' There was also testimony representing a very different point of view including a substantial and
carefully argued submission highlighting a need to challenge an obsessively liberal viewpoint,
whilst, in love and understanding it may be noted that it is “thoroughly Scriptural to regard
homosexuality as essentially a form of bondage from which an individual needs to be released”.
(p.49) However, it was also stated that “Preaching and teaching against those with a gay
or lesbian lifestyle is seen as creating a specific tension for young people with homosexual
orientation to not only be part of the Church, but also to face their own life without revulsion at
its extreme, or at the very least, confusion and a tendency to silence, anxiety and denial.” (p.50)
This will not do. The homophobic assumptions and language redolent of a past time (the bad old days)is wholly unacceptable to people of all ages, who value human life, above tired theological theories, and patch-works of imagery, misunderstanding, poor exegesis and superstition.
Hurrah for the Church of Ireland. It is at least doing something about the current issue at the heart of the present controversy.
I regard the executive summary as very helpful, because it is rational, quite open, and focusses on the relationships between Christians with different views, and the grace needed to undertake that journey of relationship.
I believe this executive summary could be considered carefully by the LGBTI mission as it seeks to frame a way forward for the Church of England.
One comment I noted was: "In September 2003, the bishops of the Church of Ireland issued a pastoral letter indicating that a range of views over same-sex relationships was to be found within the Church of Ireland, and that ‘this spectrum’ was reflected in the House of Bishops."
Is that also the case in the House of Bishops in England? We probably wouldn't know the full extent because of the principle (if you can call it that) of 'collegiality'.
The problem in England is, that while a spectrum exists across the whole Church, the Bishops still try to enforce one view only, accompanied by the treat of sanctions.
While I am supporting the LGBTI mission, my very great concern is that this may simply be viewed with relief by the Archbishops as a preferred prevarication, rather than the effects that actual actions of resistance would have,
We are too subservient to authority - an authority that is exercising power to discriminate, and alienating millions of people in the process.
What disappoints me is that we know that probably most of the Church membership actually are on the 'affirming gay and lesbian sexuality' part of the spectrum the Irish Summary mentions. And generationally that is more and more the case.
But priests and local churches 'take it'. They put gay and lesbian lives on hold. They kick the can further into the long grass. We've had these conversations over and over and over. Power still resists and holds its control.
(continued in 2 of 3...)
I'd argue it needs to be challenged in action, otherwise a time comes when we are effectively complicit in our own oppression. Where are the Bishops along the 'spectrum' who dare to speak out? Where are the priests and PCCs who will defy, and say 'We'll bless gay marriages anyway, we'll keep our priests even without a PTO, if they marry? Why isn't there a network intent on active challenge, which would 'call' the Archbishops' authority in the name of justice and conscience?
The spectrum exists, theologically and experientially and in good conscience. But we continue to comply with injustice, to an extent that almost seems like infantilism and is arguably a betrayal of LGBTI lives.
This is an evangelistic disaster as well. Grace to live out unity in diversity is the only solution, and that stark message needs to be sent to the Archbishops not as a choice but as a de facto action.
The 'spectrum' is real. The test is coming to terms with that, and seeking grace to love one another, even when we hold different views. Schism is not what's needed. Grace to co-exist is what is needed, and what the Irish Summary seems to imply.
Forcing uniformity on other people's consciences simply drives schism. It is dominating and it is immature. The greater issue is not 'Who's right?' but 'Who can find grace to love, even with differences?'
De facto action - in a synchronised network - is needed to 'speak truth' to power. What would the Archbishop do? Occupy resisting churches? Lock out church members? Call in the police when the members and priests still showed up?
No. Rather, such action would be championed by the nation at large. It would bring things to a crisis, to a Xairos moment, in a way the Primates' meeting dismally failed to do. Instead... we talk and talk and talk some more... as we have been talking for 20 or 30 years... and whole lives of gay and lesbian people are kept marginalised. Their sex is still sin. Celibacy is the only sin-free option. Their sexuality is vilified, and 'othered', and limits ordination hopes or preferment of the able.
(Continued in 3 of 3...)
(Concluding - post 3 of 3...)
What kind of Church is this?
Why are we still waiting? Why are our consciences still trampled over by an authority which 'knows best'?
Why are we still afraid to act on our own good conscience, to confront injustice by de facto action?
Officially, in the proclamations of official Church spokespeople, the spectrum doesn't exist. 'The Church of England believes...'
Well, no it doesn't. And we don't have to act as if it does. But people seem to be afraid. Bishops seem afraid to speak out. Priests are afraid of losing their livings. The ordinary, 'nice' church members, however liberal and open-minded, seem to lack conviction.
Are action and resistance wrong? Should MLK have just accepted authority, and had conversations for decades, which would have suited Power just fine.
Words and words and words may just play into the hands of those who are full of passionate intensity, who demand uniformity, and repudiate diversity.
I am disappointed by anything short of courage and resistance in action. My life and my identity is not represented by the far end of the spectrum that claims authority to tell everyone else what to do, how to live, who to be.
It is intolerable, and there is immeasurable hurt, and great harm in the alienation of our nation, especially the alienated young.
That's why, although I want to actively support the new LGBTI mission, I don't think it's enough. Because the problem is NOW. We can't keep kicking it into the future, avoiding the cost and the huge blessings of de facto action, and the prospect of a church revitalised, a Church connecting with the nation again, and its abandoned and alienated young generations.
And can you still believe the "churches" out there in Anglican Communion world love you if you are GLBTI?
Come on. The only one who has shown love is the one kicked out without the actual courageous act of kicking out!
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