Sunday, 6 January 2013

Playing around with people's lives

I am always a bit wary about how the media reports church matters. There are so many things they just don't understand.
So I am interested to see on ABC a news story which says "Church of England drops ban on gay bishops" (here).
What quite this means remains to be seen. The story is almost certainly an incomplete report of what is taking place...and indeed what has been being discussed behind closed doors for some years.
(it should be noted that, while connected, the Anglican Church of Australia is independent of the "Church of England")
I am interested in one line of the report that says:
"Gay clergy must promise to be celibate and repent for past homosexuality ( emphasis)  if they are to become a bishop"
Now as far as I understand it "homosexuality" is not a sin, but an orientation. The Church certainly does not ascribe to the idea that a person's sexual orientation can be changed, or indeed that it should be.
The New Testament is quite clear that Bishops (or anyone else) should not be sexually immoral (or drunkards for that matter). But happening to be homosexual does not mean that ipso facto you have been sexually immoral.
It is also ridiculous to say that there have never been homosexual bishops in the C of E.
What there has been is a culture of "Don't ask, don't tell!"  Sometimes it has been well known other times less well known.
What ever else such a policy might mean it does mean the encouragement of implicit dishonesty. Hardly, I would have thought, a Christian virtue.
There is no doubt that what is being implied here is that no one who is sexually active as a homosexual is not allowed to be a bishop. 
The implicit assumption that requiring people to suppress their sexuality is acceptable,  is highly suspect. The weight of modern psychology would seem to suggest that at the worst this can be extremely damaging.
Again, hardly something I would have thought the church should have been doing to its members let alone its clergy.
At what point do we actually think we have the right to play around with people's lives in this way.
In answer to the largely pedestrian question "WWJD", I would have thought that "Play games with people's lives" is not one of them.

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