Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has claimed that becoming transgender is “a sacred journey of becoming whole” as he called for the Government to cover gender confusion in its ban on conversion therapy.
Last week, the Government signalled it intended to scrap its proposed ban, but U-turned only a few hours later following backlash from LGBT activists. It agreed to continue with a ‘legislative approach’, but said it would not apply to those experiencing gender confusion.
Lord Williams, who was Archbishop of Canterbury between 2003 and 2012, signed a letter to the Prime Minister written by LGBT activist Steve Chalke. They argued a conversion therapy ban must not be limited to those who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual, but must also include those who say they are transgender.
The letter, also signed by a handful of other church ministers, claimed: “To be trans is to enter a sacred journey of becoming whole: precious, honoured and loved, by yourself, by others and by God.
“To allow those discerning this journey to be subject to coercive or undermining practices is to make prayer a means of one person manipulating another. It is a wrong-hearted notion of care and a wrong-headed understanding of conversion. Every church should be a safe space that affirms people in being who they are without fear of judgment.”
Chalke is the author of “The Lost Message of Jesus” which denies that only Christ could take the punishment for our sin, calling such theology “cosmic child abuse”. He told the PA news agency this week that “lives have been lost” and “ruined” by conversion therapy, and said failing to include trans people is “prejudice, discrimination, it’s a disgrace”.
He went on: “We have waited four years around this and we can’t wait any longer. A ban on conversion therapy must be now and it must be a ban for everyone, for all people, for LGB and T people.”
The Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “It seems remarkable that a former Archbishop should have such a poor understanding of salvation and discipleship.
“Converting to Christ means we stop living for ourselves and start living for God. We must follow the teachings of scripture, not the values of the world. Our lives are an ongoing process of sanctification as we seek, with the Spirit’s help, to be more like Christ.
“The Bible is clear that God created us male and female. It is equally clear that sexual activity is exclusively for marriage, which is only between one man and one woman. To reject these truths is not ‘sacred’ but sinful.
To reject these truths is not ‘sacred’ but sinful.
“Jesus said ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’.
“Faithful Christians seek to flee from sin wherever they identify it in their lives, and instead embrace their new life in Christ. This is the real sacred journey and there are thousands of faithful churches in the UK that are full of people, including LGBT people, who are on this journey.”
Let us pray
Last week, other church leaders wrote to Boris Johnson to express “considerable concern” over the Government’s decision not to abandon its proposed conversion therapy ban.
They said the original decision to abandon the legislation was “exactly the right approach”, but asked for “urgent clarification” when the Government announced its U-turn later the same day.
They said: “We are of course pleased to hear that trans issues are to be left out, which removes the threat of criminalising those seeking to help vulnerable young people on this issue.
“But it remains the case that a poorly-drafted ‘LGB only’ conversion therapy law could still criminalise mainstream Christian teaching and ministry, by making it illegal for us to teach people and help people of every age to live according to the Christian understanding of marriage.”