Wednesday, 28 February 2007

GS: Lesbian and Gay Christians

General Synod discussed Lesbian and Gay Christians this morning and, on a show of hands, passed the following motion by a substantial majority.

That this Synod
(a) commend continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion;
(b) recognise that such efforts would not be advanced by doing anything that could be perceived as the Church of England qualifying its commitment to the entirety of the relevant Lambeth Conference Resolutions (1978:10; 1988:64; 1998:1.10);
(c) welcome the opportunities offered by these Lambeth Resolutions, including for the Church of England to engage in an open, full and Godly dialogue about human sexuality; and
(d) affirm that homosexual orientation in itself is no bar to a faithful Christian life or to full participation in lay and ordained ministry in the Church and acknowledge the importance of lesbian and gay members of the Church of England participating in the listening process as full members of the Church.

The motion started as this private motion proposed by the Revd Mary Gilbert.

That this Synod acknowledge the diversity of opinion about homosexuality within the Church of England and that these divergent opinions come from honest and legitimate attempts to read the scriptures with integrity, understand the nature of homosexual orientation, and respect the patterns of holy living to which lesbian and gay Christians aspire; and, bearing in mind this diversity,
(a) agree that a homosexual orientation in itself is no bar to a faithful Christian life;
(b) invite parish and cathedral congregations to welcome and affirm lesbian and gay Christians, lay and ordained, valuing their contribution at every level of the Church; and
(c) urge every parish to ensure a climate of sufficient acceptance and safety to enable the experience of lesbian and gay people to be heard, as successive Lambeth Conferences in 1978 (resolution 10), 1988 (resolution 64), and 1998 (resolution 1.10) have requested.

However the House of Bishops was not happy with this motion, so on their behalf the Bishop of Gloucester proposed the amendment below to completely reword the motion.

Leave out all words after “this Synod” and insert the words:
“(a) commend continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion;
(b) recognise that such efforts would not be advanced by doing anything that could be perceived as the Church of England qualifying its commitment to the entirety of the relevant Lambeth Conference Resolutions (1978:10; 1988:64; 1998:1.10); and
(c) affirm that homosexual orientation in itself is no bar to a faithful Christian life or to full participation in lay and ordained ministry in the Church.”.

But Mr John Ward thought this went too far so he proposed the amendment below to the Bishop’s amendment.

(i) After paragraph (b) insert as a new paragraph
(c) welcome the opportunities offered by these Lambeth Resolutions, including for the Church of England to engage in an open, full and Godly dialogue about human sexuality;
and re-letter the remaining paragraph accordingly; and
(ii) at the end of paragraph (d) as re-lettered insert the words “and acknowledge the importance of lesbian and gay members of the Church of England participating in the listening process as full members of the Church.”

Both the amendment and the amendment to the amendment were carried by Synod so that the final motion put to Synod was as shown at the top.

Immediately after the opening speech of the debate there were motions to move to next business and then to adjourn the debate but Synod wanted to proceed with the debate and defeated both these procedural motions.

There was another amendment, but it was heavily defeated. We give it below for the record.

At the end insert as a new paragraph:
(d) (or (e) as the case may be) in the light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Presidential Address given on Monday 26th February 2007 ask the Mission and Public Affairs Council to research, prepare and publish missiological ideas for clergy and parishes seeking to share faith with and disciple those who are lesbian and gay.

The background papers to this debate are available online: GS Misc 842A from Mary Gilbert and GS Misc 842B from the House of Bishops.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 2:20pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

Such warmth, such an effulgent, inspirational and generous expression of God's Grace.

Not.

And yet again Lambeth '98 1:10 is re-enforced as being 'authoritative church teaching' by those who have no authority to declare it as such.

Such a gentle, quiet scandal.

And so frighteningly in tandem with the passage of Nigeria's new law.

There's gonna have to be some clever magic to make the CofE and the AC viable options for halfway decent folks to want to associate with after all this malarky. I'm thinking 'surely this can't be real, surely the ABC has something under his mitre to explain all this' - why he watches Nigerian ANGLICANS do what they are doing without a squeak of protest and allows this weird elevation of Lambeth 'resolutions' and Primates' communiques to become qualifying appendices to the creeds.

I feel like I've just realized the faith I previously subscribed to was really a very, very dark joke.

Posted by: matthew hunt on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 3:22pm GMT

Is it significant that the resolution affirms homosexual orientation but makes no mention of homosexual practise?

Posted by: Athos on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 3:24pm GMT

The bishops are as fearful of divisions as they are of gay believers. Indeed, as happens in biological families, too, the overall tone is a tad tilted towards: Why did you come Out? Are you trying to hurt the family?

The questions we entertain will certainly include asking how well the previous efforts to be gently condemning are sufficient discernment?

The current effective teachings offer gentle breathing space only under carefully balanced real world circumstances which may easily fall apart or evolve towards more destructive or more enlightened further positions.

Forty years isn't much in the long lives of big time church institutions. Forty years of human life is about half of the whole, and even more if you realize that childhood and youth need such a long time for us to grow and develop.

But there is adult development, too.

Queer folks and their friends and their family members have started to move, to live, together, far beyond the boundaries and nuanced limits set in the going church life contexts.

Push was bound to come to shove, because the tentative and gingerly ...Maybe? ... which would appear to be the official CoE position, is now a resounding ... Yes ... in the real daily lives of so many queer people, along with so many of their friends in daily life, and along with so many members of their biological families.

To put it bluntly, queer thriving has not proved to be a second-rate order of creation; indeed, animal analogues of queer thriving (pair bonding plus effective parenting in animal species) have been documented all over the planet. Queer stuff is a stable statistical minority grounding of our natural animal/human heritages, evolved.

We are being a bit more honest with ourselves these days. Few people actually believe now (at least in UK?) that condemning and punishing queer folks does anything good for them, except drive them back underground to survive in hiding. If crime and punishment were going to eradicate queer folks, surely our bloody past violence would already have ground them into dust?

We can of course be sorry for the bishops that the data so quickly outdistanced their best efforts, but hey, if you do not wish to know the truth as it pulls traditional rugs out from under your cherished intellectual definitions of your neighbor as inferior and lacking, avoid science. Keep to the Status Quo.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 3:29pm GMT

All rather wishy-washy - and haven't they noticed that gay and lesbian people cannot participate fully because of Church homophobic regulations?

They just don't get it, and they never will.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 3:40pm GMT

Could have been worse.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 4:33pm GMT

Ah, so, in the C of E Lambeth resolutions are now elevated to semi-canonical status instead of being merely an assembled episcopal opinion.

And how long now before the triple crown is offered to Cantuar and those big, red, flat cardinal hats with those wonderful knotted tassles awarded to each of the Primates?

Posted by: John-Julian, OJN on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 5:09pm GMT

The gadget here no longer remembers me !I feel used ! : -)

Seriously, I take back my first comment on the motion passed by Synod this morning. I do, in fact, having 'taken five', think it both very encouraging in the current climate; and substantially positive in itself.

The Synod has over-ruled the dour bishops, and turned this back into a postive affirmation of listening, of lesbian and gay church members, of Godiness. It is clear that the Synod was in no mood to be bounced into the puissilaneity of the bishops,or the anti-gay rhetoric of those who would impose upon the Church a narrowness of mind and heart, more appropriate to a marginal sect; declining to give succour, to those at home and abroad who would devalue and impugne an entire category / race of people, in the name patriarchy dressed up as the message of JESUS.

They have acknowledged the range and diversity of views on sexuality; and the need for sharing, listening, discussion. No specious talk of 'standard' teaching. No pretense. Honesty. Lambeth 1.10 looks very different when set in this context, 'in its entirety' and we in ours !

And lesbian and gay people also look very different when see en Christo, and allowed to be more than scape-goats for the ills of the modern family and society.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 5:22pm GMT

Is it significant that the resolution affirms homosexual orientation but makes no mention of homosexual practise?

Posted by: Athos on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 3:24pm GMT

To answer your question simply & briefly ---
in a word "NO!"

There is NO such thing as 'homosexual practise'.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 6:29pm GMT

I wrote my reaction to this, before any responses were published here.

I am sorry for the hurt and discouragement.

I do feel the Synod has been quite affirmative, but also I take heart form the motions they have rejected. e.g. cf the Perkins' motion.

I do feel with other lgbt people how ignorant and unfeeling much of the bishops' stuff is. But today surprised me. Maybe my level of expectation has been ground down.

What do others think ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 7:19pm GMT

Frankly, I don't think Peter Akinola is going to like this, particularly. I'm really surprised -- since he seems to be calling the shots in the Anglican Communion right now -- that he hasn't come after the CofE like he has we folks in the Episcopal Church.

Posted by: John N Wall on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 7:32pm GMT

This is a sort of - we have different views, we welcome gay and lesbian orientation (but leave out the fulness of gay and lesbian life - we can't handle that yet) and, er, we are stuck in a rut.

Another thought: down in Abuja they won't be too happy with the drift of the sentiment in both motions, will they, even though each is about being stuck. One way out of the mud rut may be if Nigeria gets the hint.

Pity no one is proposing an emergency motion about the situation in Nigeria, its legislation and the abuse of human rights with its Church support. Can they do emergency motions? It would be interesting to see how bishops might sit on one.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 10:00pm GMT

"...homosexual orientation in itself is no bar to a faithful Christian life..."

How nice.

Being a woman is no bar to living a faithful Christian life, either.

It's just what is meant by a faithful Christian life for a woman or a gay? Or a child being molested by a church leader? Or an indigenous child stolen and put into a suitable Christian family? Or a slave or poor person in a nation with no labour laws?

What is meant by "life"? Existing and subsisting, outcaste and living in fear of violation; often made manifest?

There is no fundamental underpinning on the dignity of life or reverence towards that which God has made. Life is negotiable. Half lifes acceptable.

The Nigerian legislation is of no concern, and similar legislation would be introduced to the UK and other nations where the political climate is in the right season.

The tragedy of all of this is that legislation that can be used against an agreed "disgusting" minority, can set the precedent to be escalated to be applied to others. What is wrong with imprisoning Christian apostates in Muslim nations (or vice versa)? Their apostasy has as much stench as homosexuality to some souls.

One thing that many souls should have learnt, at least from Australian history, is that many legislative things introduced for one good reason end up becoming distorted and very difficult to rectify e.g. gerrymandering.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 10:02pm GMT

I agree with Cheryl - and as to the impending Nigerian law I have written to the HBT-group of the Swedish parliament, the Ministers of Justice and Migration, the Archbishop of Uppsala, Amnesty Sweden and a couple of newspapers.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 5:18am GMT

Laurence wrote: The Synod has overruled the dour bishops.

Actually, unless I miscounted, most bishops, including the Bishop of Gloucester, voted for the John Ward amendment. It helpfully made explicit what the Gloucester amendment implied.

The problem with Gilbert was that the preamble to the resolutions was badly drafted and capable of being twisted by outsiders in different directions - not a good idea at present, and the biblical analysis in her background paper was woeful and was demolished early in the debate by Prof Thistleton.

Posted by: David Walker on Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 7:52am GMT

"Frankly, I don't think Peter Akinola is going to like this, particularly. I'm really surprised -- since he seems to be calling the shots in the Anglican Communion right now -- that he hasn't come after the CofE like he has we folks in the Episcopal Church."

Verbally, he has made his disgust with the liberalism of the C of E perfectly clear, and I suspect that if he feels emboldened by the results of Tanzania as they unfold he will certainly move into more aggressive gear against Canterbury. He thinks that God raised him up to save the Anglican Communion, and of course he believes that the rot must be attacked at its fount and origin in the Church of England itself.

Posted by: Fr Joe O'Leary on Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 11:55am GMT

Oh I didnt mean the poor bishops were just having an isolated sudden bout, or episode of 'dourness' David Walker.
(I could have choen a from a range of other words, but dourness won out over the anglo-saxon possibilities),

No, the bishops of the C of E have been failing lgbt people for a very, very long time now. Their muddle, duplicity, spinlessness and hyporcracy have been of concern ffor many years.

Let there be no room for doubt. I am speaking of their disgraceful treatment of real pople and the suffering their pastoral insensitivity has caused. But also, they have decieved and lied. Said one thing and done another. Even those bishops who have privately supported individual lesbian and gay people , or couples, have with few exceptions, not had the balls to support us publically. And they are all culpable for the so-called Pastoral Letter on CPs and for their so-called 'policy'.

Few of them stood up to Carey, few spoke out at Labeth '98 ---oh with the honourable exception of one Rowan Wilas (and a number of others). BUT even those who did speak against Lambeth 1.10 and pleged their support in that Letter ---have they really supported lesbian and gay anglicans and members of the public ? Have they worked structurally, prophetically and if be, at cost to themselves and their careers to make good their promise ?

They stood by and watched the Osbourne Report and June Osbourne ditched and replaced with 'Some Issues'.

Daivid --dour is far too weak a word.

Don't get me started!

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 12:36pm GMT

Hi drdanfee

Lower animals do not look to higher animals to teach them how to behave.

Yet what you are proposing is much more strange: that the higher should learn from the lower.

The very fact that we can be self-critical about our actions proves that we are in a different category from those animals who act purely by instinct. We by contrast can choose to act morally, ie in the interests of the greater good rather than immediate self-gratification.

Observing my parents' cats it is possible to attribute practically 100% of their actions to gravitating towards self-gratification. Unless or until they have a Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (or Garden of Eden) moment, that will remain inevitable. But humans have already had such a moment long ago.

There is also the danger that if you implicitly treat humans as not merely mere animals but actually lower than animals and needing to learn from animals, they will act accordingly. Of course, I am generalising, and there is always 'Go to the ant, thou sluggard'. The point is that animals which can and can't override instinct should not be treated in the same category as one another. Thus the idea that humans are not 'just' animals seems sound: they have reached the next level by being self-critical, unpredictable, diverse - and by their fast-accelerating mass of inventions. The gap between humans and other animals is comparable in degree to that between animals and plants, and this is why putting humans in a different category is sound.
This does all also mean that humans have a greater capacity for evil - and insofar as one can remedy evil by returning to nature I would agree with you. But a lot of 'nature' is fairly amoral and neutral.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 12:45pm GMT

David's post makes me woncer if too much time is expended on ANALYZING the Bible and demolishing people. Do they god together ?

Will this lead us to G-D ?

Are professors and bishops really the ones to lead us to God's Kin-dom either ?
(On a reading, but not analysis, of the Gospels, say...)

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 1:24pm GMT

Been doing a bit of composting then, Christopher.
great weather for it !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 1:26pm GMT

Sadly, I too thought the background paper invited a kicking.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 1:54pm GMT

I found a movie that's really helped me and my church with all this, God & gays: Bridging the gap (www.godandgaysthemovie.com). I think it's smart, it actually offers a little comic relief and it's told from the perspective of these people who are directly effected by harmful and discriminatory resolutions in the name of G-d. Sometimes I find we forget these are human beings...and not some disfigured unknown threatening our families and marriages. I don't know...this movie really helped. Check it out.

Posted by: Sarah on Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 11:55pm GMT

CS so amuses me.

The "higer animals" who overlooked the needs of abused women amd children until the litigation courts court up with them?

Plus, I have to admit that at least a female cat in heat is honest. She is in heat and it is up to the male to protect her if he wants to sire her progeny. If he isn't prepared to look out for her, then he really has no right to complain who services her.

I have spent the day bemused at Christians who think that God only flatters them. Apparently, anyone who might discipline them is from the antichrist (check out Catholic News Service whom I am no longer allowed to hyperlink lest I break copyright rules). At least the antichrist is honest, we know he is going to look for the loopholes and the exceptions to justify his behaviour. What the Christians have failed to recognise is that God imposes rules, and the antichrist has to play within those rules. What they have also failed to recognise is that the antichrist is the refuge for those rejected by the puritans.

I wonder how many souls realise that the antichrist will cooperate with a soul that redeems some of the forsaken? That the antichrist might see that soul as a friend? Victory comes not when you become your enemy but when you transcend your enemy, that is what the imagery about the Leviathian in Job is all about...

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 2 March 2007 at 8:28am GMT
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