flagging up issues of pride

Some of our more traditionalist friends have been struggling to come to terms with Ely Cathedral's decision to fly a rainbow flag during the Ely Pride weekend. It's the kind of thing that (with an inevitable predictability) brings a reaction. On Fulcrum and on Psephizo, Andrew Goddard & Ian Paul both respond by questioning the wisdom of churches using flags and espousing any causes other than the Cross and the Gospel. It's not that it's the Rainbow Flag - all flags create 'us' and 'them' - churches shouldn't do this! Well, that's an interesting point; I (slightly cheekily) wonder if Andrew and Paul will be wearing those divisive and non-Gospel poppies to church on November 11th? And I am tempted to do a full analysis of their harrumphing, but really I think that at this point we all expect each others' posturing and it's not necessary. Otherwise we all get stuck in this cycle...

However, it is fair to call out fakery for what it is.

how do you speak to a gay person?

One of the things that happens in the Church's conversations with/about/to gay people, is that they are rarely conversations with/about/to people.

We are an "issue".

Now this is - of course - completely understandable. If you are straight (and most people are) then homosexuality in the Church, in the family, in the workplace, in life, is an "issue". It may be an issue that comes very close. You may have very good gay friends. A close relative. And you may really want to understand.

But for gay people, things (I speak personally, but I think this works as a pretty good general rule) feel a bit different. My life isn't an issue. It's my life.

The same applies to an Australian. A disabled person. To someone who is left-handed or (God love them) ginger. There may be different distinguishing factors, but we are all people.

It's amazing that this needs to be said, but it really does.

I have watched in horror following the publication of Jayne Ozanne and V…

stories of hope and love

Two similar - and very different - autobiographies have recently hit the bookshops and they both deserve a wide readership.

I was fortunate to hear Jayne Ozanne preach at the University Church, Oxford on the weekend her 'Just Love' volume was published. Jayne took the Gospel passage for the day (two encounters with Pharisees from the end of Mark 2 and beginning of Mark 3, where Jesus declares himself Lord of the Sabbath and then heals on the Sabbath because it is lawful to do good) and spoke powerfully about the love of God which transforms people who have been pushed down and hurt. God's love heals, restores and makes new. She read a passage from her book as she spoke, and it was a terrific mixture of exposition and proclamation of very good news indeed.

Her autobiography is at times simply a rollicking good yarn. It reads like one of the page-turning missionary tales of yore that I would devour as a callow Christian youth. Her story of profoundly trusting faith, of deep…

clear view from queer eye

If you want to get a decent snap shot of how it feel to be gay around the church today, you could do worse than watch the first episode of season two of Queer Eye on Netflix.

Catch up: Queer Eye sees five gay guys come and in a week help transform some poor straight bloke somewhere in Georgia into something like the man he always thought he was. Or wanted to be.

Except...the bloke isn't always straight, it turns out. And in episode one of series two, the Fab Five help a straight woman transform her church hall from an empty shell into a vibrant hub for her community, with the bonus of working with her and her gay son...

In the truck as they go to meet Miss Tammye in Gay, Georgia (yes, there's a town called Gay) the Five talk about their response to helping a church. One says he loves Jesus - it's the church he has issues with. One says he's always had great experiences and love from the church. One can hardly bear it; his upbringing was very religious and he just can&…

Hokey Cokey

The Church of England is enjoying a period of reflection as it prepares new teaching and pastoral documents on human sexuality.

Inevitably, this means that various sides of the debate are enjoying some ecclesiastical Hokey Cokey. Some are putting their left foot in. Others are putting their right foot in. In, out, in out, everything's being shaken all about...

At the beginning of May, the Diocese of Lichfield issued a statement saying they welcomed and honoured LGTB+ people. OK, we know where Lichfield stands then. They recognise there's a national debate, but they are pretty clear where they want that debate to end up. Lichfield is inclusive. Left foot in.

The conservative evangelical Bishop of Maidstone (who, despite his title, isn't limited to Kent, but works with conservative evangelical churches across the country who for various reasons don't feel comfortable with their geographical episcopal oversight) responded to this. Right foot in.

Of the responses to that …

what they say...

News in on The Possibility of Difference, to be published by Kevin Mayhewthis autumn:  I am delighted to announce that prolific writer and former Bishop of Oxford John Pritchard has provided a foreword to the book! 
Bishop John writes:  Why another book? Because this one has the unique gift of being personal, courteous and eminently approachable.  Marcus Green writes as a convinced evangelical who lives with his homosexuality in a relaxed and thoughtful way, loving his Lord and wanting to live in a Big House where there exists the ‘possibility of difference.’  I met Marcus in the underbelly of Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford some time ago and congratulated him on his generous submission to a Church of England report on gay relationships. I asked if he had thought of writing it up in more substantial form. And now he has...
Here are some other reactions that have already come in from those who have seen early copies of the text... This is a measured, compassionate plea for a more humane argum…

exciting possibilities!

The Possibility of Difference - the book - is to be published in September by Kevin Mayhew!
"A measured, compassionate plea for a more humane argument about sexuality in the Church - a model of debate." Archbishop Rowan WilliamsI am so excited about this. As an evangelical, and as a gay man, and being just the wrong side of fifty, I have lived through all sorts of attitudes and responses to gay people in the church... Our debates often, it seems to me, focus in the wrong places and depend upon un-knowables (what does St Paul mean by this word? Does this extra-Biblical text show us?) because we have let a mind-set become established where the whole Bible has only seven or eight texts that are relevant.

Hmm. Evangelicals don't work like that! On anything. Being an Evangelical scholar is about working with the whole of Scripture, knowing the nature and character of God, letting one thing work with another - and if it doesn't work, then it can't be right.  "The chu…