Comments: Reflections on the Shared Conversations

People have to be careful what they say. Bishop Pete is entirely within his rights to say: 'Some are looking for a ‘two integrities’ approach - personally, I can’t see the Church holding together on that kind of basis'. But he shouldn't have said it.

Posted by John at Friday, 12 September 2014 at 11:03am BST

Personally, I'm glad to know where bishops stand. :-)

If Broadbent doesn't support "two integrities," though, if he wants to be constructive, it's incumbent on him to suggest a realistic alternative.

He does, I hope, agree that 'Issues ...' and its attempts to get lesbian and gay Anglicans to suppress their sexuality for life, are unsustainable. That being so, what does he think ought to replace it?

Posted by James Byron at Friday, 12 September 2014 at 2:17pm BST

I think Bishop Pete is right that there can't really be "two integrities." That's a construct that I believe only the English can manage to hold, sounds so polite and respectful in the abstract, horrifically untenable in reality. Already, holding the "traditionalist marriage" position (in quotes because marriage in the Bible is sketchy) position in the established church in a country where equal marriage is the law of the land, is highly problematic.

Of course, in the US and in TEC we hold a variety of positions. We don't call them integrities. Federal, state, and local governments are separate from the church, the church has a national position, the dioceses and parish have a some latitude to pursue a range of positions - they can elect or call male/female/gay/straight/liberal/conservative bishops and rectors, for example. It's very messy, but perhaps speaks to the reality that we won't all arrive at the Promised Land together, some have further distance to travel. I know that Bishop Pete isn't a fan of that, either. But TEC doesn't have to deal with being the established church. Generally, I would say that all puts TEC more towards the Protestant side of things.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 12 September 2014 at 4:53pm BST

I can't help thinking, after reading Pete Broadbent's characteristically candid and realistic comments in today's Church Times, on the day when Ian Paisley has died, that we should always be careful of shouting 'Never, never, never' to the possibility that a way forward can be found. If bitter political (and religious) enemies can find a way of sharing power in the cauldron of Northern Ireland, it gives me some hope that, in time, facilitated conversations may bring us to something more than two integrities.

Posted by Simon R at Friday, 12 September 2014 at 5:46pm BST

Both Rachel Mann and the Bishop of Willesden, in their different ways, seem to be looking at this issue as a matter of two irreconcilably opposed extremes. Rachel thinks that LGBTI people in the church (whose views are apparently all more-or-less identical with her own) aren't being listened to; Pete Broadbent is willing to listen politely but already knows what his opponents are going to say doesn't believe anything will come of it all anyway.

In fact, of course, there is a broad spectrum of opinion within the C of E between these two extremes, including evangelicals who are much less committed to what Willesden (somewhat ahistorically) calls the church's "traditional understanding of marriage," and queer or queer-ish Anglicans (of whom I'd be one) who don't necessarily see 'equality' as the main goal here. The two diametrically-opposed camps that Willesden describes do not exhaust the debate within the church. Moreover, unlike Rachel Mann I suspect most “LGBTI” (do hate that acronym) Anglicans accept that we have to be willing to listen as well as speak - that the place of gay people in the church doesn't just affect gay people, and that others may have important and meaningful things to say (even things we dislike). We cannot have a conversation in which everyone is merely demanding they be heard. And unlike Pete Broadbent, I suspect most evangelicals and conservatives are genuinely willing to listen without presupposing what is going to be said by anyone else or what the eventual outcome might be. The slightly supremacist tinge in the good bishop's statement, where it is implied that one side or the other must be triumphant and the other thoroughly and finally defeated, seems ungracious and unAnglican. Both Rachel Mann and Pete Broadbent convey a sense of wishing for a church of blazing ideological purity, but I'm afraid that we're probably just going to have to muddle along until the Endtimes with sinners and people whose views we cordially detest. I most certainly hope so.

Posted by rjb at Saturday, 13 September 2014 at 5:54am BST

RJB, I think the attitude of victory or defeat demonstrated in his piece shows the bishop was paying attention to what happened in TEC where it was very much a "winner take all" attitude. The "conversation" was about the straights learning how evil they've been to gays and how TEC has changed and they better change too, or follow other conservatives out. I've never heard of anyone one on the GLBTI of the conversation saying, "the conservatives are right about _____ and we should listen to them." In order for both sides to stay together it has to be a second order disagreement, but in TEC it has very much become first order. People say, "Anyone who doesn't believe in gay marriage (or women priests, etc.) can't be a Christian" all the time. If that spreads to the CoE, you won't be able to hold the two sides together.

The British are much better at civility to people they don't like than Americans and have more of a "parish" attitude (going to the local church instead of driving to one you like better) so perhaps you will get your wish of civility over the dislike, but it takes energy and will to be civil to, let alone love, those we disagree with and I don't think it will last. That's why individual churches are going to go one way or the other, two integrities. People want to be with others like themselves because it's more comfortable and less work.

Posted by Chris H at Saturday, 13 September 2014 at 3:19pm BST

Cynthia, I agree about "two integrities" being a mess, but what realistic alternative is there? In England, even open evangelicals are, by and large, dead set against any liberalization of the church's position on marriage and sexuality. They bankroll the church, and can't be ignored.

TEC has, de facto, "two integrities," which has caused its own problems (as South Carolina will attest!). If the CofE enshrines it in legislation, it might just work at holding the church together, as it held together over equal ordination.

The alternative is schism. That may, ultimately, be necessary, but as testified by TEC having to use the courts to stop conservatives walking off with their real estate, that's no easy option. If it can be avoided without burdening LGBT Anglicans, it should be.

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 13 September 2014 at 5:14pm BST

'I've never heard of anyone one on the GLBTI of the conversation saying, "the conservatives are right about _____ and we should listen to them."'

I can't parse this: if we're using "conservative," as is now usual, to mean "negative on gay issues," then of course we wouldn't expect them to say such a thing. But if we're talking about anything else, then of course gays and lesbians will fall on any side of any issue like any other Anglican. The foregoing phrasing makes it sound like there are opposing blocs of "GLBTIs" and "conservatives". (Indeed, I know some GLBTI Anglicans who some would regard as considerably more conservative than me).

To give a more concrete example, I might agree with some who call themselves conservative about the decline of Biblical literacy, and the more meager lectionary provisions in the newer office books. But that isn't a case of me saying 'I may disagree with those people, but I'll give them that much." It's just a different question and so I'll make common cause with different combinations of people. Some of "those people" may also oppose same-sex unions, but they're not table d'hote doctrinal bundles.

Posted by Geoff at Sunday, 14 September 2014 at 2:07am BST

"what happened in TEC where it was very much a "winner take all" attitude."

Winner take all? Actually, we call that JUSTICE. Because we have Martin Luther King who showed us that separate is unequal. Because you can't simultaneously say "yes, we're all created in the image of God" while also saying "but you LGBT people have to accept less dignity…"

It may be unkind to say that "you're not a Christian" to someone who is a homophobe, but I would like to remind the homophobes that people suffer for bigotry. Homophobia may or may not be unChristian, but it is immoral. When you look at who suffers when there's equality vs. who suffers when all are not recognized as equally love by God, the moral equation becomes clearer. Teen suicide, depression, discrimination leading to economic hardship, marginalization, hate crimes - those are the fruits of homophobia. The fruits of equality are…? What exactly? The homophobes have to actually love all their neighbors? Horrors.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 14 September 2014 at 7:52am BST

"The British are much better at civility to people they don't like than Americans"

Have you spent much time in England or working with English people? I think you'll find that they are just as bad and just as good as all other human beings. In communication, Americans tend to be more direct. Some of the English I've worked with deal with conflict passive aggressively. I do not find the passive aggressive approach any more "civil."

Homophobia is insidious. It robs people of their well being. It is a blasphemy against God's beautiful and diverse Creation. There is very good reason to rid the church of homophobic policies. If there is a way to "include the excluders without including their excluding agenda," fine. All are welcome in TEC. They just are welcome to be unwelcoming to LGBT people, and that is a blessed thing.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 14 September 2014 at 8:01am BST

Winner takes all? We're talking about perfectly ordinary people who want to be treated the same as everyone else!
I genuinely don't know what people think will happen. Look at the figures. About half of evangelicals now support lgbg equality. The divide hasn't been between liberals and conservatives for a long time. It is now right in the evangelical churches.
We can dig our heels in a little longer or we can find a formula that reflects where the church is at.
But let's not pretend that there's some cosmic battle against evil going on.
It's nothing more than more and more people recognising how perfectly ordinary it is to be gay, and letting that recognition change their views.
And that will naturally change the church.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 14 September 2014 at 8:26am BST

There seems to be a flow in the CofE towards accepting that the "Two Integrities" approach to LGB issues and gay marriage is the best way forward. We can't get consensus so let's agree that both sides are equally right. But is this a good way forward, and is there a proper theological argument for accepting two integrities within one church, or is it a way of avoiding having to address the issue properly.

If we look back to equally contentious issues such as slavery, those opposed to slavery were met by many Christians arguing that slavery was perfectly acceptable as it was supported by the scriptures. It seems to me that the scriptural arguments in favour of slavery are much stronger than the scriptural arguments against gay marriage. So would the abolitionists have been right to accept two integrities, and to fail to press for full abolition of slavery?



Posted by Simon Dawson at Sunday, 14 September 2014 at 9:15am BST

your example of slavery would hold true if gay equality was still a civil question. We cannot accept two integrities in law.

But in all social development there is a period where the old and the new overlap and where both are seen as equally possible moral choices.
There is no problem with letting both run side by side in the church until the old is genuinely no longer required because it has become obvious to everyone that it is immoral.

If we allowed both options in the church now, we would probably have half our churches truly welcoming lgbt people at all levels, the other half have their own various levels of acceptance.

Then, people would be able to vote with their feet. That alone would move the debate on no end!
As long as priests are allowed to remarry divorced people, I am not too concerned that not all do so.
As long as priests are allowed to marry lgbt people, we can probably live with the ever shrinking number of churches who want to remain "pure".
lgbt people will know why they are and they can avoid them.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 14 September 2014 at 3:39pm BST

Erika describes "two integrities" perfectly.

Even the most liberal, open-minded evangelical leaders -- men like Pete Broadbent, Ian Paul, Tom Wright, Nicky Gumbel -- remain convinced that the traditional position is right. They're not about to change their minds anytime soon, if ever, and neither will millions of other evangelicals.

Given that evangelicals pay the bills in the Church of England, they get to call the shots. They *may*, with great reluctance, be persuaded to tolerate "two integrities," and even that'll be an uphill struggle. At present, there's zero chance they'll be persuaded to embrace what they believe to be a sin and a "salvation issue."

If we try to make them, the church will split, and it won't be them who comes off worst. People can only move so far.

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 14 September 2014 at 6:00pm BST

as Geoff said earlier, people are liberal and open minded about some issues but not on others. The people you name here have all been open minded and supportive of women priests, but they are all completely closed on same sex equality. Ian Paul said only last week that he would prefer to see the church break up than give any ground, and Pete Broadbent has also consistently argued against Two Integrities (which is nothing more than a posh term for “living side by side in tolerance”).
That you keep calling them open minded wouldn’t be so harmful if there weren’t so many genuinely open minded evangelical who don’t get noticed in this debate.
We absolutely must lose our thinking about evangelicals, which is a good 5 years out of date.

They are not bank rolling anything. They have some rich parishes, but they pay their parish share like other churches and the rest of their money on their own mission programmes. There is no indication that a significant number would withhold their share if the CoE decided to welcome lgbt people fully.
Because each of those churches also has its own proportion of lgbt people and they are getting more and more vocal.
Many churches are still broadly anti-gay, but it’s not a breaking issue for most of them.

We need to listen to the voices that come out from the evangelical sector. They are truly opento the idea of lgbt equality.
According to Linda Woodhead’s research the CoE itself is about 40%+ in favour of same sex marriage.
That does not include the ones who are not in favour of marriage but who support civil partnerships, nor does it include those who don’t support either but are prepared to tolerate partnered lgbt people. And it does not include those who are against it all but will accept it if the church changes.

We are focusing on the hard core in the false belief that that is where the decision will be made.
It won’t be. The centre is shifting, has been shifting for a long long time.

Ultimately, it will be like with women priests. A few will leave, having made far more noise than their numbers justify. And the rest of the church will find a way of accommodating each other and will move on.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 14 September 2014 at 8:56pm BST

I am glad that some common sense seems to have re-entered the debate. But I wonder if it is true that 'millions' of evangelicals are sticking to/will stick to the traditional position. If memory serves,52% of lay C of E people accept gay/equal marriage. That figure is bound to go up. It would also be interesting to know what the figure is for those who, whichever side they are on, do not regard this as a church-splitting issue. It's bound to be higher again (very considerably higher, I would think). So there may be a disconnect between evangelical leaders such as Broadbent et al. and their 'followers'. There is some evidence of this (e.g. the hostile reception of whatever American preacher it was by the Alpha audience). Now, I'm all in favour of 'conversations', but I do also fervently hope that Jeremy Pemberton has been properly advised by his legal team. A win would have great consequences. In the end, most people are realists and most C of E people are decent.

Posted by John at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 5:27am BST

But while the religious establishments, commentators and 'holy people think it is a shame', in the real world people young and old suffer.

Will my comment even be allowed to be seen here I wonder ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 10:36am BST

Erika and James,

Thanks for you comments. Yes I understand the real difficulties of aiming for the church to officially accept gay marriage. But as you say, we are in a period of transition. If we accept "two integrities" now is there a danger that we lock the debate at a halfway stage, and remove the pressure to go further?

Look at Laurie Roberts posting below (15sep 1036, especially the first link). Are we really going to accept that such opposition to gay relationships is a position that some people can hold within the church, a position with the same integrity as loving acceptance?

Would it not be better so hold out for the long struggle and aim for a better outcome. If you look at Laurie's second link see how fast things are changing and see what pressure such churches are under.


Posted by Simon Dawson at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 11:08am BST

you don't have to look to Colombia and the USA for shocking examples of the effect the church teaching has on lgbt people.
Only this week I heard of a young woman who told her church that she was gay and was told she could only be baptised if she promised to remain celibate and if she did not support marriage equality.

This may not be official CoE theology, but it is what is happening in churches all over the country, where everyone is free to determine their own ideas of what treatment "God doesn't like gay sex" is translated into.
And unless the official condemnation of gay relationships changes, this kind of thing will continue.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 11:43am BST

it's also a question of what is possible.
Two Integrities weren't invented because we thought they were a lovely principle, but because they were the only way of getting women priests through 20 years ago, and keeping the concept was the only way of getting women bishops through this year.

Having said that - I'm not actually sure what "getting through" means in terms of lgbt equality.
Does anyone know what the process is? Do we need a 2/3 majority in all Houses etc. to allow the church to change its Canons so priests can marry gay couples?
What does it take in terms of process for the church to accept gay married priests and bishops?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 12:27pm BST


We are talking about 'the real world'- the world of the UK. The things you cite are frightful, but we can't do much about them. We MAY be able to do something about the church in the UK, where some of the problems (priests who want to marry, priests being disciplined if they do marry, provision of services, etc.) are immediate. The process is incremental - that's the only way it can be. As for the possible unwisdom of 'two integrities' (or whatever), here too there's no other way. As for Erika's young woman, one hears such stories all the time and they're bad, but there are hundreds of churches within the C of E that don't behave like that. Surely we should look more to the positives, because (a) they can be built on, and (b) they're good for morale.

Posted by John at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 12:37pm BST

That is terrible, Erika. My heart goes out to her.

And I feel so powerless- she must feel utterly without agency or a sense of a way forward.

I just can't find this terrible bullying behaviour in the gospel or in Christ in our hearts.

Meanwhile the terrible oppression of poor people and sinful government policies go unremarked.

Imagine a an MP or Minister having to forswear wicked bedroom-tax and other anti-poor polices before being baptised !

Will this comment see the light of day even ?

Will pope Francis show the way forward ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 1:44pm BST

Erika, their minds are closed on this (as they're also closed on equal ordination, only in favor) 'cause they can't find a way to read the Bible to affirm LGB relationships. They may be wrong, but if they can be persuaded, it'll take a very long time indeed.

Even if 40% of evangelicals in the pews do affirm gay relationships, they're not the ones in power, and not the ones who'd be voting through a withholding of parish shares. According to many bishops anecdotally, it would take only a few rich evangelical congregations closing the purse strings to bankrupt their diocese.

Even if the bishops are wrong, they undoubtedly believe it. If there's evidence to disprove their belief, that could be an alternative way to bring in change. D'you have links to any?

Posted by James Byron at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 2:09pm BST

if they cannot read the bible in a pro-gay fashion when other evangelicals can, they are not open. By definition.

And I wouldn't be so sure about the parish share votes. Parish shares are voted by the PCC and the PCC is elected by the APCM. It is by no means a foregone conclusion that a hardline view will prevail in enough churches to make a real impact on the finances of the CoE. Especially not if no-one tries to force one view on the CoE but accepts that conservative churches will remain conservative.

There is a momentum in this conversation that cannot be stopped. It can be delayed but that's about it.
"The bishops" do not "undoubtedly believe it". Some do, some don't some aren't sure.
The next change will be that bishops will feel more free to say what they actually believe and will no longer hide behind a supposed common mind of the church.
That process is well on its way.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 5:50pm BST

"In communication, Americans tend to be more direct."

In my experience the English put a higher value on unanimity for the sake of apparent agreement or harmony. Which of course can lead to self-censorship, pressure for conformity, and the illusion of unanimity.

Certainly the UK lacks as deep a tradition of associational life, public debate, and citizen engagement. Americans' readiness to build associations was an early and distinguishing feature of the United States (q.v. de Tocqueville), and it influenced TEC's governing structure.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 7:02pm BST

'Surely we should look more to the positives, because (a) they can be built on, and (b) they're good for morale.'
Posted by: John on Monday, 15 September 2014 at 12:37pm BST

I would very much like to hear more of these 'positives', John. I do not what you are referring to - but would like to know.

Please start - and keep them coming.

'The process is incremental.' It is so slow that people are dying as the 'process' grinds on, as my quoted urls show. Others are dying of old age, after decades of waiting, hoping.

I have lost all faith in the church of england and its bishops.

At least the rcc is more honest.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Monday, 15 September 2014 at 9:44pm BST

This is nearer to 'home'.

And in a country with a huge christian history and tradition.

You decide.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 12:16am BST

John has issued a challenge for more 'positives'.

Here we are :

Is a thread needed, editors ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 1:09am BST

"I have lost all faith in the church of england and its bishops."

All too understandable. It is hard to take the church seriously when it persists in trying to make an "honoured place" for people who discriminate.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 1:37am BST

'Look more' doesn't mean 'look exclusively at'. It wasn't a 'challenge': rather, an attempt to advocate attitudes that are likely to be more productive. One has a life. There are many demands. I try to help. I also attend a C of E church which isn't remotely homophobic. There are many such churches. They are better (in this respect, as in others) than their leaders. I certainly believe that more C of E bishops should attempt to model themselves upon their betters. They are playing with fire - and certainly endangering their authority. Many are too stupid or too arrogant to realise this. Many do grasp it. I rather think that Welby is among the latter.

Posted by John at Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 10:04am BST

Thank you John. That is very helpful, to me.

Here is something, both positive and negative -as so often with lgbt things.

Here is the dynamic, as I perceive it so often.

Someone lgbt or supportive does / 'puts in' something real good- and then it is countered or punished, or suppressed by some Other with the clout, to hurt ordinary folk.

When I lay out my gay life in its various aspects before Christ, our Lady or the Spirit, I find I don't get that kick back at all. In God that dynamic is nullified !

Isn't that what we call grace.

Jn. 6. 32 & 40 (NIV).

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 4:36pm BST

"TEC has, de facto, "two integrities," which has caused its own problems (as South Carolina will attest!)"

James, South Carolina does not represent two integrities. South Carolina is about schism, and schismatics who have aligned themselves with human rights violators in Nigeria and Uganda. Note that SC has two dioceses and not all in the SC diocese left TEC, but the leader did, and thus the schismatic spotlight. Culturally, South Carolina would certainly top out the list most homophobic regions in the US.

The moral problem of "two integrities," is that the traditionalists are asking vulnerable people to carry a heavy burden, while they carry none (oh, the burden of treating others with dignity!). MLK and Desmond Tutu are right about the morality of equality. LGBTQ people are created in the image of God, same as straights. The demand of traditionalist power-holding straights that LGBTQ people accept inequality to make keep the status quo feeling comfortable is immoral. Suicidal teens and questioning children should not bear this burden for the comfort of the status quo. Jeremy Pemberton should not be forced to carry the burden of employment discrimination for the comfort of the status quo. The church should not be allowed to speak in the name of Jesus Christ when it pronounces hateful homophobic tomes, such as the St. Valentine's Day massacre.

There is no "two integrities" approach available that will comfort the vulnerable. So the question becomes what is the church for and who is it for? We KNOW who Jesus was for (those who were oppressed by the status quo).

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 6:05pm BST


Many thanks. We are old Internet friends, are we not? Peace be with you. I certainly believe in grace.


Posted by John at Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 6:45pm BST

Cynthia, TEC leaves equal treatment to the discretion of bishops and rectors. LGBT episcopalians have no "right" to equality; receiving it depends on the goodwill of others. If a bishop says, "I don't ordain gays, get out my diocese," they have no recourse, a situation unimaginable if it was on the basis of race.

This laissez-faire approach is what led to the toleration of Mark Lawrence, which led in its turn to the S.C. secession

I agree with everything you say about the wrongs of "two integrities," but if the alternative isn't viable, it's the best chance the Church of England has to improve things for its LGB members.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 10:19pm BST

What Cynthia said. All of it !

especially :

'the traditionalists are asking vulnerable people to carry a heavy burden, while they carry none'

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 12:18am BST

I have to say that I think Cynthia is completely wrong. At the moment, in the C of E we have 'one integrity' - the traditionalist one. This 'one integrity' produces much injustice and reinforces bigotry. It is, however, to some degree and in various ways less than absolute (many churches, as I keep pointing out, are completely non-homophobic, many PCCs advertise vacancies with wording such as 'we welcome applicants irrespective of gender or sexual orientation', 'Issues' allowed the possibility that homosexual activity between lay persons might be justifiable,'equal marriage' is now law, a majority of lay opinion now accepts equal marriage, many Evangelicals, lay persons, priests, public figures, and theologians, now say they were wrong before, etc. etc.). There is some progress. There would be further progress if 'traditionalists' (on this issue) accepted that the 'non-traditionalist' position was legitimate within the C of E. That would mean, for example, that the likes of Jeremy Pemberton would not be in the position they are now in, and it would relieve many others, priests and lay people, of fear and anxiety. Worth achieving? Certainly. No one of course should pretend that it will be easy. But since 100% compliance is impossible (until the Last Day), it seems completely obvious that it is the former, not the latter, that we should be aiming for.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 11:29am BST

I'm not exactly clear on where I'm "wrong." John is advocating for two integrities, on the basis that finally including the LGBT integrity would be an improvement. Is that the gist?

It probably would be an improvement, but it wouldn't be justice for all. And the ones who suffer most are the most vulnerable. But alas, I can't argue that inclusion of a "second integrity" wouldn't be progress. It just seems a bit late for those solutions that compromise justice.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 3:45pm BST

"Cynthia, TEC leaves equal treatment to the discretion of bishops and rectors. LGBT episcopalians have no "right" to equality; receiving it depends on the goodwill of others. If a bishop says, "I don't ordain gays, get out my diocese," they have no recourse, a situation unimaginable if it was on the basis of race."

Actually, I think that was the situation on race in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's unthinkable now.

I agree, it's messy in TEC, and there isn't full justice yet. The national policies are almost there, equal marriage is likely to pass in 2015 - it's already happening in liberal dioceses in states that have equal marriage.

There is a recourse for LGBT people who feel called to ministry, albeit inconvenient, they can move to a liberal diocese. My partner and I live in a diocese with a middle-of-the-road bishop and there will be no marriage in the church until the national church approves it (which may be 2015). We can travel to a more liberal diocese (and state) to get married. That is not ideal, we'd like to get married in our own faith community, it isn't full justice, but we can do it.

I mention this because this talk of "two integrities" as official policy is highly problematic. It is really important that the official church policy be just and kind, and recognize all as created in the Image of God. But the reality is that everyone isn't going to "arrive" at the same time. Messy church is how TEC gives space, but the overall message is one of inclusion.

CoE is in a more problematic position, being the established church with representation in Parliament. Holding up the unjust position is a huge problem, morally and communally.

Good luck!

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 4:15pm BST

if I understand you correctly, you wouldn't mind a messy outcome for the CoE as long as it wasn't policy?
So it's not the actual situation that concerns you so much, because you say that TEC is also messy and that true justice takes time, but the process?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 5:18pm BST

Of course it wouldn't be 'justice for all', Cynthia. But here in England within the C of E we have a specific situation and a specific set of problems. Some of us are trying to achieve progress on these problems, thereby effecting real improvement in real people's lives: repeated parrotings that it wouldn't be 'justice for all' and consequent strivings for world-wide, universal, possibly cosmic justice are absolutely guranteed to achieve no progress whatsoever.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 7:33pm BST

I do think that progress is messy. MLK said something to the effect that you can make a law preventing a man from lynching me, but you can't make a law forcing him to love me.

Thus, the first step towards a just church is a just policy. It's really important that the national church get justice right. But you can't legislate love, so at the local levels there's space. Some would say not enough, others would say too much.

Beyond the policy level, I don't quite see how it plays out in CoE. In TEC, we call our rectors and elect our bishops, so they are generally going to reflect the mind of that diocese or parish. The CoE's top down hierarchy doesn't seem to have as much wiggle room. So the necessary space has to be proscribed and that creates or continues anti gay policy that is odious…

Our messy church left a lot of room, and we still had schism. I believe that the church got it right. TEC choose love, choose inclusion, and choose justice. Meanwhile, attitudes in the US are changing rapidly and lots of schismatics are coming back. Soon, no one will know what the fuss was all about.

I'm not saying that CoE should suddenly start electing bishops and calling your own rectors (unless you want to). I'm only pointing out that our system allows for more wiggle room and that actually allowed for quick and meaningful progress. Those messages of equality and inclusion were balm for our aching souls.

The other difference I can make is that TEC listens to diverse voices, LGBT, black, Native American, Latino, etc. The smarter people in our "melting pot" have figured out that their liberation depends on the liberation of others as well. I believe that supports much more tolerance. Though plenty of us don't seem to have much tolerance for those who would exclude us or our sisters and brothers… In contrast, CoE leadership seems quite insular.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 7:35am BST

"[R]epeated parrotings that it wouldn't be 'justice for all' and consequent strivings for world-wide, universal, possibly cosmic justice are absolutely guranteed to achieve no progress whatsoever."

John, this is plain wrong. I think you seriously misunderstand how public debates are won, and how progress is made.

We cannot compromise with ourselves. If we ask for 65 percent of what we want, we might get 30.

People should be free to demand 110 percent. Cynthia and people like her should put forward a vision of a just and tolerant church, so that everyone will understand what the goals are, and what the vision is, and how miserably the present Church of England is falling short of it.

There's a word for people who give us a strong vision of how the world should be, and how far it has to go.

They are called prophets.

They may not be personally popular. But personal popularity is not their goal. Nor is high office their aspiration.

People with a strong vision, and the courage to contrast what is with what should be, are an essential part of any movement for social change.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 10:45pm BST

"People should be free to demand 110 percent. Cynthia and people like her should put forward a vision of a just and tolerant church, so that everyone will understand what the goals are, and what the vision is, and how miserably the present Church of England is falling short of it.

There's a word for people who give us a strong vision of how the world should be, and how far it has to go.

They are called prophets."


In the US we have such a powerful witness in our prophet, MLK. He and his family also supported gay rights. He spoke the truth powerfully.

All this compromise that many in CoE seem eager to embrace is not really quite moral. Again, it is asking the vulnerable to carry a heavy burden for the sake of the very comfortable. Compromise does nothing to affirm LGBTQ youth that they are created in the Image of God and loved by God. Youth, of all people, will not recognize any "wisdom" in "two integrities." They will see it for what it is, and it will not teach bullies to stand down or comfort the vulnerable.

MLK said what needs to be digested in his Letter from the Birmingham [Alabama] Jail. Desmond Tutu also has much to say.

MLK and DT are prophets with results. As much as we may associate them with the liberation of black people, they shared a goal of liberating whites as well. I believe that the justice and inclusion movements in TEC are the fruits of MLK's work and that to a great degree, he liberated us all.

Rowan and Sentamu brought to the US (2006) a vision of upholding the status quo to appease homophobes throughout the "world wide Anglican Communion." I bring you MLK and his observation that separate is not equal (that might have been Thurgood Marshall) and that moderation is an affront to justice and the request for moderation is on the backs of the vulnerable.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 6:57pm BST

Thank you ,John. I have only just seen your nice comment of Tuesday.

A good surprise, to discover all of a sudden.

I think we must be, John. But forgive me, I have been experiencing memory problems for a while now; and so am left in a tricky position socially. I am hoping for help with it (NHS wise).

Meanwhile, I know God knows.

As we both experience grace then that is Good.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 12:37am BST
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