I am wondering what the outcome of Wednesday’s take note debate on the House of Bishops’ report is going to be. I’m not thinking so much about the result of the vote and whether or not a majority in at least one of the other two houses votes to refuse to take note. I’m wondering whether a change of direction is possible, towards a recognition of same-sex relationships and the development of an authorised response to this reality.
We arrive at Wednesday’s debate in a very energised, somewhat febrile, but uncertain mood, given everything that has happened since the bishops revealed their Marriage and Same Sex Relationships report on 27 January, just over two weeks ago. There has been an astonishing letter writing campaign asking Synod members not to take note, the Channel 4 reports of the John Smyth/Iwerne camps abuse story, the Oasis Report on church responsibility for LGB mental health issues, and the letter from retired bishops.
Bishops and other synod members arrive at Church House with a churn of feelings and thoughts. This is not the best emotional and mental state to be in when, from my point of view, a question of such intense personal impact is being debated. Views are deeply polarised. Some synod members will be determined to support the bishops whatever the quality of the report. Others will be supporting their deeply held Christian conviction that through the medium of the Bible, God judges and condemns all same-sex desire and intimacy. Yet others will be fighting for a more radical outcome than seems possible – for rejection of the bishops’ report after six years of process that has achieved nothing from the pro-gay perspective. And yes, it is a fight, a battle for survival in the Christian church for those on both sides of the conflict.
This state of affairs has been going on for nearly twenty years. Today, at the beginning of Synod, it looks no closer to achieving resolution. The bishops have been unable to produce a report that takes us any further forward – apart from very successfully motivating the LGBTI organisations and our many supporters to get organised and achieve a unity of voice and purpose.
I’m going to be present outside Church House on Wednesday. I hope I am going to be amongst a host of friends. Together we can make this a day of transformation, both those on General Synod who will speak in the debate and vote at the end, holding an open, positive, creative energy of the deepest hope and trust, and we who will gather outside, bringing our energy into alignment with theirs.
If you are already planning to come, alleluia! If you are still thinking about it, or it hasn’t occurred to you, then be aware now, right now, that your presence on Wednesday will contribute to the corporate energy that will help General Synod towards a moment of radical transformation. It takes some believing, I know, but believe me, it’s possible. Of course it’s possible, because the divine energy of infinite, unconditional love within every heart and soul is gently, oh so subtly urging us into light and love.