Thursday, 28 December 2017

Ozanne Foundation launched

There is a press release today, which is copied in full below the fold.

More details from this website:
* About
* Trustees
* Council of Reference
* Charitable Objects

BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL TO CHAIR NEW CHARITY TO ADVANCE ACCEPTANCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF LGBTI PEOPLE BY ALL RELIGIOUS GROUPS

The Rt Revd Paul Bayes is to Chair the Ozanne Foundation, a new charity that will work with religious organisations around the world to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender.

The Charity’s Director, Jayne Ozanne, is a well-known activist within the Church of England and has led a range of initiatives over the past two years to help ensure the Church embraces and celebrate the equality and diversity of all.

Bishop Paul chairs an influential group of ten trustees from across the church traditions, which range from the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd David Ison, to the Editor of the Church of England Newspaper, Colin Blakely. A Council of Reference brings together some of the most outspoken names on LGBTI rights within the Christian Church – including Revd Steve Chalke of the Oasis Foundation, the Very Revd Prof Martin Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Ben Bradshaw MP and the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Jeffrey John.

Speaking about his decision to chair this new foundation, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes said:

“The Church of England has committed herself to what our Archbishops have called radical new Christian inclusion, and has publicly stated that we are against all forms of homophobia. If we mean this, and I believe we do, then we need to find appropriate ways of welcoming and affirming LGBTI people who want their love recognised by the Church. I have long been an admirer of Jayne Ozanne’s strong clear advocacy for LGBTI people and other groups who have suffered hurt and abuse – not least at the hands of the Church - and I believe her work should be actively supported and encouraged.”

The new foundation has been set up to help educate and advocate on LGBTI and gender rights around the world, particularly within religious organisations that are opposed to non-heterosexual relationships. In addition, it will look to foster good relations inside religious organisations that hold conflicting views on sexuality and gender issues.

Based in Oxford, Ozanne has shown an impressive track record in galvanising senior Anglicans to come together to speak out on behalf of the LGBTI community. Last summer she led a Private Member’s Debate in the General Synod that resulted in the Church of England calling on the government to ban Conversion Therapy.

“I am thrilled that so many personal friends have felt moved to come together to support my work, and am excited about what this new opportunity might mean. I know that together we can work to ensure that all are fully accepted and celebrated for who they have been created to be – after all, the core of our faith commands Just Love for all!”

ENDS

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Comments

Of particular interest, I think, is what Paul Bayes has to say in the lower portion of this Guardian article here, in reference to the Ozanne Foundation and to the issue of LGBT+ inclusion in the Church of England:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/28/evangelical-christians-uncritical-in-support-for-donald-trump-says-paul-bayes-bishop-Liverpool

and in 'Christian Today' here:

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/senior-cofe-bishop-to-front-campaign-for-lgbt-inclusion/122369.htm

Best wishes to all involved with the new Foundation. It might be good to liaise and dialogue with Seyran Ateş who is a liberal muslim trying to promote LGBT+ inclusion in Islam:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/26/seyran-ates-muslim-feminist-liberal-mosque-london-britain

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 28 December 2017 at 12:50pm GMT

I often have mixed feelings about a lot of things posted here, but on this I feel 100% positive. I particularly like that it is neither restricted to the UK, nor indeed to Christendom.

I shall pray that the Lord blesses the Foundation.

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 28 December 2017 at 12:54pm GMT

This is encouraging news. It looks very , promising and full of hope for the future.

Jayne Ozanne and those she has gathered together inspire one with confidence and hope.

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Thursday, 28 December 2017 at 4:00pm GMT

Good news! Well done, Jayne!

Posted by: Flora Alexander on Thursday, 28 December 2017 at 4:27pm GMT

Wishing every success for this new endeavour!

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Thursday, 28 December 2017 at 6:01pm GMT

Awesome! Congrats and best wishes!

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 28 December 2017 at 6:49pm GMT

Interestingly, on the conservative end too the focus has moved from whether Jesus thinks same-sex attraction is sinful or good, onto how to offer support to LGB people who choose to follow Jesus in a conservative church. See: http://www.livingout.org/resources/two-new-articles-on-church-support-groups It would be nice to see some convergence, so I do hope that Jayne's latest initiative doesn't turn out to be just another attempt to damn conservatives.

Posted by: RevDave on Thursday, 28 December 2017 at 8:41pm GMT

Charlie Skrine's article from St Helen's Bishopgate, which RevDave flags up, is pretty abysmal:

"The main pro, as we saw it, was that same-sex temptation can be a lonely and secretive struggle... We wanted to avoid any impression that same-sex sin was worse than other sins."

So yah, we're setting up a support group for you, on the basis that your tender intimate love and relationships are "sins" and gay sex is therefore a "temptation" (which you presumably should let the church help you avoid).

Charlie pats himself on the back for not being homophobic, and supporting gay Christians who "had spent years feeling like they were the only ones battling in this way." Battling, presumably, against what Charlie has previously defined as "sin". Battling, because Charlie's church is basically vilifying the most precious and intimate expression of love this gay person treasures.

Once in this group, what are the outcomes for the gay people? "some have left church"... "others have been wonderfully restored." Restored? You mean converting to heterosexuality or living a clean, celibate life? "it’s important that the evening as a whole is an encouragement to those who want to continue living for Jesus and battling temptation." Battling their sexual orientation in other words.

This all sounds a bit like conversion therapy by the back door - not as extreme, but with the same underlying beliefs and hope: that gay people will realise their sin through discussion, and 'resolve their temptation', and become straight.

Charlie mentions that the groups are led by "godly Christians who have been living with same-sex attraction over many years"... by godly he presumably means Christians who are 'attracted' but recognise it's sin and so live celibately.

This religious promotion of 'gay celibacy' compounds guilt and will alienate a person from themselves.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 10:38am GMT

The second article RevDave cites on a church offering a group for gay people is open about its contexts. A gay Christian is cited:

"I have not been able to reconcile my relationship with my boyfriend with what the Bible teaches, so I have chosen Scripture’s teaching and have ended the relationship with him."

The author's church set up "a community group at my church focused on caring for those experiencing same-sex attraction, who chose, like my client, to live a life of chastity, saying “yes” to God’s plan for sexuality."

In short, Rev Dave, these are groups that advocate repressing gay sex urges and living in celibacy. The condition of membership is: "experience same-sex attraction and share the same commitment to God’s wisdom and love." That is rubric for 'not having gay sex'.

This kind of 'inclusion' is not the solution. It is part of the problem. It perpetuates the message that gay sex is sin and nurtures guilt when nature (as it will) re-asserts itself. Rather than champion the work these churches are doing, it would be better for gay people to flee from churches which advocate a theology that vilifies their precious, tender love and sexuality.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 10:41am GMT

Sounds like a good discussion would involve those who have embraced a LGBT identity (with sex!) and those who have decided this is not for them.

Otherwise it just sounds like scolding from a different direction.

Posted by: CRS on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 11:46am GMT

"I do hope that Jayne's latest initiative doesn't turn out to be just another attempt to damn conservatives"

They damn themselves RevDave, they don't need help from anyone else.

To be honest, I'm utterly sick and tired of having to hear sheer bigotry represented as God's word, nevermind the attitude that tries to suggest that unrepentant homophobia is just one opinion among many or that the 21st century of the Flagellant movement are brave heroes of the Gospel rather than victims of the conservative perversion of Bibliolatry.

Minority voices need to be heard, but let's not make the 'BBC balance' mistake of thinking that 'Living Out' represent anything than a minuscule minority of LGBT Christians. Like the attention that Christian Concern constantly gets in the broadcast media it is the outrageousness of the positions spouted that mean they keep being reported not their validity.

CRS you make this sound like a tiff over teacake: it's not. For the LGBT people who are the victims of conservative viper venom (however honeyed its presentation) it can be quite literally matter of life and death.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 2:38pm GMT

Sorry, RevDave, but I don't understand what sort of convergence you have in mind. Neither do I understand what you mean by 'damning' conservatives.

Posted by: Flora Alexander on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 4:35pm GMT

I do not think the Foundation seeks to 'damn' anyone but rather to help communicate an understanding of faith, especially among evangelicals, which is just and truly welcoming, in keeping with biblical principles.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 5:34pm GMT

FA: sorry you hear things that way.

We have two groups dealing with LGBT in different ways. Why decide ahead of time that there is no discussion between them to be had? 'Tiff over teacakes' makes it sound like you are threatened and have no response except subterfuge.

Posted by: CRS on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 5:35pm GMT

Susannah, Fr Andrew & Flora,

Those conservatives are finding ways to support lgbt people who seek to follow Jesus' teaching - in a society that is hostile to sexual morality and despises, or fears, abstention.

ps I would point out that, currently, the levels of psychological distress, sex related disease (some fatal), relationship breakdown, self-harm and suicide are *much higher* than they were in the bad old days when sexual immorality was suppressed by society and law!!

Posted by: RevDave on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 6:09pm GMT

Is it not time we dropped the absurd notion that the Bible is somehow "God's Word"? At this time of year we profess that the "Word became flesh". Basing our morality on homosexuality upon texts someone wrote thousands of years ago is absurd. There is nothing more dangerous than an evangelical who knows what God thinks, by claiming it's in His so-called "Word".

Posted by: FrDavidH on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 6:29pm GMT

RevDave

At the risk of endlessly repeating points, would you like to tell me where I can find *Jesus* teaching on LGBT issues? Not Paul’s or the OT, but Jesus’: that teaching you claim conservatives are following? As someone also claiming to be following Jesus’ teaching, I’m aware of his inclusiveness and also his teaching challenging gender and religious norms ; and his warnings against idolising the family, marriage and patriarchy, but nowhere have I seen his words on LGBT issues. I’d love to. References for Jesus’s words...?

Your second assertion... where does one start? Putting to one side the extremely offensive equating of
LGBT love with ‘sexual immorality’ I’d want to see some evidence that all those things you claim are higher now, in fact are. It’s highly unlikely that evidence is there: I’ll go out on a limb and say it isn’t. But if it is there showing causation rather than fallacious post hoc prompter hoc thinking is even less likely.

Data references...?

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 9:33pm GMT

‘makes it sound like you are threatened and have no response except subterfuge‘

You mean threatened with prison, queerbashing, losing friends home and job? The sort of threats I’ve lived with all my life? In that context conservative Uncle Tomism is a mild adversary.

No idea where the ‘subterfuge’ may come in. As I said, minority voices should always be heard, I’m more than happy to converse. Living Out is, of course, proposing the status quo ante, so I’m not sure there’s too much new to hear.

I would also suggest that heterosexuals need to stop talking about us, and indeed, trying to define the terms of the debate.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 9:51pm GMT

If a conservative position amounts to what Susannah has called 'promoting gay celibacy' it can't converge with the Ozanne Foundation's aim, which is to work to eliminate distinction based on sexuality or gender.

Posted by: Flora Alexander on Friday, 29 December 2017 at 10:31pm GMT

RevDave: how on earth are you getting stats for any of those things? *Reporting* of many of those things is likely higher (because who in the 1950s is going to reveal that their uncle killed himself because he was gay and couldn't cope?), and of course you can force people to contract and stay in loveless relationships by social pressure.

Posted by: Jo on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 5:58am GMT

First it was race. BME people wanted what white people had. White people tried to claim that the Bible supported slavery but lost that argument.

Then women wanted the same as men. Once again, the Bible was dragged into it as an authority to deny women's rights. We aren't all the way there yet, but it's improving.

So now LGBT people want the same opportunities for happiness as straight / cis people. Once again, the Bible is being used to fight equality.

Is there anything in the teaching of Jesus to suggest that for over 500 years He would have wanted the Bible to be a tool of repression? If not, then something has gone seriously wrong. It's not just then about LGBT rights, it's about how the Bible is being used, has been used. That's the big issue: how do we restore the Bible to be something which supports the oppressed, the lonely, the marginalised, the poor, the weak... This is Sermon on the Mount territory. Maybe we should recognise that the treatment of LGBT people is merely a symptom of a failure to treat the Bible as a light given to the world, a tool to help us build Heaven on Earth, and not allow it to continue to be used as an instrument of repression.

If the Bible is the Word of God, then do we see the Word of God as demanding, judgemental and exclusionary like before Noah and Abraham, or as welcoming, forgiving and socially inclusive as Jesus?

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 8:44am GMT

"...then do we see the Word of God as demanding, judgemental and exclusionary like before Noah and Abraham, or as welcoming, forgiving and socially inclusive as Jesus?"

Is this it? No wonder Marcion eliminated all the Gospels except Luke (leaving out prologue and Emmaus Road) and the rest of the NT except Galatians.

Once you start thinking like this you find the NT Jesus is also too "demanding, exclusionary and judgmental."

Posted by: CRS on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 9:19am GMT

Dave,

Good morning. I appreciate you presenting your point of view here, but I really don't think the new Foundation can find common cause with groups that seek to condemn gay sexuality as sin and gay lives and relationships as offensive to God. How can you expect there to be acceptance of views that vilify decent people's lives and sacred, devoted love?

The site you referenced - Living Out - is set up to advocate gay celibacy on the grounds that gay sexuality is sinful, and the website says on its 'What we are about' page that it seeks to complement the True Freedom Trust - which is another organisation that consistently condemns gay sexuality and gender transition as against the will of God.

What possible contribution do organisations like these make towards the benefit of the Ozanne Foundation and its principles?

Looking at the material of these organisations, it is clear they are unwilling to 'agree to disagree'. The condemnation of gay sex is non-negotiable:

"The Bible allows for disagreements on certain issues... There are, however, other truths which are non-negotiable... significant matters upon which Christians can't simply agree to disagree because they impact our understanding of the gospel and, therefore, our salvation.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul makes it clear that same-sex practice is one mark of unrighteousness and warns that those who consistently and continuously live in the kinds of ways listed in that passage won't inherit the kingdom of God...

We believe that sexual immorality is not a secondary issue over which Christians can simply agree to disagree."

So where exactly can the Ozanne Foundation go with organisations like these, unless it is prepared to surrender its own affirmations of gay and lesbian sex, and gender diversity? You say "It would be nice to see some convergence." Where is the convergence in saying that gay people who love sexually are going to hell, and that that is non-negotiable?

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 10:19am GMT

"The Bible allows for disagreements on certain issues... There are, however, other truths which are non-negotiable... significant matters upon which Christians can't simply agree to disagree because they impact our understanding of the gospel and, therefore, our salvation."

Susannah, the St Helen's position is heretical. Let's be open about that. Salvation is independent of a person's level of understanding of the Gospel. Children are saved. My friend's daughter with severe learning difficulties can be saved. Salvation is a gift freely given by Jesus, bought for us by His own, unique sacrifice. Cults link salvation to works. Cults tell people they won't be saved unless they do, or avoid, certain things.

As you say, there can be no convergence.

And, no, I am not saying how we live is unimportant. Totally the opposite. But it matters because we love God and our neighbours, not because our salvation turns on it. Thank God, thank Christ,because if salvation did depend upon me living a blameless life, I could never be saved. Not because I don't try, but because I am human, not a godling.

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 1:31pm GMT

"Cults tell people they won't be saved unless they do, or avoid, certain things."

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

I think you are worked up. Fine. But don't lose the plot entirely!

Posted by: CRS on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 2:28pm GMT

"The condemnation of gay sex is non-negotiable."

But "condemnation" qua condemnation cannot be the problem.

You are equally condemnatory of the position you disagree with. You believe it is totally wrong. You have no time for it. You cannot live in any accommodation with it. Your remarks above make this clear.

That may be fine, but describing the position you condemn and oppose as condemnatory just shows that the laissez-faire position stalls and collapses in on itself.

Posted by: CRS on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 2:35pm GMT

I don't know about the heresy bit, Kate, but I do agree with your main point. The danger is that if we make our salvation dependent on our behaviour then we risk descending into 'salvation by works' all over again, rather than 'salvation by grace'.

I love the myth and narrative of God's deliverance through the parted waters of the Red Sea - that classic archetype of baptism. The wonderful thing about that narrative is that it shows total dependence on God. And who gets delivered through the deep waters? Just the good? Just the holy? Just the theologically sound? No. It is pretty easy to suppose that the good, the bad, those with dementia, the clever, the illiterate, those with learning difficulties - the whole people - were delivered through the deep waters in that act of salvation.

That's why I favour infant baptism: because it places the emphasis not on anything we do, but on the initiating and primary love of God - a love that is inclusive.

I was listening to Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer speaking yesterday. Something she said: that at the heart of love we learn to love people WITH their imperfections. We do not love people for being perfect.

That's the way I envisage the love of God for us.

As you know, Kate, I have not had a frictionless interaction with you in the past, and some of that is my own foolishness and fault, which I regret. But I do believe in you. I believe in your heart of love. Not perfection. But seeking God and exercising love.

The minute we start setting human limitations on the love of God, we risk limiting what God can do, and who God is. God loves us all. And love is the hub of it. Love is what God is. God doesn't command us to be perfect, but God encourages us to open our hearts, in our unique ways, and our unique personalities, to the actual flow of love.

So personally, witnessing love at the heart of so many lesbian and gay relationships, and fidelity, and tenderness, and sacrifice: I really do not think God wishes to exclude LGBT+ people from salvation.

The challenge is not to be perfect. The challenge is to love. Day by day. To love people WITH their imperfections. It is a huge challenge and a costly one.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 3:03pm GMT

The difference, CRS, is perhaps that I am not telling anyone how they should live their private lives.

If Christians at St Helens want to have heterosexual relationships, they can.

In the other directions, LGBT people are being told how they should live their lives, with the threat of lost salvation (and even hell) if they don't.

I really don't think you can equate the willingness to share faith in diversity, with the insistence that you can't if the person 'insists' on having gay sex.

I disagree with their views, yes, but I'm not telling them what sex they're allowed to have, or that their salvation is lost if they live out a gay life.

By the way, I am not totally hostile to St Helens. In the analogy I used above, about passing through the Red Sea, where did I get my biggest insights on that? From Dick Lucas, in his study at St Helens.

I want all Christians to flourish, but I can't really be expected to champion the moralising that says my intimate private life and tender love is a crime against God. I just don't see what groups like Living Out and True Freedom Trust can contribute to the efforts to accept and affirm gay and lesbian sexuality.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 7:02pm GMT

describing the position you condemn and oppose as condemnatory just...’ @crs

But surely you recognise the false equivalence here? To condemn a position is one thing, to condemn a person for what they are or how they love is something altogether different. It’s rather like that tired sermon illustration of the chicken and the pig’s contribution to the cooked breakfast: for one party what’s on the table is of a completely different order to the other.

As the previous ABC was asked, ‘who pays the price’? Sadly, the answer in this argument is always the same, and it’s not the conservatives.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 7:05pm GMT

No, CRS, you're not going to win this argument by trying the "you must tolerate my intolerance otherwise you're intolerant" line. It's nonsense and you're clever enough to know that.

Posted by: Jo on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at 8:44pm GMT

"The difference, CRS, is perhaps that I am not telling anyone how they should live their private lives."

That is not true.

You hold a very clear view about the way people who claim to be LGBT ought to live their private lives.

For you, 'having sex' is a sine qua non. You believe it is akin to salvation.

You condemn those LGBT folk who believe that sex is not productive for them, and liken it on occasion to a form of imposed sickness.

That's why I have said it would be better to have the two groups of LGBT folk speak directly to one another on this matter. Saying they are wrong is just another form of the judgmentalism being decried.

Posted by: CRS on Sunday, 31 December 2017 at 8:29am GMT

@ Susannah, perhaps the convergence could be agreeing that for Christians sex is meant for within marriage? Now that gay marriage is available, will it be expected of Christian gay couples as it is for straight ones? Or perhaps just accepting that choosing celibacy does not make you contemptible? Quite frankly, as a celibate heterosexual, I don't think the Ozanne foundation, or several other groups in the modern church, would treat me like a human with a brain anymore than they would a gay celibate. Like several of the comments here, their position seems to be anyone who is celibate is either brainwashed or a self-righteous prig. I was laughed out of my local church for admitting it. And since they are following the "inclusive, free" Christ and not Bibliolatry, presumably their Christ was living the rock star life without morality rules? As much as they hate the idea of celibacy for anyone, they can't possibly believe Christ was. Anyone who does believe Christ was celibate should not despise those who follow that path as much as the modern Western church does. It does explain why there are no religious orders here, by today's theology anyone who pledges "chastity, obedience, and poverty" is a cultist rather than Christian.

Posted by: Chris H. on Sunday, 31 December 2017 at 3:37pm GMT

I don't think anyone has a problem with celibacy as a choice or vocation, or even as a natural state for those who are asexual. The problem lies with churches that tell gay people it is the only acceptable choice. And let's not pretend this is about celibacy in general, because the groups being discussed are not promoting or supporting celibacy in general - indeed the churches from which they spring tend to otherwise be very pushy about marriage and children - but celibacy specifically and compulsorily for gay people. Celibacy and marriage are two distinct callings to be celebrated for men and women of any sexual orientation.

Posted by: Jo on Sunday, 31 December 2017 at 6:21pm GMT

CRS, personally, if any person (gay, straight, or bi) feels called to celibacy, I've no problem with it, and hope they find happiness.

My problem comes when traditionalists want to impose their personal beliefs on everyone else. Emphasis: impose. I fully support their right to advocate their position. I also support the right of individual ministers to conscientiously opt-out of performing same-sex marriages.

I don't pretend that everyone in the affirming camp shares this desire for mutual toleration; but many do, and if conservatives are willing to work with us, solutions can be found.

Posted by: James Byron on Sunday, 31 December 2017 at 7:07pm GMT

"For you, 'having sex' is a sine qua non. You believe it is akin to salvation."

That's the strangest distortion of the lgbti+ argument I've yet read anywhere.
No-one has to have sex, why should they? But no gay person who wants a loving sexual relationship should be told that they cannot have one either.
That's all.
Straight and gay - same thing, same rules.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 31 December 2017 at 7:42pm GMT

The other thing I want to say is that for many lgbti+ Christians it’s not about sex but about sin. Yes, sin.
Imagine growing up in a good Christian family, loving Jesus with all your heart – and then realising that you are one of those people you have always been told are especially sinful. The kind of people Jesus would not forgive if you were seeking the same loving commitment your brothers and sisters expect as a birth right.
THAT is what leads gay Christians from conservative churches to self-harm and suicide. Because they take their faith extremely seriously. And the realisation that there is something so intrinsically sinful about them that God demands that they must not love – that is more crushing than any straight person will ever be able to understand.
And it’s not God doing that to our young people, it’s our churches. It’s our shockingly inhumane theology we elevate to a salvation issue.
I sincerely hope the Jayne Ozanne Foundation will fight it as strongly as it possibly can. And I will continue to do my part in fighting it too.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 31 December 2017 at 8:16pm GMT

Colin Blakely...a very fair minded editor... he allows free discussion and letters of all shades of opinion in the CEN. Unlike other evangelical papers which are less free than PRAVDA..oh and even the Catholic Press which will allow no
episcopal criticism.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Monday, 1 January 2018 at 6:30am GMT

Yes, that's how some lgbt folk feel. Others feel differently. My point was simply to acknowledge that and not claim that one position was self-evidently free of judgment. We make judgments all the time.

lgbt folk who attend conservative churches today are not in a gulag. They go freely. They go because they do not feel comfortable and are seeking the peace of Christ. Read Wes Hill on this, or any number of lgbt who did not find peace in what is here a standard happy narrative.

There needs to be a simple acknowledgement that lgbt is not a monolith when it comes to identity and the Christian faith. It isn't a self-evidence that those self-described lgbt folk who attend conservative churches are being brainwashed or told what to do. At issue is the Gospel itself and what it purports to be. For some lgbt folk it is freedom from a now standard narrative.

I believe it would be good to have these two expressions of lgbt speak to one another directly and not intrude into it mean-spirited conservatives who are constraining their true happiness in life as Christians.

Posted by: CRS on Monday, 1 January 2018 at 7:39am GMT

Robert Ian Williams 'Unlike other evangelical papers'. I am trying to think of what other papers you might have in mind?

Posted by: David Runcorn on Monday, 1 January 2018 at 11:04am GMT

Fine. The place to start with that is for conservatives to stop insisting there is only one valid way to be LGBT.

Posted by: Jo on Monday, 1 January 2018 at 11:09am GMT

And for liberals to do the same.

Hence the disagreement.

Posted by: CRS on Monday, 1 January 2018 at 12:46pm GMT

Which liberals are saying there is only one acceptable way to be LGBT? You're drawing a false equivalence. At the moment gay Christians in the CofE are officially told that the only acceptable option is celibacy. In SEC and TEC they are free to follow whatever calling they have, whether to marriage or celibacy, or to wait abd see what happens in their lives without necessarily feeling a strong sense of call one way or the other. Are there gay Christians fleeing TEC or SEC because they're told they HAVE to be in a relationship? That seems extremely unlikely. We do, however, have people fleeing conservative churches and even harming themselves because they've been told they have to choose between their faith and having a relationship.

Posted by: Jo on Monday, 1 January 2018 at 1:46pm GMT

A good place to start might be considering who should be celibate, but doing so in a way which entirely ignores sexual orientation. What are the benefits of celibacy or, alternatively of a committed relationship?

Posted by: Kate on Monday, 1 January 2018 at 2:43pm GMT

Thank you, Fa. Andrew for your words and engagement here.

The essential fallacy is that some are choosing to create God/Jesus in their limited image, rather than seeing the image of God in all people. There simply is no reconciliation between of the love of Jesus Christ, his challenges to the church, and his call to love and not judge with the positions expressed by the "conservatives." They give themselves the right to judge, with nasty results.

It's so much easier to blame "the other" than to see real sin and our complicity in it. Our whole system of living is dependent on the fossil fuel that's often been extracted by oppressing others and now the resulting climate change is hurting vulnerable people first. The legacies of colonialism and slavery, combined with continued imperialism and the emphasis on profit over people (fueled by false theologies of the free market and the prosperity gospel) is sin. Loving our neighbor is just too difficult, it actually requires sacrifice. Bringing the love of Jesus Christ to the world requires costly Grace. Instead of paying that price, they bash the gays... Somehow Scripture has been perverted into a checklist for personal salvation, rather than a document about striving for justice (which is how many of our Jewish sisters and brothers view it).

As so it goes. That is the brokenness that needs healing.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 1 January 2018 at 8:14pm GMT

Jo--it's hard to know how you miss the obvious.

The position being taken here is that to hold the view that sexuality is to be confined to marriage between a man a woman is wrong. It is harmful. It is a view held by judgmental conservatives. It is being imposed by these evil people.

If one says in response that LGBT folk themselves take this view; and if one encourages open discussion between the principles over these two different understandings; the responses turn shrill and there is a change of subject altogether. We get instead blaming, coercion, colonialism, bashing gays, imperialism -- all rhetoric and cant -- instead of staying on topic.

It was to be so decisive that everyone listened to one another. Unsurprisingly that notion has showed itself very difficult in practice.

Posted by: CRS on Tuesday, 2 January 2018 at 3:40pm GMT

David Runcorn:

Evangelicals Now, Evangelical Times, English Churchman.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Tuesday, 2 January 2018 at 6:35pm GMT

Jo,

Don't you know it's all about *them*, the conservatives?! Stop being so mean and insisting that you have a viewpoint that's valid, or that you deserve to be heard! (Sarcasm, of course).

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 3 January 2018 at 6:10am GMT

As soon as you start using words like "confined" then you're talking about imposition. The positions "I believe that sexual relationships between people of the same sex can be blessed by God" and "I believe that sexual relationships between people of the same sex are forbidden by God" ard not equal and opposite. The allowance of the first view in no way precludes individuals acting on the second - they simply choose to remain celibate if that is their conviction (though that still raises the question of where that conviction springs from and to deny the impact of conservative teaching in this area is absurd) - whereas the second view, currently imposed on the whole CofE, forbids the exercise of the first. Nothing supporters of equal marriage can do will force people to marry who do not wish to. We currently see that opponents can prevent people from marrying who do wish to.

Posted by: Jo on Wednesday, 3 January 2018 at 7:48am GMT

Jo--with respect, you are just tangling yourself up.

There is a wide range of possible statements one could make.

1) the arena God has designed and blessed for sexual activity is the marriage of a man and a woman

2) sexual activity outside this arena falls short of God's design

3) the term 'marriage' cannot be extended to new kinds of relationships different to # 1 above

4) sexual activity is good so long as two people consent to it, no matter who they are

5) and so on.

The position taken by most conservatives is #1.

The issue I am raising is why LGBT people who take different of these views do not talk to and listen to one another. I reject the idea that LGBT people can't embrace #1 simply because they believe it to be God's intention in creation and for them. Instead we are told this position is wrong and is an imposition on them.

This is why there is a disagreement and why it isn't surface level but deep.

The church doesn't bless relationships as a political entity handing out gifts or denying them. It pronounces a blessing it accepts and defers to, as been given by God. At present the CofE does not believe it has a warrant for declaring God's blessing on anything except #1.

Posted by: CRS on Wednesday, 3 January 2018 at 9:39am GMT

"The position being taken here is that to hold the view that sexuality is to be confined to marriage between a man a woman is wrong."

As, I understand it, the majority position here is that imposing that view on others is wrong.

My advice is read the Gospels. Pretty much every time someone said to Jesus that something was against Scripture, He disagreed to some degree and/or told them that they are hypocrites because they fail to follow some other part of the Law. I suspect that those who thought healing on a Sunday was wrong, were just as convinced as you are that they were right.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/02/10/church-driving-gay-people-suicide-warns-christian-charity/

On the basis of the Gospels, what would Jesus do? Would His priority be those who are suffering or the letter of the Law?

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 3 January 2018 at 10:22am GMT

Robert Ian Williams Thanks. I have never even heard of these three. A very Protestant corner likely funded by Victorian Trusts.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Wednesday, 3 January 2018 at 4:45pm GMT

Re crs, "The church doesn't bless relationships as a political entity handing out gifts or denying them."

But of course it does. It has always done so. Historically,it has done so with regard to the issue of divorce and patriarchy.


Wherever only heterosexual couples are permitted to marry in the Church, said church is using marriage as a sanction against couples who refuse to conform to an 'orthodox' doctrine of marriage, and as a reward for those who conform to such a doctrine.

Marriage recognition (or not) is a virtual sally port for conservative culture warriors.

Arguments about the 'doctrine' of 'traditional' marriage are examples of circular reasoning and political in application.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 3 January 2018 at 11:00pm GMT

Jo, you will not see many singles, gay or straight, fleeing the church because the parts of the church in relationships don't see them or notice them when they are there and so when they stop going, they don't notice that either. The story is the same in different cities and denominations. If you are not in a relationship there is something wrong with you. No one will speak to you during coffee hour. If you go to retreats or adult Sunday School classes, your opinion is not sought or listened to. Many things you aren't invited to, including lunches after church or dinners with others in the church. You are shunned and so when you give up, everyone else goes on as if you were never there.

Posted by: Chris H on Thursday, 4 January 2018 at 1:15am GMT

No, CRS, I'm not tangling myself up, and I would appreciate it if you would drop the patronising tone. Certainly there are LGBT folk who hold the first of your stated positions (and I note the deliberate slanting of some of the others listed), and they are free to do so, and indeed to act on it as far as their personal life goes. It's also reasonable, however, to question how anyone comes by a particular position, and it's hardly a stretch to say that for many people they are conforming to what they have been taught particularly given that, at present (and as you correctly state) it is the official position of the CofE. What has happened in SEC and TEC is that people are able to practise what they understand to be God's will in this, recognising the diversity of opinion that exists within those churches. The question is, if you're so keen on dialogue between LGBT Christians of different views, you're implacably opposed to that taking place in a context where both views are permitted rather than only the ones you favour? Could it be that without the constricting hand of official teaching you fear that LGBT folk without a personal call to celibacy but who have nonetheless tried to live by official teaching might instead recognise a call to marriage?

Posted by: Jo on Thursday, 4 January 2018 at 7:54am GMT

Jo--no, I could care less if the discussions happen in TEC or SEC. Let them happen! Let two different LGBT groups explain why they hold the views they do. One could as easily conclude that they do not happen in TEC or SEC because this alternative position is regarded as unworthy of engaging.

But thank you for suggesting it. I agree.

RG: a political decision involves everyone voting for what they want. Heads on desks, hand go up. Tally the vote.

It does not involve discerning what God is said to bless or not and acting in accordance with that.

But you know that. It is just that you dispute one can know what God does or does not bless in any prima facie sense. So any and all decisions any denominated segment of Christianity enacts are only political.

Posted by: CRS on Thursday, 4 January 2018 at 8:09am GMT

Chris H: I'm sorry that has been your experience. Not living in a city and not being part of a local church that has many of the activities you describe I can't speak to how true it is more generally (I take it you're speaking from a US context). I will say that in many cases, my own included, only one half of a couple is a church attender so people being in church as couples is not the norm. I couldn't even say with some members of my local church whether they're married, widowed, single or divorced (and it's not something I'd pry into). I've not noticed a difference in interactions between those who attend alone or in couples but I'm not the keenest of observers of social behaviour. As I say I'm sorry that has been your experience and I will be keeping an eye out for the phenomenon you describe.

Posted by: Jo on Thursday, 4 January 2018 at 8:09am GMT

Re crs, "a political decision involves everyone voting ...does not involve discerning what God..."

Yours is a false dichotomy that favours conservatives who fear a more democratic less hierarchical, less intellectualizing discernment process.

The current 'traditional' view of marriage held by conservatives in western democracies is really a revisionist view based to a large extent on middle class materialist values.

A true traditional Christian view of marriage accepts the notion that marriage is a social institution that (1) accepts the etiological myth of the binary nature of the human sexual response and (2) marriage is a social framework in which women are indentured property. (See, despite its didactic pious overlay, the marriage rite in 1662 just for example).

Whoever authored Mark 10 clearly grasped this. The import of the pericope is to enhance the protection of the economically vulnerable wife within a property institution with appeals to the mythology of the time and place. That the latter Church used such texts to try and sexually oppress its members is ironic from a justice perspective.

Access to marriage in churches is politcal. It involves questions of power, experience validation, and decision making by one group over another. Politics are suggestive in the screening process for the appointment of C of E bishops which produces candidates with curiously homogeneous views on binary marriage.

Disagreement is grounded in disagreement over application of the transcendent and primary Christian value of love. I favor a radical concept of marriage in which the Christian community accepts in love, as a matter of justice justice, the differences inherent in the human sexual response. One seeks to critique, and in some cases overturn, 'doctrine' which reflects a more limited and socially untenable view.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 4 January 2018 at 5:08pm GMT

Thanks for the podium pounding, RG. Intellectualizing indeed! You're much more fun on Canadian thin ice. Epiphany cheer mon ami.

Posted by: CRS on Friday, 5 January 2018 at 7:41am GMT

I think this is one of your best comments, Rod. Really good analysis.

I'd add that I think that, through history, patriarchy has very often sought the sexual control and containment of women. Structures get enshrined to achieve that end. Now I think the same weaponry has been turned on gay people.

At the root of it all is the subconscious dread and fear of one's own sexual nature, which subverts our frameworks, our pretences, our control and self-image.

Then it is a small step, to projecting all that fear on others instead of ourselves. I saw it in the treatment of sex offenders in prison: from other prisoners, from some prison officers. All sexual fear and dread gets projected on the 'other'.

"At least we are not like *them*"

The love of God and the example of Jesus subvert the pretence and 'appearances' of people desperate to appear 'respectable' and part of 'us'. God strips off the veneer. God exposes and unveils.

Even Revelation is an unveiling: an unveiling of power.

When we unveil the myths and institutional controls, what is exposed as really mattering is: love.

Love that calls out for justice. Love that gets shared. And beneath all the 'rules' and 'regulations', love is the great command, the greatest of all, the very nature of God. The scriptures tell us that.

But people are actually fearful of love, and its freedoms, and its wandering where it will, its revolutionary extent. The control and filtering of love becomes a political power issue, because if we can box it in, perhaps we can keep it under control, and keep our dreaded sexuality under control, and women's subversive sexuality under control, but can you put God in a box like that?

In the end, as it turns out, we box ourselves in if we live that way. We diminish both our own lives, into a kind of rigidity, and we diminish the concept of God.

The whole 'gay' issue is about LOVE. It is so obvious that it becomes impossible to contain it and deny it.

Unless God specifically calls a few people to celibacy, gay or heterosexual equally. The progressive churches call for affirmation of both categories of people - the celibate and the sexually engaged. Some more conservative churches seek to 'control' and insist on celibacy, imposed on one group.

There is no equivalence.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Friday, 5 January 2018 at 9:15am GMT

"Thanks for the podium pounding..."

Don't mention it crs. Years ago on a routine visit to my rather eccentric family doctor, I noticed on the top of my chart under 'occupation' he had scrawled 'preacher.' ( :

After thirty five years of parish work listening to people describe their various existential situations, some of them compounded by religious baggage and unnecessary feelings of guilt, the intellectual and theoretical insights I'm most interested in are those that work for people in terms of problem solving, not problem creation.

Our professeur of pastoralia, (a parish priest and Jungian analyst from Durham,England) taught us decades ago that intellect and empathy must dwell in symbiosis.

A blessed Epiphany.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 5 January 2018 at 3:06pm GMT

RG: Happy 35th. Epiphany 2018 is for me 37.

Posted by: CRS on Friday, 5 January 2018 at 3:53pm GMT

Re:CRS. It is a wonderful season, every blessing to you during the same.

"Arise, shine, for thy light is come, / and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 5 January 2018 at 11:29pm GMT
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