Peter Mullen has written an article about the sinfulness of LGBTI people in this week’s Church of England Newspaper, outraged that the Church is spending £360,000 “on meetings in country houses to talk about sex.” Mullen derides the facilitated conversations as “country house shenanigans.”
He dismisses the invitation to participants to share intimate details of their own lives in small group sessions as “not the language of theology but of psychobabble and therapeutic narcissism.” He likens the movement towards equality for LGBTI people as “moral squalor.”
Mullen claims that the unvarying teaching of Scripture for 3,000 years in both Old and New Testaments and for the whole history of Christianity has declared plainly and unequivocally that, when it comes to sexual relations, the rule is one man and one woman for life, or abstinence. He is not ignorant of OT and NT teaching and practice. He is just deeply prejudiced against us. We live in a fallen world, he says, and so most of us do not abide by this rule but commit sexual sins of one sort or another. His hypocrisy is astonishing.
Mullen says that in Augustine’s City of God we see the same sort of picture as that we find every morning in the newspaper: prosperity that produces a moral corruption far worse than all the fury of an enemy. Full publicity where shame would be appropriate. Decency veiled from sight; indecency exposed to view. Scenes of evil attracting packed audiences.
You get how he feels about LGBTI people, don’t you? He dismisses the vocabulary that speaks of “the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community” as “linguistically and syntactically debauched.”
Mullen, a member of the privileged heterosexual majority, patronisingly says that “such people should not be excluded, ostracised or in any way condemned.” He is a sinner, he says, and so are we. But he thinks the facilitated conversations “bear all the marks of another liberal stitch-up” because they fail to say that sin is sin.
I’ve heard his argument so many times before, of course, but I never understand how my being gay seems to mean that I am intrinsically sinful by virtue of the desires I discovered in adolescence and could never, in his interpretation of scripture, act on, whereas Peter Mullen is only sinful occasionally and in unspecified ways. Such is the privilege of the dogmatically right.
LGBTI people do not live in moral squalor. Our vocabulary is not linguistically and syntactically debauched. The facilitated conversations are not to be derided as country house shenanigans and sharing intimate details of our lives as faithful Christians cannot be dismissed as psychobabble and therapeutic narcissism. The conversations are needed and a dramatic change in Anglican attitudes to LGBTI people is required because the Church tolerates and in some cases encourages such abusive ignorance to a minority who have always been called by God into faith and love and ministry.
When will every bishop and archbishop get the message and condemn ignorance and bigotry?