The “unbiblical” future conservatives are determined to resist is an already present reality in the Church of England. The Church already embraces equal marriage because congregations and Christian families embrace their equally married lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex brothers and sisters. I await amendment of the canons and a petition from General Synod to Parliament to remove the quadruple lock, after, of course, the 2000 Lambeth Conference is safely out of the way and the stable door has been firmly bolted.
Many LGBTI people continue to experience rejection when they are treated with anything less than an unconditional welcome by the Church in the name of God whose unconditional love for creation was exemplified in the life and teaching of Jesus the Christ.Tthe Bishop of Maidstone is outlining advice to his clergy that directly contravenes the teaching agreed by the House of Bishops and outlined in the Guidance on Same Sex Marriage.
The House of Bishops effectively hold total control over any attempt in the General Synod to overturn the quadruple lock, revise the marriage canons and change Church of England practice to allow truly equal marriage in church and society. I’ve spent today wondering how comfortable the bishops are with the love that dare not speak its name. They have passed the buck for the moment by setting up a complex, time-consuming process to enable the bishops to write a new teaching document. I want to see change now, ASAP. I don’t want to wait another decade before anything changes. We need to organise now to bring the bishops up to speed by giving them an intensive therapeutic course in recognising prejudice, dealing with anxiety and overcoming internalised homophobia.
People are identifying recent events as signifying the moment when the Church of England’s version of Christianity is being forced to face up to the expectation from within and outside the church that it must become a genuinely inclusive organisation modelling radical equality in gender and relationships in the context of ministry, practice and teaching. Some predict that a tipping point has been reached. What are the significant events that suggest this might be so?
David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, interviewed on BBC Radio 4s Sunday programme last weekend, repeated six times variants of “the law will not change.” He believes that if we work together: “LGBT Christians will work with the rest of the church, we can make that maximum freedom what it ought to be.” But there will not and cannot be maximum freedom until the bishops accept marriage equality. On Facebook, Bishops Pete Broadbent and Alan Wilson had an illuminating exchange about the Canons on marriage law. Bishop Pete claimed that since for the CofE, there is no such thing as same sex marriage, nobody is being prevented from having access to something that doesn't exist.
Yesterday the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote to every primate in the Anglican Communion in advance of the next Primates’ Meeting, which takes place in Canterbury in October. The letter reveals the mindset of the Lambeth Palace team, determined to maintain the unequal status of LGBTI people in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. The letter inflames an already incendiary situation. There is now fury among the Church of England’s LGBTI networks about the content of the report, the way bishops have presented it and the use that is now being made of it. The Archbishop has now ensured LGBTI people and our supporters will approach next week’s Synod debate in a hostile mood.
The House of Bishops report, Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations is in serious danger of drawing us back into the unhealthy, addictive world of conservative evangelicals, the HTB-modelled, Renewal and Reform packaged, ignorant-of-the-God-of-unconditional-love mentality now embedded in the minds of the hierarchy. We HAVE to live from a healthier, more holistic, integrated, holy, deeply authentic place of love, justice, creativity, imagination, depth and truth, in our selves, our hearts and souls and bodies, our relationships, our spirituality, our praying - and our engagement with the church.