By Hilary White

  LONDON, July 8, 2008 ( – Homosexuality is “natural” for homosexuals and must be accepted by the Church, the Anglican Primate of Ireland said this week.

  Archbishop Alan Harper of the Armagh Anglican diocese, called for his Church to reassess the traditional orthodox Christian interpretation of scriptural passages prohibiting and condemning homosexual activity. His comments are being seen as a direct challenge to the traditional bishops, particularly of the African branches of the Anglican Communion, who hold that the scriptural prohibitions, as well as the natural moral law arguments, are inerrant and clear.

  Harper referred specifically to the first chapter of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in which the Apostle says that homosexual “lusts” result from apostasy. 

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie,” the passage reads, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts…men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

  Harper asserted in a paper given to the annual conference of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in Swanwick in Derbyshire that homosexual acts are not “unnatural” and should be accepted as given to them by God.

  Harper’s logic is that since science is showing that homosexual persons have no choice in their “orientation”,  homosexual inclinations are natural to them and should be accepted by the Church. Homosexual acts, therefore, are “natural” for homosexuals, but “unnatural” for heterosexuals.

“Let us be clear on this,” he said, “It has not yet been conclusively shown that for some males and some females homosexuality and homosexual acts are natural rather than unnatural.”

“If such comes to be shown, it will be necessary to acknowledge the full implications of that new aspect of the truth, and that insight applied to establish and acknowledge what may be a new status for homosexual relationships within the life of the Church.”

  Harper cited the 16th century Anglican theologian, Richard Hooker, one of the Anglican Communion’s foundational thinkers who is more usually quoted in defence of the traditional Christian moral doctrine. A key principle of Hooker’s, Harper said, is the use of reason to interpret scripture and understand doctrine. 

  Interestingly, the assertion that homosexual activity is only wrong when practiced by those who are acting against their innate heterosexual “orientation” was a point made by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  In a televised interview on the eve of his confirmation as Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Williams said, “If the Bible is very clear – as I think it is – that a heterosexual indulging in homosexual activity for the sake of variety and gratification is not following the will of God, does that automatically say that that is the only sort of homosexual activity there could ever be?”


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