The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
The vote in the House of Laity which defeated the women in the episcopate legislation on Tuesday has created an eruption which will now ensure more rapid movement in the Church of England towards equality for lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people as well as for women.
The Government, Anglican campaign groups, Christians and non-Christians across the country, are outraged at the failure to vote for women bishops and the more general failure of the Church to understand how the Spirit of God is moving through human society to educate us into Her deepest intentions in creation.
It’s easy to quote scripture in a tit for tat way and it was being done in Tuesday’s debate. I quote Galatians 5.6 knowing that those who disagree with equality for all in God’s Kingdom will quote a whole variety of conflicting texts. Fine – let them.
I know with deep inner confidence how God has revealed herself in my life, and to the core of my being as a gay man, I know the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Love does not discriminate, love is not partial, and the Love of God is way beyond our limited conceptions. God’s love is infinite and intimate and infuses the whole of creation. Nothing and no-one lives outside God’s infinite love, and no-one is excluded from God’s self-giving in creation, nor from ministry in God’s all-too fallible Church.
Politicians are confronting the Church of England with varieties of Holy Wisdom in the aftermath of Tuesday’s vote. The Spirit speaks through politicians as well as members of Reform and Forward in Faith.
David Cameron is very clear that the time is right for women bishops – the time was right many years ago.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow equalities minister, told the Church: “It can’t just let this lie for the next five years.”
The Speaker, John Bercow, urged backbench MPs to ask the equalities minister, Maria Miller, to make a formal statement in the Commons today.
Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, warned that the church was no longer in the mainstream of Anglican thought. He said: “It’s not just the ordination of women but a series of big divisive issues which the church has to resolve.”
Frank Field, a Christian Labour MP, said he would present a private member’s bill today calling for the cancellation of the church’s exemptions from equality legislation.
Chris Bryant, Labour MP and former Anglican priest, said the failure of the vote had caused many to question the future of the 26 bishops in the House of Lords.
Those who blocked the legislation on Tuesday have provoked a revolution which nothing will now stop. The transforming Holy Spirit of God is well and truly uncorked and out of the bottle and swirling uncontrolled through the Church of England, breaking open defensive hearts with an outpouring of righteous anger and passionate love.
Yes indeed, at the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday, the church has a lot of explaining to do – to British society, to its own congregations, to women, and to LGBT people. The time for prejudice and intolerance based on false readings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is over.