Caribbean leaders should not allow pressure from extra-regional power sources to force them into accepting homosexuality or same sex marriages.
Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies, Dr. John Holder, issued this defiant response today while speaking to members of the Press at Mandeville House, Lower Collymore Rock, St. Michael on same sex unions.
Holder urged leaders of government and civil society, as well as people of the region, to resist any attempt to compromise the region’s cultural and religious principles regarding these matters.†He maintained that 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”.
The archbishop recalled that the threat and use of economic sanctions were not new experiences for the people of the region and neither was the claim to a superior morality over people who have known the experience of chattel slavery.
The top cleric in the region noted that there was a re-definition to accommodate gay, lesbian and transgender people, and the creation of a plurality that left the issue of gender to self-definition, while at the same time dismissing traditional definitions of male and female.
The Archbishop drew attention to the passage of legislation in a number of metropolitan nations whereby marriage was defined as a human right in which any two persons may be joined, inclusive of persons of the same sex.
“The marriage of persons of the same sex is justified as a human right, on the basis of marital equality with heterosexual unions,” Dr Holder noted.
The cleric pointed out that the Anglican Church in the West Indies reaffirmed 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,” he said.
“It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children. 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.”
The bishop of Barbados argued that the church’s mandate was “informed by pastoral and doctrinal concerns and in drawing the attention of the faithful to the source and purpose of marriage and in solemnizing such unions”. He suggested 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, as well as protecting the members of such unions against abuse and injustice.
In response to a query Holder denied that the Anglican Church in England had endorsed same-sex marriages, noting that England as a country was re-examining the definition of marriage. He said the Anglican Church in England had recently issued a paper on the issue of man and woman in marriage indicating that it endorsed traditional marriage.
The archbishop also dismissed suggestions that the Anglican Church in Barbados could suffer a fall-off in membership as result of its condemnation of same-sex unions.†(NC)