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The Anglican Orthodoxy and homosexuality

Updated Wednesday, 2nd July 2014

An emergent thread of Anglicanism is adopting a literal Biblical approach to sexuality in opposition to more liberal evangelicals. Andrew McKinnon tells Laurie Taylor why.

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A man with a very large sign protests at an Ottawa Gay Pride event Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Photawa | A man waves a placard complaining about homosexuality during Ottawa Pride Laurie Taylor:
I want to bring in my second guest today to comment upon this aspect about the relationship between religion and politics in this respect, because Jennifer Curtis suggested that the Iris Robinson moment in 2008 somehow shifted the debate about lesbian and gay rights in Northern Ireland away from fundamentalist religious references like this one here, this is the one which Iris Robinson was referencing in 2008 – Leviticus 20:13:

If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death, their blood shall be upon them.

Let me bring in my second guest here, he’s Andrew McKinnon, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Aberdeen because I want you to comment upon the ways religious speech is shifting here, I mean to what extent is there religious conflict about gay rights in Belfast and other parts of the world, I mean how much does it relate to this literalist reading of parts of the Bible, is that critical, there’s some people who read the Bible literally and others who don’t?

Andrew McKinnon:
I think there are some people that would like to say that they read the Bible in a more or less literal way. I mean, even people who choose to read the Bible in a literal way are picking and choosing what they’re reading literally and what they’re not. Not very many people are advocating the second part of that verse, that you just read there, about their blood shall be upon them and so forth.

Laurie Taylor:
But the word abomination can certainly…

Andrew McKinnon:
Oh abomination’s there but the death penalty isn’t.

Laurie Taylor:
Now in your work you’ve looked at the way in which attitudes towards homosexuality have become a symbolic marker if you like within contemporary Christianity, expand on that for me.

Andrew McKinnon:
Yeah, I think it has, I think – and it’s kind of one of those things that points where people can say we’re the kind of traditional God fearing people who think that gay rights are an abomination or who are very keen to distance themselves in fact from that position and really want nothing to do with them and that’s important – I mean partly they’re reaching out to different communities and conscious of their audiences.

Laurie Taylor:
But say compared to women’s ordination – the other critical argument that goes on at the moment within religious circles – how does it compare [to] the sides you take in relation to homosexuality?

Andrew McKinnon:
Well in fact I think the women’s ordination is the old one and the position on homosexuality is the new one.

Laurie Taylor:
And we may indeed be moving towards what you might describe as a new Anglican orthodoxy, there are going to be groups – groups of religious people who are Anglicans who are never going to accept lesbians, gay men, gay rights.

Andrew McKinnon:
Yeah, I mean that’s their phrase for themselves – Anglican orthodoxy – it’s a relatively interesting recent invention actually to describe yourself as an Anglican orthodox. And the marker really is the position you take on homosexuality. It’s increasingly the case that many evangelicals even are not so keen on the traditional views of that, they’re shifting and becoming much more liberal.

Laurie Taylor:
So are we able to say – this is rather a big question in a short amount of time – but is religion really the main determinant of people’s attitudes towards lesbian and gay rights or are there other factors more influential – economic factors or anything else?

Andrew McKinnon:
Well I think there’s a whole lots of things. I mean gender is clearly the big one and age is the other one. And that makes a difference even within religious traditions where for older people the kind of traditional religiosity kind of reinforces those traditional views but that’s not the case for say under 30s who are increasingly, even in the evangelical world, taking quite positive views on gay marriage for example.

Laurie Taylor:
Very interesting. Thank you very much Andrew McKinnon.





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