Sunday, 23 February 2014

On Telling the Truth, Lies, and Too Much Information

Whoops, they've done it again. The House of Bishop of the Church of England, with its unerring knack for getting everything completely wrong, has mouthed off about how it hates gay people. It's curious. They think this will give them a sheen of integrity. After all, the Bible says that gay people are vile and horrid and naughty, so why shouldn't they agree, and stand up against the Same Sex Marriage Act which becomes active law in March? Only, the Bible doesn't say that, any more than the Pyramids say that marmosets don't exist, or Confucius said that the Welsh sing too much. And we all know this. Lifting stuff from other times and presenting it as eternal truth is a pathetic lie.

And what is the truth? I can't pretend to have the ear and mind of God - only Richard Dawkins has that - but there's a big thing in the New Testament which, more importantly, is borne out in people's lives, that in love we find God, and in love God finds us. For centuries, of course, love had nothing to do with marriage. I don't think - but I could be wrong - that the House of Bishops wants to turn that particular clock back. Some marriages work, some are loving, some don't, some aren't. It's not really sure-fire. The pointy-hatted geniuses have found a way round this, though, which is to say that it doesn't matter whether gay people love each other and make relationships which are just the same as everyone else's marriages, they are nonetheless rather second best, and tawdry, and not good enough, and they can't breed, can they?, so it won't quite do, and NO ONE would want a person like that as their vicar, and they, as bishops, must protect the poor, foolish, silly, uneducated, prayerless, people of the pews from such a horrid eventuality. Even if they say that in this particular case, with this particular person, that is EXACTLY what they want. In fact, especially if they say that.

Because, they are, after all, only lay people. Not very bright, not theologically educated, can't tell one end of the Lord's Prayer from the other in a darkened room. How would they perceive the charism of ordination in a person? How would they be able to tell if God had called a person not only to be a priest, but to be THEIR priest? Goodness, what hubris! Bishops can tell this. They can tell that if a person is really, really, quiet about their sexuality, ideally married in a slightly compromised way, and carries on with a church career without rocking the boat, with their safe pair of hands, that is PROOF that they are called to be ordained, called to minister in all sorts of roles - maybe even to wear the pointy-hat. Some damn-fool poofter who falls in love with another man (or, of course a lesbian who falls in love with another woman, which is really complicated, because there's nothing in the Bible against it apart from something about bum-sex, which most girl couples don't do) and then wants the benefits that the law provides, by securing a marital relationship, well no, he can't have that, that's irresponsible, and unBiblical and greedy and nasty and wrong, and we don't want to think about bum-sex.

No indeed. Well, why not try stopping? Sorry ducks, it is ALL in YOUR mind.

Ah, but there's theology involved, there's all the traditional teaching. Is there? What's that then? Men can't sell their daughters; husbands can't rape their wives. Whoops, what happened to that traditional teaching? Did it get changed? How, I wonder? Common sense and reality bursting through the vestry door? Evil compromise with secular values? Come on chaps, stand up for your Biblical rights - sell those girls to the highest bidder, and if the Missus says No, well No doesn't mean nothing.

What we're up against here is honesty. Honesty is a huge challenge to the Church of England. I should say that I love the Church of England, which confirmed and ordained me, for a ministry which will continue, whether recognised or respected, or not, until I die, and I am a conviction Anglican. I've read all the Prayerbooks, I know the history. Cranmer and Parker and Elizabeth I and Hooker, are my heroes. I told the truth. Most gay clergy I know also did. Even those who didn't, well, the system knew. They ordained us, they used us, we worked for them, and now - do they work for us? No. And on what grounds? Because of some nutters in Africa and some madder ones in Brompton who are hiding behind the black faces that make bigotry acceptable.

The Church worries in every generation about what the young people are thinking. We know what they think about the Church of England on the gay question - they think it's a bunch of lying, hypocritical bigots. They are right.

"Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, thou hast ordained strength".

Be afraid, bishops, be very afraid. If not for your congregations, for your pensions. Both of which will in time disappear if you cannot face reality. And that reality is love. And God is love. Goodness, it will burn.

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