In the e-newsletter circulated to Changing Attitude supporters last week, we invited them to respond and tell us what they would like to say to the House of Bishops working group on human sexuality. Several supporters responded instantly. Their comments are printed below. We will take them with us tomorrow adding them to our own presentation.
“I would remind the Bishops that Jesus told us to love our neighbour, without caveat or condition. Our neighbour does not need to be white, male, middle class or straight. If you truly love your neighbour, how can you deny him or her the rights you take for granted yourself?
“As a white, male, middle aged, straight and middle class Christian, I am ashamed of my Church for not encompassing all God’s people in its embrace. There are only two commandments: the Church of England fails the second and thus fails the first.”
“It would be so wonderful if some new ground could be opened up, and progress made. I hope the bishops you’ll be speaking with are open to ideas, and prepared to say so to their colleagues.”
“Human beings are not defined by their sexual organs, nor by their ability or inability to have babies. It is time we in the Church recognised that EVERY human being is created through the love of God in the way that God finds good for that person and blessed all unions without exception.”
“Last weekend I attended in support of a local lady being ordained Deacon. Her civil partner is a church warden. At the bunfight after the service, in an ordinary parish hall, with a congregation of 100 or so mainly elderly, fairly traditional types, speeches were made; The vicar welcomed her as a new colleague, then she said thank you to various people, calling her partner over to thank her properly. As she stepped forward the congregation applauded, then as Alison kissed her the whole room erupted in cheers and hoots of joy. This is ordinary, everyday folk in ordinary rural villages in the North of England. and very firmly in the Church of England. As a deacon she will be able to marry other people; PLEASE LET US MARRY THEM IN CHURCH!!!”
“I felt like resigning when I heard the latest salvoes re the marriage of gay and lesbian people in church. Why does the Church always have to take the role of oppressor in matters of sexuality, when it has learned e.g. vis a vis the poor that is called to stand with the oppressed? It is a poor excuse, but it was only because I would have nowhere to house my family and no money to find anywhere, that I ignored my conscience. As a straight priest I am ashamed of myself and my Church.
“And why can’t we learn from history? The Church opposed Galileo. One Lambeth Conference said that contraception was wrong only for the next to refute this. We said “never” to women clergy. It is embarrassing, as well as sad, to feel certain that in a hundred years’ time Christians will be looking back and wondering how we could have got this one so wrong as well. I do hope that you find open ears and hearts at the meeting.”
“I preached yesterday on the passage from Mark’s gospel (Ch.5) about the “ritually unclean woman” – a quote from an biblical exegesis in the current Church Times. How disgusting a statement is that? Ritually unclean … who says so? On what grounds? There is such a paralysing stream of discrimination which flows from and through our Christian heritage that is not only embarrassing but shameful. It has to stop if we are to take compassion and solidarity with the Kingdom of God agenda seriously…so seriously that those beyond ‘the walls of Christianity’ can take us seriously too. What have we to offer if discrimination exists on issues that are intrinsic and complementary to our humanity? Jesus did not discriminate and the God of our being certainly cannot.”
“I would want to ask the Bishops some questions:
1. Am I right in believing that transsexual adults can marry in church in their new sex?
2. Can those whose sexuality is confused or unclear marry in church? If so in which sex?
3. Has the church already set a precedent for the marriage of a non traditional heterosexual couple?
4. Why cannot a couple dedicate their partnership with prayers in Church after a Civil Partnership?”
“I ask that Bishops reflect on their experience of ‘celibacy’ which is the only holy way the Church seems to offer to those drawn by nature to same sex relations. It may help to engender some empathy. I value a number of people living celibate lives by calling or by how life works out. I/we also like the vast majority of heterosexual married couples including married bishops know times of celibacy through stress, relating difficulties and physical and mental illness. It seems that the Church is indicating that it would be holier to not resume the delights of sexual union. For us it is the draw to continue to express love physically that offers balm of healing. To deny same sex couples sexual expression of their relationship seems cruel and more and more people without hostile pre-judgements are recognising that. St. Paul would rather us be single but if we burn with desire, the way God has made us, whatever our adult to adult sexuality then be committed to one another.”