LORD TEBBIT: If the head of our church can’t uphold the standards that shaped us, what hope is there?

Some good sense here from Lord Tebbit in The Daily Mail:

Who am I to criticise the Archbishop of Canterbury on the matters of theology, doctrine or what the scriptures mean? After all, I am not a fully paid-up member of the Church of England.

I am, however, a ‘fellow traveller’ and it is fellow travellers, whether of political parties or churches, whose opinions should be listened to most carefully by the powers that be. If the politicians or bishops offer confident, reasonable leadership, we follow them. If they look lost, confused and out of touch, we leave in droves.

Dr Rowan Williams is a decent, likeable and intelligent man. But over homosexuality, he seems to be in a terrible muddle, saying different things to different people. Just days after the Anglican Church agreed to call a halt to ordaining gay bishops, a debate in which he sided with the conservative majority, earlier private letters have emerged in which he equates gay sexual relationships to heterosexual marriage.

Dr Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
'In a muddle': Dr Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

These letters show that his private views may be rather different and considerably more liberal. And as a result, many of his fellow travellers, I’d assume, are confused as to what their spiritual leader really believes.

There is, of course, nothing new about homosexuality or homosexual priests and I suspect that most people these days will say ‘so what?’

But the Church of England still has a role to play in upholding the standards and beliefs which have shaped the society in which we live. And for the leader of that institution to appear confused by his moral standpoint is surely disastrous.

The Archbishop might reflect that over the thousands of years since the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus set out the code of ethics on which Christianity was founded, our Western society has been built on the basic, but vital, institution of family.

Not just any old group of people shacked up together for a while, but the exclusive partnership of one man and one woman bearing and bringing up children. That way, the traditions, rules and customs of society have been passed from one generation to the next and children have been cared for in a safe, nurturing and responsible environment.

The Christian West is not alone in following this format. Every lasting civilisation has done so and, for that matter, so have most of the birds and mammals around us. It is, in short, a formula that works.

So why meddle with it? In recent years, the family formula has begun to disintegrate  –  and with disastrous results. The downgrading of marriage and the shattering of the family unit that has inevitably followed the granting of equivalent status to other forms of partnership are already having an effect on the levels of crime, unhappiness and deprivation among children. And the damage they suffer will be passed on to the next generation.

We know that however well many single parents  –  and most are dedicated and loving mothers and fathers  –  bring up their children, youngsters from stable, conventional families are more likely to do well at school, well at work and to stay out of trouble with crime, drink and drugs than those from so-called broken homes.

For this reason, it is deeply sad that the Archbishop of Canterbury has given comfort to the liberal permissives who have long been attacking and undermining not just the institution of marriage but the very idea that children should be brought up in traditional families, with a father and a mother.

Surely a man with the talents, and huge responsibilities, of Dr Williams should see that in his confused attitudes to homosexuality he is being dragged along on the insidious coat tails of the ‘anything goes’ moral relativists.

I fear that the leaking of Dr Williams’ letters, even if they are from eight years ago, will give more comfort to those who see the church as a leftover from the past than to those who would like to see it stand up boldly for the values on which it was built. For a while, the traditionalists will rally around that charismatic conservative the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, but the fellow travellers will drift away leaderless, with neither a church nor a political party prepared to champion their views and beliefs.

Of course the grubby British National Party will attempt to pose as a home for the moral majority, promising a return to the traditions and certainty of the past. Fortunately, its gruesome pedigree means that it has no credibility among the vast majority of people.

So who is left? Watch out for the challenge from the mosques. An Islam with a modern face will soon begin to present itself as the natural home for those who long for moral certainty and a new sense of discipline within society. The calls for a caliphate, a religious state based on Sharia Law, will be toned down, the firebrand preachers will be done away with by the moderates, and there will be talk of the founding of a secular Muslim state, as in Turkey.

And with no other options on the table, they may soon find that they have an awful lot of fellow travellers with whom to bolster their ranks.

The task for the imams will be to exploit the fatal weakness of the multicultural society and replace a Christian church that has lost its sense of history and direction with a Mosque that has a strong, ingrained sense of both.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s