Anglican bishops reject same-sex marriage
THE leadership of the Anglican Church in the West Indies has issued a firm rejection of same-sex marriage and has urged Caribbean Governments to resist attempts at compromise from outside the region.
In a draft provincial statement on same-sex unions issued yesterday, the House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies said that they were aware that Caribbean political leaders were being subjected to pressures from nations and institutions from outside the region.
"Frequently they are pressured to conform to the changes being undertaken in their redefinition of human sexuality and same-sex unions, under threat of economic sanctions and the loss of humanitarian aid," the bishops said.
"We urge our leaders of government and of civil society, as well as the people of our nations, to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters.
"The dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike," added the bishops, who are meeting in Barbados.
They said that during their deliberations they had taken note of trends within countries of the developed world and international forums in which these countries exercise a controlling interest in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally.
"Frequently, failure to conform by developing nations, like our own, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid," the bishops said.
"More specifically, there is a redefinition of gender to accommodate gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and the creation of a plurality of definitions which leaves the issue of gender to self-definition, thereby dismissing traditional definition of male and female," they argued.
"Additionally, there is the passage of legislation among a number of metropolitan nations whereby marriage is defined as a human right in which any two persons may be joined, inclusive of persons of the same sex."
As such, they said, the "marriage" of persons of the same sex is justified as a human right on the basis of marital equality with heterosexual unions.
The bishops said that while they acknowledge that there is a diversity of family patterns within the Caribbean, "these have been understood by our people to be between a man and a woman, whether defined in terms of the natural order of creation or on the basis of religious beliefs which see these grounded in the purpose of God".
They pointed to the Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England in 2005 which defines marriage as "a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of His grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children".
The bishops also said that characteristic of our patterns of cohabitation and family life is the notion that such unions are based on a relationship between a man and a woman.
"The idea of such unions being constituted by persons of the same sex is, therefore, totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds," they insisted.
The bishops said that while they recognise that the church's mandate is informed by pastoral and doctrinal concerns and in drawing the attention of the faithful to the source and purpose of marriage, and in solemnising such unions, they accept that governments have the responsibility of providing the kind of legal framework for protecting, but not defining, this most basic social institution on which the stability of society and the socialisation of its members rest. They also appreciate that governments must protect the members of such unions against abuse and injustice.
However, they pointed out that the threat and use of economic sanctions are not new experiences to the region's peoples, "neither is the claim to a superior morality convincing for peoples who have known the experience of chattel slavery in our past.
"While claiming to invoke human rights as the basis for such imposition, we submit that the same principle must allow us the right to affirm our cultural and religious convictions regarding our definitions of that most basic of social institutions — marriage."