My line on the Anglican crisis is a bit eccentric. I think there are now grounds for hope that the Communion can survive – and the reason is the recent rise of gay marriage as the central issue. Lazy punditry says that gay marriage is the bone of contention. But it’s actually a new issue – it wasn’t being discussed a decade ago, when Rowan Williams was holding these summits.
The real bone of contention is whether actively gay priests and bishops should be allowed. On this the two sides are obviously adamantly opposed. The arrival of gay marriage as a big issue seems to make the crisis worse than ever – but this is a superficial view. It is actually a blessing in disguise. For it allows a compromise position to emerge. A new position becomes possible: that of the cautious liberal, who hopes that the Church is moving towards acceptance of gay priests, but who opposes gay marriage.
This is my position: I reject the legalism of the evangelicals, which vivilifies something that should be given the benefit of the doubt (they should ponder the injunction ‘Judge not’). But I also feel that heterosexual marriage is especially worthy of celebration, and that gay marriage is something that that the Church should hold back from.
Thanks to the rise of gay marriage, people of my ilk can clearly signal our conservatism as well as our liberalism – and this might just help to keep the show on the road. Cunning old God.