Nic Tall, member of C of E’s General Synod & secretary of the General Synod Gender and Sexuality Group, has published a piece on the Via Media site looking at the how conservative evangelicals have been preparing for a structural split in the Church for years. He cites various groups and causes, and of course it all comes to a head over queer people. As ever. Do read his piece. It’s compelling. But please, remember two things. First : These terrible conservative evangelicals who are plotting to ruin everything are very much loved by Jesus. Don’t get me wrong: Do I think they are acting badly? You bet I do. Do I think they forget Jesus as they make their plans? You bet I do. Do I think they throw the Bible out with the bathwater as they plan empire and sit in boardrooms like some kind of ecclesial version of Succession ? You bet I do. But do I think Jesus loves each and every one of them despite all of that? Count on it. If Jesus only loves us when we get it right, we are all in
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Watching the Livestream of General Synod, I suddenly realise just how much of a toll the past few years have taken. Please, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful to everyone there supporting queer people and doing their best to make the Church a better place for us. Thank you. A very special thank you to my own bishop, Steven Croft, for his work and support here. It is so good to be a clergyman in your diocese. But it is hard to watch people debating your life. They talk endlessly about the ‘doctrine of marriage’ because this is what a conservative majority that wants no change does. They make a thing the point when it isn’t the point in order never to have to talk about what actually matters. Every minority knows there is only one question when it comes down to it: Are we as human as you? In church terms, we’re actually talking about a theology of humanity. We’re saying, perhaps you might have noticed, but the Bible actually isn’t a book about marriage. It’s a book about God and people.
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This is the Oxford Sacred service at which I preached on marriage, equality, Jesus and the Bible - in October 2023. The reading is around 18 minutes in, the sermon starts almost exactly at the 20 minute mark. It touches on the things it says it touches on, plus (inevitably) the Church of England and its bishops' current failure to serve LGBTQ+ people. The text I was working from (and occasionally depart from) is below: Jesus, Marriage, Equality & the Bible Evening all. Introduction: opening our Bibles a bit What a time. In the Church, in life, there are all sorts of people who seem to think they have a God-given right to make decisions about what’s OK for us in our our lives. Normally without really talking to us. Often talking over us. If we risk making any of these conversations in any way Bible-focussed, if I ask for a Bible text about queer people, I’m very likely to get Romans 1 or something from Leviticus thrown at me. But seriously, why not Matthew 11.28? 28 ‘Come to