By Name United, By Sex Divided: A Brief Analysis of the Current Crisis Facing the Anglican Communion
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AbstractThe current controversies in relation to homosexuality - which emanated from the western quarters but quickly engulfed the entire Anglican Communion - highlight two significant issues. In our view, the first issue, regarding the 'religious citizenship' of lesbian and gay Christians, is generally a western concern. The second issue pertaining to the prospect of the disintegration of the Anglican Communion, however, needs to be examined within a global context. On the first issue, we argue that, since the contemporary western religious landscape (and society in general) prioritizes the authority of the self rather than that of religious institution/tradition, the traditional religious discourse that marginalizes lesbian and gay Christians is undermined by an increasingly sophisticated reverse discourse. This reverse discourse, equipped with lesbian and gay affirming theology and documentation of lived experiences, also converges with contemporary cultural (secular) discourse of human rights and personal liberty, which values social diversity, including sexual difference. We believe that the social and political currency of the reverse discourse will proliferate, thus eclipsing the traditional discourse that appears increasingly out of step with contemporary western socio-cultural reality. On the second issue, we welcome the heightened significance and relevance of (local) culture and Christianity in the debate. We argue that the decentralization (i.e. de-westernization) of the Anglican Communion should be welcomed, for there are various versions of Christianity, the conception and practice of which are closely informed by local cultures. Thus, to force the production of a unified Anglican response to moral or social issues that are differently defined across cultures may prove counter-productive.