Archbishops Fisher and Ramsey, and the Wolfenden report

01 November 2006

From Canon G. T. Willett


Sir, — Canon Dr Alan Wilkinson raised interesting questions in “The abolitionists who had to be revisionists” (Comment, 20 October). Yet it is unlikely that a fresh interpretation of a few scripture texts was needed for Archbishops Fisher and Ramsey to support the Wolfenden recommendations.

Fisher was pleased to note that a clear distinction had been made between a sin and a crime, still convinced that all practising homosexuals sin against God. Ramsey also said: “I don’t see the Christian Church ever giving its blessing to a marriage between persons of the same sex. The Church gives its blessing to the best and perfect use of sex, which is the union of a man and a woman in marriage. We confine our blessing to that.”

It will need more than a fresh interpretation of texts to abolish such convictions.

John Wesley, whose last letter was to encourage Wilberforce in his campaign, vehemently opposed slavery on the grounds that it was so inconsistent with the character and mind of a loving and just God. Fisher and Ramsey would surely have reached a different conclusion about the sinfulness of practising homosexuality, had it appeared to conform to what they believed about the intention and purpose of God. They would at the same time have enhanced their support for Wolfenden against formidable opposition.

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