The Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the global Anglican church, Justin Welby, has affirmed the validity of a 1998 declaration that gay sex is a sin.
The Guardian reports that he told more than 650 bishops attending the once-a-decade Lambeth conference that, for “a large majority” of conservative Anglicans, questioning biblical teaching was “unthinkable”.
Welby said: “In many countries, [it] would make the church a victim of derision, contempt and even attack. For many churches, to change traditional teaching challenges their very existence.”
In a letter sent to bishops shortly before what was described as a “robust discussion” on sexuality, Welby said the 1998 resolution, known as Lambeth 1.10, was “not in doubt”.
But he also indicated that he would not seek the authority to discipline or exclude churches – including those in Scotland, Wales and the US – that conduct or bless same-sex marriage.
And in a hint at a possible future change in the Church of England, he told the conference that for churches in liberal democracies, not updating traditional teaching could also challenge their very existence. They, too, could be “a victim of derision, contempt and even attack”.
His comments come nine months after he expressed grave concern about a proposed law in Ghana, which would impose harsh penalties on the LGBT community.
The bill is supported by the Anglican Church of Ghana, despite a previous agreement by all Anglican churches not to support discriminatory legislation.
Gay sex is already punishable in Ghana with a prison term of three years.
The bill seeks to increase jail terms to up to a decade and force some to undergo "conversion therapy", where attempts are made to change people's sexuality.
It also make cross-dressing and public displays of same-sex affection punishable by fines or detention, and makes the distribution of material deemed pro-LGBT by news organisations or websites illegal.
Christianity is the largest religion in Ghana, with about 70% of the population belonging to various Christian denominations.