Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust totally misrepresent Matthew Parris – who’s being a bully-boy?

Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust have issued a press release titled ‘Evangelical groups accuse rebel liberal bishops of bully-boy tactics and neo-paganism’.  It quotes from an article in The Times by Matthew Parris in a way that totally misrepresents Matthew’s argument. For this reason, I want to look at what Matthew really said and at Chris Sugden and Mike Davidson’s deliberate abuse of the article.

Bully-boy and bully-girl tactics from rebellious priests and bishops

Readers who heard the interview on the BBC R4 Sunday Programme two Sunday’s ago will have heard Dr Mike Davidson of Core Issues Trust and Revd Lynda Rose of Anglican Mainstream repeatedly interrupt and talk over me. They were aggressive and bullying in their attempt to dominate the interview and override my own contribution. They are colleagues of Canon Dr Chris Sugden.

A Kenyan bishop I met on my visit to Kenya in March described Chris Sugden as being the key figure aggressively driving the campaign in Africa to create schism in the Anglican Communion and replace the existing Instruments of Communion by a new power structure. The FCA meeting taking place at St Mark’s Battersea Rise this week has now issued a direct challenge to the status and authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, proposing to replace him as chair of the Primates meeting with an elected chair. The bishops meeting at the FCA conference are the rebels.

Malleable sexuality?

The press release points to the findings of current scientific research which says there is no gay gene and that sexuality is much more fluid and malleable than is usually thought. It welcomes the endorsement by Matthew Parris in The Times (21-4-12) that ‘same sex male attraction is something you do, not something you are … (and) that there are not two male tribes.’

Anticipating that his thoughts might be misinterpreted by both sides, Matthew said “I may give comfort to wrongheaded evangelicals.” Matthew acknowledged that male sexual orientation is less fixed than we suppose but he doesn’t think everyone is alterable. And he absolutely doesn’t think that homosexuality can be ‘cured’ in the sense of expelling some kind of disease from the system. The categorisation of a whole section of males as ‘homosexuals’, or indeed ‘heterosexuals’ was simply a mistake, he says.

Social pressure in modern times has created a straight-gay dichotomy, pushing men to adopt an identity at either end of the spectrum, gay or straight. The territory in between has become a no man’s land where bisexuality is the love that dare not speak its name.

Matthew says his hypothesis needs explains why systematic evidence is hard to gather but that evidence is required. He feels himself to be exclusively gay but knows from dreams and other physical reactions that shelved somewhere in his unconscious must be a starnd of heterosexuality.

He has slept with as many men who considered themselves basically straight and who were basically straight, as with men who were self-identifying gays.

Both sides – straights and gays – have strong reason to deny that they ever had a choice; the straights because gay inclinations were disapproved of; the gays because infinitely their most persuasive way of commanding tolerance has always been the subtly self-oppressive: “It’s the way I am – nothing I can do about it – part of my identity – it isn’t my fault.”

He says he’d want to be gay whether he could help it or not. The day that the battle for homosexual equality is won and over will be the day a man, straight or gay, can boast that he chose.

Now, there are Changing Attitude people who would categorically disagree with Matthew. Others focus on the bisexual centre, and others such as myself identify as ‘born gay’, ‘created gay by God’.

Prejudice against male homosexual behaviour is as old as Man, says Matthew. The Anglican Mainstream/Core Issues Trust press release quotes from the next paragraph:

“Before the late Victorians and for almost all recorded history, humanity described male same-sex attraction as a kind of habit, a diversion to which any man might be prone and into which any might be led – something men do as opposed to something men are.”

Matthew is arguing that Chris Sugden, Mike Davidson and Lynda Rose, living in a post-Victorian era, might as easily been pushed into adopting a categorically heterosexual identity by social pressure as much as gay men might be pushed to adopt a heterosexual identity. If they were free from this pressure (which in their case is reinforced by their conservative evangelical background) they might well occupy a space in the bisexual centre.

People can change, says Matthew from strongly identified gay or straight – they can change both ways, when they become more aware of their feelings and desires.

Matthew categorically does not say what Dr Mike Davidson claims in the press release. It is the misuse of material that is abusive and undermines any claim that AM and CIT are the exemplars of faithful, orthodox Christianity. That can only be true if distortion and abuse and bearing false witness are Christian virtues.  

  • Mike Davidson has a quote, that “Not even the gay community is agreed that homosexuality is innate and immutable.” Nowhere does Matthew Paris say this.
  • Mike draws attention to Matthew Parris’ comment that the 20th century re-categorisation of a whole section of males as “homosexuals” was ill-founded and a mistake. Matthew actually says the reclassification of a whole section of males as ‘homosexuals’ (or indeed ‘heterosexuals’) was 20th-century and it’s simply a mistake.
  • Mike says Matthew Paris described same-sex attraction as ‘a kind of habit, a diversion to which any man might be prone and into which any might be led.’ Matthew says this is how humanity described male same-sex attraction before the late Victorians.

Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust say they recognise the rights of individuals to identify as gay and to live according to their own values and have never spoken of ‘cure’ for homosexuality. Almost every report about the London bus adverts and the Sex and the City Conference at which Joseph Nicolosi spoke in London in April 2009 talk about the gay ‘cure’ adverts and the gay ‘cure’ therapist. Anglican Mainstream are universally identified as an organisation involved with the ‘cure’ of people with ‘unwanted’ homosexual attraction. The link is made repeatedly, and for good reason.


  1. Erika Baker says

    I’d also like to say that I thought Matthew’s column was very poor. He calls bisexuality as something akin to the love that dare not speak its name, which is total nonsense, especially when properly considering the topic of bisexuality, he could have saved himself and us some of the drubbing we’re now getting over “gay” people who dabble in straight relationships.

    And he focuses on men only, which again is a shame because “fluidity” in women has been known for a long time – it is said that women are much more likely to be bisexual than men and that many “straight” women end up in same sex relationships in later stages of life.

    Of course – it just shows the wide gap between the debate in church and in society. Church groups will still jump on him and use his arguments against him, whereas secular people are ready to explore the complexities of sexuality a bit more deeply without preconceived ideas about their desirability.

    We SO need to grow up!!

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