Comments: Radical Inclusion: two bishops write about this

No-one - except the CoE bishops - uses the term "same-sex attracted". Why do they insist on this vulgar euphemism when there are plenty of terms they could use to describe gay people?

It's a shame the Bishop of Liverpool doesn't recognize it for what it is.

Posted by Chris A at Wednesday, 22 February 2017 at 7:05pm GMT

The Bishops of Bedford, St Albans, and Hertford have also issued a statement:

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 22 February 2017 at 7:08pm GMT

I encourage people to read David Walker's piece in its entirety. He is the first (so far as I am aware) to call out the circular argument and say it has to stop: the present legal position is used to justify unchangeable doctrine and teaching; present doctrine and teaching are used to argue against any change in the law; ad infinitum.

I don't believe that either archbishop is sincere about wanting change - there is too much history of them saying seemingly positive things then acting oppositely. I do believe Bishop David though. I think he genuinely recognises that something material must change.

I don't think that the archbishops will manage to get another conservative document through HoB without dissenting voices. Possibly the first true green shoot of change.

Posted by Kate at Wednesday, 22 February 2017 at 8:06pm GMT

The first sentence in a speech is always of great importance in setting the scene. Paul Bayes rightfully expresses the honour he feels by serving as a bishop in his church. This responsibility encompasses all his flock. 'Awesome' is an overused word these days but awe at that responsibility should be shown to his leadership, and respect to his person, as he grapples with this heavy weight.

Posted by Pam at Wednesday, 22 February 2017 at 9:01pm GMT

Chris A - The term same-sex attracted is one used by those (mostly evangelical) who are attracted to people of the same sex but choose not to act on that desire due to their understanding of the biblical texts. The exact number of people who identify as same-sex attracted is difficult to determine as outwardly they are just single people. More details can be found on the site of 'living out' - an organisation to support those who identify as same-sex attracted.

Posted by Andy at Wednesday, 22 February 2017 at 10:59pm GMT

Re Dr Walker:

"Moreover, radical inclusion requires that we should no longer be reflecting about sexuality issues without LGBT+ members being present, nor doing so in a context where they feel marginalised or unsafe. “Talking about us, without us” must never again be a charge that can justifiably be levelled against us."

Fine, as far as it goes, but if that is really what 'radical inclusion' amounts to I wonder what 'moderate inclusion' might mean? It is presumably easy to have everyone in the same room (and that no one is made to feel unsafe - perhaps a rather low bar), but that means it is still perfectly possible to engage in increasingly frustrating 'dialogues of the deaf', with rapidly diminishing returns, resulting in increasing animosity between LGBTI campaigners and the bench/conservatives.

Presumably what matters is that LGBTI people are heard and that positive action results from what they have to say.

Posted by Froghole at Wednesday, 22 February 2017 at 11:33pm GMT

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
was blind but now I see."

The foundation of any theology of 'radical inclusion' is God's radical inclusion of us in his kingdom/family, by grace. Inclusion is a gift granted to all of us by God through Jesus, none of us are worthy to have him under our roof. If we don't begin with a sense of overwhelming gratitude and humility for God's inclusion of us, then we won't have the right measure to use in dealing with one another.

Posted by David Keen at Thursday, 23 February 2017 at 7:57am GMT

If a same-sex attracted duck walks like an evangelical duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it's a gay evangelical duck.

Posted by FrDavidH at Thursday, 23 February 2017 at 11:46am GMT

"No-one - except the CoE bishops - uses the term "same-sex attracted"."

And those who choose to self-repress.

Without wishing to belittle the rights and opinions of any, as so-called 'same sex attracted' people are perfectly content with the status quo, their views are not really central to the ongoing discussion. Unless of course you are of the opinion that all LGBT people should be acting in that way. Presumably that's why conservatives keep bringing the term up. There is a danger I think in paying too much attention to this red herring. All voices have to be heard: not all voices should be accorded the same weight.

Regardless of how people choose to lead their lives, the term 'same sex attracted' is not a neutral term: it quite explicitly contains within it a condemnation of LGBT people and is thus highly offensive. A less loaded term might be 'Single Celibate'. If you've chosen not to have sex, does it really matter who you've chosen not to have it with?

If it does, then why not call yourselves LGBT and stop offending your non-celibate brothers and sisters?

"The exact number of people who identify as same-sex attracted is difficult to determine" @Andy

Difficult to determine but in the UK a few hundred would be an extremely generous estimate and among those outside of extremist Biblicist circles, almost non-existent.

I have no problem with people choosing celibacy as their lifestyle- some sadness perhaps if it's because of religious homophobia- but I'm not quite sure the there's much relevance here to LGBT rights, equal marriage etc.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Thursday, 23 February 2017 at 12:28pm GMT

On the subject of dialogues of the deaf, I thought the Bishop of Blackburn's speech in the General Synod debate was a really breathtaking example of someone who has no idea what listening means. He explained what he thought it meant, but he stopped at the (trite) observation that it does not mean agreeing with what you hear.

He had no concept of how to listen in a way which shows that you have heard and taken on board what is being said - which is, of course, particularly important when you are not in agreement. When you agree, your subsequent actions show that you have heard. When you disagree, you have to reflect back what you have heard, in order to show to the person speaking that you have understood - indeed, in order, also, to confirm to yourself that you have correctly understood.

One of the great failures of the Bishops' Report was that it did not articulate the points that it went on to ignore. Had it done so, it would have been clearer that the points had not been ignored, even if they were not accepted.

Posted by badman at Thursday, 23 February 2017 at 12:34pm GMT

Following on from my last comment, here's a verbatim quote from the Bishop of Blackburn's speech:

"A person who receives and understands information and then chooses not to comply with it has listened to the speaker even though the result is not what the speaker wanted. Listening is therefore a term in which the listener listens to the one who produced the sound to be listened, and you can change the letters of the word “listen” to be reformed to spell “silent”."

Incredible that a person whose job is to pastor thinks that listening is sort of power play ("comply with information") or that it is in any sense tantamount to "silence".

Someone needs to teach him about the well known research into good listening, including “reflective listening”, “active listening”, and “radical listening”.

He might also benefit from a quick read of Krznaric's article "Can you teach people to have empathy?" on the BBC website at

Posted by badman at Thursday, 23 February 2017 at 1:25pm GMT

In fact what +Blackburn says is poorly expressed gobledygook. I used to live in his diocese and
in my limited contact with him, I encountered more of the same. I wonder how many of his Episcopal colleagues display the same misunderstanding of what listening is? A neat illustration of the concerns expressed on this blog about the intellectual quality of our Bishops.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Thursday, 23 February 2017 at 3:47pm GMT

Wow, Blackburn lays it down like a boss.

Flinty as Henderson is, he does cut through the PR fluff used to sell "Indaba" and "shared conversations," which, it turned out, were yet another delaying tactic. English bishops can "listen" endlessly, but listening gives them all the power. As Henderson says, they can choose to ignore what they've heard, and do.

Men of power and prestige like Henderson won't be shifted by pleas: they'll be shifted by hardheaded politics, of the kind that led to their Synod defeat. However crass Henderson may be, at least he's telling it straight. For equality to come to England, his message must be heard.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 23 February 2017 at 8:47pm GMT

Re: Andy, 2259 yesterday.

It is important also to understand that Living Out (& al.) advocate not only for themselves as astinent people who identify as "SSA" but are also vociferous that abstinence is the *only* acceptable choice for lesbian, gay & c. people.

The former is probably ok; but the latter is not.

Posted by DBD at Thursday, 23 February 2017 at 9:19pm GMT

Thank you Fr Andrew and DBD for your comments. I have said before on Thinking Anglicans that I have nothing but contempt for those who demand of LGBT people a celibacy which they will not touch with their finger. Celibacy, to have any meaning, is a calling from God, and cannot properly be imposed any more than marriage can be imposed. I have pity for those who have been seduced by uncritical Biblicism into believing they must give no sexual expression to their feelings.

For what it's worth, I have never had a moment's unease about being a gay man - indeed, I often say it's been my salvation, because it's protected me from any temptation to ecclesiastical ambition. I live a celibate life because I experience it as a gift of God to me, and one which enriches me. I have no desire whatever to turn what I have freely received into a condition to be imposed upon those who have not received that vocation. To do so would be an insult to vocational celibates.

Posted by Barry at Friday, 24 February 2017 at 10:42am GMT

Evangelicals do not believe in relative truth therefore if the standard set by the bible (and the official teaching of the CofE) is celibacy outside heterosexual marriage, that standard applies to all.

Those who are campaigning for change consider this standard to be unrealistic ... those who identify as SSA are living proof that it is realistic.

As to numbers, Sam Allberry stated in the synod debate that he has met hundreds of SSA individuals and knows of thousands ...

Posted by Andy at Saturday, 25 February 2017 at 7:34pm GMT
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