Tuesday, 15 November 2016
GAFCON UK issues Lambeth 1.10 hitlist
Updated yet again Tuesday 22 November
Update GAFCON UK has today issued this further document The Lambeth I:10 Briefing: Process and Motive, Truth and Love which seeks to justify the original statement.
This statement from GAFCON UK was issued on Sunday: The Church of England and Lambeth 1:10.
This paper was recently presented as a briefing to the GAFCON Primates on the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes, teaching and practice on sexual ethics, official and unofficial. It argues that the Church of England has already ‘crossed the line’ by allowing a culture to develop where violations of Lambeth Resolution 1:10 are increasingly prevalent. It is published with permission…
The document has been reported on by Christian Today Row Over Release Of Gay Clergy List and now also with this: Gafcon Gay Clergy List Prompts Hundreds To Sign ‘Proud List Of Violators’
and by Premier Radio GAFCON defends decision to release list of gay Church of England clergy.
LGCM has issued a press release condemning the document: LGCM condemns GAFCON’s attempt to shame LGBT Christians.
Jeremy Pemberton has commented on his personal blog You know who you are.
Rachel Mann has also commented on her blog Dear Anonymous UK GAFCON Guy.
The LGBTI Mission has also issued a condemnation of the GAFCON UK action: Lambeth 1.10 hitlist condemned.
And there is now a website where people can sign up to be on record as “violators” or “supporters”.
Law & Religion UK has an article too: GAFCON, Lambeth I:10 and the Church of England.
Andrew Lightbown has written on his blog: An open letter to GAFCON: not good enough.
LGCM now also has this: Introducing the Inaugural LGCM/GAFCON Rainbow List: let’s help them do the job properly!
One of those named in the original GAFCON UK article has sent us this response:
Waking up on Tuesday morning to find myself on a list of “named and shamed” by GAFCON UK was a bit of a surprise. The fact that they are presumptuous enough to ‘out’ someone’s theology without engaging with them or even checking their facts properly is extraordinary. A few months ago I asked to have a cup of tea with a member of GAFCON UK to correct their assumptions and discuss biblical interpretations. This priest sadly refused to meet me. I find that action alone so deeply ungracious and disrespectful. How can we try to evangelize a loving God when the clergy cannot even demonstrate decent human courtesy to one another?
The Rev’d Charlotte Bannister-Parker
The University Church
Readers may be interested to note that GAFCON UK has made a number of corrections to the original text of the article, which are noted in a large number of additional footnotes.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Tuesday, 15 November 2016 at 11:00am GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
The naming and shaming of people's personal sexual lives and orientation...
How very very sad. Sad in the pathetic sense, I mean.
Who are these people, who feel commissioned to police our sexualities?
And what do you think the world around us thinks of this kind of mentality?
Is it any wonder that people increasingly find the Church irrelevant to their lives, or even at times repellent?
Well - hey - I am so so happy in my relationship with my wonderful butch partner. I love lesbian sex, I love lesbian love even more. I love the fellow understanding I share with other lesbian people: that we have something lovely, marvellous, beautiful, loving, happy.
And I totally affirm and support all gay guys, all bi-men and women, all trans people, all genderqueer people, all kinds of people in alternative lifestyles of sexual/gender expressions...
...to live their lives to fulfilment, to draw strength from each other, to be joyful and flourishing.
And I give thanks to God for so much grace in all our diversities - and for the people named and listed in this sad little document.
I read this, and I see the death-throes of a paradigm that has more in common with radical Islam or ultra-orthodox Judaism than with the actual, decent, loving lives of people in our communities... their fidelities, their sacrifices, their tenderness, their love.
Strange letter, excellent replies!
I'm a bit miffed that after years of campaigning I've clearly failed to make an impact. GAFCON, if you want to complete your list some time, I'm happy to be added: same sex married, lay, passionate campaigner for lgbt inclusion. Thank you.
Did all the people 'outed' in this report give their consent to be outed?
Be clear, that individuals have a right to choose who they out themselves to.
Guidelines from the Crown Prosecution Service:
"The word "out" refers to the extent to which a member of the LGBT communities is known as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or a trans person by others. Many LGBT people may be out to certain groups of people, such as their friends, but not out to other groups, such as their families or their work colleagues.
“Outing occurs when a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is made known or more widely known to others than the person wishes it to be known. Being outed is the term given to the process by which this occurs.
Being outed can be a matter of serious concern to LGBT people... about the possible consequences for them and often for their families, and for the way in which they conduct their lives if knowledge of their sexual orientation or gender identity becomes known or more widely known than the person wishes. CPS staff should also be aware that section 22 of the GRA 2004 restricts the circumstances in which information about a person's gender history may be disclosed."
Take a look at Derbyshire County Council’s guidelines:
"Examples of anti-gay bullying and harassment include: outing an individual as LGBT without their permission."
As CPS says, LGBT people may be partially 'out' to some people but not to others, and that is *their* right to decide. Therefore public naming and shaming takes no account of the right of the LGBT person NOT to have their sexual preferences broadcast far and wide across the internet.
Salford University: "types of behaviour that can amount to harassment that may constitute a criminal or civil offence: outing someone as gay without their permission."
If you 'out' someone in a prejudicial manner without their permission that quite probably constitutes a hate crime. Speaking as a trans person mostly living in stealth in my private life, I do not want people coming and posting dog-shit through my letter box, or assaulting me in the street, because they have learned I am trans. I choose to out myself here in this quite self-contained forum. I am not open in my wider life, even with some work colleagues.
Indiscriminate outing is deeply disrespectful and may endanger safety.
Jeremy's right. Who DID write that sick little article?
So, someone in GAFCON is good at research. Otherwise, this is the same old same old. It begins with the false premise that Lambeth was some sort of consistory developing policy rather than an opportunity for bishops to share with one another and on that basis express opinions.
I am certainly troubled at what appears to be shaming. That said, the links show that these events were already public. It can only add to the stress, but won't be where the stress started. Moreover, this was not written for you or I, those who understand the limitations of even Instruments of Communion. This was written to rally folks already committed.
Don't get me wrong. This is certainly a stumbling block, one that "cries 'Lord, Lord,' but does not know" Jesus. We need to be sure our brothers and sisters, including those who are GLBTI, feel welcomed and safe. But this, for all its ambition and hype, is not something new.
My name should be added to the list, since in August I presided over a wedding eucharist and blessing at the American Cathedral in Paris for a gay couple who had already married civilly, as required in France. Many of the guests told me that they found the service deeply moving.
Lambeth 1.10 doesn't actually say what GAFCON claim. They have accurately quoted it but they are reading in meaning which is not in the wording.
1. It doesn't actually say that marriage is only between one man and one woman. When carefully read, it states merely that if a man and woman do marry that they should be faithful lifelong.
2. It doesn't forbid provinces from recognising or blessing same sex marriages, it just merely states that the Lambeth gathering was not itself in a position to authorise such unions.
Now it might be that the resolution was poorly worded, but equally it is possible that the resolution only passed because it stopped short of saying what GAFCON claim. We will never know. But the resolution is the resolution and GAFCON should not be allowed to twist it into saying more than it says.
Not quite sure why commenters are so outraged. I realise GAFCON and everything they represent are not popular here, but every case they mention is supported by a freely available link to a story in the public domain. Indeed, a good half of the links are to pieces which are promoting or positively covering the story in question. They are not 'outing' anyone, or 'naming and shaming'. It is a briefing for people outside the situation in England, to highlight that, despite the House of Bishops 'official' position, the situation on the ground is far more advanced towards the liberal position than some might realise.
What a state the Church of England has got into! Will anyone ever be able to bring sanity back? It's a real challenge for Justin Welby. I certainly would not like to be in his shoes.
NJ, true the list doesn't represent any new depravity in GAFCON thinking.
True, all the information compiled here is publicly available.
But then what is sinister is the compiling of the list. It's rather like when lists of targets are found when terrorist suspects are arrested. All the info may be publicly available, (where shopping centres are, where Lambeth Palace is etc.) but sometimes the act of compiling the list itself is a threatening act. Given the history of hate activities by GAFCON, this certainly is menacing.
What if someone trawled through Facebook and compiled a list of all the gay people in the civil service on there and then published it. Or all the black people in Guildford. Still ok with you?
Just when I thought that my reservoir of outrage had been spent in the last week or so...
The writer is a coward who outs others but not himself. Outing people without consent is a violation of spirit.
The act was reckless and potentially exposes the outed people to abuse of various sorts. Having said that, I suppose it can be viewed as a badge of honor to be named.
The increase in hate rhetoric and hate crimes does up the ante here. There is a role for the church in sharing the Good News of God's Love for ALL, and the call to love one's neighbor. Are CoE leaders going to buck up the moral spine to speak the healing truth? It would be great to see solidarity in the Church Universal on the issues of respect and dignity for all of God's Children.
A hundred and twenty years ago the Evangelical Church Association ( now Society ) published lists of ritualistic clergy, listing their churches with categories like eastward position, chasuble etc...
So not much has changed......plus ca change?
The Church of England has brought this upon itself. By not taking a stronger stand, earlier, for tolerance and against oppression, the Church of England has betrayed British principles and has painted itself into a small and steadily shrinking counter-cultural corner.
I would urge both Archbishops to remember that they are Primates of England, not the Communion. The Archbishops' first duties are to England, where tolerance and liberalism are well advanced.
The Communion is nothing more than a family of churches. So it is not Cantuar's job, in particular, to impose the Communion majority's views on England. Rather it is Cantuar's job to make clear that Communion members can disagree, sometimes on fundamental matters.
Cantuar should stop trying to fake uniformity at home, and should start modeling healthy disagreement abroad.
What a laughing stock this all makes us to non believers, history says when we ignore our mission to others with internal feuds our mission suffers and other faiths thrive including secularism, read about the issues of whether Jesus was fully human or fully divine - circa 700 AD to see what happened then. We learn nothing from history.
It was meant to be a threat, pure and simple. Unfortunately for them, they have no power, and the threat is little and makes them look petty and vengeful.
I don't think this makes us a laughing stock to non believers - they're not even aware this is happening.
This is a pure bubble event. If you're in the same social media bubble, you know about GAFCON, maybe even care about GAFCON, and you may have heard about this letter and the hilarious response it provoked.
But even in Christian and CoE circles outside this rather narrow bubble, the majority response I saw yesterday was "who or what is GAFCON" and "is anyone going to care about what they think"?
People within the bubble tend to seriously overestimate their own importance.
"What a laughing stock this all makes us to non believers"
The Church of England could distance itself from GAFCON. It doesn't. It doesn't even pretend to. Members of the CofE who are not homophobic bigots (ie, the vast majority) might like to ask their Archbishop of Canterbury why he is a supporter of bigotry. Occam's Razor says that Justin Welby supports and engages with people who want to harm gay people because he wants to harm gay people. If there is a more subtle explanation - which still explains Welby's refusal to do anything other than cozy up to and appease GAFCON - then perhaps CofE members might be able to get him to advance it.
At the moment, it appears that the CofE has a very large number of people that Lenin described as "useful idiots": people willing to accept the basic decency of a leader, even when his very actions belie that idea.
Fr Andrew, I don't think either of those comparisons work. Let me hypothesise another which I think would be a parallel situation. Imagine in a few decades the CofE has fully backed SSM. All clergy are required to marry same-sex couples under the same rules currently governing heterosexual marriages. There is no opt-out. Stories regularly appear in the press of clergy who are still refusing to conduct marriages for same-sex couples. Some clergy even publicise their refusal to do so on their church websites or on the Reform website. Jayne Ozanne or someone similar writes an open letter to the House of Bishops compiling all these stories in one place to make the point that the CofE needs to act to ensure its rules are enforced. The letter is published on TA and in a couple of national papers. Is this a sinister act of outing these ministers and churches? The GAFCON piece is saying that the CofE has a clear policy against SSM or any form of blessing for it and against clergy entering SSM etc. But the policy is enforced inconsistently and only occasionally. Here are lots of public examples of people acting against this policy (which goes beyond merely campaigning for it to be changed).
NJ, I can certainly see your point, and of course the GAFCON actions are logical within their particular worldview but I dispute that there is an equivalence as your example is suggesting between holding opinions opposed to gay rights and being gay.
It is less than two hundred years ago that the last gay men were judicially murdered in the UK. Gay men and women continue to be extra-judicially murdered in the UK because of their sexual orientation. Less than fifty years ago homosexual activity between men was illegal in the UK. For huge swathes of human history and across cultures gay people have been persecuted, harassed and oppressed, often more often and more extremely than any other group.
For some in the world, right now, nothing has changed. In Uganda homophobic newspapers regularly print articles identifying gay people, leading, to their harassment, physical danger and sometimes death. That is what comes first to my mind when GAFCON starts printing lists of 'violators.'
When was the last time a conservative evangelical was 'evo-bashed'? Or denied a job because of being a CE? Or made homeless? Or prevented from marrying?
This is *not* some obscure theological dispute between those holding different opinions on, say, the homousios clause.
But having said that, were your 'oppressed homophobes' scenario comparable (it's not, but just say it is) it would be wrong, yes to publish a list personally identifying them.
NJ: "...lots of public examples of people acting against this policy (which goes beyond merely campaigning for it to be changed)..."
...or simply leading ordinary private lives like everyone else in the country is entitled to do?
It is hardly the couples themselves who 'politicise' their private lives. And yet this nasty little document does. And again - even if to some degree some of these people have come 'out' about their relationships (because why should they be ashamed), that doesn't give anyone else the right to 'pre-suppose' that they can be further 'outed' without consultation and consent.
How many times a year do you masturbate? Is that an intrusive question? Should I post about it? No, because it's about your private life. All most of these loving couples want to do is lead their private lives of devotion, care and sacrifice. Their sex lives are not some public business, even if the Church itself is divided about stuff like that. The principle of LGBT practice being tolerated in the Church can be alleged... you could refer to numbers of people you know who do this 'devious' stuff (far less devious, I'd suggest than your hypothetical masturbation, which doubtless goes on in vicarages up and down the land)... but to publicise specific people's private sexual lives for a political purpose and name their names (do all their partners want that? have they been asked/) is still arrogant, especially in the context of an agenda to brand their practices devious and perverse and somehow wrong.
The article is inept, out of order, and deeply disrespectful. The point could have been made without naming people, just as I would not name you if you were a secret onanist, if you were one. Some of these named people have non-Christian partners, who want *nothing* to do with church politics. Were they consulted, their feelings considered, their consent obtained?
Bearing in mind that the majority of people in the Church of England are now fine about gay sex, and the wider nation astonished about the fuss, it might benefit GAFCON and its agents to operate with more finesse, if it honestly wants to win hearts and minds.
Articles like this just make it seem like... I don't know... Westboro Baptist Church?
Like I said at the start of this post, people just want to lead their ordinary, private lives. And the majority of the Church of England are happy for them to do so.
The list of names was crass. It politicises private lives. It pays no heed to the people as people. They become targets, on a hit list, even if no individual harm was intended. It adds to a climate that feels like naming and shaming.
We can all do better.
(Incientally, I will fight to the hilt for the right of dissenting priests NOT to bless or marry gay couples, as a conscience issue. Conscience should be respected, including the consciences of people embroiled in this controversy. Individual PCCs and priests should be allowed to exercise conscience as to whether they bless/marry LGBT people or not. We are divided deeply on this issue, and the alternative to enforced uniformity is schism.)
NJ, your Gedankenexperiment has a rather obvious flaw. There is good reason to believe that a significant number of GAFCON supporters wish real, physical violence against gay people. Therefore, publishing a list of people whom GAFCON view as enemies can easily be seen as an attempt to provoke violence: GAFCON would basically deploy the old "well, we ourselves are peaceful men who find ourselves unable to contain our more enthusiastic supporters, and if you wish for peace, perhaps you might like to give us what we want" argument. And of course, those claims of distance are entirely disingenuous: senior GAFCON bishops have been advocates of criminalisation which, in the countries they represent, is tantamount to violence.
There is no history of violence from supporters of SSM, nor any possible evidence that supporters of SSM are covertly plotting violent means to reach their ends. Therefore, the pragmatic impact of such a list of refuseniks would be entirely different.
the policy is not enforced inconsistently and only occasionally.
Every priest on this list who entered into a same sex marriage was disciplined. There are no rules about how harshly to discipline priests and Readers. Some might wish they existed, but they don't.
Other clergy listed have made use of the CoE permission to offer pastorally appropriate prayers at same sex weddings and civil partnerships. There is no indication that any of them broke the rules and used unauthorised liturgy.
The list includes clergy and lay campaigners who have been included simply because they work towards a change in official policy.
The same is true for the campaigning organisations listed.
Nowhere does Lambeth I.10 specify that people may not work towards change and that this particular part of the Lambeth document has the character of eternal infallibility.
They really had to scrape the barrel to elevate perfectly acceptable activity to the level of violation.
The whole list is nothing but hilarious.
What a wonderful list at Lambeth110.com (and growing - 245 signatories at last count) with so many moving comments and affirmations.
Lesbian, bi- and gay love and trans/genderqueer identities are alive and well (and thriving and serving) in the Church of England.
If people seek to denigrate or shame us, we can smile back and know we're winning, we're accepted by more and more people, we are here, we are embedded, we are going nowhere - and the pretty rubbishly-researched article completely left most of us out, and is frankly living in denial of this fact:
Most people in the Church of England today are okay with LGBT lives, love and sex.
I'm afraid the GAFCON article has been turned on its head and 'owned' as they say on the internet.
Loving all the personal statements people are posting there. This is not theory, this is our lives.
Our very personal, private lives - not your property at all.
Formalising arrangements for same sex marriages cannot be said to risk schism: this document shows that the risk already exists and will continue to grow because GAFCON are intolerant not just of informal arrangements but even of those who campaign for change.
As a bisexual Jewish ally of the liberal wing of The Episcopal Church (USA), and by extension, of the same wing of the Church of England, GAFCON is more than welcome to quote me as saying Bigotry is incompatible with the social justice message of the prophets. Hatred solely because people are different is incompatible with numerous passages in the Christian Scriptures. And, I believe Jesus of Nazareth had a word or two for sanctimonious hypocrites who were more concerned about their neighbors' alleged bad behavior than their own.
Really appreciate Charlotte's gracious response to an ungracious letter.
Interested Observer, Welby refuses to affirm same-sex relationships for two reasons: church unity; and biblical authority. Everything we've seen suggests that, by inclination, he'd support LGBT people in a heartbeat.
That doesn't mitigate the harm done, but it does highlight just what progressives are up against: a doctrine that causes good people to adopt terrible positions. Welly, Wright, Broadbent (a man who *fought for gay rights* in the 80s): the English hierarchy is filled with bishops who aren't personally homophobic, but consider their hands tied.
There's only two ways this'll ever change: persuade a majority of evangelicals that the Bible can be read in an affirming way; or persuade them to reconsider biblical authority.
Thank you Charlotte. You have shown Gafcon for what it is, lacking in courtesy, and above all Christian love. A very dangerous combination.
The GAFCON list is wonderfully desperate. We should be encouraging them to complete it. Ropes and self-hanging come to mind. I can understand some of the conevo arguments about theology, even though I don't necessarily hold their views myself. But the list shows them up as worse than nasty.
It needs to be recognised that in GAFCON there is a very nasty streak of double-predestination Calvinism which is getting more and more strident, though I suspect it is embraced only by a few. Those of us who differ from them in one theological jot or tittle are reprobate, damned to hell fire from eternity, the Devil's spawn pretending to be Christians. Those like Charlotte Bannister-Parker's neighbour (I guess) would simply argue they are not going to be yoked with unbelievers as an excuse for rudeness. They aren't many, and it wouldn't be hard to name most of them and their churches, but they love their anonymity (see the GAFCON website - barely a name to be seen).
That is why this "outing" is important. Attitudes we thought crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower are back. They are a heresy and it needs to be recognised and called what it truly is.
"Interested Observer, Welby refuses to affirm same-sex relationships for two reasons: church unity; and biblical authority."
No. Welby is plenty willing to go against "biblical authority" on other issues--for example, divorce. Or women bishops.
And I see little threat to the unity of the Church of England on this issue. The real threat is the Church of England rendering itself irrelevant, or rankly intolerant, in the eyes of the society it is supposed to serve.
So I would adjust your statement to say that "Welby refuses to affirm same-sex relationships for one reason: Communion unity."
This version pre-supposes, of course, that a family of churches needs any "unity"--that Communion "unity," in and of itself, is some sort of value. The Communion did not exist until a century and a half ago. Perhaps we can all do without it again?
When we realize that Communion "unity" is the only reason for Welby behaving as he is, we can then understand that Welby is putting his role as so-called instrument of communion above the interests of his English flock.
Welby's role is deeply conflicted. In my opinion, he is resolving that conflict by breaching his duties to the Church of England, and to English souls.
The Lambeth 1.10 word twisters are attempting to unravel the Church again... these elastic fellows of Gafcon are stretching our best effort to forget/forgive them for all the unkindness they have done...must we once more we observe their sexual fantasies in/about other peoples love lives? Leonard Clark
Jeremy, the Bible's mixed on women's authority in a way that it isn't on homosexuality. Personally, I believe that it's unequivocal on divorce, but most evangelicals disagree, putting a lota weight on the "sexual immorality" exception in Matthew, and Paul's letters (particularly 1 Corinthians c.7).
Now, I could put it all down to eisegesis, or peer pressure, but that just doesn't fit those I listed, nor many others; people willing to speak out for their convictions, and who've shown no personal animosity to LGBT people (or, in Broadbent's case, actually fought for gay rights when doing so made you a social pariah). As I noted here previously, John Sentamu was ready to die for his beliefs: if he believed that God wanted to affirm same-sex relationships, is it really credible that he'd stay silent for political reasons?
I could, I guess, attribute it to deep-buried homophobia, but a simpler, and more likely, explanation's that many evangelicals sincerely believe that their hands are tied by biblical authority, and that no convincing affirming hermeneutic's been found.
If social pressure were ever going to move them, it would've done so already. Unless a way can be found to break through this impasse with theological arguments, churches with a high proportion of evangelical members will never move forward on this issue.
I wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall at the upcoming (advertised) meeting of the Archbishop of Canterbury with one of the Gafcon Primates!
Will their conversation include a declaration of independence by Gafcon from the rest of us in the Anglican Communion? I'm expecting it, almost thinking that this could be a fruitful outcome. Homophobia is not an attractive quality - anywhere, nevermind in the Church. Frankly, with such an outlook as the Gafcon Primates have exhibited in their presentation to the C. of E. House of Bishops, they should be given a lesson in Pope Francis' campaign of the Mercy of God in Christ - for all people, especially those we might suspect are not as 'holy' as ourselves.
I do hope the ABC will tell this prelate from the Gafcon lot that Lambeth 1.10 counselled caution about the vilification of LGBT people, believing us to be children of God, the same as everyone else. If they really believe otherwise, then they must make the first move!
In the light of recent relationship between Gafcon and the larger Global South, do you mean Gafcon or the GS tout court "declaring independence"?
"s it really credible that he'd stay silent for political reasons?"
In a word: Yes.
It's too soon for them to declare independence. They want to portrayal the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury as out of step with Lambeth 1.10. This is a battle for the middle ground - getting as many provinces as possible to ditch Canterbury. The latest statement was a salvo in that political battle but they will wait.
cseitz: regarding your question - as to whether any 'declaration of idependance' from the ACC would come from the G.S. Primates as well as their Gafcon colleagues; well that would be purely up to them - except that I think some of the non-Gafcon G.S. Primates and the constituency they represent have a little more breadth of vision than the Gafconites and it would probably take more than issues of gender and sexuality to make them commit to schism.
"If social pressure were ever going to move them, it would've done so already. Unless a way can be found to break through this impasse with theological arguments, churches with a high proportion of evangelical members will never move forward on this issue."
James, you are so right.
Thank you for clarifying you were not unaware that the Global South is the larger entity and that at the last GS meeting a common statement was produced -- including the Gafcon bloc. So when you speak of "declaring independence" in the terms this implies in your comment, it would be a very large bloc. I believe Kate has this correctly noted.
Jeremy, it's possible, but it'd be bizarre: why be prepared to sacrifice your life for your conscience, but not risk political fallout?
Given what we know, far likelier is that Sentamu, and the others, are sincere in their beliefs.
Please can someone help me? My understanding has always been that when a priest blesses people the blessing is not the priest's personal gift to bestow, but God's blessing mediated through the Church and its ordained clergy. In this case, what can it mean when a priest says to a same-sex couple, "God blesses your relationship", while the Church whose ordained servant s/he is proclaims officially, "God doesn't bless your relationship through us"?
I long for the day when the C of E and the Anglican communion will stop blocking the blessing of God from being mediated through priests to ALL who commit themselves to each other in Christian love; but if we are true Anglicans we cannot simply ditch the importance of Church order. Until priests can impart God's blessing to same-sex couples and do it with the Church's full authority, I'm not sure what giving such a blessing can mean, other than in the sense in which we all can say "God bless you" to each other. I wish passionately that things were otherwise, but my question remains.
Barry, do you think God thinks the Church is always right?
And if there are things about the Church that grieve the heart of God, then isn't it entirely reasonable and possible that God may choose to extend blessing and grace through local church communities that in love and good conscience pray for blessing upon devoted human relationships (gay or other).
In short, do we think a blessing only has effect if it's sanctioned by the Church as an organisation, or is God beyond the rules a Church makes, and would bless a gay couple anyway? In which case a dissident priest's blessing is no less potent and arguably an act of resistance and bravery, refusing to close down love... the love of a God whose Spirit wanders where it will.
Love wins, and will win, and in the end local church communities (it is not just a priest) need to exercise their own consciences, and do what is right, and are there really any limitations to the blessing and grace of God?
Correction: the love of God whose Spirit wanders where (s)he wills.
Did not mean to de-personalise the Holy Spirit by using 'it'.
God is three persons - not three things, or vague spiritual forces - in my partial understanding of God.