Thinking Anglicans

Two bishops comment on Church of England homosexuality policy

The Bishop of Worcester, John Inge is reported in the Worcester News as saying Attitude to gays is in need of rethink:

THE Bishop of Worcester says the church should “reflect deeply” on the fact that many youngsters believe its attitude to homosexuality is wicked.

The Rt Rev Dr John Inge threw his weight behind comments made last week by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said a lot of people under 30 think the Church’s view on gay men and lesbians is “incomprehensible”.

The city’s bishop told your Worcester News that the Most Rev Justin Welby was “undoubtedly right” about the stance taken by young people.

“The Church needs to reflect deeply on the implications of this,” said Bishop John. “For the first time in many generations, our traditional teaching is being seen by large numbers of people as being on the wrong side of the moral argument. It’s important that we recognise this and do some soul searching, recognising that God doesn’t only speak through the Church of England.”

The Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham is reported in the Gloucestershire Citizen Bishop of Gloucester apologises for church treatment of gay community:

…”The church has to be sorry,” he said.

“It has not treated the gay, lesbian and transgender community very well. “The church may be moving slowly, but it will get there. The vast majority of Christians are moving relatively fast towards a more modern way of thinking and towards a position where they should be. It is a place where they should have reached a long time ago, but clearly not as quickly as the rest of society. The church is slow because it is trying to pull together this universal family from all over the world to have the same understanding.

“The church’s view on same sex marriage is not sustainable. But homosexuals must realise that the church is not homophobic. We should all celebrate committed, faithful and loving relationships.”

50
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
50 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
26 Comment authors
April AlexanderMarkBrunsonErika BakerDavid RuncornJeremy Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Rev'd Laurence Roberts
Guest
Rev'd Laurence Roberts

“We should all celebrate committed, faithful and loving relationships.” (Bishop of Gloucester)

Go to it !

Jean Mayland
Guest
Jean Mayland

Well said Bishops

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Isn’t it _remarkable_ that suddenly, after the carcrash of the equal marriage bill and the Anglican church’s incoherent position on it, and the publication of a social attitudes survey that shows that the bigot vote is small, old and getting smaller and older every year, all these bishops discover that their long-held views which they voted for are suddenly wrong, and they’re now all down wid da kidz and stuff? How convenient. “homosexuals must realise that the church is not homophobic” Why should people suddenly believe that a church that consistently campaigned against equal marriage, published lengthy diatribes about how… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

All I’m willing to say is: “Let the Church get on with its mission – of Justice for ALL and Peace to those of good will”. It truly is amazing what can happen when society judges the prejudice of the Church, and finds it wanting.

NOW, what about those Women Bishops?

Lister Tonge
Guest
Lister Tonge

I am reminded of Fr Barry Orford’s superb Church Times article sometime last year. It is still behind a paywall but it contains the following: ‘I spend most of my time working with university undergraduates and graduates. They hear voices raised in the Church attacking any attempt to change the existing ecclesiastical discrimination against homosexual Christian people and they are baffled. This is a mindset so far from their own that they find it incomprehensible. As one indisputably heterosexual student said to me, ‘this is just not an issue any more. The fact is that we have a rising generation… Read more »

AndrewT
Guest
AndrewT

I really don’t understand the “homosexuals must understand the church is not homophobic”. Exactly what evidence can be advanced in support of this assertion? I can think of much that can be advanced to the contrary! The church, and even this sympathetic bishop, seem to occupy a world of ingrained cognitive dissonance. In this world, what the church thinks is completely disconnected from what it does. The church is not homophobic, he thinks, because they way it thinks is well-meaning. (Not, incidentally, that I believe that to be true either.) Yet what it DOES remains, tout court, homophobic. Discriminating against… Read more »

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

“Isn’t it _remarkable_ that suddenly, after the carcrash of the equal marriage bill and the Anglican church’s incoherent position on it, and the publication of a social attitudes survey that shows that the bigot vote is small, old and getting smaller and older every year, all these bishops discover that their long-held views which they voted for are suddenly wrong, and they’re now all down wid da kidz and stuff? How convenient.” Without wishing to defend anyone in the Church of England who is homophobic, and fully aware of some of the ghastly things that have been said and done… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Amen to that, Lister!

Neil
Guest
Neil

Welcome signs of change. But this is the same John Inge who was jointly responsible for the woeful CofE document on marriage just a few months ago. And so theologically illiterate that the House of Bishops looks in danger of not requiring a minimum level of theological expertise anymore.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

‘But homosexuals must realise that the church is not homophobic.’ That +Gloucester should make such an arrogant statement surely indicates that he and the church at large are in denial about the institutional homophobia endemic in the Church of England. His fine words butter no parsnips when he can be so crass speaking to a group of GLTB people. We don’t have to ‘realise’ anything. We KNOW. Peter Ould has an interesting take on this. Essentially he is saying that +Gloucester knows something since he is on the Pilling Committee (which you will remember contains no women and no out… Read more »

Alastair Newman
Guest

It’s really important, though, that the CofE doesn’t change its traditional teaching simply because it is “seen by large numbers of people as being on the wrong side of the moral argument”. They must do what many of us have already done and see that it really *is* on the wrong side of the moral argument and respond accordingly.

This shouldn’t be about public perception, but about doing the right thing.

John Ross Martyn
Guest
John Ross Martyn

I agree with Alastair Newman.

In my view, we ought to recognise that it is an increase of knowledge, chiefly scientific, about homosexuality that prompts, and ought to prompt, a change from the traditional teaching.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Sorry, Lister Tonge, but if Nick Griffith suddenly moved to Balsall Heath and opened a sweet centre, I think people would be justified in being sceptical, no matter how good the samosas and pista barfi and how attractive his special offers for iftar. One of the comments to the Gloucester story says “we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse” and that is entirely the point. When the Christian Church held the high grounds of power, and was able to dictate terms to society,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Anne2
While I agree with the general thrust of your comment, I would like to point out that “I recall an elderly man in my congregation 15 years ago pointing out to me that for someone his age it required a very great turnaround in his attitudes. As he reminded me, for most of his lifetime homosexuality was not only disapproved of, but actually illegal.” was precisely my own father’s reaction when I told him about my female partner. It was accompanied by a letter welcoming her into the family.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

gay friendly bishops are sprouting up everywhere. But ” homosexuals must realise that the church is not homophobic” sounds very condescending, and I thought it was only homophobes who referred to gays or lgbt folk as “homosexuals”?

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

It’s movement, at long last. I appreciate the words of Anne2. I would say, however, that we LGBT people have had to shout. And I challenge you to name a wrong that was righted without the victims “shouting.” Or at least telling their stories and being visible. Young people don’t accept homophobia because they know gay people. In a climate of fear and silence, the older people don’t have the same opportunity until someone speaks up. It isn’t as if the British gave up on India of their own accord without Gandhi or the US gave up on racial segregation… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

I am pulled two ways on this one. I am glad that Michael Perham and John Inge are saying what they are saying. But what really counts is whether the leadership of the bishops will be strong enough (post-Pilling) to set a new direction and fashion a new polity in the face of the people who want to die in the last ditch before they let the gays have a place at the table on the same terms as everyone else. And there is the small matter of getting gender equality sorted as well of course. In other words, fine… Read more »

Brant-N-LA
Guest
Brant-N-LA

May I join Erica’s “Amen to that, Lister.” Just one thing: No one who’s read Dr King’s ‘Letter from the Birmingham Jail’ can help but notice that Lister’s last sentence doesn’t quite leave us where we need to be. It’s not ‘complaning OR help’, it’s ‘complaining AND help’. One complements and enables the other. Both are quite essential to getting things like this done me thinks.

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

I am still unclear exactly what the Bishops fear if they come out clearly in favour of change in the Church re LGBT people. The Bishop of Buckingham blogs, tweets and comments all over the place in full support and, as far as I know, is not threatened, shunned by the other Bishops or has the Clergy Discipline Measure waved in his face. Or perhaps these things do happen and he is even braver than I thought! I know he’s not a Diocesan but if he can do it, why can’t the others? And not just in the condescending tones… Read more »

Rev'd Laurence Roberts
Guest
Rev'd Laurence Roberts

‘When the Christian Church held the high grounds of power, and was able to dictate terms to society, it was virulently (and in some cases violently) homophobic. In countries where it still has that power, it is still homophobic.’ Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 11:06am BST I support this 100% and that entire comment. The Churches have behaved appallingly and still are. Both in the UK and around the world as IO says. Just look at the RC church and the Eastern Orthodox whose bishops are falling over themselves from Russia to Greece, to condemn… Read more »

FD Blanchard
Guest
FD Blanchard

I’m still trying to figure out whether or not this is substance or damage control.

A concrete gesture on the part of the Church would have more credibility than all the Bishop’s statements in Christendom.

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

Thank you , Erika and Cynthia. The elderly gentleman who I recalled in my earlier comment was speaking to me following a sermon in which I had preached about homosexuality (can’t remember the context now), and was making a genuine attempt to get his head around the idea that the things he had been told and had believed all his life might need to be rethought. He was realistically pointing out, though, that this was not an easy thing to do. I sometimes wonder what things, when I am his age, I will struggle to reconsider, and what prejudices (which… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Pilling will be the next opportunity for the C of E to parade its willful ignorance and anti-gay stance before the British public.”

The CofE made fools of themselves with the unsigned (but seemingly ex cathedra) pronouncements which were made during the equal marriage debate. If the Pilling Report is more of the same, the credibility of the CofE will hit new lows. The opportunity to put out a document which announces the the CofE is a marginal cult is an opportunity to be missed.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

” was making a genuine attempt to get his head around the idea that the things he had been told and had believed all his life might need to be rethought.” I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that argument. I buy it even less in 2013. Firstly, accepting, arguendo, that in the 1960s there were a large number of people traumatised and shocked by the very idea of homosexuality, they have had nearly fifty years to get used to the concept. If they’re alive today, they were at most in their fifties when it was decriminalised, and being fifty does… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

none of those observations about what most young people think and the “church” (whoever that’s supposed to refer to) needs to “reflect deeply” on it–none of this comes close to being good enough. The church’s leadership must stand before their clergy and congregations and say out loud that the church’s treatment of gay people has been and is grossly and deeply sinful. Until this has taken place–publicly and repeatedly–I don’t want to hear another freakin’ word about “some think we’re wicked” or our view is not sustainable. What has been done and continues to be done is hideously sinful. Now… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“No one seriously advances the argument that we should be relaxed about racism provided the perpetrator of it is old enough. Why is that argument acceptable when it comes to LGBT issues?”

Amen.

David
Guest
David

I am with Jeremy in his comments – both his gratitude to the bishops for speaking out and his necessary critique of their words and intentions. But it does feel at times here that such is the (understandable) long term pain, anger and frustration present that even when people are genuinely trying to change and lead change, however falteringly, it is never enough and is variously dismissed as clumsy, ‘arrogant’. People remain unforgiven for their former stated positions and are routinely presumed to be insincere or to be a manoeuvring around personal agendas and therefore not to be trusted. It… Read more »

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

Being in my seventies, I am pretty intolerant of any idea that getting old excuses you from trying to come to terms with new ways of thinking. At least the gentleman Anne mentions was making some sort of effort to understand. Perhaps the point is that the CofE has tended to be shamefully slack about promoting serious discussion of issues around gender and sexual orientation.

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

To Interested Observer. I am not condoning homophobic statements or attitudes. I am just telling it like it is (or certainly like it was for that elderly gentleman who was in his late 80’s when he made this comment to me at least 15 years ago – probably nearer 20 now I think about it.) Male homosexuality wasn’t legalised until he was at least 60. That is a lot of years to believe one thing, and have that belief confirmed by legislation. He had simply never had cause to question his beliefs himself because it hadn’t directly affected him personally… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Anne2 I think it depends on what you mean by “getting his head round”. Unlike Interested Observer I still come across many people who have genuinely never thought the issue of homosexuality through. Whatever my be on the statute books, we don’t tend to really grapple with a subject until we have an actual need to do so. And I still through Facebook get contacts with people who genuinely ask very basic questions but who are willing to listen. I find it puzzling but humbling. Sometimes it’s even very young people who have grown up in very evangelical households and… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

And getting back to FD Blanchard’s question – the new Bishop of Durham was a signatory of the Coalition 4 Marriage anti marriage equality campaign.

Seems the substance is getting flimsier and flimsier.

David
Guest
David

Erica Thank you for a typically thoughtful post but you write ‘while I know the motivation of those who talk to me privately and to seriously try to understand, I am far less certain that the same can be said about church at large yet.’ Who or what exactly is ‘the church at large’? There is no such group or being or entity. How is such a being addressed, challenged or evangelised rather than condemned? I find the stories of vulnerable conversations and disturbing epiphanies of understanding from Anne2 and others moving and encouraging and honourable. I can match them.… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Anne2, I am perfectly prepared to believe that there are people in society who are profoundly ignorant of LGBT issues. I suspect that you are more understanding of them than you would be if they turned up and and used racist language to articulate a disapproval of black priests (which would, if we’re playing the “what was accepting in 1955” game, pass the same test), but perhaps I’m wrong and you are willing to start from the starting point with all of them. However, your examples are a somewhat missing the point. Firstly, your old man who was sixty when… Read more »

Rev'd Laurence Roberts
Guest
Rev'd Laurence Roberts

Episcopacy isn’t working. These people who are meant to lead are having to be nursed along and compared by Ann2 to elderly people who have not kept up with the News, let alone current affairs or their reading. 3 serving diocesans and a suffragan have to my knowledge spoken up for gays. I t will not do. The house / college of bishops en bloc have failed to speak up for us. For this reason, among others, fewer and fewer of us bother with the Church. The bishops need to say with immediate effect, that all ministers and / or… Read more »

Ian Paul
Guest

But isn’t it fascinating that, when the C of E is reaching ‘new lows of credibility’ it is the time when a number of dioceses are actually beginning to show signs of significant numerical growth.

I wonder why that is?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David, yes, the church at large was not a very clear statement! Like Interested Observer in the comment following mine I am most concerned about priests and bishops. About the people who make church policy and rules, about the laity in Deanery, Diocesan and General Synod, and about priests on the ground who influence how their own individual church responds to Christian challenges. It is that “church” made up of educated people who HAVE been thinking about homosexuality for a long long time that worries me. As contact point for Changing Attitude I get to hear appalling of incidents of… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“But isn’t it fascinating that, when the C of E is reaching ‘new lows of credibility’ it is the time when a number of dioceses are actually beginning to show signs of significant numerical growth.” Those facts are not in opposition to each other, if facts they are. The CofE has historically had a lot of influence on English civil society, and the views of its bishops have been taken seriously in parliament. The ABC has a direct line to the Prime Minister and to influential commentators, and what he says has historically not only been reported, but often listened… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Anne2, I would echo the sentiments that there’s a huge difference between educated people wielding actual power to discriminate, from a sheltered parishioner. For the latter a deeply pastoral response is required, some talking, some exposing, some clarifying, as you have described. The problem is with those with power to harm. I’m glad some are coming around, for whatever reason. Given that all the discrimination is in place, people have a right to be skeptical, even as I hope that they encourage these bishops. Time will tell. Is this a real sea change that will lead to full inclusion in… Read more »

Rev'd Laurence Roberts
Guest
Rev'd Laurence Roberts

I am so glad that these two dioceses at least, will now be having services of Thanksgiving & blessing, following civil partnerships.

How very wonderful !

JCF
Guest
JCF

While I think most everything that needs to be said in this thread has been, I couldn’t help but notice the archly asked “I wonder why that is?” from Ian Paul. Never having heard of Ian Paul before, I followed his link to his website. There I found “How could God communicate to me that gay relationships are as hallowed as opposite-gender ones? By not condemning it unilaterally throughout Scripture, by not rooting human identity in gender-differentiation, by Jesus overturning contemporary Jewish morality (as he was happy to do on numerous other issues), and by Paul including gender as a… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Well, if we analyse the bible at that basic level (and that’s astonishing coming from a very nuanced biblical scholar like Ian – JCF, you should read the fantastic work he’s done on women priests and a lot of other topics), then I will be persuaded that gay relationships are not a God given gift if someone can show me a very clear instance where a stable, faithful, committed and faith focused same sex relationship is explicitly condemned in the bible.

David
Guest
David

I agree with you Erica
I have a lot of respect for Ian Paul as a theological teacher but the strange thing about his use of such flat, off the page, linear logic here is that this is precisely the ‘literal’ reading of scripture he so effectively challenges con evos for using when they are arguing against women/bible/bishops.
The change of theological method here is quite startling.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Ancient culture was pretty much organized with women as chattel, so even today’s opposite gender marriages aren’t really “Biblical.” To extrapolate Biblical marriage and apply it to faithful gay couples makes about as much sense as looking to the Bible for input on the internet and rockets. The best we have is Jesus defending outcasts against those who would use the law to exclude and demean people. That’s pretty good! And when Paul says that in Christ there’s no male or female, Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, etc., it certainly gives strength to the idea of ALL people created… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“and by Paul including gender as a difference that was dissolved in Christ. Unfortunately, none of these has happened.”

I’m no theologian, so I may be overlooking a subtlety, either in Ian Paul’s scholarship or in JCF’s argument.

But as Cynthia says, didn’t Paul write that in Christ there is no male and female?

Am I missing something? Or is Ian Paul missing something?

MarkBrunson
Guest

I believe Cynthia has it – despite all efforts to establish a rigorous dogmatic or systematic theology, religious conviction must remain subjective. All the canons can do, all the Councils have done, is provide a framework for all these intensely individual religious positions to occupy the same planet. Religious strictures can be no more than a sort of diplomatic courtesy, not a claim to the ONE TRUTH.

The Bible is a Rohrschach test because that is all it can ever be. Each experiences God subjectively.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Mark
That sounds quite dogmatic to me.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Of course.

It is my personal dogma, just as yours is that that is dogmatic! 🙂

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I’m not quite sure how Mark’s statement can be seen as dogmatic. There is nothing scientifically objective we can know about God, not even whether he exists.
By definition what we believe and how we experience him has to be subjective.

We can choose to accept a set body of theology, but it’s still a subjective choice.

MarkBrunson
Guest

I chose to take David Runcorn’s comment as playful. If not, Erika’s response is more than adequate.

April Alexander
Guest
April Alexander

There is a fundamental mistake in many of the comments above which suggest that those “under 30” think the Church is stupid or whatever. In my experience, speaking on these matters to Church members, the generation which can remember the 1967 Act coming in and those which followed are equally convinced. Above all, they now recognise that they know a good number of gay people when they may well have been ignorant of that in the past. Where I have found an intergenerational difference of opinion, it has been on equal marriage; civil partnerships are fine by most older people… Read more »