Comments: More about the bishops in the House of Lords debate

Thank you to Paul Handley for expressing so clearly the risks that the present HoB polity runs. I hope those like the Bishop of Gloucester, who is IMNSHO on the wrong side of the question as regards the present legislation, but who has a concern to see a much more positive context for valuing and honouring faithful committed same-sex relationships, will take note of who their allies in the HoB are, and will raise their voices loud and clear when they come to look at what Pilling produces.

If they don't, then the negative public opinion which Paul Handley so rightly identifies, which existed before the OWE debacle, but was hugely increased by that mess, and has only been worsened by their Lordships' performance this week, will harden even more, and they will become steadily more publicly irrelevant and ignored.

Bishops like the Bishop of Gloucester do also need to pay attention to the fact that while he may want a more positive approach to faithful and committed same-sex relationships, the reality that the bishops are going to have to work against is that before the end of next year they will start to see faithful and dedicated members of the Church of England, lay and ordained, either converting their Civil Partnerships into marriages (same-sex), or contracting such covenantal relationships themselves. So I am all for a more positive approach - but please let it at least face reality.

I note too, that if the Bishop of Gloucester simply gets a postbag flooded with communications from those who do not want to see marriage equality, and who might be supposed to be against anything that looks like the "liberalisation" of the Church's traditional sexual ethics to value more positively same-sex relationships, then it behoves those of us who feel passionately in the other direction to speak up loud and clear so that our bishops know what we feel. I don't believe that we are a minority - but we need to get active and help these bishops do the right thing.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Friday, 7 June 2013 at 12:39pm BST

"Once the legislation is passed, as we assume it will be, there will not be an opportunity for a clearer, more nuanced debate. This is it. Hereafter, the Church’s pronouncements on marriage will be coloured by the reputation it gains now. "

Which is true, and the article from the Church Times is incredibly sensible.

However, given the choice between pandering to a small and noisy claque of hardliners, many of them linked to conservative African churches, and following the modernising thinking of more than fifty percent of the CofE (no matter how tightly you draw the definition), Welby has chosen the former path. That's his decision to make. Anglicans need to decide, prayerfully or however else they want to, whether staying in an organisation that has committed itself to a ten year last-ditch stand on discriminating against gays (and, at the moment, women) is worth fighting for or worth fighting against.

If you think Welby looks like a homophobic bigot now, just think what his position is going to look like in ten years' time. Ten years of deaths (most of the churches' members currently aged over 80 will be dead, along with many of those currently over 70 and a not insignificant number of those over 60) will not be replaced from those in their teens and twenties anyway, but if the CofE's corporate position is homophobic, that replacement will be even smaller.

In ten years, a homophobic CofE will probably lose approaching 50% of its members, possibly more, due to attrition, leakage and non-replacement. Its political credibility will sink to zero, as no serious politician will stand with homophobes and sexists. An incoming Labour government in 2015 will expel the Bishops from the House of Lords to popular acclaim, and no politician to the left of Nigel Farage will return Welby's phonecalls.

I hope remaining in communion with bigots is worth it, because decent people aren't going to care as the CofE sinks into irrelevance and oblivion. Welby has the chance to make the CofE fit for 2050, or to make in bankrupt by 2025. His choice.

Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 7 June 2013 at 1:48pm BST

I believe his has (already) made his choice.

Posted by Laurence at Saturday, 8 June 2013 at 1:15am BST

The bishops who voted against have made fools of themselves, shown how out of touch they are with society and greatly harmed the mission of our church.

Posted by Jean Mayland at Saturday, 8 June 2013 at 10:55am BST

Interested Observer - I am left wondering what your 'interest' actually is here. With all respect I just don't think we are going to have the serious theological debate that is still needed if we can't stop labelling ... bigots, homophobics, sexists ... Waiting for the deaths of those who disagree with us is not that Christian either.

Posted by David at Saturday, 8 June 2013 at 11:09am BST

David, I appreciate your call to civilized dialogue. However, people need to hear the hurt. It hurts to be on the receiving end of discrimination. It can even be fatal. It is very difficult for those who were born in the power position, such as male, white, and straight, to truly empathize. There's isn't a polite substitute for the agony that the church has caused. There's no cure for it without hearing it, acknowledging it, respecting it, and trying to carry on more sensitively.

For an analogy . In the US there is a phenomenon known as "driving while black," DWB, where a police person makes a traffic stop for no reason, except the driver is black and in the "wrong" neighborhood. Every black person I know has suffered this indignity, including an African American Episcopal bishop. White people who don't dialogue with black people don't believe that the police profile blacks. Their world view of the police is of protectors. Many African Americans have a very different world view. Who's view is correct? The white person making the judgement, in ways that clearly call blacks liars? Or the black person who has the experience repeatedly? And how are blacks supposed to feel about this? Accepting? Not likely.

The analogous situation is, of course, "living while gay," LWG. In this world, straights do not understand the indignity and harm caused by discrimination.

Power to those who carry this with Grace. They are truly the blessed. I can not. I am next generation and it just looks horrifyingly neanderthal.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 8 June 2013 at 11:49pm BST

What 'serious theological debate' ? What's to discuss ? I find anti-gay knaves love to pretend to discussion, but I for one, refuse to help you with your problem. Just most Black people will have no stomach for assisting racists to improve.

Posted by Laurence at Sunday, 9 June 2013 at 6:55pm BST

It was great to read in Church Times about church leaders who've written in support of equal marriage. Hope!

The Handley article makes important points. I for one am not going to forget that Justin Welby's position was essentially "Sorry the church has treated LGBTs so badly. I'm here today to ask you to vote with me so that we can keep treating LGBTs badly."

And of course, I'm not going to forget that Welby made that speech when the church already had the quadruple lock.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 9 June 2013 at 11:48pm BST

It's funny to me that it's "labelling" when it's the poor, oppressed straights who feel gays are icky, but just good ol' robus "opinion" when it's directed at gays and liberals.

Theological debate ended long ago. There is and can be none, because hypocrisy killed it. It's a little late, after all the abuse (years, decades, centuries) and finding yourself on the losing end to start making appeals to goodwill, a little late to make appeals for a theology that has been presented and rejected out-of-hand. The goodwill is spent by conservative profligacy and the theology has been done to the satisfaction of the only ones *willing* to do it. The rest is mere stalling.

There is a difference between compassion, empathy and mere saccharine indulgence. I understand the passions that drive one to rob someone, for instance, but I will still hold them accountable under law. I understand the desire to stall, but I don't condone nor bow to its imaginary "justice."

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 12 June 2013 at 5:28am BST

Mark, I hear your anger. And I share it. But I think there is room for theology and room for the Holy Spirit to move. They need to hear our hurt, they really do. But I encourage you to keep some faith, some hope. There's been a lot of change in the last decade or so. That change has come because many have had a change of heart - they have turned around, they have repented. They saw the light.

In God, all things are made new. All hurts can be healed. More people will see the light and know that we are all better off taking the compassionate route, and that justice is part of that journey.


Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 12 June 2013 at 9:42pm BST

My faith and hope is in God. Men have failed. The Church has failed. Without a radical, even revolutionary overhaul, it is worthless, and I have no problem saying that I have no place for these obstructionists who cringe at being called out for the sexist homophobes they are, in my life or worship. God may love and nurture them. I'm not God, nor is any man-made structure, whether it arrogates the name "church" to itself or not. There can be no coexistence in the same structure.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 13 June 2013 at 7:19am BST
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.