Is Anglican Mainstream homophobic? A gay evangelical perspective

A gay evangelical, a supporter of Changing Attitude, has written an extended commentary on two articles posted on the Anglican Mainstream web site. Until recently, he and his partner were very committed and active members of a congregation rejuvenated following an HTB plant. To protect both them and the congregation, we are posting this anonymously. The couple is well known to us. The supporter has been motivated by the nature of many posts on the AM website which are, to a gay Christian, deeply offensive.

Anglican Mainstream has a deliberate policy of publishing ‘shocking and offensive’ articles that relate to homophobia – and there is a direct link between articles they publish or link to and support for prejudice against LGB&T people in other parts of the Communion and attempts to legislate against LGB&T people that would result in gay people being jailed for long periods.

 

In an article about Stonewall’s involvement in the Church of England’s anti-bullying campaign in schools, ‘All bullying is wrong but C of E and Church Schools “should not promote Stonewall’  http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2013/11/21/all-bullying-is-wrong-but-c-of-e-and-church-schools-should-not-promote-stonewall/ Anglican Mainstream accused Stonewall of being discriminatory, unscientific, unsafe, anti-Jesus and bigoted. I think the campaign is a very positive step forward and will go some way to countering the consistently anti-gay campaigning of Anglican Mainstream. They may consider Stonewall to be ‘anti-Jesus’ and themselves ‘pro-Jesus’, but I do not think that the behaviour of Anglican Mainstream over many years reflects Jesus very closely – their thousands of pages of anti-gay rhetoric are hardly a reflection of the compassion and love that Jesus showed humankind in the scriptures.

The video labeled ‘A Classic: Understanding Same Sex Attraction’ http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2013/11/12/understanding-same-sex-attraction-3/ produced by Family Watch International is typical of the anti-gay polemic Anglican Mainstream regularly publishes. It is unlikely to increase many people’s ‘understanding’ of same-sex attraction – the arguments it proposes are shallow, one-sided generalisations, concentrating only on the experience of people who are unhappy or damaged. The conclusions drawn are insulting to gay people, and to our families.

Is this a Christian video? Not really. Does it help explain the ‘Scriptural truths on which the Anglican Church was founded’? Not at all. Does it accurately reflect the breadth of scientific thinking and research? Certainly not. Is it effective in supporting Anglican Mainstream’s anti-gay campaigning? Absolutely. In this respect, it is indeed a ‘classic’.

Speaking as a gay man and as a Christian, I want AM to know just how offensive I find their website. It upsets me beyond measure that as Christians they are prepared to publish such horrible stuff. I think they do incalculable harm, both to gay people and to the church, and should be ashamed of themselves.

Anglican Mainstream is trying to persuade us that the rest of the church has become unbelieving, anti-scriptural and increasingly secular, but they are only fooling themselves – it is because they have CHOSEN not to see Jesus in the rest of the church that they do not see him there. If AM is marginalised it is because people can see through their behaviour to what lies beneath it, and what they find there definitely does not reflect Jesus. Jesus is alive and well, but he inhabits the world, and the hearts, of the countless thousands, even those AM has decided have taken a wrong turn, or find repellent.

In our relationships, Jesus does not talk about ‘the homosexual agenda’, or ‘homosexual activists’ or all the other subtle insults and stereotypes AM use daily: his ‘agenda’ is one of love, and those of us who are gay and CHOSE to be in relationship with him do so because HE has chosen to be in relationship with us. We know that he really DOES love us and we who want to know him have become confident enough in our relationship to be able to discern what is truly from him, and what isn’t. And most of what we see on Anglican Mainstream really isn’t.

Perhaps they once reflected the ‘mainstream’ of Anglican thought – and perhaps they may have another ten or twenty years reflecting ‘mainstream’ opinion in the ‘Global South’, where homophobia and homophobic bullying is rife and unchecked (fuelled by the material on sites like theirs), but then what? I suspect, increasingly, people will recognise, as the Church of England now does, that Christians have treated gay people abominably for too long, and even Anglican Mainstream might eventually consider the need for change.

I attended AM’s ‘Homosexuality in the Church’ conference in 2012, and was very struck by something Lisa Nolland said at one point: ‘I’m not talking about the nice gay guys who live next door’, and I immediately wondered why not? Isn’t that exactly the problem with AM’s stance? You know about ‘nice’, ‘normal’, happy gay people, but you don’t talk about them. You generally only talk about gay activists, or the ‘homosexual agenda’, or gay pedophiles, or sex-crazed hedonists, or those who practice anal-sex, or unsafe sex, or those who are ‘broken’, or ‘homosexual bullies’. They are not frightened to tell people about practices like ‘fisting’ (there are currently 182 pages on the site that mention it, along with 296 that mention ‘anal-sex’ and a whopping 1,400 that talk about the ‘homosexual agenda’).

In fact they seem to take every opportunity to reinforce people’s prejudices against gay people by painting them in the worst light in a deliberately distorting way. Deliberate because, by their own admission, they know that the gay guys who live next door do not fit comfortably into the stereotypes AM paints – indeed, AM are NOT talking about them. They may not have suffered ‘trauma’ in their childhoods, or have been damaged by relationships with their fathers or mothers, or been sexually abused as children, or whatever other trumped up theory Dr Nicolosi has come up with that AM so gleefully latches on to. They may actually be happy, confident, helpful, loving, hard-working, generous, even perhaps Christian. Are the thousands of pages on AM’s site where they talk about homosexuality so negatively not simply evidence of a deep, deep prejudice? And yet AM wonders why the Church of England apparently no longer takes their views very seriously.

I’m not an activist, I’m a Christian. Anglican Mainstream seems to be so caught up in fighting what they and others have labeled ‘the culture war’ that they perhaps don’t realise just how rude and offensive they can be at times to gay Christians like me.

‘All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’

When I read this passage I know with certainty that Jesus will not lose me and will raise me up. This is a beautiful and uplifting message. By contrast, the message I get from Anglican Mainstream’s website is not. If all I knew about the Christian faith was the material on their website, I would have a very different understanding of Jesus. I would run a mile.

The unbearable sleaziness of being (a gay man)

Another article on Anglican Mainstream’s website is entitled ‘The unbearable sleaziness of being (a gay man)’. http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2013/12/11/the-unbearable-sleaziness-of-being-a-gay-man/

The first paragraph begins:

“In this edition of La Joie de Vivre, I must warn the reader that recent events require that I speak the language of gay men — it is a crude, shocking, and indelicate language. I must do this to explain the shift that occurred in my own political position over the last week, a shift resulting from the clear signs that aspects of gay culture — pederasty, exploitation, callousness — which I formerly viewed as marginal or non-representative, have revealed themselves to be central to the modern gay male identity…” What an appalling thing to say! – ‘pederasty, exploitation and callousness’ are NOT central to the modern gay male identity – whatever that actually means.

This is a perfect example of the sort of raw homophobic material that AM publish. It is outrageous. The word ‘homophobia’ is not too strong for articles like this and I cannot think what place it has on a ‘Christian’ website. It seems clear that anything blatantly anti-gay, however inappropriate, has a place on the site.

It is equivalent to saying, ‘all Scottish people are mean.’ Looking for unpleasant traits in a group of people where the traits apply equally to a minority of all human beings, and to characterise these as innate to a particular group is an irrational prejudice.

‘The basic precepts of gay male politics in our times require that we … liberate the innate homosexual attraction to pederasty… therefore, this community is by its nature ill-equipped to be tasked with mentoring, raising, or tending to children in unsupervised, vulnerable conditions.’ Really? Our ‘innate homosexual attraction to pederasty’ makes us unfit to be raising or tending children, unsupervised?

The article is filled with grotesque generalisations about gay people. Anglican Mainstream’s stance seems to be that gay people are guilty of whatever awfulness people cast upon them unless proven innocent.

Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black

The article goes on to talk about Dustin Lance Black’s relationship with ‘a nineteen-year-old boy’, who he does not name, but who we know to be Olympic medalist Tom Daley. He labels this relationship as ‘pederasty’ (defined by the author as a relationship between an adult male and a teenager). Tom Daley, at nineteen, is indeed a still teenager, but surely an adult by most reasonable standards. He is significantly over the age of consent. In terms of Mr Daley’s physical maturity, or indeed his mental maturity, Mr Black could hardly be accused of anything approaching ‘exploitation’ in the sense that Mr López is implying. Nor does their relationship fall comfortably into any discussion of ‘the dangers involved in the radical gay lifestyle and philosophy’ that Anglican Mainstream claims it has a mission to warn people about.

‘Homophobic’ is not too strong a word to describe this article and the attitudes the author reveals. Homophobia is defined as an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people – it is a very REAL condition, with very REAL consequences to gay people.

The fact is that Anglican Mainstream offers little or no space to the sensible, happy, SAFE, generous, nurturing, caring, compassionate qualities of pretty much ALL the gay people I have ever met, including many who are in the church, or who follow Christ. The extremes of the gay world are magnified proportionately in the straight world, and if you don’t believe me then just think of the nastiest sexual practice you can and pop the words into Google – I can guarantee that you will find every horror you can think of out there in the ‘straight’ world. And yet, oddly, Anglican Mainstream doesn’t fill up their website with constant warnings about the ‘straight lifestyle’, do they? No – and for a simple reason: because their straight readers would be very offended. Imagine the furore they would cause if they started publishing articles that condemned most straight people as ‘sleazy’ in the way that López condemns all gay people.

Anglican Mainstream sees the shocking and offensive nature of many of the articles they publish as a tool in order to warn of some of the dangers involved in the radical gay lifestyle and philosophy.

In Matthew 7:15-17 Jesus provided us with a measure by which we can distinguish the good teachings from the bad, specifically amongst those who claim spiritual authority. Anglican Mainstream swaps the Gospel of Peace for deliberately shocking and offensive language, substituting the Good News of the Gospels for the Bad News of the ‘Gay Lifestyle’, which they are quite happy for others to ‘sex up’ unchallenged, spreading slander and lies about a minority group whom they believe offend God.

If Anglican Mainstream IS ‘consigned to the dustbin of history’, their downfall will not be the result of creeping secularism but because of their lack of grace, love and common decency in the way they talk about and treat gay people (not to mention those within the church who try to behave more gracefully and lovingly towards us). Gay people are collateral damage in what AM apparently perceives to be a greater spiritual battle. In this respect, the common morality of the ‘secular’ world has long since superseded Anglican Mainstream’s in its grace towards us, which is why the ‘secular’ world is quick to label AM ‘homophobic’, whether this is justified or not.

AM is quick to judge and make assumptions about others – their morality, their sexual habits, their understanding of God and Jesus, their discipleship. I wonder if they are prepared to follow Jesus’ own commandment on discipleship in John 13:34-35: ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ Perhaps Anglican Mainstream doesn’t feel this commandment applies to them when they refuse to recognise others as disciples of Christ.

Comments

  1. Davis Mac-Iyalla says

    Love the sinner hate the sin, outdated homily which AM like to preach. Since homosexuality is not a SIN, AM just learn to Accept Us or continue to against us as they have done from the very beginning. Why is it taking this long for someone to ask questions about Anglican Mainstream? Yes AM is homophobic from personal experience, they never publicly speak out against the church of Nigeria when I was been attacked knowing their very strong ties with ++Akinola and the Nigeria church.

  2. says

    I quite appreciate the sentiments expressed here, but I do believe that some persons in the wider Anglican family, are genuinely concerned, based on their understanding of Biblical perspectives; and may not necessarily be homophobic. Any thoughts on this?

    • etseq says

      Thought experiment: Substitute race or gender and you will recognize the absurdity of how cultures socially construct prejudice and discrimination. “Biblical perspectives” include the owning of slaves, racial and sexual subordination, capital punishment, etc.

    • says

      It is so easy to demonise folk on either side of an argument. While etseq’s test is helpful, there must be many who agonise with how to be true to what they see see of the spirit of much teaching abut God’s nature in Scripture, and places where it seems to conflict with the understanding of teaching, not apparently taken out of context.

      For many evangelicals there is a fear that if they take to what seems like special pleading about Biblical passages then they are in danger of crossing a line on how they interpret the world in the light of what the Bible says of God’s Kingdom, the Gospel and the Lord Himself. Such a fear is certainly in many cases not homophobia but fear that they may compromise more fundamental things in Scripture and their life and discipleship. This may be alongside real friendship, respect and concern for the position that homosexuals find themselves in in much of society and particularly the church.

  3. JJ says

    “Whoever touches pitch shall be defiled” (Sirach 13:1). Made the mistake of clicking on the link to “Unbearable sleeziness……..” & felt sick. Used to reading abuse & nonsense but this was bile pure & simple. Made me want to have a shower & delouse my computer for having such a foul diatribe on my screen. These people would have us recriminalised & worse if they could. How any church can maintain links with AM is beyond belief (sadly, though, it isn’t).

  4. Dr Angus Goudie says

    As a GP of over 30 years who must see a fair cross section of society, I must say that my experience of gay people, men and women has very much more in common with the descriptions in this article than with the examples quoted from Anglican Mainstream. I see many caring, vulnerable people, often in long term faithful realtionships. I find the same with gay people I have known in the church. I can think of several who exemplified the serving spirit and I have been happy to know them as my brothers aand sisters in Christ.
    I may add I am an evangelical and also another member of General Synod.

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