The year we began to marry

The year twenty-fourteen saw a slow but further transformation of people’s attitudes towards Church of England teaching about homosexuality. Some individuals and couples have become more fearless, putting their faith in God and their love for their partner above the unloving, fearful teaching and dogma of the Church.

People are rejecting the authority of bishops and the inherited teaching of the Church because the teaching results in unloving, abusive, over-demanding and sometimes punitive outcomes.

The teaching results in the disciplining of lesbian and gay clergy who marry and refuses to allow loving, faithfully partnered same-sex couples to marry in church or receive a blessing in church on their relationship.

In England the teaching of the Church results in the evil of homophobia, defined as prejudice against LGBTI people, justified by the Bible and tradition. In other parts of the Anglican Communion this has led to Anglican support for anti-gay laws in Uganda and Nigeria and the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

If any aspect of Christian teaching and practice results in the persecution of people for being who they are, created in the image and likeness of God, the teaching must be rejected and transformed into the Gospel message of God’s infinite, unconditional love in and for creation.

The war which has been waged over the varieties of human sexuality and gender in the Anglican Communion which has evolved since the publication of the Kuala Lumpur Statement in 1997 has reached a critical point in England and Scotland.

Many English and Scottish laity and clergy can no longer live within the constraints of teaching which prohibits same-sex loving relationships formalised in marriage. They choose to follow Jesus, open to the energy and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, weaving love and compassion through their lives.

Twenty-fifteen sees parts of the Church of England entering an 18 month period of Shared Conversations. How far these Conversations will permeate beyond the 1,000 odd people directly involved remains to be seen. For many LGBTI and straight Anglicans the outcome is already being lived now. Traditional negative teaching about homosexuality has been rejected. A new order of loving, faithful relationships is already here.

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