September 13, 1999
Dear Bishop Tay,
I read your letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury with a mixture of sadness and weariness. The sadness comes from your posture of distancing yourself from the Archbishop and other Anglican Primates over the issue of Biblical Authority and Morality. I am very aware of the positions taken at Lambeth as well as the Kuala Lumpur Statement. Neither Lambeth nor Kuala Lumpur produced statements in accord with what most know as traditional and orthodox Anglicanism.
Anglican tradition and orthodoxy have historically embraced the middle ground or the via media on all major doctrines of faith. The middle ground provides holy space for people of faith to live together with differing interpretations of how we live out our lives in the model of Jesus Christ. The middle ground leaves room for differences in those things that unite us as well as those issues that have the potential to divide us. The via media is a "messy" place where we slip and slide around together as we explore God's will and way for us in our lives.
You, my brother in Christ, wish to eliminate this middle ground in favor of a very narrow road with high walls intended to exclude those who differ and impound those who allegedly agree. The Holy Scriptures are not as rigid as you would proclaim. You, I am sure, know both Greek and Hebrew. That means you also know that words written thousands of years ago in different contexts and under different circumstances have very different meanings for us now. I guarantee that even you do not take the entire body of Scripture literally. You do not keep a kosher household. You wear garments woven of multiple types of fibers. You have parishioners who are divorced (and some remarried). You have not removed any limbs because they offended. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. None of these issues are essential to our salvation, based on our Christian beliefs.
I am equally certain that you know how our Savior summed up our obligations to God and to each other: We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. On these hang all the law and prophets. There is no rigidity here, no dogma, no exclusion. There is one command: To love. Period. No exceptions. No conditions. When we attempt to encumber this central requirement we defeat the Divine plan for our salvation. And history reveals to us continually that we get into all sorts of problems whenever we fail to obey the commandment to love.
My weariness from your position comes from your condemnation of an entire class of God's creatures based on a rigid interpretation of Scripture. You use very narrow and/or incorrect translations of portions of scripture to attempt to exclude lesbian and gay people from the life of the Church. Bishop, you can not, in good conscience and with any degree of integrity, use the Levitical Purity Code to condemn homosexuality unless you are also willing to enforce the entirety of that code. To do less is blatant hypocrisy. Similarly, your knowledge of Greek makes you fully aware that the New Testament passages that you attempt to use to condemn gay and lesbian people do not refer to homosexuality. They refer to either pagan temple prostitution and/or softness.
Rather than attempting to beat gay and lesbian Christians over the head with inaccurate Scriptural interpretations, why don't you ask them to share with you their spiritual journeys? Why don't you ask them about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Why don't you ask them about their prayer lives? Why don't you ask them what it is like to have to justify their relationship with Jesus Christ? You do not justify the grace you have received, why should they?
Perhaps by now, you realize that I am a gay man. However, what you do not know is anything at all about my faith. You may even presume my faith to be invalid because I am gay. Yet, my faith is not diminished by your prejudices. My salvation was procured by the blood of Jesus Christ. That is all I need to know.
My brother in Christ, the table of the Anglican Communion is large enough to accommodate all who feel called to sit at it. The decision about who should sit at the Church's table is not ours to make. Our task, our calling, is to gather. The task of sorting out belongs to God and to God alone.
I urge you to enter into conversations with lesbian and gay Anglicans around the world. You will soon see that our faith is as valid as yours is. You will also see that our faith is often stronger than yours is because we have had to fight to express it. More importantly, you will see that we have far more important issues to expend time and energy on that our sexuality. My faith and my heart tell me that God is more interested in what I do for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the homeless, and the imprisoned than how I express my sexuality. After all, God's Son told us clearly that what we did or failed to do for our brothers and sisters, we did or failed to do for Him.
The Most Reverend Frank Griswold
The Most Reverend Richard Holloway