Comments: College of Bishops - shared conversations

It seems to me that we are too far down the road towards equality for this approach to lead to anything terribly helpful.

As ever, just substitute the race issue for the gay issue and see how it looks. To those completely convinced that gay people akin to the way other people should be treated, it looks like this process is heading towards something akin to this:

"...how can the Church ensure that those with differing views on racism continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith ?"

Living together peaceably with those who have different views, should not be the aspiration of anyone who thinks gay people are fully human.

There's a tricky muddling up of ethics and theology going on here which isn't helpful.

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 6:22pm BST

I almost didn't listen, it seemed like such drivel for a long time, how to disagree [about my very being]. But after a polite warm up +David talks about how the current conversations are necessary for the next one, which is "how to speak the truth in love." He had my attention at that point. Further, he went on to speak about how we have different traditions of reading Scripture - I let out a Hallelujah worthy of G.F. Handel at that point (I'm so tired of "traditionalists" clobbering me and my being with their interpretation of Scripture, disallowing that the liberal view has strong Gospel roots). Next, the questioner and the other Bishop were going on about the value of the talks themselves, regardless of an outcome, and referencing the Council at Jerusalem. Again +David swoops in with the observation that the conclusion resulted in a huge shift, the inclusion of the Gentiles. Yes!!!!!!!!!!!

If +David is tuned in, there's glowing love coming your way from Colorado!

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 7:18pm BST

So, did they create a 'safe space' ? Did any bishop feel confident enough to 'come out'? And if not why should the rest of those involved in the 'conversations' be more likely to be able to contribute positively to them?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 8:41pm BST

Inevitably this particular demographic group - predominantly heterosexual men in their 50s/60s -was never going to come up with anything particularly radical. What's needed is an intake of forty-something women as diocesans in positions of power in the Church with an informed view of gender and sexuality. Once the Church has accepted women in absolute authority in their dioceses, and marriage vows post-ASB 1980 (ie equality) the rest falls into place, from a biblical, tradition and reason perspective. That's if we continue to adopt the three-legged stool approach. The facilitated conversations are then about the inevitable legislative changes and liturgical practices following shortly afterwards.

Posted by Andrew at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 9:38pm BST

For the church to get to where it is now on race equality took a lot of conversation at a local, regional and national level in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and even now things are not perfect. What is more, I think unexamined racial prejudice sometimes plays a part in ethical reasoning among Church of England members on a range of issues from immigration to war - but if I want to change people's minds, simply denouncing people as racist if they do not (yet) agree with me would not be particularly effective!

Posted by Savi Hensman at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 10:00pm BST

I can't believe it, I was expecting to listen to a "conversation" on gay issues and yet the word gay was never mentioned and the LGBT word I believe was only used once.

Posted by aldwyn at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 10:16pm BST

It came across very clearly that this conversation is all about them and very little about gay people. Which, of course, it is. How they can try to cling on to status and privilege in politics and society generally without having to compromise more than they would like on the homophobic doctrine.

Words, words words ..... Comparing their difficulties with those of the early Christians. It sounded awful.

The reality is that they have no choice but to move forward and modernise. The only question is how much damage they choose to inflict on their Church before giving way to the inevitable.

Posted by Ben at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 10:36pm BST

'the college reflected the diversity of experience and view held by the country as a whole'. Somewhat coded, but I take that as the agreed answer to 'did anyone come out?' and 'did anyone speak up for change?'

Posted by Neil Patterson at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 10:39pm BST

Thanks Cynthia for your kind words about the podcast. I read pretty well everything here, but comment only occasionally.

To build on Andrew's comment, it is important to note that our eight women participant observers played a full part in the event. Also that when I nominate 15 people for the regional conversations they have to include GLBTQI voices and a good proportion of participants aged under 40.

Thank you Savi for the wisdom and graciousness that you always bring to the table. And to Kelvin (who I should have tried to make time to see when I was in the wonderful city of Glasgow recently) for reminding me of the anger in the room.

The College plenaries took place in the Tollemache room of the hotel. The name is, of course, an anagram of "came to hell". Given that it was too hot, airless and full of bishops that might seem very appropriate. But the conversation was much better than the venue conditions.

Posted by David Walker at Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 11:14pm BST

Well, it's hard to find a parallel, but if the Klan were having a series of meetings because there was a move from within to recognise black people were deserving of full equality, then I would be encouraged.

But the problem remains that without rejecting black people the Klan has no raison d'être and for some it seems that a Church that accepts gay equality has also lost its purpose.

However one suspects that most people like myself feel completely unconnected to what is happening within the CofE. Unconnected that is apart from a sense of distaste or dismay.
As Kelvin implies we have moved so far forward it takes the skills of a contortionist to engage face to face with these conversations. But I have found the differing opinions on this and earlier threads very interesting, particularly Simon's.


Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 12:51am BST

>in those who took an opposing view to their own position.<

So 'they' have one position, do 'they' and go looking for acceptance of those who have the other view.

I rather think 'they' have several opinions and positions, and deceptions.

Other than that, the statement reads 'bland' to this outsider. 'We don't have to move, yet, so we are not moving, but listening to those where we might have to move, as well as to those where we are anyway, seeing if we have to move, but not yet if we did.'

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 4:29am BST

Savi Thank you for your really helpful post here

Posted by David Runcorn at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 9:53am BST

'But if I want to change people's minds, simply denouncing people as racist if they do not (yet) agree with me would not be particularly effective!'

Absolutely agree with this. I'd go further: many people who think homosexual behaviour wrong aren't homophobic. I know people like that - and I bet everyone else here does too. My personal view is that there's too much 'unpacking' to be done here (of the value of the Bible, how to interpret it, what the disputed passages imply, etc. etc.) for there ever to be theological 'agreement', but there might be 'agreement' to differ in thought and in practice. And there are still 'extra-conversation' pressures, including, one devoutly hopes, successful legal action by Jeremy P.

Posted by John at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 10:16am BST

'For the church to get to where it is now on race equality took a lot of conversation at a local, regional and national level in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.'

Although fashionable here, to compare racism with homophobia,that it is an inexact analogy is often over-looked.


The Church of England has not, as far as I know, ever legislated against the solemnization of holy matrimony on racial grounds.

It has never Regulated against the ordination of certain racial groups, or their admission as Readers, Wardens, pastoral assistants and so on.

Please remember this as it is surely pertinent ?

Also lgbt are generally raised in largely straight families, and are thus deprived of the solidarity that, say. minority ethnic families afford their children and young people.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 2:15pm BST

'Homosexual behaviour'? Please!

I find terms like these offensive.

Just think, how would we receive an expression, such as 'Black behaviour' (in an already negative context.

While on linguists, so : 'many people who think homosexual behaviour wrong aren't homophobic.'

What are they then ? What word shall we use for them ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 2:19pm BST

Meanwhile, in RL while the bishops stage their Conversazzioni, a priest is backed by the bishop of Leicester and the archdeacon, for his forthcoming service of thanksgiving for his relationship.

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/09/17/bishop-and-archdeacon-back-gay-priest-in-commitment-ceremony-row/

John in another thread had challenged us to foucus on the good lgbt news in the church--and here is ome.

This is the (near) future !

And I have only had to patient, 'gracious'* and all the other buzz words for the past several decades ! Why the wait ?

I am sir,

an ungrateful pensioner (!).

* words so beloved of the bishops and the conservatives *

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 4:14pm BST

I'm perhaps most guilty of being direct about naming bigotry for what it is.

What I find interesting is the willingness in CoE discourse to talk in the abstract about the very being of real people. I find that many feel absolutely entitled to impose their [bigoted] view, in law and policy, on the very real lives of others. I find that there is much more talk of and about the status quo rather than about Jesus and justice. I find that there is not nearly enough emphasis on the moral question of the fruits of homophobia, as if the very real suffering of LGBT people is a non issue.

In the US, of course, we have a great prophet in MLK. But the Anglican Church has a living prophet, Desmond Tutu, upon which to draw.

It seems as if the English CoE hierarchy, and many observers, feel the need to re-invent the justice wheel on a horse-and-buggy. That's enormously frustrating to those of us whose wheels on our Subaru's and Toyota's are working fairly well and we've been riding on them for at least a decade!

Were the recent "conversations" an example of extreme and unredemptive navel gazing? I can't tell. It looks to me like there's at least one bishop bringing up important issues. Maybe that will ward off "groupthink" until there's a bit more regime change.

Given the statement in February, there's a long way to go. I would borrow some tyres from Bishop Tutu if I were you.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 6:27pm BST

I've detected no mainstream media coverage of this announcement so far, but would be happy to be corrected.

This report has appeared on the Church Times website:

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/19-september/news/uk/setting-an-example-bishops-spend-two-days-talking-about-sex

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 7:25pm BST

Contra Savi, I think that someone has to call out the bigots and discriminators in those terms.

If we are trying to shift the Overton window in our direction, we need not only to make our own views more acceptable, but to make the opposing view less acceptable.

I also find it a bit contradictory to urge politesse on LGBT issues and to acknowledge, as we must, that we're still working on racism.

One of the reasons that we've come this far on race matters is that some beliefs and terms are simply off the table--are socially unacceptable, and if they ever surface, are rapidly denounced. You can't establish a proscriptive social norm without publicly disapproving of what violates it.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 7:27pm BST

"many people who think homosexual behaviour wrong aren't homophobic."

But many people are homophobic even if those they dislike aren't doing "homosexual behavior." Exhibit A about this is Jeffrey John.

Posted by dr.primrose at Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 9:37pm BST

It can be difficult for people to recognise the injustice of, and harm caused by, forms of discrimination that do not negatively affect them so that, for instance, some well-meaning Christians may not even be aware of the racism that their neighbours have experienced. Achieving meaningful change may involve challenging people in ways that open up, rather than shut down, the possibility of dialogue.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 12:27am BST

I find the idea that people who have no emotional reaction to homosexuality, but are quite content to condemn homosexuals to misery and despair based on the cold concept of "just following orders" to be absolutely horrific.

Homophobes, at least, have some human failing of fear to excuse them. These "not homophobe" anti-gay crusaders are simply dreadful and destructive.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 5:09am BST

Well said Laurie, and Cynthia is right. We have never yet discussed the morality of homosexuality. We have focused on what the bible does or doesn't say about it, buy there has been no conversation about the why. What is immoral about it and why is it immoral? Why is the suffering and loneliness the church officially demands from gay people necessary?
It is high time we discussed the morality of our respective views.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 7:53am BST

No, John.
As Laurie says, offensive and simply wrong.

The UK Supreme Court trashed that scurrilous proposition when the government suggested gay people should be repatriated to countries where they might be executed as they simply had to be celibate to avoid persecution. An argument the Church too has pretended to use.

What shocks me, and should shock us all is the "tone" of these reports. How does it take this sort of intervention to get bishops to talk to each other. Even accepting that this might be necessary how come they are only doing it now?

Some eleven years ago at the service celebrating Barry Morgan becoming Archbishop, the lead bishop of the Southern Cone, Greg Venables, told me that the Primates could not discuss gay issues because they " simply don't have a common language to do that".

People simply refused to talk. I can't believe, in retrospect, the attempts of bishops and senior clergy to aggressively rebuff approaches from LGCM just to raise the topic and explore it in the light of prior statements from Lambeth conferences.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 12:04pm BST

I have made it clear several million times on TA that I don't myself think homosexuality, including actual homosexual behaviour, is wrong and that that those who think so are wrong. However, although many of that group are homophobes, many are not. Help, please, from James and rjb.

Posted by John at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 2:48pm BST

Bishop David,

Thank you for your thoughtful and gracious post.

I'm sorry to say, I have real misgivings about the Diocesans choosing just 15 people or so people in each Diocese for these conversations. How will you ensure that the people chosen to represent LGBTQ+ people do indeed represent these communities? How will you do so when the church does not collect data on sexual diversity, so does not have any reliable way of knowing the demographic makeup of sexual minorities in the church? How will you do so when we are talking about a very diverse demographic, both in terms of sexual identity and gender?

What I can't understand is why these conversations cannot be open to anyone willing both to listen and be heard. Part of the reason we're in this mess already is that people on all sides feel they have been excluded from these discussions in the past.

Posted by David Beadle at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 3:08pm BST

John,
how do you define homophobe?

And what do you call a person who lives in a country that has debated homosexuality for decades until it finally introduced marriage equality last year, in which gay people are prominent in all walks of life... and who yet clings to the idea that there is something so wrong about them that they must not be allowed to lead normal lives? That their own views about their lives don't matter but that they have to be compelled by the church to be celibate?

What do you call that kind of thinking?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 3:13pm BST

What Erika said, again. I've been beating this drum for years. Why is it immoral even if the Bible damns it as it damns so many innocuous things or things we would now deem quite virtuous.

Posted by Lorenzo at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 3:15pm BST

John, it may be true that some of these people have no personal animus against gay folks and yet hold blatantly homophobic positions. I know quite a few very friendly racists.

Posted by Lorenzo at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 3:18pm BST

"Achieving meaningful change may involve challenging people in ways that open up, rather than shut down, the possibility of dialogue."

Good luck with that. In political movements, the most effective major change has come about with nonviolent resistance promoted by Gandhi and MLK.

In TEC (probably Canada, but I don't want to speak for them) the change is coming about via dialogue, but TEC puts a high value on listening and the CoE leadership most certainly does not. CoE is only getting WB's because of the pressure exerted by your PM and Parliament. It took an outside force, threats from a higher power, to effect that change.

Whoever produced the February statement, and that Statement on Marriage seem to be an intransigent lot who are rather stuck in the 1950's. Further, the ABC said that a massacre in Africa was caused by "things happening far, far away, in America." No human rights group has attributed any massacres to gay rights in the US or inclusion in TEC! The ABC used this as an excuse for exclusion and injustice for gays in the West. And yet, teaching girls is Africa is dicey and he isn't advocating keeping girls home in the West.

Sadly, I believe for some of those top leaders, it is about power and maintaining their status quo at all costs. Without pressure from the PM and Parliament, they don't have a higher power to promote or enforce change. The next best thing is power from below, people power, to show them how untenable the unjust status quo position is becoming.

Thus, I believe that this case requires "speaking truth to power." I'll let +David "speak the truth in love." I've been hurt by homophobia and I'm going to speak that truth. In the US, a large percentage of the homeless youth are LGBT kids who've been rejected by their families. There is teen suicide, depression, economic hardship, hate crimes, and other ills of marginalization. I will speak for those who can't speak for themselves rather than coddle bishops.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 3:34pm BST

"It is high time we discussed the morality of our respective views."

Erika, I haven't really been talking about the morality of being gay. I kind of go with the "I'm OK, You're OK" philosophy on that. Theologically, we are all created in the Image of God and she did not make LGBT people lesser. We are a part of a beautiful and diverse creation. If one explores the "why" of the clobber passages, I've heard some excellent possibilities that place them in the context of their time and/or challenges the translation.

The moral standard I've been using centers on asking "what are the fruits," the fruits of discrimination vs. the fruits of inclusion and justice? Another way to put it is: who is hurt by discrimination vs. who is hurt by inclusion and justice? When one explores those answers, the homophobic position becomes clear; it is hurtful and thus immoral.

If you think about it further, what kind of person believes they have the right to indulge their personal bigotry and enshrine it in church policy where the hurt is institutionalized?

We are now at a point in time where we know that there are extensive "traditions" of injustice. We also know that there are a variety of approaches to the Bible, though the overall message seems to be compassion and justice. I guess this is the essence of the post-modern world. Given the knowledge that we have, there is a strong element of choice. Woe to those who choose the path of hurting others.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 3:52pm BST

Of course, John.

But the story runs a bit like the more liberal end of the SA Dutch reform who saw complete equality of the races but there could be no inter-marriage.

I think we would be comfortable to name that as racism ......

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 4:15pm BST

Cynthia, yes, I completely agree.
Add to that the psychological benefits to gay people when they lead normal lives, and the lack of harm to anyone else.

My problem is that those who oppose gay equality have nothing to say about the why. And I wish they did. Because for to present hard data and our own experience only to be met with "God says no, no reasons given" is a deeply unsatisfactory conversation.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 7:03pm BST

" the implications of the immense cultural change that has been taking place in society on issues of sexuality. How can the Church “proclaim the gospel afresh in every generation” as a missionary church in a changing culture ?"

Perhaps by becoming part of that changing culture, perhaps by choosing leaders who are unafraid to lead and speak out?

Looking in from the outside (ECUSA) all this just seems like one more dreary "conversation" where everyone will go home feeling so good about being nice to each other. How one longs for a Runcie, or a Ramsay.

If one may quote Patrick O'Brian (Far Side of the World): "[Sutton’s] chief qualification as a Member of Parliament was an ability to speak at great length in a smiling, cheerful way on almost any subject, urging universally admitted truths with the utmost candour and good nature."

Substitute "Bishop" for "Member of Parliament"...

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 7:12pm BST

Cynthia, surely it is not a case of either/or but both/and re direct action and discussion? Gandhi and other leaders of the Indian independence movement did talk with British government representatives and Martin Luther King and other civil rights movement leaders talked with people holding positions of power in the US state. Indeed refusal to live our lives, or conduct ourselves as local communities, by rules which we regard as wrong can open up opportunities for dialogue. To quote Gandhi on Satyagraha:

'Supposing a landowner exploits his tenants and mulcts them of the fruit of their toil by appropriating it to his own use. When they expostulate with him he does not listen and raises objections that he requires so much for his wife, so much for his children and so on. The tenants or those who have espoused their cause and have influence will make an appeal to his wife to expostulate with her husband. She would probably say that for herself she does not need his exploited money. The children will say likewise that they would earn for themselves what they need.

'Supposing further that he listens to nobody or that his wife and children combine against the tenants, they will not submit. They will quit if asked to do so, but they will make it clear that the land himself and he will have to give in to their just demands.

'It may, however, be that the tenants are replaced by others. Agitation short of violence will then continue till the replacing tenants see their error and make common cause with the evicted tenants.

'Thus Satyagraha is a process of educating public opinion, such that it covers all elements of society and in the end makes itself irresistible. Violence interrupts the process and prolongs the real revolution of the whole social structure.'


Posted by Savi Hensman at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 8:53pm BST

Anti-gay words- no matter how 'gracious' and genteel lead to terrible violence in the real world.

http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/philadelphia_archbishop_statement_of_gay_attack_offers_no_support_for_victims

Those who act this way and condone it do not know Jesus- do they ?

How many Church of England bishops have not accepted Him ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Friday, 19 September 2014 at 9:09pm BST

Great story, Savi. I did say something about a multi-pronged approach. My approach is to speak the honest truth of injustice. The change in TEC has come from listening to people's stories. The stories of our hurt, and of the Grace of inclusion.

MLK did not get those conversations (that you and I both treasure) by ringing up the secretary and making an appointment. Those opportunities only came as a result of his civil disobedience work.

Without pressure, MIK would not have gotten those conversations. I believe that it'll take significant pressure to bring to the table the writers of the hateful February document and that stupid letter on Marriage a year or so ago.

So I plan to keep mentioning LGBT teen suicide and homelessness (rejected by their families), hate crimes, etc. They are the very real fruits of discrimination. The Good News is for all, it's past time that the church speak that Good News to the vulnerable of all stripes, including LGBT.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 5:26am BST

Again, if they still oppose gay equality on the basis of some cold, rationalizing "belief system," that makes them *worse*, not better, than someone who fears or is disgusted by the idea of homosexual relations. Someone who will literally love you to death is severely deranged, lacking in empathy, unable to relate to humans.

It's like saying HAL 9000 is basically a good guy because he's following programming, and Darth Vader's a bad guy because he embraced hate.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 5:38am BST

Cynthia We share a great deal of the concerns and frustrations expressed on this thread. But I struggled with this comment of yours ...'It took an outside force, threats from a higher power, to effect that change.'
I accept that the presence and pressure social and poetical change can (and should) trigger fresh theological reflection and change in the church. That is one reason I am an Anglican. But secular political policy is not the same as Christian theology. In history and in parts of the world today political policy and threats leads to martyrdom not theological change. It must be resisted for the sake of the gospel.
Where people have theological questions the issue needs engaging theologically.Threats from a higher power and coercion is not how Christians do business or belief is it? So I do not expect a thoughtful but conservative bishop or any church member to change their theological convictions on the basis of government policy.
And I actually think a great deal of listening and heart searching is going on over there.

Posted by David Runcorn at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 9:26am BST

I shared this though wit friends a few days ago and would like to add it to the reflections on this thread.
'Acutely aware of the Bishops of my church meeting this week in facilitated discussions on sexuality. I am so gratitude that they are discussing this at all and in this way. Has the senior leadership of the church ever made themselves vulnerable to each other and worked together in this way before? I am blessed with wonderful friends but I cannot imagine easily talking personally about sexuality, longing, desire in such a close and focused context - let alone as someone in public leadership and under media scrutiny. The expectations as ever are sky high. The need for wisdom and ways forward even greater and the levels of trust and respect in the church for them is frightening low. I just want to say thank you and to pray with reverence and hope for a context in which I do not easily see 'answers' - but for which we will hold bishops responsible. Grace, mercy and peace ....

Posted by David Runcorn at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 9:28am BST

Savi and others, ref the discussion about the balance between direct, forceful action or gracious conversation; I would argue that it not simply a case of "both/and", but that timing is important, it is one followed by the other.

If someone is in a state of settled conviction, gracious conversation by itself will struggle to move somebody. It often needs some form of existential crisis to unsettle the person, and then the person will cast around in anxiety and uncertainty to find somebody who can provide a safe space within which to explore what is going on. And that's where the conversation can fit in.

A homophobic father may be fixed in his views, but when his son comes out to him then that crisis might cause him to reappraise and (eventually and with difficulty) change his views. A counselling service aimed at parents of gay children might provide that safe space, but he would only think of approaching the service after the crisis. Similarly for women bishops, the Cof E only had effective conversations that led to real change AFTER the crisis of seeing the Country's, and Parliament's, response to the first vote.

In my own experience of lobbying for a change in the legal ban on homosexuality in the Armed Forces, ten years of lobbying and conversation got nowhere. So we went to court, then the European court and won. The UK Government had no choice but to change the law. In their crisis, not knowing how to go forward, the Armed Forces bosses turned to the only people, they knew of who were experts on the issue; Rank Outsiders, the lobbying group that had just defeated them in court. We became their consultants, good relationships were built up, new regulations were issued. Within five years the Armed Forces were proudly proclaiming the award of a Stonewall prize for gay friendly employment policies (after all it is good for recruiting - the gay market is a big demographic).

continued next post.......

Posted by Simon Dawson at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 9:50am BST

Continued from previous post......

So yes, gracious conversation is a necessary part of a process of change. But by itself it is rarely sufficient. What is that crisis or existential challenge that will cause sufficient members CofE to want to change, and want to engage in conversation?

From my own position of wanting to move the church in a more gay friendly direction, I have no problems with the idea of gracious conversation. It is a good thing. But I want to keep up that simultaneous pressure for change. My fear is that there will be pressure to move towards accepting two integrities on this issue. If we do that we risk locking the situation in it's present position, and will reduce any pressure for further positive movement.

Best wishes

Simon

Posted by Simon Dawson at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 9:51am BST

Erika,

I use the word 'homophobe' because it's common parlance. I don't personally like it, because negative attitudes towards/reservations about/thinking wrong/ homosexual sex don't necessarily include 'fear', though they can do, of course. But let it stand. As used, it is pejorative, unlike, for example, 'arachnophobe'. I believe it is possible to hold people objectively wrong in their beliefs but morally innocent. People who regard homosexual sex as wrong are in my view wrong in their opinion, but if they don't regard homosexual people as intrinsically sinful, don't shudder at them, don't discriminate against them, etc., they are not 'homophobes'. This debate matters, because the relentless and absolutist polarising that goes on on TA elevates sexual identity to the only identity that matters, is absolutely guaranteed to achieve failure, and alienates countless people (including, from time to time, me). You know all this. So does everyone here.

Posted by John at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 10:53am BST

John,
I agree that it is possible to hold people objectively wrong in their beliefs but morally innocent.

And I also agree that "if they don't ... discriminate against them... they are not homophobes."

In the church context, however, we are talking about people who do discriminate. The whole structure of the church is discriminatory against gay people and the conservatives we argue with here and in an official capacity do their very best to keep it that way.

So I think that in the context Simon describes above, it is right not to call people homophobic. But in the context of our political discussions on TA, it is just as right to say that they are.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 2:28pm BST

Simon Dawson has put the matter far better than I could. Conversation and pressure are two sides of the same coin, and they both have their place.

Obviously Gandhi was against violence. I am not aware, however, that he was at any time against speaking loudly in the public square, identifying specific wrongs, and holding the people who perpetuate those wrongs publicly accountable.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 3:22pm BST

Cynthia, it is indeed important to keep mentioning LGBT teen suicide and homelessness, hate crimes etc - they are part of the reality which the church must confront and, on the part of its LGBT members, sometimes experiences.

Simon, you raise the issue of incentives for change. The fact that, according to the British Social Attitudes survey, just 21.3% of Anglicans in Britain today think that sex between adults of the same sex is always wrong, compared to 50.9% in 1983, shows the extent to which change has been taking place among church members, though a higher proportion disagree with marrying same-sex couples. I think more bishops are waking up to the shift which has taken place among church members, in many congregations and wider society and the strength of the theological case for greater acceptance, but still have to take account of those clergy and local church communities would not want to celebrate same-sex marriages at this time, for instance. We may have to learn to live with diversity of belief and practice on this as on various other important issues until a greater degree of consensus is reached.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 4:48pm BST

I too am completely in favour of 'pressure', as I have said several times. In particular, if the other Jeremy wins, there will be huge consequences.

Erika,

Of course I think your argument doesn't work. When I wrote 'do not discriminate' I was referring to life in general. Those who hold homosexual sexual activity to be intrinsically wrong - and unbefitting to priests as models etc. - can argue for such 'discrimination' in a non-pejorative sense of that term within the church. Again, I think they're wrong, but their position is not necessarily 'homophobic' (the point here at issue). It is at this point that 'shared conversations' come in. But since I think that there so many variables here, so many different emphases, and so many different anxieties, the chances of 'consensus' are illusory, except in the sense of 'to agree to disagree' and then to allow differences of practice (crucial, of course). That will offend many here on TA, but will be enormously better than the present situation. It will offend many also with a 'strong' understanding of Catholicity, but we have to decide how to keep together taking account of - and respecting - the numerous different opinions about quite important things.

Posted by John at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 5:29pm BST

John,
“Those who hold homosexual sexual activity to be intrinsically wrong - and unbefitting to priests as models etc. - can argue for such 'discrimination' in a non-pejorative sense of that term within the church. Again, I think they're wrong, but their position is not necessarily 'homophobic' (the point here at issue)”

But the same people argued (and voted!) against civil marriage equality. The church deprived Jeremy Pemberton of a job although they did not have to do so.
I don't know if you follow the Diverse Church tweets or are one of the Friends of Diverse Church, but what young people experience at the hands of their churches and often their families is horrific. Have a look at this: https://storify.com/scottywotsits/tweetasdc-hannah-19th-sept-2014

I will continue to call it homophobic.

I agree with you about tolerance. And once the church allows priests to get married if they want, and once it allows them to conduct all kinds of marriages, once we have equality in principle, I shall be happy for some churches to remain conservative.
But I will continue to call homophobic behaviour for what it is.

Not solemnising a same sex marriage on theological grounds is one thing. Sending kids to be exorcised or for other "cures" is homophobic.

At present, there is no official outcry against this kind of thing in the CoE, and it is still happening to kids in conservative churches.

This might offend the sensibilities of people who only know about these things from the occasional newspaper report. But for those of us who know far too many people for whom this is and has been a daily reality, it’s different.

Talk sensitively to parents of kids who have come out – by all means!!
Pretend in public discourse that what is happening in our church isn’t homophobic – no way.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 6:08pm BST

"Threats from a higher power and coercion is not how Christians do business or belief is it? So I do not expect a thoughtful but conservative bishop or any church member to change their theological convictions on the basis of government policy."

David, when I talked about the higher power forcing change, I wasn't speaking of an ideal. I was speaking the truth that it was pressure from David Cameron and Parliament that forced CoE to accept women bishops in short order.

People were being rather congratulatory and holding up the conversations around WB's as a model for dealing with LGBT people. Someone had to tell the truth that it was indeed government pressure that brought about that justice in CoE.

I'm not saying it's an ideal. I'm just saying it's the truth. However, when you look around at justice movements, I don't think any human rights progress has ever been made by conversation alone.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 6:09pm BST

Simon Dawson, you are awesome. You certainly articulated the need for both pressure and gracious conversation.

Savi, it doesn't seem like the statistics move the hearts of the conservatives. We constantly hear some say that culture is the problem and the church should be counter-cultural in maintaining traditional bigotries…

This, Savi, is a huge moral problem for me:
"We may have to learn to live with diversity of belief and practice on this as on various other important issues until a greater degree of consensus is reached."

You are asking the hurting and vulnerable to continue to carry a costly burden for the sake of very comfortable people.

I want Jeremy Pemberton to win his case and for him and Laurence to live happily ever after. In part because they are created in the Image of God and it is a blasphemy to deny their being, created by God. But I also I want him to win and for them to be happy so that more vulnerable people can see the church loving and accepting people like them - affirming them as Children of God, healing their wounds, and perhaps getting them to the place of being a healing force for others.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 6:21pm BST

Sorry to be on a repeat loop here (what else do you expect from Anglican clergy), but if it quacks, waddles, likes swimming in the pond and lays eggs, well it's a duck.

If I'm being queerbashed (yes it's still happening, all the time) I don't think I care about the moral niceties of the person who's doing it, his own moral justifications for his behaviour or those of onlookers. I care that he's hurting me and it doesn't change anything about him hitting me if he thinks he has an excuse.

If the end result of a viewpoint is discrimination against gays, then it's homophobia (or heterosexism if you're afraid of the 'phobia'). Yes, otherwise nice people can be homophobic. Otherwise nice people can be racist, sexist, you name it.

A homophobic Biblical interpretation is still homophobic. A homophobic church tradition doesn't stop being homophobic because Christians hold it.

Surely by their fruits shall you know them.

How many more lives are going to be ruined because we're afraid to call it what it is?

If it's wrong outside the church, it's wrong inside the church.

Please stop pretending that holding 'homosexual sexual activity to be intrinsically wrong' isn't homophobia.

Quack!

It is.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 8:14pm BST

Savi, you said "We may have to learn to live with diversity of belief and practice on this as on various other important issues until a greater degree of consensus is reached."

The phrase "learn to live with" implies a degree of agreement and acceptance, and that is my problem.

I am currently reading American history. It seems that some of the Founding Fathers were against slavery, but abolition at that time was too difficult, and so they learnt to live with it. Only decades later was slavery finally abolished. The white establishment had all the benefits of independence, and the cost of independence was borne by the black slaves who continued to die in their thousands.

If we learn to live with diversity of belief on the gay issue in the church, then the church establishment gets all the benefits of avoiding damaging splits. But is the cost in continuing gay suicide and depression too high a cost to pay?

I don't know the answer. But can we at least acknowledge that the question is there.

Simon


Posted by Simon Dawson at Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 10:22pm BST

Simon Dawson has hit the nail on the head.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 12:26am BST

This is another conversation going on -- elsewhere. But needed in the Church.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-bleckner-gay-adoptions-20140911-story.html

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 12:50am BST

Simon, the question is a practical one. If you did not want to work with the way people change and majorities grow, how would you achieve change? I'm not accepting a gradual process in the sense that I believe both views to be equally moral and valid. I accept it because it's the only way that actually works and brings the right result in the long term.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 8:04am BST

Erika - absolutely! Well put.

Posted by David Runcorn at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 8:41am BST

Erika and David,

How would I achieve change - see my posts above. I have been around "change management" on the gay issue for about twenty years now so I am speaking from some experience, but let me clarify.

Please don't think I am against conversation and discussion and sharing from the heart and sharing from one's own personal experience. The bishops are going through a process of learning a new way of communicating, a new way of being together. I am pleased for them. I went through a similar process of learning about twenty years ago and it transformed my life. So I wish them, and the process, well.

But there are two separate issues here - which for the sake of brevity I will label "gracious conversation" and "two integrities".

I have no problems with gracious conversation, it is two integrities that bothers me.

Richard Holloway once wrote that making a moral choice between a good thing and a bad thing is easy, making a choice between two good things is when it gets difficult.

We have two good things here. Wanting to maintain the unity of the church, and wanting to avoid the damage caused to gay people by the church's current policies. Both are very good wants, but which takes priority?

Gracious conversation is good, but gracious conversation in a closed room can lead to a sort of Stockholm syndrome where what is voiced in the the room outweighs the reality of what is going on outside. My fear is that gracious conversation in a room full only of the Church hierarchy, or those invited by the church hierarchy, and with gay people on the outside, might prioritise church unity, because the damage to the lives of gay people will not be voiced or heard in that room.

That's why I wrote "I have no problems with the idea of gracious conversation. It is a good thing. But I want to keep up that simultaneous pressure for change. My fear is that there will be pressure to move towards accepting two integrities on this issue. If we do that we risk locking the situation in it's present position, and will reduce any pressure for further positive movement."

And hence my analogy with American independence, when the voices of the slaves were absent from the room. I am just doing my best to make sure that the voices of the slaves are being heard.

Best wishes

Simon


Posted by Simon Dawson at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 11:04am BST

It's difficult to debate when people continually move the boundaries - especially when the position of the boundaries is precisely the point at issue. Fr Andrew instances 'queer-bashing': I entirely agree it's homophobic and horrible - it isn't the phenomenon I'm talking about. As for the duck analogy, it's circular, because the definition of a 'duck' in this context is precisely what the debate is about. Or take another example: a close friend of mine, 64, life-long gay, many sexual partners but happily partnered for the last 20 years rejects (difficult to find the right word here but there is some moral component) anal intercourse (to which I personally have no objection of any kind), because he regards it as an unsafe sexual practice. That is, or has become, the view of Peter Tatchell. Are they homophobes? As for voting against civil partnerships and equal marriage, there are/were lay-people and non-religious people who argue(d) against them, e.g. Roger Scruton. Is he by definition then a homophobe? Generally speaking (there are obvious exceptions at both ends), the world does not consist of goodies and baddies.

Posted by John at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 2:43pm BST

I think, John, that policies that hurt gay people are homophobic. That raises the question, are the people who support homophobic policies homophobic? You say not necessarily. I say that it's pretty cheeky to believe that one is entitled to enforce hurtful/hateful laws or policies on others. And so, yeah, it looks like those people are indeed homophobic, and feel entitled to thrust their homophobia on all others.

We're talking about human rights, dignity, well-being, justice, for adults and children. People who would deny us this justice are homophobes. Just like they would be racists if they were denying people's humanity based on race.

Someone mentioned that "heterosexist" might be a better word. It sounds kinder, but I think "phobia" is spot on.

People have to cherry-pick the Bible to support bigotry on that basis. It is high time for honesty on that score.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 4:20pm BST

Simon,
doesn't it depend on what we mean by Two Integrities?
Basically, it means nothing more than "live and let live", "living side by side in tolerance".

It's what we do with almost every other contentious issue. Divorce, for example.

I agree with you that the concept should not be enshrined and given a legal framework, like the Two Integrities in the women priest/bishops debate.
Although even there, we have to be fair to admit that without the legal protection for those who cannot accept women priests, the proposals simply would not have been voted through.

For me, two integrities in the gay debate is simply shorthand for accepting that even if the church allows priests to be same sex married and if the fourth lock is removed and priests can marry same sex couples in church, there will be some churches who will not do accept this for themselves.
But that’s ok.

But it’s really hard to say anything constructive without understanding the process.
And so I ask yet again – what IS the process for changing CoE policy on gay people?
Is it similar to that for women bishops? Do we need 2/3rd majorities in all Synods? Because that will automatically mean some kind of formal compromise.
Or is it a looser process? Is it just bishops talking behind closed doors?

I really do wish someone here would answer this question, because until we know what we’re looking at, all our conversation are potentially just wishful thinking.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 5:35pm BST

John,
boundaries of debates change. That’s the nature of change.
What was considered acceptable 10 years ago is now seen as racist or misogynist or homophobic. We don’t get to make one definition for all people for all times.

And so with homosexuality, the process goes “they’re immoral criminals”, “they’re immoral”, “they’re ill and should be cured”, “They’re ill but can be tolerated”, “they’re as normal as you and me and should be treated fully equal”.
And where “they’re ill and should be cured” might once have been progressive, it is now definitely homophobic.

If you know that gay people cause no harm in society, and if you know that forcing people to lead lonely lives or hidden lives is deeply psychologically harmful, and if you know that the medical and psychiatric professional associations in your country have unequivocally stated that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality – and if you then ignore all of that in favour of your personal ideas about gay people and if you then vote against gay people’s civil rights – yes, you are homophobic. What else? In order for our views to be morally neutral there has to be a credible alternative rational way of looking at a moral problem. Or you have to say that “I personally really struggle with this, but I recognise the integrity of those who disagree with me and I will most certainly not abuse my powers to try and control them and force them to lead a life that is harmful to them.”
That’s what my genuinely non-homophobic conservative friends do.


Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 5:37pm BST

It is never easy to be precise, but I was trying to point out that separating intent and consequences in discrimination is pointless: what matters is the result, and there's no doubt about that.

It is undoubtedly true that many people may not intend to discriminate against gay people, but if beliefs and behaviour they are promoting or holding lead to that discrimination, what's the difference?

Yes, it is not helpful to label everyone who promotes discrimination against gays as a homophobe; that doesn't stop those views/actions etc, being homophobic.

I wonder would it be possible, just once, to discuss God's beautiful creation of LGBT people without someone raising anal sex?

Posted by Fr Andrew at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 5:49pm BST

There is a substantial difference between advocating criminalisation, violence and/or the use of therapies known to be dangerous to health, on the one hand, and not being fully convinced of the rightness of marriage of same-sex couples, on the other hand. In order to stop the former, it may be helpful to build broad-ranging alliances while continuing to argue the case for celebrating marriages of same-sex couples.

I think the 'two integrities' model is problematic in that it is does not do enough to encourage continuing discussion in the quest for truth and also creates parallel structures - we do not need separate bishops for 'high church' and 'low church' parishes in the same diocese, for instance. However allowing considerable local discretion can enable progress without unanimity and help create conditions where ongoing debates do not end up as quarrels.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 6:02pm BST

"There is a substantial difference between advocating criminalisation, violence and/or the use of therapies known to be dangerous to health, on the one hand, and not being fully convinced of the rightness of marriage of same-sex couples, on the other hand. In order to stop the former, it may be helpful to build broad-ranging alliances while continuing to argue the case for celebrating marriages of same-sex couples."

This sounds like progress I can believe in. Practical and still focused on justice in the nearer term, not kicking the can down the road for the next generation. Youth will still see the dichotomy and exclusion as hypocritical, but if the language from the church softens to accepting, it can help a lot.

The word "continuing" is the one that helps me.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 9:23pm BST

I’m pleased the bishops are learning new ways of communicating with one another. I’d love to believe this could be an example in managing difference to a fractiously aggressive society. This takes place, however, against a backdrop of LGBTs, especially youth, still being bullied as a matter of routine to the point of attempting, sometimes achieving, suicide.

We’ve become so inured to the horror that LGBTs endure in many churches that we forget that it IS a horror, and one no longer common in the real world where ‘faithfulness to Scripture’ and church unity aren’t prioritised over torturing children. This language might be considered aggressive by many here, but outside the church bubble, if people ever start paying attention to what goes on (and they eventually will), it would be seen as common sense.

On Saturday, TA linked to a Premier Youthwork interview with Sally Hitchiner. In it, she relates her experiences working with LGBT youth from conservative Evangelical churches. Let’s look at some of the things related in it:

“These were 18 or 19 year-olds who had been rejected by families and or felt they had to leave (in some cases even been asked to leave) home groups or churches when they told church leaders they were gay. Some of them had attempted suicide.”

“When you come out in many evangelical churches, you’re instantly banned from the microphones, the coffee rota, children’s church and anything else that might build confidence.”

“We now have about 120 people in the closed Facebook network, and I’d say about 15-20 of them have attempted suicide in the last five years. They’re just the ones that I know about.”

Bad as that is, the ratio of suicide attempts to suicides is 10:1, so two people can’t be a member of Sally’s group. Because they’re dead. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.

“We have got a number of young people who are in churches or families who strongly believe that it’s a demonic possession that needs to be cast out.”

“We’ve got loads of young people who have been through gay conversion prayer ministry and courses.”

How many young people will die while bishops have ‘shared conversations’?

What will social services departments make of all this? The current focus on problems within the Muslim community WILL bring attention to our door. This culture is unsympathetic to Christianity and keen to be culturally unprejudiced.

Posted by The Rev'd Mervyn Noote at Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 11:58pm BST

Erika, I believe a few changes could be made by bishops but others would require Synod's approval, including allowing church marriages of same-sex couples. This would be very difficult to achieve at present, especially since those most adamantly opposed to greater inclusion of women and LGBT people are over-represented in the House of Laity, though elections in 2015 may make a difference.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Monday, 22 September 2014 at 12:11am BST

'I was trying to point out that separating intent and consequences in discrimination is pointless: what matters is the result, and there's no doubt about that.'

That seems to me a very broad-brush claim. If a politician says, in a perfectly reasonable tone, that Muslim women shouldn't cover their faces and such a Muslim woman is murdered subsequently, does the politician have any culpability whatsoever? (I should add that I believe such a politician to be wrong, but imagine that most on TA think otherwise.) If Anthony Thistleton, Anglican canon and major NT scholar, respected right across the spectrum, says, as he does, that he doesn't think the biblical passages can yield a 'liberal' conclusion, though he respects the views of those who think otherwise, has he any responsibility whatsoever for the victimisation, extending to murder, of gay people?

Look, I'm on your side, but I do think people here need to argue with more discrimination. I know some find that claim fussy and self-indulgent. I'll give up for a while.

Posted by John at Monday, 22 September 2014 at 9:51am BST

Thanks Savi,
there had been some questions whether the bishops' pastoral guidelines were legal, and I suppose unless they're tested through the churches own two formal processes we won't know for sure.
It just strikes me that, too often, we talk about what we should do or not do, accept or not accept, without really understanding the legal basis and processes for any of it.
Which is quite frustrating.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 22 September 2014 at 9:56am BST

Cynthia, I think I finally understood your concern. The problem with Two Integrities enshrined in law is that this closes down the internal conversation.

I hope it only slows it down, there is no legislation that is cast in stone for all future generations.
And I believe the lgbt debate is different from the women priests debate. Because even if we did have two formal integrities about lgbt people and if each church could choose its position, there would still be ever more confident young lgbt people coming out to their churches and work towards full inclusion in their individual congregations.

The process of change would be a grassroots movement that isn't possibly for women priests and bishops, and each congregation would be empowered to become accepting at any time.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 22 September 2014 at 10:06am BST

John,
I think people here have been a lot more nuanced that you are.
We have consistently said that having conservative views is one thing, but using your power to enforce them another.

Teachers do have a stronger responsibility than other people, so yes, if you consistently teach that for gay people to lead normal lives is wrong, then you are laying the ground for those who apply that teaching in their own way.
But a teacher who says "I personally don't believe that for gay people to lead normal lives is acceptable, but I respect those who come to a different conclusion", is not trying to force anyone to accept his view, and if he genuinely respects other choices, there is no problem.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 22 September 2014 at 10:23am BST

Meanwhile, in real life gay families have children and the law moves forward, along with all the care and love of loving families.


The bishops are not prepared to help or even rejoice -- how can the churches take part and be part of all this ferment of learning, growth and loving ?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04htrnw

Posted by Laurie R at Monday, 22 September 2014 at 12:19pm BST

"It's difficult to debate when people continually move the boundaries."

It is such a pity, isn't it, when people learn, or change their minds.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 22 September 2014 at 12:59pm BST

Two integrities rc style - US ?

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/09/parishioners-divided-over-churchs-demand-that-gay-couple-get-divorced/

Yet this rc bishop seems to concede that if only enough parishoners would agree.....

Posted by Laurie R at Monday, 22 September 2014 at 10:09pm BST

Another testimony from the worldwide church :

http://candiceczubernat.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/the-church-is-responsible-for-this/

Posted by Laurie R at Tuesday, 23 September 2014 at 1:53am BST

"I don't personally like it, because negative attitudes towards/reservations about/thinking wrong/ homosexual sex don't necessarily include 'fear', though they can do, of course."

This, in passing, is an etymological red herring: after all, hydrophobic molecules do not have a "fear" of water, either.

Posted by Geoff at Tuesday, 23 September 2014 at 3:56am BST

Laurie, neither I nor (I think) any others on this thread arguing for greater local discretion over whether same-sex partnerships should be celebrated would argue that the treatment of the Catholic married couple was acceptable. While I have publicly criticised Issues in Human Sexuality (1991) and, even more strongly, the so-called pastoral guidance issued earlier this year, one aspect of C of E official policy with which I agree is that 'there should be an open and welcoming place in the Christian community both for those homophiles who follow the way of abstinence, giving themselves to friendship for many rather than intimacy with one, and also those who are conscientiously convinced that a faithful, sexually active relationship with one person, aimed at helping both partners to grow in discipleship, is the way of life God wills for them' (1991) and 'Those same sex couples who choose to marry should be welcomed into the life of the worshipping community and not be subjected to questioning about their lifestyle. Neither they nor any children they care for should be denied access to the sacraments' (2014). I would like to see this extended to the clergy.

In the United Reformed Church, local ministers and congregations can celebrate civil partnerships if they so choose and discussions are underway about extending this to marriage. The Methodist Church, which is having its own two-year discussion process, agreed that - though the official definition of marriage has not yet changed - there is no reason per se to prevent anyone in the church, ordained or lay, from entering into or remaining in a legally contracted same-sex marriage. This has been achieved partly through the support of people who would not (yet) themselves feel comfortable celebrating a marriage between same-sex partners. Without such alliances, based on mutual respect between those who agree that overt homophobia should be challenged but not on all aspects of sexual ethics, I fear that progress will be far slower.

Certainly in my own experience of being out from the early 1980s, in the local Christian communities to which I have belonged, people did not move instantly from being dyed-in-the-wool homophobes to ardent supporters of marrying same-sex couples in church, and I still know people who would abhor the treatment of those couples in the USA while having different opinions from mine on ideals for the physical expression of sexuality.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Tuesday, 23 September 2014 at 12:07pm BST

Savi, thank you. What you say makes complete sense to me.

My sense is, it all one sided at the moment - and against us lgbt. That's why I am literally unable to struggle on in 'the national church.' I can't 'hold it together'. I just can't manage it; and have been less and less able for some years. People who might have helped like John V. Taylor, Roy Williamson, Mervyn Stockwood, John Trillo, Basil Hume and others, have now died, or are very retired.


This seems very encouraging news from the Bible belt:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/21/meet-the-young-evangelical-pro-gay-movement.html?via=desktop&source=facebook

Posted by Laurie R at Tuesday, 23 September 2014 at 4:53pm BST

I love talking about "moving boundaries" while constantly framing the conversation in a completely self-referential way, refusing to engage on anything other than one's chosen field and terminology.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 24 September 2014 at 5:56am BST

"This, in passing, is an etymological red herring: after all, hydrophobic molecules do not have a 'fear' of water, either."

Thank You, Geoff!!!!

If they don't fear it, why fight it? If they don't fear it, why not take the good rabbi's way of looking at it? Just because it's written? Then why follow it, unless they fear some retribution? The fear *is* there, regardless.

And - *once again* -

Can we really say it's noble to "just follow orders," in harming others, after the events of the 20th Century? That that's not something to be addressed sharply and immediately and community-wide?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 25 September 2014 at 5:04am BST

The bishops and indeed the synods, would do well to take account of this, experienced by evangelicals.

http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/what-happens-when-closeted-gay-christians-accidentally-mingle030913

Posted by Laurie R at Thursday, 25 September 2014 at 5:04pm BST
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