Comments: Bus advert campaign bites the dust before it starts

Interesting that a body that Churchpeople tolerate (in the weak sense), debate with, argue with, that has influence via the international scene (and thus was part of the motivation behind the Covenant) is simply dismissed in the secular world by of all things a Conservative politician. How far the secular world has travelled, how little the so-called mainstream Church has travelled.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 7:49pm BST

Good to see that the *Conservative* Mayor is relegating this LIE to the tinfoil flat-earth ash-heap. The world---the world God made and loves---is moving on.

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 7:53pm BST

Surprise. Exactly what they expected and intended. Home base fired up in readiness for the Gafcon meeting.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 8:35pm BST

How very gracious of Ben Summerskill to describe Anglican Mainstream as a 'self-styled “Christian” group.' When I saw the original report in the Grauniad I was horrified enough to report AM to the ASA. The problem I have with AM is the implication in their name that they speak for 'mainstream' Anglicans. While this may be true in some parts of the communion, not so here. It makes me angry, ashamed and embarrassed that the name of my denomination has been hijacked by this group. (I suppose they might say the same about TA though?)

Posted by Paul Webb at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 8:53pm BST

The Lord can even work thru a Tory mayor it would seem !

http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/world/2012/apr/12/scientific-support-anti-gay-campaigners

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 9:17pm BST

Oh dear! Once again Christianity is associated with the negative, lack of affirmation, condemnation and frankly ignorance of scientific facts. No wonder young people are so turned off by the Church if this is its image.

How ironic that it is Boris Johnson who is left to do the decent thing and ban such an offensive advertisement. However, I bet there won't be so much as a squeak to be heard from the bishops, not least those in and around London.

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 9:22pm BST

Being widely reported with some relief.

http://gaystarnews.com/article/update-london-buses-refuse-carry-anti-gay-advert120412

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 9:23pm BST

God has risen a human rights disciple even Nigeria, follow the link

http://www.nigerianeye.com/2012/04/nigerian-lawyer-sues-federal-government.html

The Mayor of London, did well by not giving this hate mongers the plate form to spread their poisonous chalice. I think Anglican Mainstream have issues with their sexuality and they are the ones who need healing and repentance.

Posted by Davis Mac-Iyalla at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 9:25pm BST

Oh dear! That was a bus crash we could all see from a post gay way off!
Boris is getting angry a great deal lately, Happily he did not have a meeting with Chris Sugden in the lift ..... yet!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 9:45pm BST

Hurrah for Boris Johnson! Here is one civic leader who has seen through the abusive nature of ‘Mainstream’s campaign, and will not stand for the misuse of London buses in this overt plan of a ‘christian’ organisation to interfere with human rights.

Let’s hope the Church of England hierarchy will get wind of this offensive initiative by conservative Anglicans, and offer the appropriate ‘counselling’ programme to stem their hatred.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 10:29pm BST

I think that the Rabbit is right. This was the result they wanted. They knew from the beginning that the mayor's office was likely to block it. Now they can claim that they're persecuted for their faith. The idea that "we're under attack" seems to be a major theme for the English religious right, and I can only assume that it must be working for them in some way.

Posted by John Bassett at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 10:55pm BST

The bullets are flying, I know, but, even in the cross fire about orientation and marriage, I’d really like to hear a good answer to this serious question.
Is it laudable or ridiculous for someone to change their sexual orientation?
In the story that prompted this firestorm in Australia, we’ve learnt that Christine Forster (the sister of the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott) was married to a bloke for many years. They now have four children. Presumably, she wasn’t forced into the marriage, so I think we can assume that, in one sense, she would have considered herself heterosexual.
But a few years ago, Christine met up with another middle age mum. It was at a school function where both their sons go. Somewhere along the line, she decided to form a relationship with Virginia Edwards. So, presumably, whereas at one point, she considered herself heterosexual, she now realised that she was homosexual.
Fine, I understand that.
What I don’t understand is the vitriol that got poured out in the other sexual-orientation and marriage story that came over the last seven days. It concerns homosexual people who go through a process of reorientation.
I happen to know someone who was mentioned in some of the coverage. His name is Chris. Many years ago, he considered himself gay, and was deeply involved in the Sydney scene.
Then, as he hit his 50s, he realised he wasn’t happy with where he was. He started looking at some very early experiences in his childhood. Things started to change for him.
After many years, he tried dating, and now he’s married to a lovely lady about his age. I’ve only met them twice. But they seem happy. Once the guy was homosexual, and now, I presume, he considers himself heterosexual.
All of which brings me back to the question. Why is it that we should be sending Christine messages of support, while we send Chris messages of scorn?
Your answers are welcome.

Posted by M B Andrews at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 11:41pm BST

I have my own "Listening Process" underway for some time now. I am listening currently for the voices of +Rowan Williams and +John Sentamu as they take Anglican Mainstream to task for their lack of respect for science and their homophobia. How about the House of Bishops? Perhaps the Bishop of London? It seems all quiet on the front at the moment...

Posted by karen macqueen+_ at Thursday, 12 April 2012 at 11:52pm BST

Try as I might, I struggle to be 'offended' by the proposed banner - not least because it's actually pretty bloody obscure when you look at it: "Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud." I'm not quite sure what your average Londoner would make of that particular sentence-fragment, and I'm not even sure that adding a verb would make it any more comprehensible. There are other problems, too. 'Post-gay,' for example, is a term usually reserved for queer theorists who want to argue that the hetero/homo dichotomy is, like, sooo twentieth century. And isn't pride supposed to be a sin? I could have sworn that 'superbia' is a worse offense even than 'luxuria' in the Church's view.

Generally I don't like censorship, not least because it tends to backfire by allowing groups like AM to depict themselves as persecuted and marginalised. Give them enough rope to hang themselves, I say, and watch the real Anglican mainstream rush to distance itself from the nasties. I wonder, though, in hundreds of years what historians will make of the Bus Wars. Will they see it as another sign of the growing irrelevance both of faith and of doubt in British public life? Or will they just deride it as a sign of an intellectually and spiritually debased society unwilling to contemplate any proposition too complex to fit on the side of a London Bus?

Posted by rjb at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 7:01am BST

Even if rabbit is right (and he probably is) in saying that they anticipated this outcome, it is still a poor strategy; the level of disconnect is enormous and one perhaps unintended consequence is that it will severely disadvantage Mainstream and their allies politically as the CNC process gets underway.

They needed to look reasonable and credible enough to mount the argument that 'a strong evangelical is needed to balance the Rowan Williams years', which otherwise had some weight to it. If this kind politically disastrous PR continues, this issue will become a clear litmus for evangelical candidates and the political establishment is going to baulk at seeing the Church of England appoint to Canterbury someone holding this position.

That's not to say that the next Archbishop wouldn't be an evangelical; just that he could well be hamstrung by this issue on day one, in the same way that Rowan Williams' natural supporters largely deserted him after Jeffrey John, leaving him to face the Communion with opponents knowing that he had little if any real backup. Arguably, Carey's real strength was that he could carry his supporters even when acting directly against their interests.

Posted by just mulling at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 7:31am BST

I think Johnson's action was justifiable and right. But, as rjb implies, there are civil liberty issues here and they need to be articulated with some care. It's important to do this. It's important to win these fights cleanly and visibly. I haven't the time to do this right now, but I hope someone in the public sphere will. Johnson's quote is too 'short-hand'.

Posted by John at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 8:50am BST

Congratulations to Boris. Sad that it takes a politician to say what our Archbishops refuse to say, and so many of the diocesans cower behind the ABC.

Let the selectors for our new ABC note those diocesans who are prepared to speak out in favour of toleration. and against the covenant now hopefully drowned in the deepest sea. Those are the Bishops who should be on the short list.

Posted by Fr. John Harris-White at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 8:54am BST

To M B Andrews:

I have never heard anyone pouring vitriol on somebody who used to identify as gay but who has now fallen in love with someone of the opposite sex. Indeed, I've known this happen several times in my own group of friends. And I've also had friends who used to identify as straight and now identify as gay. Human sexuality is complicated.

What people are condemning is the *coercion* which misrepresents the science and tells gay people that they must 'change' or be damned, and, further, that such change is possible purely if they want it enough. This also feeds in to a homophobic discourse which says there's something wrong or diseased about being gay, in a world where being gay is still stigmatised and being straight is still 'normal'.

And, as Wayne Besen in the States has been pointing out for years (he's the authority on 'ex-gay' groups), the desire to 'cure' gays has nothing to do with concern for individuals (if it had, then they wouldn't do it, give the overwhelming evidence of harm), but is all about a political attempt at 'proving' that gay people can 'change' and therefore do not need any civil rights. It's a particuarly nasty bit of politicking aimed at further stigmatising gay people by portraying them as both diseased and willfully determined to stay so, and therefore undeserving of full human dignity.

I would be equally condemning of an initiative to make straight people think they have to turn gay, by the way. The fact that such an idea is risible shows how unequal the positions of being gay and being straight still are in society.

Posted by Olivia Jones at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 8:56am BST

The Guardian today talks about "the membership of Anglican Mainstream". I think it is time that this notion was interrogated more closely.

Chris Sugden, from the Oxford area, is their only employee. The Revd Lynda Rose is supposed to be their UK spokesman *sic*. She,according to Crockford, is an unbeneficed priest in Oxford, whose entry stops in 1999. She may hold a PTO, but has no connection with any church that is worth Crockford's time including in her biography. There is Lisa Nolland, who writes from time to time.

This is who their website say lead them:
http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/anglican-mainstream-who-we-are/
Anglican Mainstream Trustees

Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford)
Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes)
Rev David Banting (Chelmsford)
Rev Paul Perkin (Southwark)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Oxford)

Anglican Mainstream UK Steering Committee

Dr Philip Giddings (Convenor)
Rev David Banting (Chairman of Reform)
Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes. President of Church of England Evangelical Council)
Prebendary Richard Bewes OBE
Rev Paul Perkin (New Wine Network)
Rev George Curry (Chairman, Church Society)
Rev Alyson Davie
Rev Nick Wynne-Jones
The Ven Michael Lawson (Chairman, CEEC)
Canon Andy Lines (Crosslinks Mission Agency)
Rev David McCarthy (Scottish Anglican Network)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Executive Secretary)
Rev Dr Richard Turnbull
Mrs Sarah Finch
Rev Dr Will Strange (Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales)

Episcopal Adviser

Bishop Graham Cray

Website Consultant

Dr Lisa Severine Nolland

I am shocked that Graham Cray is prepared to be associated with them at all. These lists are the usual suspects of right-wing evangelical leaders. But leaders are one thing: who are the followers?

But besides these who are the membership? I doubt that it amounts to anything. Anglican Mainstream is a tiny group that get more media miles than they deserve - their credibility is only maintained by a level of, shall we just say, imprecision about what their membership amounts to. If they were a real mass movement with anything like even hundreds of members I am sure that would be trumpeted all over the place. As it is, there is never any mention of it in their publicity. Someone should try and find out - do these people represent anyone or anything more than their own homophobic opinions?

Posted by JeremyP at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 9:21am BST

I don't suppose that anyone minds who Christine or Chris ends up with - there will be painful times for them and their loved ones along the way as they work it out. As someone who "moved" at the age of 50, I would just say that I never identified myself as straight - but a wife and many children were a very effective, if, I may say, unintended cover for my own internal confusions.

What is so obnoxious and dangerous about the position that AM take is that it is posited on an ideological opposition to any gay relationships, and an assumption that "same-sex attraction" is somehow evidence of being sexually "wounded". Just look at the Anglican Mainstream website - every possible opportunity is taken to imply that being gay will make you promiscuous, unhappy, drug-and STI-ridden and likely to want to do extreme and bizarre sexual things that would upset the horses. In other words they are a hate-filled group of homophobes.

No one should give anyone trouble for "moving" from str8 to gay or vice-versa (and what about all the bisexuals?) - but trying to make a living out of making out that all gay people are sick and need "fixing" needs the severest and firmest opposition. Most of all by Christians who should be furious that their faith is being hijacked by these extremists.

Posted by JeremyP at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 9:33am BST

M B Andrews
"Is it laudable or ridiculous for someone to change their sexual orientation?"

It is neither ridiculous nor laudable, it is impossible.

People who can "change" are called bisexuals.
Many start off having gay relationships and later in life fall in love with a heterosexual partner.

Others, like me, make the journey in the opposite direction.

There have been enough gay people who have been destroyed by efforts to change, who have spent years praying and feeling rejected by God, many who have committed suicide.
For genuinely gay people change is not possible.

We absolutely must understand this and stop making them feel so morally inferior that they feel that change would be desireable.

Why should it be?
The problem is our attitude to gay people.
We are the problem, not they.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 9:35am BST

Yes JeremyP, reminds me of the so called Anglican Communion Institute debacle .... they were supposed to have members too .....

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 10:03am BST

The Charity Commission link for the registered charity Anglican Mainstream is


http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/CharityWithoutPartB.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1111739&SubsidiaryNumber=0

This lets you access their accounts and annual report - assertive on public benefit but not explicit. It's not made clear what relationship this legal body has with the nebulous network described on the webpages mentioned by JeremyP. How can a Steering Committee "steer" the trustees charged with responsibility for the charity? What is clear is that this is not a "membership charity"; the trustees are selected by the board of trustees and that's it.

The link also lets you chase up other charities the trustees are involved in. And note which have a poor compliance history.

Posted by american piskie at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 10:35am BST

"After many years, he tried dating, and now he’s married to a lovely lady about his age. I’ve only met them twice. But they seem happy. Once the guy was homosexual, and now, I presume, he considers himself heterosexual." - M B Andrews -

Your presumption may only be partly right. Have you ever thought that your friend might not actually be sexually involved with his partner? There are many Gays - I know some - who have married conventionally simply because they feel more accepted by society. They may not admit to you that they are not sexually active in rthe partnership.

If, on the other hand, the man was originally behaving in a homosexual way, but then found himself uncomfortable with that situation and was able to form a sexual relationship with a woman, he was probably not homosexual, but bi-sexual. He merely decided to take his preferred option and decided to 'live with it'.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 11:56am BST

Bizarrely, their mailing address appears to be co-located with a firm of Funeral Directors.

Posted by Andy at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 1:07pm BST

A therapist has been removed by his professional association, due to his involvement in all this.

http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2012/04/core-issues-director-mike-davidson-removed-from-professional-association/

Thank goodness for the outspoken condemnation of homophobia by UKCP and Prof Andrew Samuels, Jungian analyst.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 3:54pm BST

Dear M B Andrews,

Your question raises the fair point that human sexuality is complex, and I don't think anyone would worry if an individual decided that, actually, they were attracted to a different gender than the one they originally liked.

What is objectionable is not the Christian willingness to support anyone in the choices they make.

What is objectionable is the combination of offer to help with a theology that stigmatises gay sex and treats it as an abomination, as something that leads to hell, as something that's perverted and corrupt like paedophilia, and that is rooted in these views, as the background and basis of the 'support' that is offered.

In this country, it is surely incompatible with hate crimes and homophobia, to afford leeway to an organisation that demonises gay relationships in this way, and to feel alright that they should promote their calculated homophobia in the public arena.

Society has moved on, recognises the equal legitimacy of gay and heterosexual love, and it is right that gay and lesbian people should be protected from campaigns which are rooted in the vilification of their lives.

Would we feel any happier if the BNP put up ads on buses offering free flights 'home' to immigrants?

Even if there are stories like yours of SOME immigrant families who decide not to stay in the UK?

Racism and homophobia are both wrong, and the vilification of people on grounds of either colour or sexual orientation is wholly unacceptable.

Posted by Susannah at Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 2:56am BST

That's because their offices are located above a funeral director's premises.

Posted by JeremyP at Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 7:37am BST

Father Ron, there are a few well known lesbian bloggers around with kids from previous relationships and they don't call themselves "bi". Should we force them to? Once a person goes one way or the other, shouldn't they be able to decide what they are and what to be called? If people who have changed and become lesbian/gay are allowed, then mustn't one also allow those who go the other way to be allowed to call themselves what they wish?

Posted by Chris H. at Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 2:39pm BST

"After many years, he tried dating, and now he’s married to a lovely lady about his age. I’ve only met them twice. But they seem happy. Once the guy was homosexual, and now, I presume, he considers himself heterosexual."

I don't know if your friend was bisexual or is now in a platonic relationship, as other commenters have said. Another possibility is that he is gay, but is married (in the full sense of that word) to a woman. It wouldn't be the first time in history that it's happened, and "gay man" does not necessarily mean "incapable of falling in love or having sex with a woman." Sexual orientation falls along a continuum - it's not like an electric switch with only off/on positions.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 6:34pm BST

@ Chris H. See the recent brouhaha re (award-winning actress) Cynthia Nixon.

She claimed to have "chosen to be gay", but after a passionate reaction, reconsidered, and restated that she was in fact bisexual, but had chosen to be in a gay relationship.

[Note: that doesn't mean that all "women w/ children" in lesbian relationships are bisexual. Some women (like C Nixon) discover they are *also* attracted to women (and fall in love, and marry a woman). Others, however, discover that, while they went through the motions of a straight relationship (recalling that heterosexuality is still the mandated default, in a homophobic society), they never really were sexually attracted to men, and are exclusively attracted to women. HTH.]

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 8:43pm BST

Well done, Bill. A lifelong commitment like marriage should run on monogamous DC love, instead of variable on/middle/off AC desires.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 11:30pm BST

hmmm, this doesn't figure.....

A minority group run a series of ads promoting fair treatment, consideration, tolerance, understanding - basically just asking to be treated in an equal & fair manner.

Then another minority group demand the *right* to run ads attacking that group & saying they need to be cured because they're sick.

Which group did you say claimed to be Christians? Supposed followers of Christ?

Posted by Andy at Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 1:04am BST

Chris H. What we choose to 'call ourselves' may, or may not, having anything to do with the reality of our inborn, innate, sexuality. I remember an old saying "To thine own self be true" - even if you can't to other people. It's healthier.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 4:18am BST

I'd like to mention a different paradigm to the standard "you are attracted to women and that is your permanent nature" or "you are attracted to men and that is your permanent nature".

This implies the sexual motivation and attraction is to the 'object of the desire' (specifically women, or specifically men).

I'd like to assert a different slant: that sexual response may be triggered by the *dynamic* between a man and a woman. So in this analysis, a woman may not be attracted to "men" as such, but instead may be sexually turned on by a heterosexual dynamic and connecyion that takes place physiologically and neurologically.

In other words, I think that "heterosexual orientation" may have as much to do with the dynamic - the need for a relationship where there is a man with woman chemistry going on - as to do with any specific objects of desire.

As a woman with a transsexual history, I have observed that it is the "heterosexual orientation" that is strongest, rather than the object-fixed orientation.

In other words, I believe there can be fluidity in terms of objects of desire. When someone has male sex organs, their heterosexuality may trigger with a woman, to complete the heterosexual dynamic. When someone has female sex organs, their heterosexuality may trigger with a man, to complete the heterosexual dynamic.

It's like an electrical circuit that needs both sexes for the current to flow.

What I'm saying is that, experience suggests that the object of orientation can change if a person's body is changed. Therefore the dynamic may be the constant factor, not just "I was born attracted to women".

Of course, the Christian Institute would say I'm gay, when exactly the opposite is true. Sexuality is complex, may be fluid in terms of objects of desire, and the moral imperative should be love.

Posted by Susannah at Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 4:12pm BST

Tom Robinson is probably the most well-known example of a gay man married to a woman, with whom he has children. It took a while for me to get my head around the idea when I found out about his marriage, but I realized that if I believe that straight men occasionally fall in love with other men (which I absolutely do), it made sense that that particular thoroughfare was a two-way street.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 5:21pm BST

Bill,
There have always been people who have been able to switch partners and gone from straight to gay or from gay to straight.

By definition, they are bisexuals, whether they have always known that they can "switch" or whether it is something that they realised later in life. Or maybe something that only developed later in life.

What they are not is gay or straight.

Until we recognise that some people are intrinsically capable of switching and others aren't we'll never put this myth of a gay cure to rest.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 7:49am BST

I love the way that Erika approaches this. Because *she* has decided that she was always bisexual, *all* people who shift sexuality must therefore also be bisexual. At the same time she condemns Anglican Mainstream for suggesting that *all* people who are gay should be able to consider shifting.

Why can she not get into her head that there are people who at one point were exclusively hetero or homo who then later in life saw their orientation change? Why is there testimony less valid then hers?

Posted by Peter Ould at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 9:45am BST

Erika, I don't think bisexuality as an identity is a particularly helpful concept in this context, given that most people fall somewhere on a continuum of sexuality that includes the ability to function sexually with either men or women to *some* extent. If someone is overwhelmingly sexually and romantically attracted to members of their own sex most of their lives but falls in love once with a member of the opposite sex *you* might label them as bisexual; I'd think that a pretty meager sort of bisexuality. Sexual identity, it seems to me, embraces more than all possible sexual combinations.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 11:40am BST

If people follow their switchable sexual orientation, they can get married.

How does that person maintain faithful lifelong vs. serial monogamy? Should they deny or follow their change in 'orientation'?

If it's followed and such behaviour is approved by LGBT pressure groups, guess what? The much-maligned 'slippery slope' argument turns from fallacy to FACT.

Posted by David Shepherd at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 11:42am BST

Right - I have NO IDEA if all people who switch between desiring men and women are bi or not. My own view would be closer to Bill's but that is actually beside the point.

However I know three things.

Firstly, that in terms of morality, the good a relationship does, the lessons it teaches, and the health it promotes is not in any way dependent on whether it is between same sex couples or opposite ones. A relationship is good or bad. A relationship fosters personal growth or hinders it. A relationship encourages care for those around the couple or it does not. It does all these things regardless, totally regardless, of the gender of those within it.

Secondly, straight people, gay people and bi people are very frequently attracted to others with whom they are not in a relationship. All categories manage temptation (or fall into it) in much the same way: by having a relationship which is strong and fulfilling and by walking away from temptation. Unfaithfulness is not an exclusively or particularly LGBT phenomenon. That you may be sometimes attracted to men and sometimes to women does not affect this at all. If you marry, you marry because you love the person before you, and I would hope you stay married. If you know you are bi, you chose to marry a person, and like everybody else, you know that others may well attract you, and you know how to walk away. If you marry believing you will never again be attracted to anybody else for even a moment, I think you will be rather vulnerable to your desires.

Thirdly, that this is starting to look like 'Let's hunt Erika' week, and that makes me profoundly uncomfortable.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 1:12pm BST

All good points. but they do reduce a switch in orientation to the level of an unwanted desire to be resisted...which I'm sure is the last thing you want to suggest.

I'm actually willing to go with the idea that orientations are not fixed, but that means that acting upon them CAN be resisted, as you say, 'by having a relationship which is strong and fulfilling and by walking away from temptation'.

Let me be clear what you are saying, Rosemary. At least, for some, acting upon their switched orientation towards a particular gender can be considered a temptation, rather than a morally-neutral irresistible, permanent, innate characteristic.

Let's try calling it a 'Let's hunt for the truth' week.

Posted by David Shepherd at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 1:38pm BST

Peter,
for me, it's purely a matter of language.
People who have the innate ability to switch between 2 (bi) sexes are bisexual.

Those people who cannot do it are completely gay or straight.

I don't much mind what you call it. And I don't care whether some people can do it throughout their lives and others at particular points in their lives.

What is important is to recognise that the vast majority of those identifying as gay or straight could not change even if they wanted to.
There have been enough destroyed gay lives for us to be 100% sure of this.

By all means, let's accept that some people change, either because they fall in love with a partner of a sex they had previously not been in love with, or because they would prefer to be in a straight relationship to being in a gay one.
That's absolutely valid.

But let's not infer from that that a) everyone could change if only they wanted to, or b) that it would be remotely desireable if they did.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 2:06pm BST

"Firstly, that in terms of morality, the good a relationship does, the lessons it teaches, and the health it promotes is not in any way dependent on whether it is between same sex couples or opposite ones."

Word.

"Secondly, straight people, gay people and bi people are very frequently attracted to others with whom they are not in a relationship. All categories manage temptation (or fall into it) in much the same way: by having a relationship which is strong and fulfilling and by walking away from temptation."

Absolutely. Sometimes, ironically, critics of gay people speak and write as if they thought that same-sex acts were so exciting and pleasure-filled that if happily married straight folks found out about it, they'd all abandon their spouses in order to live a life of sybaritic homosexuality.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 2:45pm BST

"Until we recognise that some people are intrinsically capable of switching and others aren't we'll never put this myth of a gay cure to rest."

Erika, I was thinking about this at church this morning, and I don't think my position helps maintain the gay cure lie at all. When a person, the pattern of whose sexual/romantic life is overwhelmingly gay, goes to Exodus or its British equivalent, "takes the cure," and marries someone of the opposite gender, it neither means that they have switched sexual orientation from gay to straight nor (necessarily) that they are and have always been bisexual. No change of sexual orientation, either real or based merely in labeling, has taken place. In spite of their protestations, they are still gay, but in a straight relationship.

A lot of boys and men go through a phase of experimentation, either virtual or physical, in which they have sex with other males. Typically it happens in adolescence, but it sometimes happens later. It may go beyond just sex, and they might develop an intimate/emotional/romantic relationship with another guy. But it's a phase, a stage, and it neither endures nor does it define their life. They go on to develop (or go back to having, if their experiment happens in adulthood) romantico-sexual (does that word exist?) relationships that are exclusively heterosexual. They aren't repressed gay or bisexual people pretending to be straight. They are straight men who had sex with another guy.

Please note that I am NOT applying this to all people who change from partners of one gender to another - I am not saying that there aren't people who, after a life of latent bisexuality, discover the truth and act on it. I'm saying that that is not the only explanation.

Nor am I saying that because most people have, to some extent, the theoretical capability of being involved with members of their own or the opposite sex under certain circumstances, that they can use that capability on command.


Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 3:25pm BST

Rosemary wrote:

Secondly, straight people, gay people and bi people are very frequently attracted to others with whom they are not in a relationship. All categories manage temptation (or fall into it) in much the same way: by having a relationship which is strong and fulfilling and by walking away from temptation.

So single people are incapable of resisting temptation unless they enter into a sexual relationship? How incredibly patronising...

Posted by Peter Ould at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 3:52pm BST

Bill
"In spite of their protestations, they are still gay, but in a straight relationship."

I think we actually talk about the same thing.
I completely agree with you here.

That is precisely why I want to distinguish between those who are genuinely capable of switching to another, genuinely emotionally and physically satisfying relationship and those who remain basically gay but find themselves, for various reasons, in a straight relationship, or those who are basically straight but at some point or other experiment with a same sex relationship.

I don't think we need to worry about those who just dabble with a same sex relationship at some point in their lives but then go back to where they feel truly at home.

And I don't think we need to worry about those who are finding it possible to have genuine relationships with people from either sex.

I do worry about those who are truly gay, who can't change or who end up in cover relationships that hide the fact that they're still gay.
They’re in danger of being psychologically damaged by the ex-gay movement.

By calling everyone on this spectrum “gay” we make it really difficult in our public debate to retain the all important distinction.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 5:04pm BST

"So single people are incapable of resisting temptation unless they enter into a sexual relationship? How incredibly patronising..."

I didn't read Rosemary's statement to mean any such thing. I thought that what she wrote was at least in partial response to David Shepherd's concern about monogamy. You aren't by any chance going out of your way here to paint people who do not agree with you as favoring promiscuity, are you?

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 5:13pm BST

Bill/Erica - you are assuming that you actually know for a FACT what God has or has not done in any individual. It is merely your opinion, what you hope is the case or what you think should be the case if you were God - you simply cannot know what God would or would not do. God can actually act without therapy.

Peter 30% of the church are single - so Jesus does not feel it unduly burdensome on a Christian. I mean consider the life of an Iranian or Iraq Christian - especially one in jail. There is no comparison.

Posted by DAvid WIlson at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 5:52pm BST

Oh don't be ridiculous Peter! David was talking about serial monogamy - serial monogamists are not single. Of course people without parters resist temptation all the time. It is a bit harder, because they do not have the support of a fulfilling relationship. Since I have been without one for 22 years, I know a good deal about that.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 6:15pm BST

David, I think there are people who are better able to be single than others. I have many friends who are, like myself, currently celibate or who have always been so. Widows, widowers, those whose husbands/wives have left, those who have never met the right person. They include both the gay and the straight. It is not easy - not even for me, who is far more solitary than most people. There is a lot of evidence that people who are single are generally less healthy in many ways.

(Small joke. One also discovers, as I did this afternoon, that one really needs a third hand, to reach for the hammer, whilst holding the wood and the nail.)

But for many, life-long celibacy is killing. It stunts them, narrows them. The levels of sexual frustration, of social misery, rise pretty much out of control. It is very undesirable for most people. It is a great deal better in every way for them to marry and to learn the lessons which only come from the demands of living with another, and to grow so that they can give back to society. I truly believe that God does not will most of us to live alone, and that he blesses all unions which have the intent of being committed and life-long. I truly believe that actual, although he made us so that most of us are straight, he does not care if our partners are of our own or the opposite gender, but that he is passionate about our learning to love and to give.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Monday, 16 April 2012 at 6:29pm BST

David Wilson - yes, we're working with uncertain knowledge. Exactly as you are. And yes, God can do anything, even raise up sons of Abraham from these rocks. Even change people's sexuality, if he wanted to. Just as he could, say, make pigs fly like barn swallows. This is not his usual way of acting.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 12:11am BST

I'd just like to thank Rosemary Hannah for the pure sanity and coherence of her remarks.

Personally I do not want homophobes who vilify all gay people's sexual relationships to plaster *my* city's buses with posters, any more than I want racists who vilify immigrants to do that either.

My central complaint about Anglican Mainstream is not the objectionable posters, but their vilification of gay people and their lives and loving relationships. It is this backdrop of blanket vilification of gay sex that informs the true basis of the posters.

This vilification is at odds with decency and commitment that so many Londoners work towards - to make our city tolerant of diversity and respectful of people's sexual orientation, race, gender identity, disability etc.

We wouldn't want bus posters that suggest some immigrants can change their minds and go home - because we know the racist vilification that would loom behind it against all immigrants.

And in the same way we wouldn't want bus posters that suggest some gay people can change their orientation - because we know full well the vilification that would loom behind it against all gay (or lesbian) people.

We just don't want organisations that vilify being given access to our buses (which we use), our city, our community.

In contrast, the mood of the kind and decent majority of London is towards acceptance of diversity, and more and more people affirm the dignity and faithfulness of gay as well as heterosexual love and sex and care.

Why would we want these vilifying groups to smear our city and our lives with their outdated prejudices and divisiveness?

London doesn't want stuff like this. That is very clear. We've moved on from this hateful othering of decent people's lives.

Posted by Susannah at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 6:04am BST

*It is merely your opinion, what you hope is the case or what you think should be the case if you were God - you simply cannot know what God would or would not do.*

We've been telling you conservative christians that this is the case with *you* for decades.

You don't know what God thinks, either. The difference is, you want to *force* everyone to do what you want Him to think right. Yout don't know that God didn't make people gay, or that He disapproves of gay relationships, or that He was actually speaking every word written by the alleged composers of Scripture.

Maybe there should be a little beam removal on your part? Just a thought.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 6:26am BST

Rosemary:
Thanks for that, including your amusing anecdote.

Nevertheless, the focus was on the moral dilemma of married bisexuals who, it is claimed by some here, can undergo a fundamental shift in orientation from the opposite sex and towards the same-sex. (BTW, it's insulting for commenters here to speculate in a way that suggests that Peter was either bisexual, or married a 'beard').

You appear to imply that, given the lifelong vows of marriage, the thought of an action driven by that bisexual change in attraction is a temptation to be resisted. Yet, it is also claimed, that it operates at such a fundamental level in human behaviour as to be morally neutral.

So, in the case of a married bisexual, can we separate orientation from the morality of actual behaviour that might arise from the loss of opposite-sex attraction?

Posted by David Shepherd at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 7:41am BST

Most usually, bisexuals know they are liable to be attracted to either sex. If they marry knowing that is so, their position is no different to that of any other married person. If that marriage fails, if, for the sake of keeping the argument at its most logical, if their spouse dies, then I would imagine they were free to seek a person of either sex as marriage partner. But actually, David, what I think does not matter a hoot. There is a wide acceptance in the church of divorce and re-marriage, and, unlike gay sex, that is an area where I am too aware my own emotions might too easily cloud my judgement. (Not that there is any foreseeable likelihood of my getting as far as having a romantic coffee tete a tete in a public place with any straight man in the next five years). I think discussion on divorce ought not to be confused with an argument on equal marriage or gay sex. Any discussion on marriage failure, and the freedom or not of people to remarry ought to include straight partnerships, indeed I think it ought to start with them.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 10:27am BST

David, you seem to be using the word "orientation" when you're actually speaking of behavior. A bisexual who, for the sake of argument, is married to a man, widowed, and then marries a woman has not undergone any shift in orientation.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 12:04pm BST

Bill:
So would you advocate that it is morally correct for the bisexual who might have had inklings of attraction towards both sexes at different life stages and experienced a switch during marriage to divorce and re-marry? Or do they stay married, resisting the behavioural temptation? How is the former faithful monogamy?

You see, elsewhere on TA, liberal commenters here have criticized the HoB pastoral guidance by indicating that sexual orientation and the consequent sexual practice that might ensue are inseparable.

Posted by David Shepherd at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 1:14pm BST

It is plain.

There is no consensus in the church about sexual orientation.

The covenant - that arose out of this sexual morass - proves that.

Here in the UK, we have no consensus.

But we are one in Christ.

We can only find our unity in Christ, and for the rest, we should seek to love one another in all the diversity that exists within the church.

One party should stop telling the other party what to do.

We should live with each other's diversity. We should stop being controlling.

Love God. Love one another.

There is no other way.

Breaking off communion with each other is the baby throwing the rattle out of the cot.

It is child's stuff.

We can't break our unity, our oneness in Christ. If we break off communion we are acting out a lie.

Let us love. And accept we are different. We have to, because it is true.

There is no consensus.

But God is still beautiful and glorious.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 3:53pm BST

"So would you advocate that it is morally correct for the bisexual who might have had inklings of attraction towards both sexes at different life stages and experienced a switch during marriage to divorce and re-marry?"

The use of the word "switch" makes me uneasy. By definition there would be a switch in partners but not in orientation.

Are they getting divorced simply to marry a partner of another sex? My answer is no, I wouldn't advocate that as a moral choice.

There was a movie that came out back in the 1982 called Making Love, starring Kate Jackson, Harry Hamlin, and Michael Ontkean. Ontkean and Jackson are happily married, but he's started to explore his sexual attraction to other men. Long story short: he divorces her for Hamlin, who plays a gay novelist; she understands, and they meet years later to tell each other how happy they are the other is happy. I hated it.

The general assumption was that Ontkean's character was gay, not bisexual, but this was back when there only seemed to be two orientations. There's no doubt that the marriage was generally happy, and I think if it were made today Ontkean's character would be presented as bisexual.

At any rate, I didn't care for Ontkean's choices. I thought he should have stayed in the marriage and given up his explorations; divorcing his wife for no other reason than "self-discovery" struck me as the ultimate in self-indulgence.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 8:58pm BST

David, it occurs to me that if people are arguing that bisexuals should have a "Get Out of Matrimony Free" card based solely on their sexual orientation - that they're bisexual, and *of course* that means they have to have sex with both men and women - that that's the same as arguing that bisexuals are unable contract a binding marriage with anyone. Are you sure that you didn't misunderstand what they were saying?

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 9:02pm BST

"People who have the innate ability to switch between 2 (bi) sexes are bisexual.

Those people who cannot do it are completely gay or straight." - Erika Baker -

May I say, at this point, that comments on this particular thread are probably the nearest we have got to an open conversation about gay and straight identity in the entire blogosphere - for which I am thankful to 'Thinking Anglicans'.

I entirely agree with Erika's remark - above - about the exclusivity of absolute gay and absolute straight sexual identity. In neither case, I very strongly believe, can one be 'changed' into the other! Those who can change are bi-sexual!

There is the case; and one knows this either by personal experience or through pastoral encounter; where an intrinsically gay person enters into a marriage with an intrinsically straight person, for a reason other than the exercise of their innate sexual needs.

Reasons for this fact may be different. One reason is that each of the two people involved have discovered a deep agape love for one another, and if there are children of the straight person's former marriage (say, being a widow), there is an opportunity for the (male gay) partner to become a surrogate father to the children. All of this needs to be talked about by both parties before any agreement to marry is made.

This does not necessarily mean that the gay man ceases to be attracted to other gay men. It does mean that he does his very best to be faithful to the monogamous relationship he has freely given himself to in marriage. However, he is unlikely to be able to consummate the marriage - and this is usually a situation not only understood by, but also agreed to, by his heterosexual wife before any marriage takes place.

If that sounds complicated; well, it is. However, the situation is not all that uncommon, and needs to be taken into account in any discussion of the possibility of non-sexual marriage relationships between opposite-gender persons.

Marriage can be based on agape rather than eros!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 12:02am BST

Father Ron: "I entirely agree with Erika's remark - above - about the exclusivity of absolute gay and absolute straight sexual identity. In neither case, I very strongly believe, can one be 'changed' into the other! Those who can change are bi-sexual!"

I don't agree, Father Ron. I believe that is too rigid and doctrinaire a view. I believe human sexuality is more complex, more varied, and occasionally more fluid, than that.

I believe what you say is true for a majority of people. But I believe some people DO change from attraction to one gender, to attraction to the other.

Coming from the Trans angle of LGBT, I have communicated with scores, possibly hundreds, of people who have transitioned. There seems to be no 'one size fits all' with regard to what happens to sexual orientation when people transition.

My own experience is a change from watertight attraction to women, to watertight attraction to men. As far as I can work out, that just means I have a consistent heterosexual psychology.

But my orientation has rotated 180 degrees in line with my bodily transition.

Other people going through the same transition used to date men and still date men, or used to date women and still date women, or like me, changed from dating women to dating men.

And there are loads of people who simply don't fit, and may not even recognise the traditional gender binary.

So, while I am 100% opposed to doctrinally driven programmes to encourage change, and to vilify *all* gay and lesbian sexual relationships, I have to assert that sometimes, in a minority of cases, people DO change.

Because I have. And I have no sense of 'having been a repressed gay man all along' because I still am not attracted to gay men. The male-male thing totally doesn't work for me. What works (either way) is a heterosexual dynamic, requiring two different sexes and genders.

But equally, in asserting diversity, I embrace and celebrate gay and lesbian relationships, their love, their care, their fidelity.

And I oppose the hugely unnatural attempts to 'change' people because of dogma. Most of all I oppose the sickening vilification of people's decent and loving identities and lives because they're gay or lesbian, and I see no place for homophobia in society.

Posted by Susannah at Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 1:08am BST

Bill:

My position was never that bisexuals are under an incessant biological imperative to have sex with both men and women. I'm exploring what might happen should a married bisexual lose attraction towards the gender of their spouse and find themselves attracted towards same-sex relations.

'Are they getting divorced simply to marry a partner of another sex? My answer is no, I wouldn't advocate that as a moral choice.' I agree. That means that despite their orientation (which you say hasn't changed) and their new-found or re-discovered attraction towards same-sex relations, we also agree that the moral choice is to resist that attraction towards 'self-discovery' as a temptation.

Just to be clear, for the married, you are claiming that we can separate the bisexual orientation from any exploration that might result in a new relationship.

It might also be suggested that this is only the case for bisexuals, rather than absolute gay, or straight. Yet, you have stated earlier, 'given that most people fall somewhere on a continuum of sexuality that includes the ability to function sexually with either men or women to *some* extent.'

I also agree with that. So, according to you, most people may have the ability to function bisexually to some extent. Many of them are married, vowing to maintain lifelong faithful monogamy. Regardless of the continuum of sexuality, sexual orientation does not provide, as you say, a '"Get Out of Matrimony Free" card.

Even if a bisexual orientation is the trigger, once married, we all should resist the temptation towards sexual 'self-discovery' that would lead to divorce. Simply put, sexual 'self-discovery' outside of marriage is fornication and adultery.

What's crucial here is that someone has admitted that, at least, for the majority of people, we can separate where they are on the continuum of sexual orientation from the behaviour/attraction/self-discovery that might arise. Although it was in respect of clergy in civil partnerships, that's what the HoB advocated.

The moral imperatives demanded by marriage (or chastity) overrule the dictates of physically and emotionally exploring your sexual orientation.

Posted by David Shepherd at Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 8:16am BST

Susannah
thank you very much for this, I shall certainly have to reconsider my words!

I still hold to the substance of what I say because the change you describe is not a chosen one.
And my real issue in this debate is that I firmly believe that you cannot voluntarily change from completley gay to completely straight without having this ability already somewhere within you.

And that many people who have been brought up to believe that it is wrong to be gay and who have therefore fervently tried to change themselves have been unable to do so because whatever it is that makes some people be able to change is not present in them.

I'm happy to let the word bisexual go in this context.
I would still like to find a way of finding a linguistic way of making that distinction.

Because those who do not already accept sexual diversity can still cause a lot of psychological damage by peddling the myth that everyone can change if they really want to and that they therefore ought to change.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 8:35am BST

David, a couple of points:

The continuum of sexuality does not mean that everyone can "perform on demand." Just because a man (for the sake of argument) could under certain circumstances relate sexually to a woman does not mean that he could ordinarily do so, or that it's preferable that he put himself in a position where his only option is to do so. Just because a gay man had sex with a woman once does not make him a good candidate for heterosexual marriage. And for most people who aren't bisexual their interest in the same or other sex (depending on what end of the spectrum theyre on) doesn't ever go beyond fantasy.

I don't think that bisexuals misplace or forget their attraction for either gender. Bisexuality, as I understand it, represents an ongoing attraction to both sexes. The fact that a man who is overwhelmingly attracted to women, for example, might under certain circumstances be attracted to another man does not make him a bisexual.

Undisclosed homosexuality has always been grounds for annulment. In that sense, sexual orientation does trump the stated spousal commitment in the eyes of the State and the Church.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 11:51am BST

David forgive me for not addressing this in my previous comment, but I've been thinking about your comment this morning and something has been bothering me. You wrote, "What's crucial here is that someone has admitted that, at least, for the majority of people, we can separate where they are on the continuum of sexual orientation from the behaviour/attraction/self-discovery that might arise."

I don't think I'm *admitting* anything. What I am doing is affirming that "buyer's remorse," as it were, isn't grounds for divorce on the part of bisexuals, that a bisexual man married to a woman can't announce one morning over breakfast, "Sorry, sweetheart, but I just feel like I'm in a rut, and I think that I'd like to have sex with men for a change, so I want a divorce." Let me add, though, that if a marriage breaks up for another reason, a bisexual person isn't obligated to choose a partner of the same sex as their divorced mate.

Your comment suggests that I am affirming a position that I do not hold, which is that since most people can relate sexually to some extent with the opposite sex, they are morally obligated to restrict themselves to the possibility of such relations. Maybe it's just my suspicious nature, or maybe I'm misreading your comment, and if that's not where this line of discussion is going then I apologize.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 3:18pm BST

Bill:
'Undisclosed homosexuality has always been grounds for annulment. In that sense, sexual orientation does trump the stated spousal commitment in the eyes of the State and the Church.'

Perhaps in the US, not in the UK.

The grounds for a void marriage are set out in s.11/12 of the Matrimonial Causes Act. Unless there was no consummation, the undisclosed homosexual would have to seek a divorce, not a decree of nullity. A person's sexual orientation doesn't per se prove the incapacity needed for an annulment.

So, in that case, sexual orientation does not trump the vows of marriage. I certainly wouldn't agree with appointing an elder who lived as though it did.

Posted by David Shepherd at Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 3:59pm BST

I think too that the position of, let us say, a man married to a homosexual woman is an unenviable one. Not so much because she will be unfaithful, but because he may well be looking for something from the relationship which she does not have to give. And that 'something' may well be as much emotional as sexual.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 4:58pm BST

David, as I understand it, here it's not the homosexuality itself but concealing it from the other spouse; it's considered a form of fraud - getting someone to marry you under false pretenses.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 12:41am BST

"But my orientation has rotated 180 degrees in line with my bodily transition."

- Susannah, on Wednesday -

Susannah, I find this most interesting. Did you have hormonal treatment, and could this have been a factor, do you think, in your final transformation?

I must say, Susannah, I find that you and Erika both impress me by your honesty and your obvious experience in these matters of gender and sexuality. Perhaps this is why I find David S. lacking in the same sort of sensitivity. I think that a gramme of actual experience is worth a tonne of theological speculation.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 11:30am BST

David, after poking around on-line, I think you may be mistaken about the Matrimonial Causes Act. There are certainly issues other than lack of consummation that may determine a marriage voidable. Section 12 states in part that "A marriage celebrated after 31st July 1971 shall be voidable on the following grounds only, that is to say—...(c)that either party to the marriage did not validly consent to it, whether in consequence of duress, mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise;..."

I've seen references on British legal sites that state fraud on the part of one partner may have effectively invalidated the consent of the other. As I pointed out in my last comment, here in the States undisclosed homosexuality is considered an example of fraud that could result in a decree of nullity, and I suggest that it may be the case in the UK as well. Of course, if you are a lawyer, I will accept your superior knowledge on the topic, but otherwise I really think you may be mistaken.

I was a little confused by your writing "Unless there was no consummation, the undisclosed homosexual would have to seek a divorce, not a decree of nullity." Why do you assume that the gay partner is the one seeking to dissolve the marriage? I would think that it would most often be the defrauded partner who would seek to have dissolve the marriage, not the defrauder.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 5:47pm BST

Ron:

Only LGBTs possess the kind of experience that you rate so highly. Quel surprise! I assume that the rest of the church must simply sit in awe?

Of course, for a bishop who had divorced his wife and pursued a homosexual relationship afterwards, it wouldn't be theological speculation, would it? In spite of what's been said, that experience might produce a bias in declaring that one's sexual orientation always trumps the vows of matrimony.

So much for experience!

Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 5:57pm BST

Bill:

I return to your earlier remark: 'Are they getting divorced simply to marry a partner of another sex? My answer is no, I wouldn't advocate that as a moral choice.'

On that basis, were we not extending the earlier bisexual dilemma and considering how the undisclosed married homosexual (rather than the heterosexual spouse) might handle the same situation?

I am not a lawyer, neither are you. UK case law in this area is quite sparse. So, if, as you say, the petition of the defrauded partner (whether by annulment or divorce) was granted, it would still uphold respect for the binding nature of the mutual public consent of marriage vows.

The annulment would only demonstrate that such non-disclosure is tantamount to the lack of knowledge required for genuine consent. That's not the same as saying (as you did) 'sexual orientation does trump the stated spousal commitment in the eyes of the State and the Church' where that commitment was not reciprocated honestly.

Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 9:31pm BST

Father Ron,

In my case I think the fundamental thing about the way my brain understands sexuality is that my sexuality didn't change at all.

As I say, when it comes to sexuality, for me it is the chemistry, the connection, the dynamic of heterosexual relationship that I experience and understand as sex.

In that relationship (I stress, for me) there has to be a man and there has to be a woman. My brain is just heterosexual like that.

Yes I had various hormones for 2 years before physical surgery. They have a huge impact and benefit psychologically, but more than anything, the surgery itself was the decisive trigger.

Previously, with my male physicality (which caused great dysphoria and distress) I found the heterosexual dynamic in attraction to female, and I never thought of men in any sexual sense.

Afterwards, with my female physicality (which has brought great psychological happiness in itself) I found exactly the same heterosexual dynamic in attraction to male, and female-female sexuality lacks that heterosexual dynamic. It just doesn't do anything. But the physical attraction to certain men is very very real.

It is a lovely and total feeling!

However I embrace chastity in my personal life.

So I just describe my orientation as heterosexual.

As mentioned previously, however, I totally endorse and celebrate the love between two women, or the love between two men, for people who work that way. Life on this planet is diverse.

Posted by Susannah at Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 11:04pm BST

"Quel surprise! I assume that the rest of the church must simply sit in awe?" - David Shepherd -

Not necessarily. BUT, it should pin its communal ears back and actually LISTEN to the experienced - who hold together their sexuality and their love and experience of 'God in the midst'!
_______________________________________________

Thank you, Susannah, for the benefit of hearing your personal experience. As I have said already - (In evidence for the phenomenon of the broad range of human sexuality) - Listening to Actual Experience is better than Judgement based on Ignorance.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 20 April 2012 at 2:07am BST

David,

"On that basis, were we not extending the earlier bisexual dilemma and considering how the undisclosed married homosexual (rather than the heterosexual spouse) might handle the same situation?"

I suppose so. Perhaps it's just that the whole scenario (a spouse finding out that the other partner to the marriage is gay) conjures up the image of a the defrauded partner extricating themself from the marriage - that's the way I've seen the subject dealt with in fiction: husband is outed to wife, and in shock and horror wife sees her solicitor the next morning.

"The annulment would only demonstrate that such non-disclosure is tantamount to the lack of knowledge required for genuine consent. That's not the same as saying (as you did) 'sexual orientation does trump the stated spousal commitment in the eyes of the State and the Church' where that commitment was not reciprocated honestly."

I think you're reading too much into my statement, which began with "In that sense." My point was only that undisclosed homosexuality invalidates the marriage - it becomes as if it never happened.

Interestingly enough, according to what appears to be a government information website, "Marriages can also be voidable if one of you has changed, or wants to change, their legal gender." http://tinyurl.com/genderannul
I found that rather surprising.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 20 April 2012 at 2:08am BST

The thing is, sexual orientation is not a prerequisite to loving God, and - in the experience of LGBT Christians the loving of God continues, the relationship with God continues.

I am heterosexual, and I too have a relationship with God.

We can all have a relationship with God. It doesn't end because of what sexual orientation someone has.

Nor am I harmed because my brother Christian has gay sex, or my sister Christian has lesbian sex.

I have no desire to control who they love. Why would I? And why should certain members of the Church?

Fidelity and love are about the most precious things in life. As a Church, wherever there is genuine fidelity and love, we should be giving thanks, we should be supporting, and we should be celebrating.

Fidelity and love point us towards the fidelity and love of God. They are extensions, in human lives, of the nature of God.

In a world with so much hurt, so much division, so much othering, so much need... as Christians we need to... not control who others love... but try to love better ourselves.

May God have mercy on me, a sinner, and give me grace in my weakness. For I don't love enough. There is not enough love in the world.

Posted by Susannah at Friday, 20 April 2012 at 12:20pm BST

Susannah:

Herod the Great executed his son Aristobulus IV for treason. He then ordered the marriage of his bereaved grand-daughter, Herodias, bereaved as a minor, to her half-uncle, Herod II.

She later scandalously divorced Herod II to marry another half-uncle, Herod Antipas. Perhaps, he was the man she truly loved.

John the Baptist insisted that the second marriage was unlawful before God. He was imprisoned and later executed for his own intolerance, you might think. As you say, 'I have no desire to control who they love. Why would I? And why should certain members of the Church?'

In contrast with the fear of intolerance, Christ praised the fearless zeal of the Baptiser in challengIng lax morality.

Posted by David Shepherd at Friday, 20 April 2012 at 11:46pm BST

Just to be clear, St John the Baptist's objection to the marriage of Herodias and Antipas was the relationship between a man and his brother's wife: it fell within the forbidden degrees of kinship - it was incestuous. Neither the fact that she had been married before nor their being uncle/niece entered into the matter (except for the fact that , according to Josephus, *she* divorced her first husband, i.e. divorce wasn't the problem, but the wife's initiating it was). What St John was challenging was a violation of the incest prohibition.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 1:03am BST

Following on with Susannah's last post:

"Where charity and love are - there is God"

(Maundy Thursday antiphon)

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 4:29am BST

"In contrast with the fear of intolerance, Christ praised the fearless zeal of the Baptiser in challengIng lax morality." - David Shepherd -

And you, too, David "will get your reward".

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 8:52am BST

Well, if I recall, that Jesus actually said is that John was the greatest of the prophets,but the least in the Kingdom of Heaven was greater than him. Which is something rather different.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 8:52am BST

Let me further add the obvious. There is a simple reason WHY gay people end up married to straight ones. Usually it is because they have felt a tremendous pressure to be straight and have succeeded in convincing themselves that they ARE able to function as straight. They then marry and find they can't do it. Very often it is their partners, their straight partners, who then divorce them, as much for lack of emotional closeness as for lack of enthusiasm in the bedroom. There is a lack of engagement - a lack of passion, which fails to satisfy. I have seen this pattern over and over. It spells disaster for everybody involved and hopefully more relaxed attitudes will lead to the ending of this particular tragedy.

But to imagine that making gay partnerships more difficult will lead to happy endings is cloud cuckoo land.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 10:03am BST

David,

Perhaps lax morality is *not* affirming gay love and faithful caring relationships.

I would regard that as pretty lax.

sincerely,
Susannah

Posted by Susannah at Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 12:54pm BST

And can I further suggest David reads this - and if not all of the article then the last sentence.
http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/lifeandstyle/2012/apr/20/i-tried-to-cure-gay-people

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 2:37pm BST

Bill:

Say it ain't so! Say you're not suggesting that John the Baptist paid the ultimate price for insisting on a Levitical sexual offence. (note to self: look up any other sexual prohibition he might have gleaned from that book).

Surely, he could just have been more tolerant, considered how tragically Herodias had been orphaned and forced into an arranged marriage. He couid have organised a service of blessing (or, at least, thanksgiving and prayer) affirming the happy couple in their new-found relationship. A bit of shrewd tolerance would have saved his life and developed a valuable alliance to further his full-time ministry!

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 22 April 2012 at 1:16pm BST
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