Q: "Unity in the Church - worldwide - is to you a means of coming closer to the truth. As you put it, 'If we don't stay together, 'we are only following our own local denomination or our personal preferences. Where then do you draw the line? How far can unity be stretched within the boundaries of still being based on the Bible? In reply to this question Williams starts off with a rebuke of those who argue it is high time the Church accepted gay relationships.
A: Their ideal is the inclusive church. ,,I don't believe inclusion is a value in itself'', says the Archbishop. ,,Welcome is. We welcome people into the Church, we say: 'You can come in, and that decision will change you.' We don't say: 'Come in and we ask no questions.' I do believe conversion means conversion of habits, behaviours, ideas, emotions. The boundaries are determined by what it means to be loyal to Jesus Christ. That means to display in all things the mind of Christ. Paul is always saying this in his letters: Ethics is not a matter of a set of abstract rules, it is a matter of living the mind of Christ. That applies to sexual ethics; that is why fidelity is important in marriage. You reflect the loyalty of God in Christ. It also concerns the international arena. Christians will always have reconciliation as a priority and refuse to retaliate. By no means everything is negotiable for me. I would not be happy if someone said: Let us discuss the divinity of Christ. That to me seems so constituent of what the Church is.''
I don't disagree with the Archbishops statement however we may be interpreting the word "inclusive" in different ways. According to Merriam-Webster:
Pronunciation: in-'klü-siv, -zivFunction: adjective1 : comprehending stated limits or extremes
2 a : broad in orientation or scope b : covering or intended to cover all items, costs, or services - in·clu·sive·ly adverb - in·clu·sive·ness noun
"Comprehending stated limits or extremes" and "broad in orientation or scope as well as covering or intended to cover all items, costs, or services." Could not the word inclusive be one way of describing the humble submission all Christians are called to make before God in Christ Jesus? Gay and lesbian Christians that I know long to live out their Christian lives (inclusively) in community with others, couples seek fidelity and support for their commitment --- the kind of support our marriage liturgies ask the gathered community to give straight couples. When I use the word inclusive I certainly mean it in the sense that all are invited --- but I also use it to mean that all invited are called to be open to having our entire lives (inclusively) turned upside by the Holy Spirit's work. As the Archbishop says, "conversion means conversion of habits, behaviours, ideas, emotions." I believe that gay and lesbian persons are equally called to conversion. Yet what does that conversion look like? Does it mean that gay and lesbians are to be converted from being gay or lesbian to being straight? I don't think so perhaps for some that is possible but for many it is impossible. Gentile Christians were not asked to become Jews. However, conversion means that like straight persons, gay and lesbians persons are called upon to have their habits, behaviors, ideas and emotions transformed (inclusively). Our culture's saturation with sexuality, with promiscuity, infidelity is not limited to homosexuals but sadly includes heterosexuals as well. Are we not all gay and straight Christians alike called to conversion? Called to live out our full lives (inclusively) under the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Might that mean all of us must be open to change?
For more of the interview with Archbishop Rowan Williams please click here.