Posts

such a pain

Image
The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a bit of a torrid time recently on LGBTI+ issues.

Publicity around the Lambeth Conference next year is going a bit awry; Justin Welby's very well-publicised debacle over rescinded invitations to same-sex spouses of gay bishops is the unwanted gift that keeps giving.

This week the Archbishop was reported in The Times as saying:
“I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.” Goodness, we feel your pain.
It must be extraordinarily hard to be a straight, white, male, married bishop in the Church today.

The Twitter response has been creative.

Here are three:


I do feel a bit of sympathy for him. Being part of the Living in Love and Faith project (the House of Bishops commission on Human Identit…

equal

Image
EQUAL is a new campaign, seeking to enable same-sex couples to marry within the Church of England.

The law currently allows any heterosexual couple living in a parish to marry in their local church (regardless of creed, race, age or - often - previous marital status) whilst a faithful worshipping gay couple are prevented by the same law from celebrating their marriage in a C of E church.

EQUAL seeks to redress this imbalance. It also seeks to enable clergy who want to marry someone of the same sex to do so. And, importantly, it aims to achieve all of this while protecting both the conscience of those who in good faith cannot conduct such marriages, and enabling all clergy who wish to provide this pastoral care.

Usually, I am against signing online letters and things of this nature, but in this case I am glad to have made an exception! This isn't a negative body or a complaint machine: it is a campaign that seeks to bring equality for every person while respecting those who disagr…

ribs to go

Image
The Old Testament reading in the lectionary for the Second Sunday before Lent was from Genesis 2, including these verses:
The Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.The man said,“This is now bone of my bonesand flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’for she was taken out of man.”That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Time was, these words seldom got bandied around in sexuality debates. Now they often join the cohort of texts that are regularly trotted out to show how heterosexuality is God's plan, and gay people are somehow (by implication, by open statement) second best.

I recently heard a sermon that picked up on this; I read others writing on lin…

New Posts Elsewhere...

Image
Apologies for the radio silence...

I've been busy elsewhere!

Today the Church Times has published a two-page spread with a terrifically written-up account of a conversation I had with Stanley Underhill. Click the link to read it.

Stanley is in his 90s, and is a retired Angican priest and also gay. Last year he published his autobiography, Coming out of the Black Country. It's a very moving account of a life lived mostly in secret, with terrible loneliness and shocking medical 'treatments' along the way to 'cure' him of being gay. Now a resident at Charterhouse, he is a delight and it has been a real treat to meet him and to share our stories.

We talked about my story too, and about my book and the hopes we both have to make a difference so that those LGBT+ Christian people who follow us may know more and more of God's love in their lives and in their Church experience.

Thanks to Madeleine Davies at the Church Times for asking us to do these conversations.

Th…

pathways

Image
Oxford Diocese has launched a new diocesan magazine, Pathways, and asked me to contribute a 500-word piece for it on being gay and evangelical. My piece is paired with another by a chap who takes a more conservative view on life. At his age so did I... more conservative than him, I expect. Anyway - click here to read both on the diocesan website - or simply read on for mine...

I can remember exactly where I was the day I realised I needed a new theology. 
A friend in Memphis does work in civil rights theology. He teaches me that when you are an oppressed minority and become aware of it, Jesus is dynamite. Every word Jesus speaks is explosive because it’s about you. It doesn’t matter if it’s about lepers or tax collectors or Canaanite women - it’s about you. You hear a Gospel of life and hope and freedom, and it is God’s promise for you. 
This became real for me on a miserable Tuesday afternoon one February in my early 40s. I suddenly understood I had spent 30 years accepting that as a ga…

fake good news

Image
Months ago, the bishops in the Diocese of Oxford sent out a letter to 1,500 ministers, setting out their thinking on LGBTI+ people in the diocese. I posted my response to it on this site.

Today, the diocesan eNews has informed us that some have replied, expressing grave concerns. The Church Times says 104 serving clerics have signed this letter - mostly evangelical. Fairly inevitably.

The original letter, the evangelical response and Bishop Steven's reply to that are all available via those links.

As I read these various writings, I find myself musing on Galatians. Especially as I got towards the end of the new letter and read this:
We would love our bishops to articulate clearly God’s love for us in helping us see both the attractiveness of deep friendships, but also the appropriate setting for sexual intimacy – namely in marriage between a man and a woman. However, if they are unwilling to do this, we would ask them to recognise the seriousness of the difference between us: advo…

all of them

Image
One of the most moving responses I have seen so far to the Oxford bishops' letter on inclusion came from someone who said that she was surprised and delighted by the way in which the bishops made her feel part of the church by their words. Usually, this kind of official pronouncement makes gay people feel slightly 'other', a separate order of humanity within the church, but here the respondent was grateful to feel like she was genuinely listened to and part of the same church.

That is no small tribute I think to Bishop Steven Croft, who I have personally experienced as someone who is keen to listen and understand. He stands up for LGBTI+ people in the wider church, knowing that the simple promise of 'nothing about us without us' matters. And indeed, I see in the wording of the letter conversations and challenges and journeys and stories that I have witnessed and known of, and that's part of why I welcome it so strongly and am so grateful for it.

Giles Goddard …