The shocking failure of Anglican Mainstream’s cure for homosexual ‘lepers’

A few weeks before Christmas 2011 Anglican Mainstream announced its intention to stage a conference in London on 27th January to be called: ‘The Lepers Among Us: Homosexuality and the Life of the Church’. 

A number of us involved in Changing Attitude and the LGBT Anglican coalition were outraged by the implication that gay people can be likened to lepers, i.e. diseased, deformed and deserving of social exclusion and death unless ‘cured’.  We felt such a public statement gave succour to every homophobe and gaybasher in the land.  We spread the word and we estimate that as a result a dozen or so complaints were made to the police about the potential incitement to hatred that this conference represented.

Anglican Mainstream’s ludicrous response to police action

Clearly the police took these complaints seriously and Anglican Mainstream, presumably deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, changed the name of the conference to ‘The Pastoral and the Prophetic in conflict?  Homosexuality and the Church’. Oddly, however, their co-sponsors, the ‘CORE’  issues Trust, did not, and consequently there was utter confusion as to what conference exactly it was that those of us who had signed up for it were actually going to be attending.

This shambolic situation was apparent in the two emails sent by Lisa Nolland, the main Anglican Mainstream event organiser, to all participants in the week prior to the conference.  On Monday 23rd January she sent an email referring merely to ‘our conference’ informing us that ‘we have been promised a demonstration by gay activists but we regard this as an opportunity rather than a threat’ and ‘we are not intimidated’.

So not intimidated were Anglican Mainstream that two days later, less than 36 hours before the conference was due to begin, Ms Nolland sent another email at 9 o’clock at night telling us that we would not get in to ‘our conference’ unless we signed a statement promising to ‘behave respectably’ and acknowledged that ‘If I disrupt the proceedings I understand that will be asked to leave and will not be recompensed.  This threatening missive was signed ‘love, Lisa’, a curious and jolting juxtaposition.

Anglican Mainstream’s insensitivity to leprosy

From Anglican Mainstream’s point of view there were then two unfortunate coincidences to compound their pre-conference embarrassment.

Firstly, on the very day of the conference the Church of England Newspaper reported on its front page a story about the film company, Aardman Animations, apologising over a ‘leper slur’ in its forthcoming blockbuster involving Hugh Grant.  The company apologised and said it would remove the offensive reference ‘out of respect and sensitivity’.  The charity, The Leprosy Mission, had organised a campaign arguing that the use of the word leper was derogatory.     

Its national director went on to say that lepers face the triple whammy of disease, disability and discrimination, and the film left unchanged would perpetuate negative stereotypes.  It is difficult to avoid comparing the sensitive and caring response of the film company with the silence of Anglican Mainstream.  It made no such apology for insensitivity and lack of respect when it suddenly changed the conference title without any word of explanation, even to its own supporters.

Secondly, it just so happened that World Leprosy Day this year fell on 29th January, the same weekend as the beknighted conference. Anglican Mainstream was either ignorant of this fact or wilfully decided to remain silent.

A pitiful conference turnout

Far greater embarrassment lay in store for Anglican Mainstream in the actual conference itself, however. I duly arrived with a gay friend at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster to find all of the doors locked and chained except one. Our way through this was blocked by two very large and muscled security men who gave us the once over, demanded to see ID, and then made us sign the ‘love, Lisa’ declaration, before allowing to proceed to the registration desk where our ID was rechecked and the ‘love, Lisa’ form taken from us.

We entered the big main hall to discover not hundreds, not dozens but about just 30 people huddled at the front near the stage. As the day went on it became clear that many of these were not really conference participants as such but were people involved in the administration and delivery of the day who were part of the contributing organisations.  If you take them out, and the four gay people including myself who were there for research purposes, the number of actual supporters was pitifully small, probably just in the teens, a very poor turnout for such a hyped up event in the capital.

Gross over exposure of an ordinary and basically good man

Chris Sugden, chairing the conference, opened proceedings in the manner of a dull and uninspiring headteacher, laying down the law yet again about the ‘love, Lisa’ rules. And we were then quickly on to the star turn, Jim Reynolds, author of the book, ‘The Lepers Among Us’.

Now Jim has a simple message.  I had read his book so I knew this.  I wonder if anyone at Anglican Mainstream really had.  Jim’s message is this: the conservative evangelical churches in Texas where he lives treat gays like lepers.  They exclude them.  They send them off to psychiatrists, psychotherapists and parachurch organisations (Exodus, Living Waters etc) to get ‘cured’ and made ‘normal’ before they will accept them. Jim thinks this is wrong. 

Jim thinks the churches should keep the lepers ‘among us’.  The churches should do the ‘healing’ and the ‘curing’ themselves. Jim works with men struggling with the sin of same sex attraction.  Yes of course he thinks it is still definitely a sin, but by Texan standards his views count as ultraliberal, and Jim has suffered some ostracism at the hands of his coreligionists.

Jim is actually a really nice well meaning bloke. There were, however, three huge problems with his appearance at this conference.

  1. He was massively over-exposed. He was billed to speak for an hour before coffee and an hour afterwards.  Then after lunch he was to speak again in conversation with Paul Perkin, vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise for another 40 minutes.  Jim simply did not have that much to say and found himself repeating things over and over again.  We heard about his marriage difficulties in the 80s four times at least.  There simply was not three hours worth of structured material to deliver.
  2. The old adage about the US and the UK being two nations divided by a common language proved excruciatingly true in this case.  Time and again Jim failed to understand questions that were asked of him. And in some cases the attempt to communicate with him had to be abandoned. Watching Paul Perkin try to interview him was painful.  Paul must have felt that he was drawing teeth, and for Jim too the experience looked profoundly uncomfortable.
  3. Jim’s whole approach is pastoral and full of homespun axioms about what is right and wrong.  Biblical and theological underpinnings to his beliefs were difficult to elucidate. At one point he seemed to quote the story of Sodom in his condemnation of homosexuality.  But he also referred to passages in Ezekiel and Matthew which make clear that the sin of Sodom was a failure to care for the poor, needy and strangers. As I have argued in The Gay Gospels (www.thegaygospels.com) not only does Sodom have nothing at all to do with homosexuality it is also the precursor to Jesus’ commandment to love your neighbour. When I put this to Jim he seemed stumped, and chuntered on about the evils of gay marriage. We drew a similar blank over how anyone now can possibly believe Paul’s apparent claim that homosexuality is caused by idolatry.

Downhill all the way….

After the desultory Perkin-Reynolds interview in the afternoon there was a presentation by barrister Paul Diamond who spoke articulately but appeared to get carried away with his own rhetoric, making absurd generalisations about the police being ‘anti-Christian’.

Then we were on to a management consultant and evangelical church member lecturing us on the causes of homosexuality, though his qualifications to do this remain a mystery. Nature dismissed, it was obviously due to nurture and we heard yet again the well worn discredited thesis of the domineering mother and distant father, which if true should have made every boy brought up in England between 1920 and 1970 gay.

Like Queen Victoria, this speaker seemed unaware of the existence of gay ladies for whose proclivities this thesis is presumably not the explanation. Tea came as a blessed relief and stiffened the sinews for what proved to be the greatest challenge to the will to live.

The good, the bad…….

Mike Davidson, chair of CORE issues, stood up and declared himself ‘healed’ of his homosexuality and claimed he was now an ‘ex-gay’.  I don’t doubt his good intentions, though to my gay eyes he still looked and sounded very gay, but I’ve been wrong before and we all know straight blokes who are a bit camp. Only Mike can say to what his inner lustful fantasies and desires are directed.

The problem was that Mike did not say, and we were left entirely bereft of any idea of what exactly this ‘healing’ consisted in. He then showed an Exodus video in which American ex-gays talked about their experiences.  But the point is that Exodus is a busted flush.  It is in crisis, as the credibility of its claims is undermined by numerous and ongoing high profile revelations of ex-gays who now admit they were never cured at all. Mike’s failure even to comment on the continuing collapse of the ex-gay movement and his pretence that all was well were scandalous.

And the very ugly indeed

We were then treated to what can only be described as a lip-quivering and blazing-eyed rambling rant from Ms Nolland about the evils of sex education. She seemed set on outdoing all previous speakers in the smearing of the LGBT community.  We had already heard about gays as paedophile child molesters, gays as threats to the family and marriage, gays as spreaders of disease.

But now Ms N was going for gold with her bitter denunciation of LGBT organisations, and especially the Terrence Higgins Trust, for producing perverted and obscene curriculum materials intended to corrupt the innocence of children. Apparently gay activists have conned their way into schools to tell kids that ‘eating faeces’ is great sexual fun (Lisa taught us to call this ‘scat’) and to teach them how to do ‘cock and ball torture’ really well (Lisa said we should refer to this as ‘kink’).

Ms Nolland is also an enthusiastic advocate of the spurious slippery slope argument: tolerate homosexuality and we will be engulfed by all manner of perversions and we will drown in vile pornography. She distributed several ‘information’ sheets including a list of the most popular acts advertised and depicted on the internet such as ‘double anal’ in which ‘a woman is penetrated anally by two men at the same time’, ‘multiple men ejaculating onto a woman’s face’, ‘a penis thrust so far down a woman’s throat that she gags’ etc etc.

Ms Nolland seems to be a world class scaremongerer, alarmist and demoniser.  Her presentation was very ugly indeed. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. I suspect that even amongst her own constituency there was embarrassment about a lack of balance which appeared to border on pathological obsession.

A shocking failure

This was a terrible conference from everybody’s point of view. The content was truly terrible for gay people but also terrible for Christian traditionalists. Their position was poorly represented. The insensitivity and lack of charity evident in the day did not make for a pretty sight. 

For Anglican Mainstream also this was a terrible conference. They did not get the support they expected, and the few people who showed up will not have positive memories.   

At the end of the conference Chris Sugden thanked Jim Reynolds, and in what was presumably a seriously misjudged attempt at humour, said that in Oscar Wilde’s story about the picture of Dorian Gray, the picture looked older and older while Dorian himself looked younger and younger. Looking at the very youthful photo in the brochure it was obviously the other way round in Jim’s case. 

It would be hard to imagine a more grossly offensive remark to make to a guest. This toe-curlingly embarrassing social gaffe symbolised the bizarrely inept offensiveness of the entire conference, and arguably of the whole mission of Anglican Mainstream itself.  I hope they will learn from the experience but I am not holding my breath.

Keith Sharpe

Comments

  1. says

    Thank-you (I think!)
    Like most of your readers, I imagine, I was amazed to learn of this event as I thought ‘cures’ had been pretty much laughed out of court. Not that it would have been a laughable experience to have undergone one.
    But it was necessary to have an eye-witness – and to get in early with this account – to prevent Anglican Mainstream attempting ‘the big lie’ as recommended by (was it Goebbels?) of writing the day up as a great success.

    • john hughes says

      What’s coming onstream now that will short-circuit the homosexual agenda is the large and increasing volume of neuroscience that shows with clarity that hormone conditions are such that women make a specific and tremendous contribution to the lives of children, esp. when their younger and that men to do the same esp when they’re older — scientific evidence that undermines the whole equivalency argument of homosexual activists.

      • Erika Baker says

        Not sure what hormone conditions would make women make their children gay, but why would that change anything?
        It makes absolutely no difference why someone is gay. There’s nothing wrong with being gay, its not immoral, regardless of its cause.
        Why would anyone worry?

        What has short-circuited all this clap trap is the fact that most people in society by now know at least one gay person, they may know some gay couples, they may even know gay couple with children.
        And they realise that these people are just as conventional, boring and normal as anyone else.

        That’s why the “homosexualist agenda” has been a success – because people have started to look properly and discovered that there’s actually nothing to see.

        That will not change, regardless of continued rear-guard battles by people who insist on walking through life with their eyes closed.

      • Paul Mc says

        @John Hughes.

        John, I think you are reading the research with one eye. Embryonic endocrinology is not my field but there are a lot of scientific fingers pointing to conditions in the womb as a key factor in determining (or at least strongly influencing), secondary sex characteristics, gender identity and orientation.

        You’ll have to provide evidence for the claim that men can influence hormone levels in their children at puberty. That seems like a mis-interpretation.

        Erika is right – none of the changes anything.

  2. Jeremy Pemberton says

    Thank you, Keith, for giving up the time to go along to this event. I think it is helpful to have reports of these things – even if you do have to sign a “love, Lisa” document.

    I have yet to read any reports anywhere of AM or other supporters of ex-gay therapies acknowledging the crisis at Exodus International. Rather, in today’s papers we are told of the public support being given to the psychologist who ‘treated’ Vincent Strudwick by a number of bishops. They all seem intent on trotting out the usual claims about help for those struggling with same sex attraction.

    I wonder if AM would be willing to have a public dialogue with Changing Attitude about the evidential basis for these, so that we could identify more clearly for the public what it is that they are claiming and on what basis. My own reading of this material has them all leaning heavily on the Jones and Yarborough study, which was all self-reported ‘change’ from a small smaple of men (again, no women), who were, almost to a man, staff members or volunteers involved with ex-gay organisations.

  3. Davis Mac-Iyalla says

    Anglican Mainstream’s interest in homosexuals and sex is what I can never understand. I am not convince that they have an honest and genuine agenda to cure homosexuals if that is, I think they are fighting back to an experience that they have not been able to talk about, what we call “self loathing”

  4. Christopher Bowman says

    keith,
    As stated well done you for giving up valuable time…
    I simply would like to see a cure some ‘types of christianity’ I wonder if a one off to a hypnotherapist would work.. Words fail.

  5. says

    Isn’t funny how we all read things differently. When I saw the title of the conference as:

    ‘The Lepers Among Us: Homosexuality and the Life of the Church’

    It read to me as those ostracized and removed from the community through no fault of their own.

    I thought it surprising as the time…..

  6. says

    I’ve been thinking further on this topic and would like to posit this:

    If a person views homosexuality as sin, then surely sexual reorientation therapy is akin to trying to defeat sin without the victory & power of Jesus.

  7. Laurence C says

    “She distributed several ‘information’ sheets including a list of the most popular acts advertised and depicted on the internet such as ‘double anal’ in which ‘a woman is penetrated anally by two men at the same time’, ‘multiple men ejaculating onto a woman’s face’, ‘a penis thrust so far down a woman’s throat that she gags’ etc etc.”

    None of which appears to have anything at all to do with gay men. If she wants to campaign against extreme porn – straight or gay – and the exploitation/trafficking of the performers which may be involved, then good for her. I would also agree that sex education should be age-appropriate. But what was the relevance of describing these practices at an ‘ex-gay’, ‘healing’ conference, even allowing for her over-lubed slippery slope arguments?

    • Keith Sharpe says

      No relevance at all, of course. This was just rabble rousing.

      To the extent that there was any clear rationale there to elicit I think it might be this:

      once society abandons heteronormativity anything goes and pornography of all kinds will flourish and corrupt all men and women willy nilly (so to speak). The frontier therefore between an ordered society governed by Biblical values and unfettered debauchery lies in the social disapproval and suppression of homosexuality.

      This might seem a little hard on gays but it isn’t because we now know they can be cured of their sinful sexual orientation and then live happily as a normal person in accordance with ‘family values’. If they wilfully choose not to do this they must take the consequences.

      It’s utter nonsense of course, and extremely dangerous, for everybody.

      • Charlie Molony says

        As well versed as Ms Nolland appears on her hard-core pornography i fear she may have over looked a niche that may undo her;
        “Ms Nolland is also an enthusiastic advocate of the spurious slippery slope argument: tolerate homosexuality and we will be engulfed by all manner of perversions and we will drown in vile pornography”
        Which i feel rather overlooks the Victorians and their pioneering creativity with the emergent photographic devices of the era. After all homosexuality was illegal but that didn’t stop them being the first to photograph fellatio, did it now?
        Oh and thank you for bringing these rather sad characters to the attention of a wider audience now we can all have a laugh at their expense.

  8. Paul Pascoe says

    Heartening that it was such a bad conference. Well done, and thank you for staying the distance and letting us all know about it. Let us all hope that they are discouraged from putting on another.

  9. says

    ‘he still looked and sounded very gay’.

    So, Keith can you clarify how a person’s sexual orientation looks and sounds? I mean, is it the same as a black person listening the DJ Tim Westwood and saying he sounds black?

    Given Changing Attitudes sterling efforts to destroy the terrible stereotyping of gay behaviour (if there is such a thing), I’m just wonder how Mike Davidson’s same-sex attraction was registered as unchanged in your mind by the way he looks and sounds.

    • Keith Sharpe says

      If you read the text carefully you will see I make clear this was merely a personal impression based on my perception of Mike’s voice and mannerisms in the context, I might add here now, of forty years living in the gay community. And of course implicit in his talk of being an ex-gay is the logical implication that he was a gay man before the ‘cure’.

      I also stress that only Mike can say whether his inner fantasies and desires are now no longer directed towards males. The key point is that he did not say. He did not explain at all what he meant by ‘ex-gay’, nor what exactly he had been ‘healed’ or ‘cured’ of. This was compounded by his failure to make any reference at all to the crisis at Exodus as they are forced to acknowledge that previous claims of cures are in many (most/all?) cases false.

  10. Richard Ashby says

    Interesting that Peter Ould, who was so defensive of the title when this conference was first announced has completely omitted and ignored Keith’s section on ‘Anglican Mainstream’ and ‘Core Issues’ use of the word ‘leper’ and their failure to apologise for the offence caused.

    • Keith Sharpe says

      It is still remarkable though, Richard, that Peter Ould is willing to commend to his readers what he calls ‘a devastating critique’ of an organisation which appears to espouse conservative views similar to his own. Far from coming to their defence he adds his own criticisms and really puts the boot in to Anglican Mainstream. My enemy’s enemy…………..?!

      • Richard Ashby says

        Yes indeed. Although debating with Peter on his blog is really a waste of time and energy, I do sometimes wonder whether he doth protest too much.

        • says

          No idea what “doth protest” is insinuating. Perhaps you’d like to spell it out.

          And as for being a waste of time debating with me, given the fact I carry on constructive conversations on my site with very many “liberals” (for want of a better word”, perhaps we might just open ourselves up to the possibility that when it comes to you and me dialoguing, the issue might not actually be with me…

          • Richard Ashby says

            I am also interested to see that there is little or no refernece to female homosexuality. Yes, I know that Queen Victoria is said not to have believed that wome didn’t do that sort of thing. So one has to ask why it is that (some) ‘straight’ men find the whole male homosexual thing so fascinating and why it matters o much to them. It seems clear to me that there are some very deep fundamental taboos at stake here. Issues of dominance and subservience, masculinity and femininity, role models, power inheritance and self esteem. A penetrated male is less than male and takes the role of the female. The Turks sodomised their fallen enemies on the battle field, thus expressing their contempt and their victory over them. In prison so called ‘straight’ men sodomise the weaker to establish their dominance. Historically, in our patriarchal Judeo-Christian ssociety the men have the power and leadership roles. Women are the receivers of the seed and the bearer of children. Women’s part in the creation of children was unknown and the decription of Mary as ‘God Bearer’ limits her role to one of passivity.

            So this is why the issue is so closely linked to that of women’s role in the church and the current debate about women bishops. Both upset the conventional norms of society, historical assumptions and deep subconscious insecurties. Vert few outside the fascist fringe believe that black people are less than human any longer or should be denied equal rights and opporrtunities, similarly the role of women has been transformed in the past couple of generations though there is still quite some way to go. I remain optimistic that something similar is happening to the role and place of gltb people in western society. Anglican Mainstream, ex-gays and the like are indeed fighting a loosing battle against historical and societal trends which will in the end win out. The Church mutters on the fringes an irrelevance and ignored. And ‘conferences’ such as this speak to a diminishing few.

  11. Erika Baker says

    I think the porn references are extremely relevant, because people who are capable of double anal with a woman are actually bisexual rather than gay. And if more “gay” men realised that they might be bisexual too, this whole silly ex-gay movement would be blown out of the water within seconds. If you can truly “change” you were bisexual to start with. If you’re truly gay or lesbian, you cannot change.
    And unless everyone understands bisexuality better, this kind of torture will still be offered to gay people.

    • says

      It’s my belief that, despite everything, there is only sexuality: homo-, hetero-, bi- and so forth are attempts to pigeon-hole people the better to deal with the complexities of sexuality. Unfortunately the social history of sexuality demonstrates the urge to control it by all human institutions, particularly religions, and the consequent division of sexuality along the familiar lines is part of this control; if there are prescribed norms of sexuality, proscription is implicit and uncomplicated to carry out.

      The problem is, I think, essentially to do with people’s difficulty in coming to terms with sexuality as such; questions of what kind of sexuality are smoke-screens to disguise this basic failure.

      • Keith Sharpe says

        Good point, Rashid, though I would want to be wary of any suggestion that we are all polysexual really. I don’t believe that to be the case.

        I found myself to be sexually interested in my own sex and not at all sexually interested in the opposite sex from a very young age. I had no choice in the matter and I suspect this is pretty much true for most homosexuals and indeed for most heterosexuals.

        Christian homophobes are often keen to emphasise the ‘fluidity’ of sexual orientation so that they can say to gay people : it’s your choice, you could choose to be straight if you wanted.

        • Erika Baker says

          Keith,
          this poorly understood fluidity is precisely why I think it’s so important that bisexuality is properly understood by everyone who has a stake in this debate.

  12. William Fisher says

    Sometimes it’s best just to let people rip, and they will show themselves up in their true colours. That’s certainly what Anglican Mainstream seems to have done on this occasion.

  13. Paul Mc says

    Thanks Keith. That was very informative. The low attendance is a key message – IMO a sign of increasing scepticism or indifference on the ground (although not higher up, judging by Lord Carey’s 2nd ill-judged intervention in an ongoing legal case).

    I arrived at 6pm outside the conference on last Friday evening intending to make some kind of protest but of course, the start time had been moved from the published 6.30. I asked to speak to someone inside. After waiting about 20mins, Mike himself came out. He brought me in from the cold which was kind. I’m sure he was wary.

    We had a nice chat about Ireland as I’m from the North where Core Issues is based. I spoke about my mother and about reading out Psalm 139 at her funeral. I was making a point. I didn’t want to harangue the guy re: other disputed Biblical texts or with my knowledge of change therapy efficacies. He knows all those things but I fear, has the same cognitive dissonance to the facts as others – i.e. change is unproven and can be harmful. He had already heard from the guys from Rainbow Project in Northern Ireland at the conference the previous week.

    Instead, I thought if I leave him with just one thought, it would be my mother’s love of this Psalm both before and after she found out I was gay. The words of the Psalm are worth repeating here:

    13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
    15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
    16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    As a scientist, my take on this is that God knows when someone is gay or otherwise and it goes back to the womb and even further, much much further. If human neurobiologic entities have anthing to do with sex and gender and orientation then these are things originating in life on this planet many millions of years ago. The parts of our DNA, that ‘secret place’, that influence such outcomes are literally ‘woven together in the depths of the earth’.

    I asked him if he would read the Psalm and also Matthew 19:12 where it clearly states Jesus knows whether someone has attractions or gender identity other than the normative. So what he and others feel, is not just temptation or sin or because humanity is ‘fallen’, it is the fabric of us.

    That’s my take on the Core Issue Conference.

    • Keith Sharpe says

      Sorry to hear you missed out on protesting, Paul, but as you can see the conference was a self-destruct operation without our having to do anything. For Anglican Mainstream this was an own goal of colossal magnitude. They have substantially weakened their own credibility.

      As I have written, Mike seemed a man of good intentions, and hopefully your discussion with him will bear fruit. For my money the whole of Matthew Ch 19 is magnificently uplifting for LGBT people, for reasons I have tried to explain in the book ‘The Gay Gospels.’ I had not thought about Psalm 139 in this context but can see why you find it moving.

  14. says

    Keith,

    Pity that your ‘personal impression of his voice and mannerisms’ or ‘gay-dar’ reading was only intended to cast doubt on the reality of Mike’s testimony of a cure.

    ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’ declared the Psalmist. He also admitted, ‘I was born in sin and sharpen in iniquity’. Fortunately, the Equality Act of 4000BC ensures that his couldn’t mean protected characteristics.

    ‘Thou thoughtest

    • Keith Sharpe says

      As I said before, David , the problem was precisely that Mike did not give ‘a testimony of a cure’. He gave no explanation at all. He was gay before the cure and now is an ‘ex-gay’. This is not a testimony. There was nothing for me to cast doubt on. If you check out his blog, which I have now done, the cure appears to be that he loves himself more than he did. He makes no reference to his current sexual interests.

    • William Fisher says

      The Psalmist – whoever he was – said that HE was born in sin and shapen in iniquity, whatever that is supposed to mean. He didn’t say that everyone else was.

      • says

        Ah, so the first quote applies universally, but the second to the Psalmist alone, even though it resonates with Paul’s description of the human state: ‘We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.’ Romans 7:14 and the whole thrust of his argument regarding human depravity without re-birth by the Holy Spirit. Even Christ’s own declaration to Nicodemus accords with this, so how is this not universal to fallen man?

        • William Fisher says

          Frankly, I think that you can do, in a general way, pretty much anything that you want with the psalms. After all, they’re only psalms. If people find inspiration in a particular psalm or feel that it says something valuable to them in their particular situation, then so much the better.

          As for human depravity, I’m sure that we can find many examples of that, but that all of humanity is totally depraved is not a proposition that I can take seriously, since my own experience tells me otherwise.

          • says

            ‘After all, they’re only psalms.

            So you reduce the psalms to mere personal significance. Psalms which Christ identified as the prophetic voice of the Holy Spirit :
            He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ Matt. 22:43.

            My comment on human depravity was qualified by the words, ‘without re-birth by the Holy Spirit’. The etymology of depravity is ‘from de- “completely” (see de-) + pravus “crooked.” As Jeremiah said: ‘the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked’ (Jer. 17:9)

            Without Christ, may indeed know what is right and perform externalisms that seem virtuous, yet conceal our self-congratulatory motives. As with the rich young ruler, we can meet those who appear outwardly noble, and run towards Christ asking,’ ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’. However, without the grace of the Holy Spirit, they balk as he did when the precious, concealed darling sin is exposed. In his case it was wealth, in others, it is their pride in their own righteousness apart from the cross.

  15. ingrid says

    I am deeply saddened by this ‘report’ of the conference. I had the opportunity to attend.

    I understood the focus was on challenging the church not to shun people who struggle with sexual issues. Rather the church needs to be a place where people who actively and personally choose to ‘come out’ of the homosexual community and to learn to live a heterosexual lifestyle can do so with the support of the church.
    (It seems that people can enter into the gay community but why are so many hostile to allow these individuals to leave as freely as they entered?)

    If you had checked out before reacting – you would have learned that it was people walking out of the gay lifestyle that requested the book be called the Lepers Among Us – not the author. It had nothing to do with insinuating that homosexuals are contagious with disease. Rather it has to do with how individuals feel within when they enter churches.

    It is deep tragedy to see how this ‘report’ has been used simply as an opportunity to inflict personal attacks on people and services that have a deep concern for the welfare of others. This sorely discredits this service and I am sure has raised some peoples’ emotions.

    • Keith Sharpe says

      For most homosexuals, Ingrid, it is not a question of ‘choosing’. Their gayness is involuntary. The current crisis at Exodus suggests that attempts to change gay people’s sexual orientation are futile and damaging. It was scandalous that the relevant conference presenters said nothing about this.

      Jim’s simple message was clear, and I hope I have summarised it fairly in the report. But that is not the problem. The problem was the conference organisers allocating 2hours 40 mins to it.

      It does not matter why the book was called ‘The Lepers Among Us’. If a similarly offensive title had been used about black people or jews it would have been no excuse in law to say ‘somebody else told me to use it’. It does liken gay people to lepers and that is offensive and disgraceful for reasons that I state clearly in the report.

      The report makes no personal attacks. It simply describes what the presenters and organisers said and did.

      • Erika Baker says

        And I reiterate what I said above – orientation does not change. People who can “change” have been bisexual from the start, meaning they are physically and emotionally capable of loving people of either sex.
        100% homosexuals and lesbians cannot “change” orientation. Bisexuals can and sometimes do decide to focus only on potential partners from the opposite sex.

        The phenomenon of bisexuality is really only understood by bisexuals and is often despised by straights (who get their ideas of bisexuality from the porn industry) and by gays (who believe bisexuals destroy the theory of orientation being fixed).

        If all of us could understand it better, it would help a lot of straights who are still determined that they can “cure” gay people, and it would help “cured gays” to realise what has actually happened in their lives.
        We could then just let 100% gays and lesbians lead the life God has given them and enjoy the loves he has so generously gifted to them.

    • William Fisher says

      Ingrid, you seem to have conflated two different things. People are free to enter or leave any lifestyle or community as and when they choose, but changing their sexual orientation is quite another matter. If there is any hostility in this regard, it is towards those who try to make gays uncomfortable with their sexual orientation and to lead them up the garden path by encouraging them to strive for a goal, i.e. change of orientation, which is at best highly unlikely of attainment. People with a homosexual orientation are, of course, free to live a heterosexual lifestyle if they want to, although I would advise against it and I can’t see any more reason for them to do so than for heterosexual people to live a homosexual lifestyle. Certainly I would regard ANY kind of pressure – psychological, moral, religious or whatever – on them to do so as downright immoral.

        • Keith Sharpe says

          Fret not, Richard. You have not lost out. There is no such thing.

          The phrase is mostly used for ideological purposes by those keen to spread the falsehood that homosexuality is a perverse individual choice.

          • William Fisher says

            I think that it would perhaps be more accurate to say that there are as many possible homosexual lifestyles to choose from as there are heterosexual ones. THE homosexual lifestyle is a myth. Homosexuality itself is not a lifestyle, but a sexual orientation, just as heterosexuality is.

    • Jeremy P says

      Ingrid –

      I wan’t to pick you up on one point, if I may. I came out – first to myself and to God, and then to other people (my wife and children and my family and eventually everyone). But I didn’t come out into a “gay community”. I never have. I don’t think I ever will. Apart from anything else I am middle-aged and would look like most people’s grandfather if I tried to! I live in a normal community with my partner. We shop, socialise, meet and do everything with our friends, only one of whom is self-affirmingly gay. I have spent an evening with twelve people and we were the only gay couple. So what is this “gay community” that I am supposed to live in?

      The truth is it doesn’t exist for lots of gay people. Sometimes I may go to gay bars and meet with gay friends, but it is not any part fo the normal rhythm of life. I’m glad to be gay, and glad to live a normal life. Why some bits of the church have so much trouble with it beats me. Try setting gay lives in the normal ordinary boring settings (not the kind of thing Lisa Nolland is going on about) and you will have a better idea of why we really, really, really object to the kind of social characterisation that you have, perhaps unthinkingly, assumed.

      • Erika Baker says

        I think this is a really important point! Most of us don’t live in a particular ghetto but in normal streets and villages where we go to normal churches, join normal clubs, our children go to normal school and we socialise with friends who are characterised by the fact that they are our friends, not by their sexuality.

  16. JohnB says

    Keith
    Thank you for your report and subsequent comments.

    I am currently writing a book about my experiences as a community activist. One chapter is titled “the Gay Conundrum”. I wrote this add on following my visit to the conference (sorry btw I did not get to meet you):

    On 27 January 2012, I attended a conference titled “The Pastoral and the Prophetic in Conflict? Homosexuality and the Church”, sponsored by CORE (www.core-issues.org) and Anglican Mainstream (www.anglican-mainstream.net). I went with some reticence but also with an expectation that I would learn something useful. I was not disappointed although I was sorry more did not attend and that Pink News readers (perhaps not surprisingly) viewed it in a negative light. I learnt more about subjects like the legal context, research findings and what is being taught these days in schools, not just about homosexuality but sexual ethics in general, although a substantial amount of what was said confirmed what I knew or suspected already. What I found touching was the desire to engage with and love gay folk, realising the church has often failed in this aspect, with ourselves being available to people struggling with “sin” of any sort and “broken” before God. It was felt we needed to balance the need for discipline and to disciple with having fellowship with those same people and where all are able to share freely. We need to recognise we are all sinners and there is more sin around in the church that is overlooked or not spoken about, e.g. addiction to Internet pornography, than anything to do with the “sin” of homosexuality. I went away thinking about the text (mentioned toward the start): “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1v14).

    • Keith Sharpe says

      Thanks for this, John, and good luck with the book.

      I’m afraid the ‘desire to engage with’ gay people is solely in order to persuade them that they are inherently sinful and disordered and will only be accepted fully by God and His Church if they pretend to be something they are not. The whole concept of ‘same-sex strugglers’ is vacuous and very damaging. You might as well call me a ‘brown eyes struggler’ because I would be so much more socially acceptable and pleasing to God if I had blue eyes.

      Anglican Mainstream’s attitude towards gay people is certainly not love.

      As Paul Mc comments above, Matthew 19:12 shows us clearly that Our Saviour understood very well the involuntary and unchangeable nature of our condition, and its sin-neutral status. There are good homosexuals and wicked homosexuals, good heterosexuals and wicked heterosexuals. The orientation is irrelevant.

      • says

        ‘Matthew 19:12 shows us clearly that Our Saviour understood very well the involuntary and unchangeable nature of our condition, and its sin-neutral status.’

        In the scripture, there is no assumption of sexual orientation towards either gender on the part of those described as eunuchs. It would be presumptious to press these verses into the service of any orientation.

        There was no need for Christ to address the disposition of eunuchs to engage in sexual activity. The word ‘eunuch’ does not connote intrinsic homosexuality.

        • Keith Sharpe says

          What did Jesus mean by the third type of eunuch then, David?

          The first are voluntary eunuchs – those who have chosen celibacy.

          The second are actual eunuchs whose testicles have been cut off – made by man

          And the third ‘who are so from their mother’s womb?’. Many biblical scholars believe these to be physiologically normal men who have no sexual interest in women and who will not therefore reproduce, and whom Jesus seems to excuse from the teachings on heterosexual marriage. ‘All men cannot receive this teaching’ ‘He that is able to receive it , let him receive it.’

          • says

            Christ had just established a stringent principle regarding the morality of re-marriage after divorce. The disciples countered that, in the light of his stern teaching, it was better to avoid marriage than fall foul of his judgment on re-marriage of a divorced woman.

            The disciples conclusion about pre-emptively avoiding marriage could only be valid for those those for whom sexual union holds no attraction. This hardly describes homosexuality, unless that falls short of sexual union in some way.

            You rightly indicate that Christ specified three types of eunuch, all of whom had no need for a sexual partnership. Sexual orientations are not mutually exclusive. If a man has no sexual interest in women, we should neither automatically presume him to have a sexual interest in men, nor both genders, nor that Christ meant this. Especially, when the text focuses on the precautionary avoidance of sexual union.

        • Paul Mc says

          David, I note you make several assumptions of your own below.

          i.e. in stating “If a man has no sexual interest in women, we should neither automatically presume him to have a sexual interest in men, nor both genders, nor that Christ meant this”. that is all your own words and not that of the Gospel.

          I don’t presume to know exactly what is meant by eunuch in the context (contemporary Greek sources such as Herodotus and Joesephus are inconclusive) but the verse can be read as saying that omnisicent and loving God can easily distinguish between men with attractions towards women and those that do not.

      • JohnB says

        Thank you for your thoughts Keith.

        I only came across Anglican Mainstream and Core Trust less than 2 weeks ago and don’t feel yet in a position to comment fully. I went to the conference to gain insight into a subject that has wide ramifications from a pastoral perspective and for Christians with more traditional views (I count myself among them) who wish to fully engage with the community.

        I agree if the ‘desire to engage’ with gay people is soley to persuade them that they are sinful then that is a wrong motive. From my perspective, the conference was weakest in addressing how we deal with folk who are in a loving, stable same-sex relationship who want to be fully involved in the life of the church. Where it was stronger, I feel, especially with the key note speaker (who I agree did tend to repeat himself) was how as broken people we should deal with others who are borken or struggling with whatever issue it happens to be (my particular ministry is dealing with the socially disadvantaged and folk with mental health issues).

        I asked a question on the day based on ICorinthians5 about the way the church should approach folk engaged in sinful behaviour, and here some would see same sex cohabiting couples coming into that behaviour, and it wasn’t properly answered.

        I just checked out Matthew 19:12 in the KJV and note the word used is eunuch. I am not a Greek scholar but am prepared to accept our Lord may have had in mind gay folk when he spoke these words. But it was in the context of his earlier remarks about divorce and in response to his disciples question “it is not good to marry”.

        Paul Mc is quite right about good and bad any orientation and that is how I find it and deal with folk. The challenge I face is doing so and being true to the faith. While I have listened to all the arguments and counter-arguments about whether or not the Bible condemns homosexuality and accept it may be inconclusive, I still keep coming back to “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” Genesis 2v24. It was this our Lord was alluding to in the earlier part of his discourse (Matthew 19:4-6).

        But thanks for getting back to me Keith and sorry again I did not get to speak to you on the day. God bless you.

        • JohnB says

          Jim

          It occured to me that on the day the Sodom story was raised and is also referred to in this thread. Not sure if this helpful or not but in my book I did write on this …

          The destruction, as a result of God’s judgement, of Sodom and Gomorrah, is one of the Bible passages people often refer to when arguing (for and against) the notion that God regards sodomy (sexual activity between two men) as a sin. The practice of sodomy by sodomites (actual word used – which, interestingly, Strong’s dictionary translates as a quasi-sacred male prostitute) is referred to (always negatively) five times in the Bible, all outside the main story in Genesis 18 and 19 (Deuteronomy 23v17, 1Kings 14v24, 15v12, 22v46, 2Kings 23v7). While the attempt by some of Sodom’s residents to rape Lot’s guests would have been a heinous crime if they had succeeded, it is not clear whether sodomy was the main issue that God had in mind when he told Abraham he was going to destroy the city because of its wickedness. Possibly not, for elsewhere (Ezekiel 16v19) we learn the sin of Sodom was pride, gluttony, idleness and a neglect of the poor and needy (to merely say it was inhospitality seems weak), although Jude 1v7 suggests that homosexuality may have been an issue. These texts demonstrate that all the “gay texts” should be considered contextually and carefully when seeking to understand whether homosexual relationships are acceptable or not from a Bible perspective.

          • Keith Sharpe says

            Exactly, John. Precisely the same point made in my book, The Gay Gospels.

            Another important piece of textual evidence is this: when the townsmen of Sodom come hammering on Lot’s door demanding to know the strangers, Lot does NOT say ‘do not do this because it is an abomination’, or even ‘do not do this because it is a forbidden form of sex’. What Lot says is: ‘do nothing to these men for they have come under the shelter of my roof’. Genesis 19:8.

            Lot is solely concerned with the outrageous flouting of norms of hospitality, or as I have argued above, transgression of Jesus’ commandment to love the neighbour as oneself, here in embryonic form in the OT.

            It is a cruel irony that the Christian Church has been guilty of sodomite behaviour towards gay people through centuries of persecution, torture and execution. In my view a statement of apology and regret along the lines of the crusades, slavery and the inquisition is long overdue.

          • JohnB says

            Thanks for your latest comments Keith. Like you, I see the importance of looking at the theology, which imho is very important when trying to “come to a view”.

            I had a few minutes and decided to check out your “gay gospels” and listened, with interest, to your Chicago broadcast. Sometime it might be good for us to compare notes. I was particularly interested on your thoughts concerning “the disciple who Jesus loved”. It is a new take for me (like many, I assumed it applied to the apostle John). I have a long list of books to read but I hope I might get to read yours.

            I want to quickly backtrack if I may. In your reflections on the conference, some of which I concur with, you make the statement “this was a terrible conference from everybody’s point of view”. Well actually, while I thought the conference was a bit strange and disappointingly may not have given much by way of hope to gay folk in stable, committed relationships (like yourself?), I actually saw it in a much more positive light.

    • Jon Dixon says

      “I went to the conference to gain insight into a subject that has wide ramifications from a pastoral perspective and for Christians with more traditional views (I count myself among them) who wish to fully engage with the community.”

      I have to say I’m perplexed by this comment. If you wanted to ‘gain insight’ and ‘engage with the community’ (is there a ‘gay community’ – in 55 years as a gay man I’ve never found such a thing?) why didn’t you simply take the time to talk to some gay people rather than choosing to attend a conference organised by a group noted for (indeed pretty much defined by) their deep and venomous hostility toward members of that ‘community’? Would your first step towards ‘engagement’ with, say, the ‘black community’ have been to attend a conference organised by the BNP entitled ‘The beasts among us’? Of course not. I fear that until thoughtful Christians such as yourself learn to recognise groups like Anglican Mainstream as what they are – your equivalent of the BNP – and take steps to disown them and stop facilitating and legitimising the viciousness and hatred of their words and actions with honeyed words and cant about ‘the desire to engage with and love gay folk’ there seems little profit for either side in any ‘engagement’. Sadly.

      • Erika Baker says

        I agree, Jon, but if you are a conservative member of a conservative church, chances are you simply don’t know any gay people. They’re hardly likely to come out to you. So once you’re ready to take a first step it’s not all that easy to know where to start. And the assumption that you might meet all kinds of people at such a conference is valid – seems there were almost as many gay participants there as genuine straight participants who were not part of the organising team.

      • JohnB says

        Hi Jon
        My job title for what it is worth is “community activist” and also a “minister”, albeit non-Anglican. That means I’m active full time in the community, mostly outside the church, and I can call myself what I like because I work for myself. The community I work with includes all sorts; a few are gay and some are seeking to come to a better understanding of “gay issues”.

        We may have to agree to disagree about Anglican Mainstream. Until a couple of weeks ago I did not know about them although looking at thier website it is likely they are more in line with my thinking on many matters than many groups.

        I do engage with gay folk and want to understand more; also I find some of what people say, who share many of my theological perspectives, about homosexuality unhelpful and ungracious.

        I went to the conference to learn and I did. There are still questions and my journey is ongoing.

        For what it is worth, I am also an author and about to publish a book: “Outside the camp – reflections of a communiy activist”. It it includes a chapter on homosexuality and going to the conference and joining threads like this help inform the content. I will try to make know details.

  17. Richard Ashby says

    I am also interested to see that there is little or no refernece to female homosexuality. Yes, I know that Queen Victoria is said not to have believed that wome didn’t do that sort of thing. So one has to ask why it is that (some) ‘straight’ men find the whole male homosexual thing so fascinating and why it matters o much to them. It seems clear to me that there are some very deep fundamental taboos at stake here. Issues of dominance and subservience, masculinity and femininity, role models, power inheritance and self esteem. A penetrated male is less than male and takes the role of the female. The Turks sodomised their fallen enemies on the battle field, thus expressing their contempt and their victory over them. In prison so called ‘straight’ men sodomise the weaker to establish their dominance. Historically, in our patriarchal Judeo-Christian ssociety the men have the power and leadership roles. Women are the receivers of the seed and the bearer of children. Women’s part in the creation of children was unknown and the decription of Mary as ‘God Bearer’ limits her role to one of passivity.

    So this is why the issue is so closely linked to that of women’s role in the church and the current debate about women bishops. Both upset the conventional norms of society, historical assumptions and deep subconscious insecurties. Vert few outside the fascist fringe believe that black people are less than human any longer or should be denied equal rights and opporrtunities, similarly the role of women has been transformed in the past couple of generations though there is still quite some way to go. I remain optimistic that something similar is happening to the role and place of gltb people in western society. Anglican Mainstream, ex-gays and the like are indeed fighting a loosing battle against historical and societal trends which will in the end win out. The Church mutters on the fringes, an irrelevance and ignored. And ‘conferences’ such as this speak to a diminishing few.

  18. Patrick Gillan says

    It’s been on my mind all day to write you but just catching up with myself! Anyway we where met at the church by protestors and the BBC but beforeI could introduce myself the vicar came flying out and ushered us into the church! I still think he was hiding in the porch looking out for us!! The Texan Pastor spoke very softly and was in fact quite gracious even though his message of steering homosexuals towards heterosexuality was the reason the church was packed! After the sermon the Vicar thanked the newspaper for the publicity that brought so many to hear Jim Reynolds I was at this point able to remind the vicar that thousands of people also learned you can be evangelical and Gay without needing therapy and can be be quite happy!! The question and answer session was equally packed with my supporters all two of them applauding every syllable that came out my mouth! For the first time in the history of the church a Gay Man stood up and said it’s ok to be Gay and Christian and actually I don’t need therapy thank you very much. After this I rumbled on in-between applause from my two supporters before being told by the vicar to give other people a chance to ask a question as I was having lunch with the speaker! Jim came to lunch with his assistant Mike and the founder of core issues trust who funded the event. I took an instant dislike to the founder of this organisation and got the chance to repeat the slanderous statements on his website which made him very uncomfortable and difficult for him to chew his lamb as I sent question after question. His reply was he had not seen the article on his website,LIER!! I said to him that 98% of the population would disagree with his views and that eventually his views would be a WHISPER IN THE WIND. That was my killer blow! I would have kicked his arse from here to lands end if I had had the chance but thought best not to! So it’s done but the campaign continues and I won’t stop until we evangelical Gay Christians are treated equally in the same way as everyone else
    Sent from

  19. Patrick Gillan says

    My former comment was an extract sent to a number of friends in my local area. Jim Reynolds came to my Town .tunbridge Wells Kent on Sunday 30th January.

  20. Patrick Gillan says

    On Sunday 29th January I along with my partner was invited to hear Jim Reynolds speak at a conservative Anglican church in Tunbridge Wells Kent. After doing some research into Jim Reynolds and his association with Core Issues Trust I became alarmed and contacted my friend who invited me to the event and requested he speak to the Vicar. It turned out the Vicar had not done his research but insisted the event go ahead. I made the decision to contact the local paper and within a few days my face and comments where plastered all over the front pages. The BBC picked up what was happening and broadcast the story on air. On the day of the event we where met with protestors and media outside the church as the story of the homophobic pastor spread. The church inside was packed and after a brief introduction by the vicar Jim got up to speak. To be perfectly honest his talk was quite disappointing and not what I expected. The question and answer session was a bit more lively however Jim was quite clever in dodging the important questions and it all seemed a bit of a damp squid. However all was not lost as I had been invited to lunch with Jim and his associate pastor as well Mike Davidson from Core Issues Trust. Jim and I chatted and I found him to be quite gracious if not misguided in his views. My partner normally reserved on these occasions put a question to Jim that brought everything back into focus he asked, If scientists discover the Gay Gene would he (Jim) change his views? Jim replied no he would NOT! Mike Davidson was a harder nut to crack and when I challenged him on the slanderous statements on his website in relation to Gay Marriage published by Ms Nolland he claimed to know nothing about it! I also have to say I found this man sinister and despite his claims he was no longer Gay he did admit to the odd homosexual thought! Some of my more conservative Christian friends where equally as unimpressed with Jim and his mob as I was but more so with Core Issues and when one of the church members challenged Mike to tone down his website the response from Mike was mute to say the least. So what now? Well I have done the Radio interviews and I am planning to set up a group in the South East to support Gay Christians like myself and campaign against these kind of events. Any advice you guys can give me would be most welcome. I may be the last openly Evangelical Christian in Kent but I wont be go down without challenging the right to be who I am. And I wont be stigmatised as a leper!

    Patrick Gillan

    • Keith Sharpe says

      Thanks for this account, Patrick.

      You are most certainly not the last Evangelical Christian in Kent. Check out the website of the LGBT Anglican Coalition (www.lgbtac.org.uk) for the gay evangelical member groups. You could also join Changing Attitude of course – easily done at this website!

      • Patrick Gillan says

        Hi Keith, thanks for that! I think I may join this group. The problem I have is that there are no groups in my area the nearest probably an hour away. We need representation in West Kent and East Sussex so How do I get one set up? I understand I can set one up and as I have a wide network of friends and associates in church and Local Council it should not be too much of a problem. But I need to know more. Advice welcome please!

  21. says

    Richard,

    ‘there are some very deep fundamental taboos at stake here. Issues of dominance and subservience, masculinity and femininity, role models, power inheritance and self esteem.’

    It’s strange that in Cuban society, it is only the sexually submissive homosexual that reaps contempt, the sexually dominant participant for all orientations is applauded as proof that one has ‘cojones’.

    Dr. Miguel De La Torre writes: ‘By the eighteenth century, the supposed prevalence of homosexuality among the Amerindians was assumed. Like other “primitives” of the world, the typical Amerindian was regarded as a homosexual and an onanist, who also practiced cannibalism and bestiality. These sins against nature threatened the institution of the patriarchal family and by extension, the very fabric of civilized society.’

    ‘Skewed sex ratios made black males the targets of the white master who as bugarrones could rape them. The wives and children of the male slave were also understood to be the master’s playthings.’

    Beyond Machismo: A Cuban Case Study (http://www.libertadlatina.org/Latin_America_Machismo_p3.htm)

    If De La Torre is right (and while it does not justify the violent homophobia witnessed in Africa, Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere), it may, at least, explain how attempts to overcome the tradition and mass phobia of black male subjugation via homosexual abuse have resulted in 1) pervasive pop/street culture embrace of overtly macho values and 2) the level of hostility towards any expression of male homosexual submissiveness and effeminacy in those societies, 3) the level of respect maintained by ruthlessly vindictive male leaders of any orientation.

    I think that a public discussion of these topics with colonial historians might yield a rich seam of insight around how homosexuality has been historically viewed and treated by those societies that have been overshadowed by the hideous cult of machismo and colonial exploitation. To the Global South, capitulating to relatively novel Western ideas about homosexuality might be viewed as the last straw: a new era of racial emasculation by the sons of colonisers.

    We may argue our differences passionately, but respectfully, knowing that both parties to any debate should exercise no more than their freedom of association, if all else fails. It’s not a softening of anyone’s stance to recognise and challenge the reprehensible extremes of violent discrimination.

  22. William Fisher says

    @ David Shepherd:

    I would agree that there are some very undesirable traits in human nature, and we are sure to find some in ourselves if we look hard enough, but they are to be found, in my experience, just as much in Christians as in those of other religions or none. Homophobia is one of those traits, and attempts to beautify and perfume it with religious sentiments simply make it uglier.

    But I also still believe in goodness, truth and kindness as common human attributes. What are you trying to tell me? That these things in those who are “without Christ” are nothing more than “externalisms that seem virtuous, yet conceal … self-congratulatory motives”? No, thank you, I’m not buying that one.

    • says

      @ William Fisher,

      So what exactly is mankind being redeemed from? Perhaps, only some people need Christ’s redemption. You know, especially the ones that don’t hold your liberal views on homosexuality.

      Others you describe ad capable of the ‘goodness, truth and kindness’ apart from Christ might more consult Him as a guru, an aspirational goal and a model of good behaviour.

      For them, the law of God merely affirms how good they are. They only need Christ to just provide a few tips, but not to save them from the Last Judgement.

      Strange how far that contradicts the apostolic faith: ‘Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.’ (Romans 3:19)

      And what was the judgement of God’s law on all humanity as expressed by the Holy Spirit: ‘We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’ (Romans 3:9 – 18)

      Two-tier salvation is an interesting, but flawed heretical concept that the Pharisees embraced: ‘The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.’ (Luke 18:11)

      BTW, you don’t have to buy anything. The truth is not for sale.

      • William Fisher says

        I am well aware of the presence of evil in the world – who can’t be? – but I simply do not recognize my experience of humanity as a whole in St Paul’s rant. I agree with the former Dominican Matthew Fox when he wrote: “Of all people, the homosexual must let go of the Fall/Redemption spiritual tradition, and the sooner the better.”

        • says

          William:

          Find another religion, or, at least, stop saying the Nicene creed: ‘I believe in one holy, catholic and *apostolic* church’. I can hardly see why an episcopal polity attracts you as bishops become yet another hindrance to free-wheeling self-affirmed spirituality. Since you clearly don’t and wouldn’t have submitted to the teachings of the apostles that Christ chose Himself to convey His message and become martyrs for the true gospel.

  23. Elizabeth says

    @ Patrick .. and others
    Seldom have I read the whole thread of comments with such interest ~ firstly, may I comment on the respect shown for each other’s views and opinions ~ so often these threads descend into rude, offensive, name~calling and worse
    Secondly, thank you for such helpful insights ~ being a member of the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Chrisitians has been tremendously helpful over the years ~ not sure about their membership spread in Patrick’s area but worth a try.
    Thirdly ~ we all have a lot to learn and I for one do not wish to be defined by one aspect of my life ~ I would far rather people knew I worked and prayed for justice for all ~ poor, marginalised, exploited and all who suffer prejudice and injustice. Now that does not mean that I have none, but I learn daily ~ have my prejudices shattered, and hopefully, with God’s grace, develop as a human being, as well as a Christian.

    • JohnB says

      Elizabeth

      I agree with you regarding the respectful tone of this thread and may it long continue.

      I suspect these issue will run for some time though and my experience is it will lead to polarisation of positions often with a degree of acrinomy.

      While my theological position would still see same sex (sexual) relationships as being outside God’s will, I have also come a long way and want to understand more.

      One of the resource’s Keith (who originated this thread) has pointed me to is http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/stories/. I found reading some these stories moved me to tears and I am am grateful for having this pointed out to me.

      I will also check out with interest the resource you refer to: http://www.eflgc.org.uk.

      I agree with your comments re. the poor and marginalised and is the area that particularly interests me as does making known the gospel.

      God bless.

  24. James Holland says

    I was unfortunate enough to attend their previous conference on sex education in schools at Paul Perkin’s gaff on Battersea Rise a year or so ago. I was particularly hoping to hear Nazi-rali but for some inexplicable reason he didn’t show and we had to make do with a monotone rant from Chris Sugden who had personally vetted my attendance the previous evening and hadn’t picked up on my effeminate manner.

    Lunch was spent in McDonalds with an old friend I had met and then we went back to peruse the selection of gay literature Lisa Noland had kindly laid out on a table. There was a well-thumbed copy of Safer Sexy by Peter Tatchell that had been so long out of print that I’d never seen a copy. My friend and I kept leaving it open at explicit pages and watching people as they came over and closed it. Childish, but fun! Next was the ‘Christian’ Institute stand where I got myself a ‘Christian’ Institute pen and an Anglican Mainstream notepad. I then went over to the stand where Gary Mcfarlane was but unfortunately he was out to lunch. There was a charming young chap running the bookstall but he had no idea what the conference was about or the infamy of Anglican Mainstream.

    In the afternoon we could attend 2 workshops and I chose ‘theology’ as it was the only one where I had the faintest idea of the subject matter. It was led by Charles Raven and a young skater-boy curate from Oak Hill who carried a black gay-looking bag. He was the only one there who was faintly attractive, but unfortunately didn’t have the personality to match. The Reverend Raven was promoting his latest book which, after skimming through it on the bookstall, was a one-sided rant against Rowan Williams whom he didn’t seem to like very much. He kept going on and on about how ‘wicked’ homosexuals are and how ‘evil’ we are. In the end I couldn’t take it any more and blew my cover quite spectacularly turning his words back on him and calling him a wicked homophobe. Skater-boy tried to shut me up and the rest of the group just turned on me like a savage pack of wolves. It was then that I suddenly felt quite unsafe and threatened.

    During the coffee-break, Skater-boy came up to me and my friend and started berating us on the ‘gay lifestyle.’ I soon sent him scuttling on his way when I asked him if he’d sold all he had and given to the poor? I told him that he could come back and talk to me when he had!

    Lisa Nolland then chaperoned me for the rest of the afternoon. She even tried to follow me into the toilets presumably to stop me indulging in the ‘gay lifestyle.’ She then gave us a talk on what she said would be the subject of the next conference: homosexuality. She majored on the Terrance Higgins Trust and showed us how they were getting into our children’s minds through safe-sex education. Then she gave us a powerpoint presentation of the most lewd sites on the internet. She kept going on and on about ‘kink’ and ‘zoo’ and the slippery-slope argument. At the end we were given a handout detailing the slipperly slope, double penetration, and a young American guy called Cody who was advocating ‘zoo’ as an alternative sexuality. Half way through Chris Sugden mounted the stage to warn about “journalists in our midst.” The way he spat out ‘journalists’ implied he thought they were even more sub-human than homosexuals! To conclude they invited one of these African-ordained ‘bishops’ onto the stage to pray us out. His prayer was a rant against the ‘wickedness’ of homosexuality and we all left suitably blessed.

    They day ended downing a well-earned couple of pints in the pub next to St Marks and a vow never to go to an Anglican Mainstream conference again…

  25. James says

    Hello folks.. newby and visiting evangelical hoping for a warm and tolerant welcome which I am sure I will receive from my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    I didn’t go to the AM conference, and I’ve no idea why this one didn’t attract the numbers they were expecting, but I would be reluctant to draw many conclusions from that. Within the Church of England and the Church in general evangelicalism is about the only bit that’s growing, one poorly attended (and perhaps badly organised) conference doesn’t change that one bit.

    It is however important that evangelicals find a pastoral and caring response to the challenge still posed by the liberal part of the church, part of which is represented by this organisation. First of all, I agree that paranoia and hype on both sides must be put to bed. I am firmly convinced that gay sexual relationship are against the will of God but I am equally convinces that gay people are made by God (this is not the same as made gay but that’s another topic altogether), loved by God, and have a place in God’s Kingdom, and therefore the Church. Of course, like all people who accept Jesus as their Saviour there is much personal change required and this, for me, includes sexual behaviour and an acceptance of a model of marriage being the place that God wills for sexual gratification.

    However, you know all this already. What I want to say is that I do not rejoice that this conference was badly attended, nor have I heard the AM side of the story yet, but somehow, somehow, we must find a way to live as brothers and sisters in the Church, and begrudgingly, despisingly or so competitively, but finding a way to live together and love one another and this will be difficult for both sides, and some uncomfortable things will have to be accepted.

    • Erika Baker says

      James
      “It is however important that evangelicals find a pastoral and caring response to the challenge still posed by the liberal part of the church, part of which is represented by this organisation.”

      This is a fascinating paragraph, because having been a member of CA for a number of years and being quite active on religious blogs, I have come to believe that most gay people are actually not “liberal” in many other aspects of church life. They include quite conservative Evangelicals, conservative Anglo-Catholics, people who are socially very conservative – as well as all shades and combinations up to true liberalism in the political and sociological sense. There are people I count among my partners in battle I would never normally want to socialise with because we’re just too different.

      All we do have in common is a knowledge of ourselves and of God’s love for us, and the deep knowledge that our relationships are a loving and enormous gift from God that we accept with huge gratitude.

      That, I believe, is also your answer to your question about an evangelical response to gay people. More and more evangelicals are no longer seeing same sex relationships as against God’s will but also see it as his gift to us, just as their own straight relationships are gifts from God.
      The old divide between “evangelicals – against lgbt relationships” – “liberals – deliberately going against God’s will, following the trend in secular society” doesn’t hold any longer.
      Affirming evangelical lgbt groups have existed for a long time, there is good evangelical theology for how same sex relationships fit into a bible based lifestyle.

      Many others still do see us as going against God’s will but recognise that our own “sin” is our own problem and not theirs. They simply leave it to God and us to sort out and focus on the beams in their own eyes instead.

      What I would really like to see is people stopping to believe that they have to respond to me in any way at all, pastorally or otherwise. It is not their place to elevate themselves to someone who has to respond pastorally to me. I, after all, don’t respond to them pastorally either but just treat them as people.

      How about we just walk side by side, together concentrating on what’s really wrong in the world? There’s enough for the churches to do!

      • Paul Emmons says

        >I have come to believe that most gay people are actually not “liberal” in many other aspects of church life.

        This is a very perceptive observation, Erika, and it corresponds to my own experience.

        Since Christ promises freedom or liberation, I fail to see how anyone, and especially a Christian, can altogether reject the word “liberal” or use it as an epithet. Those who do so imply that they have no interest in my being free. Hence I am not about to trust them, and why should I?

        On the other hand, as the term “liberal education” (i.e., education appropriate to free citizens rather than slaves) exemplifies, liberal aims are often best furthered by conservatism in the sense of appreciating tradition and the past. This is particularly true today, when much so-called “conservatism” actually conserves very little and primarily promotes greed-driven innovation and anomie. I believe that gay people tend to have a particular gift for, and interest in, cultural transmission through teaching and similar activities. A few examples: In his valedictory book about love, Allan Bloom (whose earlier book _Closing of the American Mind_ had made him a darling of conservatives despite his own presumably open sexuality) discussed the model of Socrates, who experienced teaching as itself an erotic activity. In many American Aborigine tribes, two-spirit people (berdaches) are androgynous men who might marry other men. They are also typically involved with practicing and teaching arts, crafts, and folklore. It would often be a great honor for a young person to become the pupil of a berdache. Although it might not be as true today as it was fifty years ago, there are many gay people in the arts, the theater, and museum administration. Douglass Shand-Tucci has explained with great insight the historical affinity between gay people and Anglo-Catholicism. The association is due partly to the dramatic way this movement *liberated* the downtrodden by recovering and *conserving* traditions in the church.

  26. Peter Denshaw says

    I watched ‘The Crucible’ over the course of the weekend. My same-sex partner and I having a wee break from our ‘homosexual lifestyle’… You know when you’re getting old when you can only stand three fistings a week and a bottle of poppers lasts you five days instead of one. And then there was the nasty episode of a splinter from our A-frame lodging in my left buttock as we were hosting a ‘scat n’ cards’ morning (basically a whist drive for coprophiles which we hold alternate weeks from the Ladies’ Bright Hour (many of our friends attend both)) – this got infected, tho’ thankfully we have (for obvious reasons and our ease and comfort) more rubber rings than scatter cushions in our living room, so at least I was able to sit in comfort and watch Arthur Miller’s masterpiece….*

    A thought struck me, as I was watching the play and that is how the need to accuse and set oneself apart, as righteous, seems a real driving force for some of our religious brethren. In Salam it was witchcraft – though of course the real reason was the use of religion as a means of settling scores and serving one’s own self interest. Nowadays sexuality has become a similar means of dividing society into the ‘just’ and the ‘unjust’ – and is also a way of settling scores: those wicked liberals have pushed conservative Christianity to the margins and now it is time to fight back; the use of salaciousness, innuendo, half truths, self-righteousness and playing on the odd ancient prejudice appears a good means of doing this. It’s also a good way to make oneself feel better about oneself. Well, each to his or her own, I suppose, but the fact Anglicanmainstream and its creepy little friends are neither proportionate nor can claim integrity, rather limits the scope of their smear campaigns and hate-mongering. Many outside the tiny Christian world these trolls inhabit see their disproportionate interest in poufers and dykes and what they do behind closed doors as at best an unfortunate obsession with the private lives of others; and at worst something akin to Far Right scape-goating that can only harm, rather than benefit society.

    It is no wonder Lisa Nolland (whom it is alleged holds a PhD in scatology) has taken to accusing ‘the damned’ of all kinds of wickedness (or fun, depending on your proclivities) to shore up the self-righteousness of the ‘blessed’ (aka ‘the bigoted’). She is not unlike the accuser, Abigail Williams, in ‘The Crucible’ – it is in her best interest to smear the scat and hope it sticks; as I have already noted, salaciousness, innuendo, half-truth and self-righteousness are the main weapons of such nasty souls. Anyone – and I mean ANYONE – who thinks they are more righteous, blameless, devout, holy, blessed or less sinful than their fellows has missed the point of the Gospel; but something so inconsequential is of little interest to our friends at AM or the Nollard. It seems Ms Nolland and her supporters think they have something to teach the world. They use inference to take the extreme and apply it to the whole – augmenting their unfathomable interest in the sex lives of others with fear, loathing and arrogance.

    Well, Abigail Williams came to a sticky end, as have many others who have sought to further their own careers by the exploitation and opprobrium of others. Give Ms Nollard and AM enough rope and they’ll hang themselves – hence best to use a ‘safety word’ lest their fetish fixated chums think they are enjoying themselves, when in reality they are starving themselves of the oxygen they need…

    Peter Denshaw

    * for the record I’ve never been fisted, or tied to an A-frame etc. or attended the Ladies’ Bright Hour…

    • Fr David Heron says

      Mr Sugden has made his displeasure quite clear. I am so glad you have annoyed the ‘Christians’ at Anglican Mainstream.
      http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2012/02/06/anglican-mainstream-press-release/

      Anglican Mainstream notes with sadness the adverse comments by an opposing group in relation to our recent conference, ‘The Pastoral and Prophetic in Conflict? Homosexuality and the Church.’ In particular, we deplore what appears to have been the deliberate misrepresentation of facts, both prior to and during the conference, which seem designed for no other purpose than to cast a slur upon both ourselves and our work. We are mindful too of the extremely high level of intimidation prior to the conference, aimed at disrupting or preventing the conference from going ahead at all, and which, on police advice, persuaded us on the day to employ a high level of security in order to ensure the safety and comfort of attendees and of the building itself.

      We stand by our commitment to maintain the Biblical foundation of marriage as between one man and one woman, first articulated in Genesis and thereafter maintained by throughout Scripture. We shall continue our work with those with unwanted same-sex attraction seeking our help – to do otherwise would be failing them. And we shall continue our opposition to the type of sexual advice currently being made increasingly available to school-age children by the Department of Education through its financial support of organisations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust and some of their publications such as this and this.

      We believe such advice places our young in situations posing high risk to their physical health, as well creating emotional damage, and which may impair their future capacity to form long term and stable relationships.

      • William Fisher says

        I have to say that I have to agree with Mr Sugden’s complaints about the leaflets published by the Terrence Higgins Trust (although they aren’t aimed at schoolchildren). After all, if it were not for leaflets like those, gays would never have a clue how to “do it”, would they? (Just as heterosexuals would never know how to “do it” if they weren’t given leaflets promoting heterosexuality.) In fact it would never even occur to them to “do it”. Furthermore, guys who have always been sexually attracted only to women will be so thrilled, after reading THT leaflets, that they’ll start being turned on by other guys instead.

  27. Laurence C says

    Tears of laughter in this household at the thought of anyone spending £15 on the bumper 3-CD boxed set of the day’s proceedings.

  28. Paul Emmons says

    >So one has to ask why it is that (some) ‘straight’ men find the whole male homosexual thing so fascinating and why it matters o much to them.

    Isn’t a straight WOMAN who finds the whole male homosexual thing so fascinating even stranger?

  29. says

    Dear Keith,
    Thank you for this excellent report. I was amazed to find that a Director and Trustee of the Christian charity CARE is also a Director and Trustee of Anglican Mainstream and participated in this event by moderating part of it. Some of the MPs have responded to my petition by saying that the 2009 event that the two organisations sponsored was a long time ago and that CARE have done a lot of good work since then. It’s clear to see, from what you say above, that a key person involved in the leadership of CARE is continuing to participate in events about gay cures. So far two MPs have distanced themselves from CARE, which Ben Bradshaw described as “a bunch of homophobic bigots” in 2000, and I hope more will follow suit.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/mps-should-sever-links-with-the-christian-charity-care-which-co-sponsored-gay-cure-event

    Kind regards,

    Phillip

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