil union, I interpret that as something that is not blessed by the church or condoned by the church. So that is really the prerogative of the government,” the Anglican bishop said, hinting also that the church would not perform gay marriages if same-sex marriages were to be legalised in Barbados.

“This is not something that the Province of the West Indies upholds at this stage, for sure. I am not sure what the future will hold in terms of whether or not the church would change its position.

“But for right now, the church holds fast to what would have been issued at the Lambeth Conference in 1998 on human sexuality, where it continues to emphasise that marriage is a lifelong union and covenant between a man and a woman.

“So at this stage, if the government had to go tomorrow or next year or so forth … well, they say they are going to go in terms of a referendum ... and if that is the case where they are implementing same-sex marriages, then at this stage the Anglican Church cannot support such a union,” Bishop Maxwell told the online publication.

The Anglican Church head said the government’s recognition of same-sex civil unions would have an impact on the thinking of persons going forward.

“Personally, I believe that persons need to be given the freedom of choice that God has given us all to decide the way of life that we want to live,” he told Barbados Today, adding “however, we do know that according to our Scripture, according to the church’s teaching, there is still a right way and there is a wrong way to live our lives.

“So I believe we should not be forcing persons to accept what we believe as a church. We can advise, we can share, we can point out what we believe to be what is right and what is wrong based on Scripture, but yet, persons should have the freedom of choice to decide for themselves as to the way of life they want to live,” Bishop Maxwell added.