Comments: ND articles on civil partnerships

Some of us might suggest that Forward in Faith should think very carefully indeed before making any comment on any gay-related matter!

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 21 August 2005 at 12:56am BST

To explain further...

I wish to raise a serious point, I think it deserves consideration.

Why, in these sort of cases, does self-hatred and the pressure of the closet cause men to behave in such a way which discriminates against those like them?

I think members of Forward in Faith may want to give this serious consideration. That organisation is well known to be stuffed to the gills with gay priests who are far from celibate, yet sit on their hands and leave it to others to do the work, whilst keeping up the pretence of an officially negative stance.

I can't respect people like this. Internalised homophobia at its worst, yet within a context which allows it to exist.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 23 August 2005 at 10:06am BST

Dear Merseymike,
You have made a serious allegation of lying and/or hypocrisy against the group 'Forward in Faith'. I don't know anything about this group except that they are traditionalist priests in the Church of England, but don't you think you should substantiate your claim ('That organisation is well known to be stuffed to the gills with gay priests who are far from celibate') or withdraw it? Without evidence this sounds just like innuendo or worse.
Thank you.
Mark Beaton

Posted by Mark Beaton at Wednesday, 24 August 2005 at 3:14pm BST

No, Mark, I won't withdraw it. I'm not in the business of 'outing' people, which is what you are asking me to do, but I know many people who are members of Forward in Faith who are actively gay.

Do you wish me to name names? It's not my preference, Mark, I would prefer people to be honest.

What is more interesting is FiF's failure to face up to this.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 24 August 2005 at 5:50pm BST

Merseymike writes:
"Some of us might suggest that Forward in Faith should think very carefully indeed before making any comment on any gay-related matter!"

And what makes Mike think that FiF has NOT thought very carefully?

I'm an ordinary, rank-and-file member of FiF, not part of its leadership, but it seems to me its "line" has been pretty clear throughout. As might be expected of a body recruiting largely from the Catholic wing of the Anglican spectrum, it upholds the long-standing teaching of the Church regarding homosexuality. At the same time, it has no enthusiasm for the queer-bashing of some American "traditionalists" or some English evangelicals.

Its reaction to the Jeffrey John/Reading affair was perhaps typical. Its only criticism of Dr John was precisely that, after many years in which he had courageously and consistently advocated the legitimacy of homosexual relationships, he had announced his willingness, in exchange for a pointy hat, to adhere to "Issues in Human Sexuality". FiF was far more critical of Dr John's evangelical opponents, especially when they welcomed the appointment to Reading of a man who held precisely the same position on that issue of sexual morality, but who happened to be a married man with 2.4 children.

And, yes, of course Merseymike is right in saying that some members of FiF are gay. Gay priests have exercised, and continue to exercise, a valued ministry in many parishes. I think - and probably most members of FiF think - that how they deal with their homosexuality and their faith is a matter for their conscience. (I think it's a bit naughty to demand that such priests take the same line as Mike or be described as "self-hating".) For that matter, substantial numbers of gay former Anglican priests are now exercising a ministry in the Roman Catholic Church.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Tuesday, 30 August 2005 at 5:23pm BST

Well, Alan, I'm not asking for the same line, actually, but some consistency.

That is, if they truly believe the traditional catholic line, that they stop having multiple casual sexual encounters, and follow the path of celibacy, which is the ideal priestly state for catholic priests in any case.

I don't actually favour that sort of casual sexual encounter. I think it sits very uneasily with Christian values and ethics, and does often mask lack of self-acceptance and low self-esteem.

I fully agree that it is a matter for one's conscience. But I find it harder to believe that anyone's conscience allows them to vote against acceptability of stable and faithful gay partnerships, whilst partaking in furtive casual encounters themselves.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 31 August 2005 at 3:23pm BST

Alan
Could you explain please your point about:
Its only criticism of Dr John was precisely that, after many years in which he had courageously and consistently advocated the legitimacy of homosexual relationships, he had announced his willingness, in exchange for a pointy hat, to adhere to "Issues in Human Sexuality".
What was FiF complaining about? That he DID agree to adhere to IHS? Does FiF think he should NOT have done that? I'm confused.
Do you have a citation on this?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 1 September 2005 at 8:59am BST

Responding quickly to points from Merseymike and Simon (on a difficult day where my mind is mainly on issues of my security - or insecurity - of employment!):

Mike, I think that the point you make about casual sex versus committed relationships assumes the legitimacy of the latter. While that is your position, it is not the position of "traditionalists" (not a helpful term, in my view, but one I find myself using as shorthand). Casual sex might be seen, not as hypocrisy, but as struggling with temptation, not always successfully.

Responding to Simon, my source was an article in New Directions some time ago. Sorry I don't now have time to seek out and cite the date. The view was that Jeffrey John had previously vigorously pressed the case for the legitimacy of same-sex relationships. The author had hitherto admired his consistency in courage in doing so, while disagreeing with him. His complaint against JJ was basically that he was prepared to prevaricate about his true views. The subsequent criticism of JJ's evangelical opponents was, on my reading, much more swingeing. Their subsequent happy acceptance of a married man who taught the same as JJ left them exposed as objecting to him for no other reason than that he was a (celibate) gay man.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Thursday, 1 September 2005 at 1:39pm BST

Try this:
Getting it Straight
Geoffrey Kirk tries to summarize some recent events in the Church of England

http://trushare.com/0111AUG04/AU04STRA.htm

[comment edited to provide URL rather than full text]
[Editor's Note: this article dates only from August 2004.]

Posted by Flossie at Thursday, 1 September 2005 at 3:37pm BST

Alan ; to be frank, I think thats a total cop-out from those priests. I think that its absolute nonsense to say that you can't physically stay celibate IF you believe that to be right. It may not be easy, but then if you are a catholic priest and that's what you sincerely believe....To pretend that these poor flowers are so weak that they succumb to every temptation is nonsense.

Would it be acceptable for a Roman priest who fancied women to do the same?

Come on, Alan. You must have met plenty of FiF priests who are only too happy to have casual sex. And it isn't anything to do with temptation, but simply the fact that they say one thing because it is politically convenient to do so, but do another. And I have spoken to enough to recognise that there is a very fundamental level of lack of self-acceptance there. There is a huge amount of unspoken 'well, dear, we know what the party line is, but no one bothers about that....'

I actually know two FiF priests who live with their partners as well, but they dissent from the FiF position on gay relationships, as do something like 25% of the organisation, as the Cost of Conscience report indicated. Thats fair enough, but I wish those who do disagree would be more vocal about it.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 1 September 2005 at 4:40pm BST
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