Tuesday 30 September 2014

Ins and Outs and Same-Sex Marriage

Thanks to those who have told me they have missed this blog. Now that same sex marriage is a reality in this country, I have been off writing a book to help resource a Christian response to its challenges and possibiities. It's an attempt to work out some scientific, moral, Biblical, legal, historical, cultural and missional positives now that gay people can marry.

The church has arrived at another round of shared conversations. In my optimistic moments I'd like to think that after thirty years of going round and round in circles about sexuality we could be getting somewhere. I wanted to produce something grounded in Scripture, tradition and reason, to capture the possibilities as they appear right now.

In my less optimistic moments I wonder why we are so uniquely hung up about sexuality. When I was ordained the Church was a comparatively compassionate and safe place for all. The end of “Don't Ask Don't Tell” has got us to a place where things are actually worse for gay clergy. Every ten years or so of the 35 I have been ordained we have held portentous conversations and listening exercises but nobody seems to heard anything and as the pattern repeats, everyone else has moved on. One wag recently quoted me Proverbs 26:11 about this — "As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools return to their folly." We really do have to punch our way out of this paper bag this time.

Meanwhile, in publication week I experience a phenomenon all preachers do — In the course of your killer sermon on the Trinity you tell a joke about something that happened to you in Croydon high street and all anyone wants to talk to you about afterwards is Croydon. In the book I articulated the drearily obvious and well known fact that a fair number of bishops in the past and present have been, in fact, gay. These people have particular vulnerabilities. This has inaugurated a furious spat on twitter with Peter Ould I have no integrity if I don't report all names to him forthwith. Curiously he's also written a piece pointing out the wrongness and futility of outing bishops, so I've no idea why he's so angry with me for not doing it. So here, for the record, is why I don't and won't out people.

What matters to me is the fact that bishops have a range of sexual orientations including gay, not which bishops have what. Which particular bishops are Saggitarian, left-handed or red-haired? I know not in detail, neither do I care. I can, however, understand that curiosity about this is greater than it would be for a group of people who did not set themselves up as professionally straight whilst behaving in discriminatory ways towards gay people. Why not, someone asked me, just put everyone out of their misery and name names?

(1) Me no expert. I have not undertaken detailed postgraduate research about bishops' sexuality. I have had all kinds of conversations with all kinds of people, including bishops, often on terms that exclude leaking personal information about this or anything else. There are journalists out there with far better and more accurate information than mine which is anecdotal and incidental. But I long for the day we are grown up enough for this to be a non-subject. Let's make it now.

(2) On a Meta level, Outing legitimates assumptions I believe are profoundly wrong. It assumes there's something wrong with being gay. It belongs to the world in which I grew up, of shame and guilt. If being gay is not an objective disorder and there's nothing to be ashamed of, its rationale collapses, inviting the response "your point being..."

(3) Peoples' Sexual identity and orientation is a significant part of who they are — that's the basis for my argument that the Church needs to stop being ambiguous about the full human dignity of gay people. If this is true it is always abusive to disrespect anyone's right to hold their own identity. In a world where people take responsibility for their own feelings and identities, outing is out.

(4) Time was a story about a high court judge, military officer or MP who was gay would have been big potatoes, but those days are gone except for bishops. We set ourselves up for this kind of prurience. The remedy lies in our own hands. As long as the House of Bishops continues to victimise gay clergy and ordinands, we have a problem.

People have asked about the process of shared conversations last week. We were encouraged the share the experience, but of course, to respect the confidences of others by not attributing anything.

The facilitation was excellent and the bishops, individually and in threes, as honest and engaging as any people you might hope to meet. Facilitation was state-of-the-art. En masse, however, the story was different. The oddest part was where four professionally gay (but not in too angular a way) people were lined up to present their stories to 110 professionally un-gay people, as though the human beings involved were some kind of other species. That geometry felt ultimately dishonest and degrading to everyone involved. It doesn't matter the slightest who is who, but the professional pretence that no bishop is gay reproduces in the room the reason the Church, almost alone among public institutions these days, is so stuck about this.

Many drew attention to the cognitive dissonance between pastoral practice and theory right now. One or two even used the obvious "H" word. The Church must be do better if we are to fulfil our overriding mission to bring the grace and truth of Christ to this generation and make him known to those in our care. Right now what's on offer is rather like one of those time share or bank adverts where the small print at the bottom says “Terms and restrictions Apply.” The love of God is bigger than this. You may say it was ever thus. Jesus walked into the room and outcasts were healed, whilst the scribes and pharisees sat at the back being snide about his disregard of the small print and plotting how to get rid of him. I know where I belong in that scene, and where the Church should be. Right now we've got this wrong, and we have to change. We have to follow Christ, not Caiaphas.

If shared conversations are to bear fruit we bishops require a higher degree of corporate truthfulness than we have achieved yet. But if we did achieve it, and the individual truthfulness I experienced at times in Market Bosworth was a great sign of hope, what other good results might come for the Church and, perhaps, the peace and salvation of the world?


Erika Baker said...

Thank you for this, Alan.
Can you say a little more about your statement that the bishops, individually and in threes, were as honest and engaging as any people you might hope to meet, while en masse the story was different?

Are you saying that the same bishops who were engaging in a small group seemed to speak differently when in a larger forum, or that they didn't speak at all?
Is this a repetition of the "so many bishops don't agree with the HoB but yet they all signed the pastoral statement" syndrome?
If so, did you experience that as discouraging or was the process hopeful?

Byron said...

Thanks for the insider's perspective, much appreciated.

As regards DADT, while I agree that it was comparatively better, we should guard against nostalgia. It was still very wrong. It denied gay clergy the social and legal affirmation their straight colleagues took for granted, and the secretive, deceptive culture it engendered was anything but healthy.

DADT was a product of its time. When society-at-large was homophobic, the Church of England might've been a safe space, but society's moved on, and what was a refuge becomes a prison. DADT always had a limited shelf-life.

The time's now come for it to be replaced with true equality. That the prospect has caused such fury amongst conservatives shows just how far from equality the old situation truly was.

Peter O said...


My complaint against you is fourfold.

i) No-one seriously doubts that there are bishops who are gay. I know a number myself, and I’m sure you do. Statistically the odds are clearly weighted towards some members of the House and College being gay. What you have done however is go beyond simply claiming that some bishops are gay, but you have speculated in your book both about their sex lives, past and present, and also their emotional state. What is the purpose of this unless you are wanting to apply moral or political pressure on the individuals concerned? Are you actually in a position to confidently state specifically who you believe has a sexual past that needs to be publicly shared? Are you actually in a position to document the specific emotional state of these allegedly conflicted men? If you don’t believe the public need to know, why are you telling the public these things? What is the purpose of rumour-mongering like this? Why do you make allegations about men when you aren’t willing to actually name anyone? Why should we believe anything you say without any evidence?
ii) Your accusation of hypocrisy is a serious one, and is clearly aimed directly and personally at some of your colleagues in the House and College, even if you do not name them individually. If you do not know or cannot personally identify the individuals who are hypocrites, you are simply repeating hearsay and rumour-mongering. This is simply unacceptable behaviour for a Bishop. It’s worth pointing out that someone who is celibate and demands celibacy of their clergy is not a hypocrite. Someone who has previously sexually active and now believes such behaviour was wrong and demands of their clergy a similar attitude is not a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who demands of their clergy the very thing that they are not willing to do (and vice-versa). If you believe such hypocrites exist, name them, or withdraw this personal slur on members of the House and College. It doesn’t matter that you have only written the number of Bishops rather than the names – you are still making a serious moral allegation and it behoves you to evidence it or retract it. What is unacceptable is to create a public climate of innuendo and slander, and then to cry crocodile tears when you are challenged about this.

Peter O said...

iii) You use the gay bishops as a political weapon. By using the language of “hypocrisy” and by also suggesting that some of the gay bishops would welcome a change in church discipline, you hijack their voices and use them for your own agenda. In reality, you have no idea whether the gay bishops support your revisionist view. If you wish to use them to support your call for change, if you wish to suggest that they want to change the Church’s teaching, you need to identify them rather than leaving the illusion that they share your convictions. At the moment you are treating them as puppets for your cause, you are denuding them of their actual voice within the House and College and imputing them with another. It is not acceptable to claim that an individual holds a particular position unless you are prepared to evidence such an assertion.
iv) Most seriously (and this links to iii above) you have broken the collegiality of the House and College in a most egregious and damaging manner. Collegiality exists to allow Bishops to have a full and frank discussion behind closed doors, to allow different points of view to be put forward with the understanding that no-one will be identified individually, to help find a common mind (or identify the lack of it) and then, most importantly, to move forward on an issue together. By making assertions about what certain (gay) bishops believe and allowing them no ability to correct such a presumption, by making claims about alleged hypocrisy but not having the courage to actually evidence such an assertion and allow an individual a right of reply, you have treated your gay colleagues will disrespect and used them as tools of your political agenda. The House and College speaks collectively for a reason, and you have abused the trust that makes collegiality works by publicly claiming the right to pronounce what some of your colleagues think and to make unsubstantiated allegations of hypocrisy. How can the Bishops move forward in a collective manner when some of them feel pressured by you to reveal intimate details of their personal lives which actually may have no bearing on the ethical decisions they need to make. In showing such a lack of respect for your colleagues you have (perhaps fatally) wounded the respect that others have held you in.

You need to apologise to your brother Bishops for peddling innuendo about them without having the courage to substantiate any of it. You need to apologise to your brother Bishops for hijacking their personal lives for your political purposes without respecting their right to a private life.

Anonymous said...

I am encouraged that you found the conversations well facilitated and that they worked well in the small groups if not so well in the plenary.

It gives some hope that we as a Church may yet get out of this hole we have been frantically digging ourselves deeper and deeper into.

I know that time will solve this, as a new generation comes which does not have a problem with equality and does not have a problem with reconciling that with the Bible. But my fear is that, in the long run we are all dead, and the Church, while it will not be dead, will be so shrunken and shrivelled by the time the new generation comes that it will have reached a point of no return.

That is why I think that there is so much more urgency about this than we seem able to provide; we have spent decades making things worse, and now our mission to make disciples is seriously threatened in this country, although not elsewhere.

But then I remember that ours is a gospel of hope, resurrection, coming back literally from the dead, and I hope that we can come through this alive after all.

In the meantime, I recognise your voice as a voice of truth, love, reason, compassion, faith, hope, good fruits, and all the things that make the gospel important; and, although your voice is only a minority voice in the College of Bishops, it is all the more important for that.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the Bible explicitly states that homosexual acts are sinful (as is adultery, idolatry, envy and a host of other things). As all of us have sinned I have no particular issue with homosexuals , but I do take issue with those who choose to live their lives in conflict with scripture leading churches - be they adulterers idolaters or homosexuals...

So Bishop Alan two questions for you:

Are homosexual acts sinful? yes or no

Should anyone deliberately living a sinful lifestyle hold office in church?

Jill said...

I am outraged that you see fit to make innuendoes about the private lives of some of your brother bishops, whose sexuality, and what they choose to do with it - so long as it is kept within the teaching of the Christian Church - is absolutely none of your business.

Andrew Godsall said...

"Jesus walked into the room and outcasts were healed, whilst the scribes and pharisees sat at the back being snide about his disregard of the small print and plotting how to get rid of him."
This is the observation that needs to be made again and again. The pastoral statement made in Feb this year has discredited the whole Church of England, and yet has not been properly challenged. It's all about small print and plotting, and in no way pastoral.
I am grateful to you for making the observation Alan. Thank you. I am reminded in some of the comments you have received of the way that John Robinson was treated. Nothing much has changed in all these years.

Happy Jack said...

Poor man you are a martyr to the cause of promoting the Christian acceptance of homosexuality as God given and, therefore, a healthy and natural expression of love - eros, presumably.

And all this is based on what? A *new understanding* of scripture and insight into the love of God? That homosexuality really does exist and, *gasp*, some Bishops are afflicted with the condition? And, *double gasp", some even act on it - some openly and others in secret?

And all this because the Church of England continues to see active homosexuality as sin (it does, doesn't it?) This makes it 'institutionally homophobic', unlike other public (secular)institutions that have moved with the times. And, finally, because there are Bishops who are living lives of secret sin this is somehow because the Church of England defines such behaviour as sin - not because they may be unsuited to their ministry.

Let's just remove the concept of sin alltogether - problem solved.

Anonymous said...

Well done for dealing so gracefully with the shouty people this week: I don't think they've convinced anyone but the usual suspects that some terrible breach has occurred. And ultimately has lent to the impression that they are the bullies. I look forward to reading the book.

Unknown said...

For someone who is supposedly "post-gay/ex-gay/never-gay" Peter Ould devotes more time and energy into making life miserable for REAL gay people who aren't ashamed of their sexuality. He, like those closeted bishops, is a prime example of how homophobia and heterosexism damage and warp vulnerable people. The saddest part of his obsession is when he candidly admitted that his life and identity are constructed around homosexuality as sin, which is ironic since he regularly invokes a cliff notes version of Foucault to critique gay male subjectivity as some modernist self-indulgence. The rapid change in cultural values from revulsion to tolerance/acceptance, despite his years of anti-gay campaigning, makes his constructed identity highly liminal and unstable. The Church is his last hope and without its institutionalized homophobia, he fears his life will have been wasted.

Anonymous said...

Any blogger who writes on the subject of gay clergy must first learn they are answerable to Peter Ould. For instance, he virulently attacked Vicky Beeching for daring to blog on his area of self-appointed 'expertise'. Like his twin brother, who recently displayed his homophobia on Australian TV, he is obsessive on a subject he knows little about. Not one of his accusations against Bishop Alan has any validity. If the Church of England were to be fully inclusive, the whole edifice of Peter Ould's situation would crumble. As Jim Green points out, Ould needs homophobia to validate his life-style choice.

Anonymous said...

Bp Alan, 3 questions:

(1) You imply that the normal Christian view is 'old-fashioned'. You will agree with me that it is no older-fashioned than anything else in the New Testament. So are you discarding the whole New Testament?

(2) Do you think that being old fashioned makes something likelier to be incorrect? If so, why fall for this chronological snobbery fallacy? Logically, whether something is good or bad has no relationship to whether it is old or new. New things are not good by virtue of being new. Old things are not good by virtue of being old. Things are good by virtue of being good.

(3) Why refer to our grandparents? Is theirs the only generation or culture that has taken the normal Christian view? Very, very far from it. Our own generation took it until a couple of years ago.

(4) Why do you systematically avoid the obvious scientific questions about whether people are actually born gay (studies of: identical twins; people abused when young; effect of college education; effect of urban environment; effect of being brought up by homosexuals; flexibility and instability of self-identification as homosexual..and so on)?

(5) Why do you also avoid the statistics on the horrendous outcomes of anal intercourse (which is something of proportionally more significance to homosexuals), and on homosexual rates of STIs, promiscuity, concurrent 'relationships', premature death, drug use....

I do not believe that such avoidance is honest.

Very best wishes

Dr Christopher Shell

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Dear Christopher,
(1) I don't.
(2) n/a
(3) because theirs was the generation in power at the time the social transition I was describing occurred
(4) I don't. But a lot of what you seem to be implying is way off the centreline of current research.
(5) It's a difficult area to survey but US evidence is that the overwhelming majority of people who practice anal sex are not homosexuals. If you are concerned about this subject, you would do best to focus your attention on the majority of those who practice anal sex, rather than making it the defining characteristic of a minority, a lower proportion of whom do.

Anonymous said...

(1)-(3) Yes, you do - in the 'Telegraph'. 'Out of touch with ordinary people' - clearly that means ordinary people of one particular age and culture as opposed to preceding ones. 'Progressive' and 'reactionary' are neither of them words that can be used by anyone who's realised that chronological snobbery is a fallacy.
'Grandparents' - some people think their elders might have more wisdom than them. They will have - unless they are leaking wisdom.
Have you been misquoted or correctly quoted in the Telegraph?

(4) Can you reference the science or social science that you are relying on here?

Can you also reference where you have dealt with these matters before? Thanks.

(5) You do not address several points: about STIs, promiscuity concurrent relationships, drugs, early death.

Well, of course the majority of people who practise it are het because the majority of people are - by far!!

For urban, college, molestation I rely on Laumann 1994 (8744 adults).

For molestation also on Holmes JAMA'98 and the meta-analysis of Jones and Yarhouse 2000 - and various others I can list if you wish.

For fluidity I rely on Savin-Williams and Ream ASB'07.

For same-sex parenting, Stacey & Biblarz, American Sociological Review 2001.

For identical twins, Bailey JPSP 2000, Kendler & Thornton AJPs 2000, and the contemporary studies of Kirk 2000, Whiteheads 1999, 2006. They converge on around 89% as a figure for heterosexual identical twins whose twin identifies as homosexual.

There are other points as well that you'd need to address: the effect of cultural norms (this is vast: women reporting same-sex partners has increased from 1.8% to 7.9% in 20 years). Also Francis Collins on the limited influence of genes.

Anonymous said...

Presumably rural, unpromiscuous, non-drug-taking homosexuals who didn't have the misfortune to be abused are living some kind of special lie!

Jesus wept. That apparently intelligent people can live in a world so remote from the real one is a wonder to behold.

A rural, unpromiscuous, non-drug-taking, unmolested homosexual

Anonymous said...

'Jesus wept' at the one who assumed that averages must be totals or at the one who did not assume that?

It is a fact that all these things are much, much higher among homosexuals. A fact that I can document in any specific instance you ask for.

Can you name any time that it has been said that every single homosexual tests positive for each of these characteristics, as your reply seems to assume?



A Vicar said...

If one 'googles' Savin-Williams and Ream it lists their first greatest fan to be Peter Ould! Obviously, Bishop Alan, Mr Ould has taken to replying to you anonymously with his amazing array of scientific research which is believed only by Mr Ould!

Erika Baker said...

I completely fail to see the relevance of all these statistics.
The question is not whether some sexual practices carry a higher risk than others, but whether stable, faithful and long-term relationships should be accepted by the church.

Otherwise we would have to have a register detailing which couple, straight and gay, gets up to what, and discriminate on the basis of that.

The focus on men is also not helpful, half of lgbt people are women and the discrimination harms us all.

In any case, risky behaviour has never stopped the church from recognising relationships. Christians and non-Christians smoke, drink too much at times, engage in risky sports.
And we don't tell them that that makes them ineligible to be married.

Can we get this conversation back on track, please?

Ian Paul said...

Anonymous, would love to chat. Can you message me through Facebook or my blog?


Critical believer said...

It seems futile to hope for progress on any Christian issue. On the one hand we have those who are determined to view the Bible as, in effect, a magic book offering oracular solutions and unquestionable teaching to every age and situation; on the other, we have those who view the scriptures (a better term) as assorted writings from the ancient world, none of them written in English, of widely varied literary types, every one marked by the historical and cultural background of its writer. With the second viewpoint, we may enter into fruitful, critical dialogue with these writings; with the first there is no dialogue with them required and no criticism permitted. These two positions cannot be reconciled. Perhaps me must prepare for a parting of the ways. As a boy I came to love the scriptures by hearing learned Nonconformist scholars show how historical criticism can enrich our understanding of the biblical writings, I am distressed beyond words at the use to which they are being put by uncritical fundamentalism. There seems to be a painful truth in the jibe, "no Christian ever picked up the Bible except to hit someone over the head with it."

Anonymous said...

Erika, faithful, stable and permanent are a tiny minority (and yes, there are stats for that as well). They are a Trojan horse, since the question is always couched as being about fairness to homosexual people in general. Nor do the revisionists ever speak out against the errant majority. CS

Anonymous said...

Hi A Vicar

Does your reply mean that you cannot fault the research of Savin-Williams and Ream (which, after all, they conducted and you didn't)?

Do you have better information than them? If so, what is it?

They found adolescent 'gay' identity to be 3-4 times less stable than heterosexual. In fact the vast majority (above 90%) forsook such a self-identification between ages 16 and 18. So is there such a thing as actually being gay at that age? Their research - as opposed to uninformed ideology - would suggest not. And yet these are the very people whom the fashionable worldview will be recruiting and then trying to keep.



Bishop Alan Wilson said...

I certainly imply the normal Christian view is not particularly normal or Christian.

The Christian faith begins with the Incarnation. That means the grace and truth of Christ renews in every generation. People may be more comfortable in the 1950's or the 1880's or the thirteenth century. Jesus told us to watch the signs of the times, not hang onto the tradition of the elders. The process of the kingdom cannot be set in concrete and if the fruit of what we do is damaging and wrong we need to pay attention to that.

As you now the literature is vast. It seems to me you are looking for some cause of homosexuality as an abnormal sexuality. If in fact all human sexuality has multiple causes and effects, a small variable degrees of fluidity around the edges, within which some people identify as gay, the whole search for a cause of a condition you have pathologised as "homosexuality" is likely to be futile. One of the serious flaws in the Pilling report, I am told by every competent scientist I have discussed things with, is its erection of the agenda of the Core Issues Trust approach into a kind of alternative scientific reality when, in fact, they saw it as more akin to climate change denial or Creationism within the whole field.

I am a pastor not a scientist, and my views are shaped by what one could call a mainline Radio 4 understanding of these things. However I think we need to stop living entirely in the world in our heads and come down to earth — Jesus did/does!

I am aware that our conventional approach has done incalculable cruelty and damage to some people. That is the basis of my believing it is inadequate and abusive.

As I read Core Issues propaganda, with its carefully manicured list of minority conclusions culled from a vast literature to make it look as though there is serious doubt in the scientific community about the complexity but also the general shape of the matters under discussion, what I see is a kind of nightmare version of the Good Samaritan where a not very good Samaritan came along whose response to the heap of bleeding rags in the road was to send for the crime figures and forensic analysis to prove the injured traveller wasn't there.

We need to take the particular experiences of real people far more seriously. The fact is that form the first half of my adult life the NHS took Chris' kind of view of homosexuality and backed up that view with all kinds of interventions that denied the reality of homosexuality as a natural part of the makeup of some people. These methods, not in a lab, but in real life, along with the complete failure of Christian reparative therapy schemes to help any but a tiny minority of the highly motivated people who turned to them, often in desperation, were abject failures.

As for the Church, you do not have to go to any laboratory to experience the cognitive dissonance between our theory and our practice. We have been very bad news, not only to the people we have damaged, but to ourselves.

Meanwhile God makes it quite plain what he expects of us — do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with him. Our current policy is patently unjust (thus you can be a chaplain in one place but not in another 12 miles away), you can be partnered as long as you lie about it, and discriminatory structures pass unchallenged into our ideology. It is unmerciful, because it makes gay people scapegoats for our inability to make up our mind about the matter. It involves cruel arrogant judgments about others, that they are not as they experience themselves to be, because we know better, having culled some references off a Christian website that we trust more than the human beings themselves.

Finally, Chris, you admit most anal sex practitioners are not gay. Of course, you say. Why then do you use this practise as your defining line for homosexuality? Why not use something that actually does define them, their own self description?

Erika Baker said...

Chris, so all those long term couples I know have no right to marry because you have some statistics showing that not all couples are stable?

That is not entirely logical, is it.

Every couple marries in the hope of a lifelong relationship. For some that dream doesn't work out. Straight divorce figures speak volumes about that.
But no-one suggests we should discontinue straight marriage. Instead, we talk about what we can do to strengthen and stabilise straight families.

Your prejudice is causing you to measure different things in different relationships and to propose different solutions.

It's not logical and it's not helpful.
The agenda behind it is too obvious and apart from a few other obsessives, there aren't many who accept your artificial framework for this conversation.

Anonymous said...

My point, dearest CS, is that these statistical associations have no essential connection to homosexuality, even as a "practice", let alone as an identity.

Disease related to sex concerns specific behaviours which both heterosexual and homosexual people may engage in.

What on earth is the relevance of molestation? Do you want to punish victims twice?

I find this line of discussion absurd, self-defeating, and statistically inept. And yes, I have a PhD too. Big whoop.

A Vicar said...

Although Mr Ould has taken to calling himself 'Chris', I have little interest in his assertions about the number of people who call themselves 'gay' in adolescence. Gay people who can now avail themselves of same-sex Marriage are unlikely to share Mr Ould's obsession with statistics and obscure research by American writers. Why should the Church be bothered about Mr Ould's hobby? I have never prepared a 'straight' couple for marriage by having a lurid discussion on anal sex. Why is Mr Ould bothered about the anus, when he should be more concerned about the couple's fidelity, companionship and love?

Peter O said...

Let me categorically state for the record the ONLY comments I have placed on this blog are the ones under my name above.

Alan, it is inappropriate for you to allow comments on this blog that accuse me of holding positions I have not articulated and then insult me on the basis of this straw man. Kindly please remove such comments.

I can see you are not interested in responding to my serious concerns about your allegations about the House and College of Bishops, but please do me the courtesy of removing from your blog these offensive insults. As the publisher of such comments it's the least you can do.

A Vicar said...

I cannot believe that Peter Ould regards his questions to you, Bishop Alan, as "serious concerns". His accusations are not only preposterous, they are downright rude.

Happy Jack said...

What's the claims that such and such a percentage are homosexual? So what?

If a person identifies as a Christian and is homosexual in orientation but is successfully resisting this inclination, then he is in good standing with the God revealed to us in the bible.

If a person identifies as a Christian and is engaging in homosexual acts because of his orientation, yet accepts this is sinful and a matter for repentance, then he is a sinner, like us all, attempting to amend his life. The Church is there to welcome him and support him.

If on the other hand, a person identifies as a Christian and wilfully engages in homosexual acts, believing them to be acceptable before God and in conformity with His revealed Will, then, from a Christian perspective, he places himself outside of God's saving grace.

There is no reason why anybody with a particular inclination, which one cannot choose to pursue without being complicit in moral evil, should be compelled to define themselves that way, or be so defined by others.

Has the Church of England and its Bishops lost its way to the extent it can no longer discern right from wrong?

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Peter, I am baffled by your serious concerns. Consider what I have done. Put in the public domain information about the bishops you yourself have put in the public domain. I don't understand why is it a public duty when you do it and a gross sin when I do it. You admit its veracity. As to hypocrisy the word was used three times by other bishops in my hearing during the Market Boswroth meeting. What was being referred to were policies we follow (like licensing a chaplain is a serious enough sin against doctrine to claim ECHR exemption from discriminating against someone (but using non doctrne punishments meted out after no process) — but only in Nottinghamshire. In Lincolnshire it is the opposite and the same person is licensed in exactly the role he couldn't be 12 miles away) or the oft-referred to "Cognitive dissonane between pastoral theory and practice bearing in mind its effects." The hypocrisy is corporate not individual and I saw no finger pointing at any individual.

As for censorship I'm most reluctant. I do bounce spam assiduously. In the 7 years life of this blog I've only censored three comments for content. One was grossly Islamophobic in a way that would have been legally actionable on the streets and two were from a prominent supporter of Anhlican Mainstream and were grossly sexualised in a way that simply disgusted me — lots of twaddle that the gentleman concerned obviously dwells on about semen and intestines. I viewed it as a kind of obsessional pornography and would not publish it. You yourself have clarified any matter of fact that might be misunderstood about this thread. Thank you.
"Happy Jack" your concept of Salvation is essentially Pelagian / Islamic. All the bishops I've met are committed to what St Paul called "Salvation by grace through faith lest any should boast." I hope one day you discover Christianity which I find to have a richer and fuller view of grace and salvation than the view you articulate.

Anonymous said...

In recent years I've tried not to follow any of the usual blogs in this area (Ould, Thinking Anglicans, Cranmer) because I get too depressed. I was interested in Alan's book so stupidly read the comments on these websites. Cranmer, where Mr Ould published his most recent article, currently hosts comments which self-righteously mock someone who explains his suicidality as a gay teenager. If this is Christianity, you can count me out.

Since Mr Ould is crying foul, I'll just mention that I chose to stop commenting on his website a couple of years ago because his tone (like that of his original comment here) was so ludicrously schoolmasterly and disciplining that it immediately raised hackes and shut down discussion. Either Mr Ould enjoys the experience of raising hackles, so that he can come back with even more self-righteous responses, or he genuinely doesn't realise how he comes across.

Oh, and another reason I stopped commenting on Mr Ould's blog is that he would publish comments from people like jillfromharrow and David Shephard -- the former making assertions about pederasty and the joking that gay people just "can't help themselves!" (sic) with regard to anal sex.

I long for the church I used to love, where I could experience a life in community with others, and in communion with God. That is what we should be about. I'm afraid that it is those who insist on judging and condemning gay Christians who earnestly seek to live good lives who have made this an experience I can no longer find.

A. Ruralgay

A Vicar said...

It was a blessed relief to learn that Peter Ould had stopped blogging and would no longer peddle his tiresome wares which are profoundly hurtful and damaging to gay people. Sadly, he now appears on other people's blogs to spread his eccentric views, whilst being offensive to other bloggers who have the audacity to challenge him. Is it not time for Mr Ould to realise he's on the wrong side of history? Gay Marriage is here to stay. It is only a matter of time for the Church to accept that fact, and eventually to allow its gay clergy to wed. By which time, Mr Ould will be forgotten.

Erika Baker said...

A. Ruralgay,
Thinking Anglicans is a very supporting forum, and although there are some strident commenters in both sides of the debate, the majority is thoughtful and constructive.
If you haven't already done so, you could also read (or join) the open Changing Attitude group on Facebook.

There's no need to let the strident anti gay campaigners define what "church" is. Church is what we make it, all of us together.
All we need to do for our sanity is to avoid the most harmful parts of it.291

Anonymous said...

The problem is, Erika, that for me this whole controversy spoils and overshadows the experience of church. I've been treated badly by them and have no intention to set foot in one again -- particularly while the official institution puts cretinous pseudo-science from Core Issues Trust on an equal footing with, you know, actual research/reality.

A. Ruralgay

Erika Baker said...

A Vicar,
I sincerely hope Peter Ould won't be forgotten. We may not agree with what he says about same sex sexuality and how he expresses himself, but he is still a member of our church. He's as much a complex, three dimensional person as the rest of us, and if we keep insisting not to be seen as single issues but rounded human beings, then we must see those who oppose us in the same light.

I hope there will always be space for disagreement in our church and that all will be truly welcome.

That doesn't mean we accept what they say without criticism, nor does it mean that we stop trying to change the church and make it more compassionate. But it should mean that we don't demonize individuals, however much we struggle with them.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Thanks, Erika. I think it is important for our own sanity that we treat everyone with the same level of respect. That way the truth of the matter, as St Paul implied on one occasion, can emerge from our disagreements. Many of our woes arise from the one-sidedness and inequality of the discussion so far and I see that mirrored all over the place including by people who just tell me to shut up, as though I should be a professional liar, whatever I believe. We know we can do better than that, and we often do...

Erika Baker said...

A. Ruralgay,
being rural does have its challenges! If your parish church happens to be conservative it's not easy to go to a different one. On the other hand, there are rural gay priests and very welcoming rural churches too.

Ultimately, it's a personal choice. I've been where you are and left small church because I couldn't cope with the hurtful attitudes of Big Church. But in the end, I only hurt myself with that approach, distancing myself from a genuinely welcome community. If we can't cope with both, we can still choose the nourishing environment over the toxic one.

I am refusing to allow toxic Big Church to shape my personal life. It has no power over us other than the one we allow it to have.

It's different if you want to be a partnered priest. But for most of the rest of us, there are choices. And the toxic guys can affect us only to the extent we allow them to.
Stop allowing them.

A Vicar said...

Your Christian tolerance is to be commended. No one is suggesting the likes of Peter Ould should leave the Church. However, he comes across as a single-issue minister. Thankfully, we live in a liberal secular democracy where religious bigotry is proscribed when it affects the lives of gay people (and others). It is shameful that gay UK citizens can feeler 'safer' OUTSIDE the Church than being welcomed as members within it. I am a believer in tolerance. But when the views of Anglican Mainstream, Peter Ould and Core Issues, for example, are regarded as acceptable, I fear the gospel will continue to be unheard. If clergy are banned from membership the BNP, why are Anglican Mainstream et al allowed?

Erika Baker said...

A Vicar,
I think the problem is that these extreme views are accepted officially. But if you look at opinion research about what actual members of the CoE believe, it becomes clear that they are by now marginal views.

Almost half approve of same sex marriage. Many more support gay equality but struggle with the marriage issue.
Many of our churches are officially welcoming of lgbt couples, many many others offer various levels of acceptance.

I'm not a rose tinted glasses person and I do know from conversations with people just how shocking the situation in many of our churches is, especially for our young people who love their conservative churches but just wish they could be less anti-gay.

There is no doubt in my mind that Big Church must distance itself from dangerous things like gay cures, therapies, exorcism etc. There is a reason they are not allowed in the NHS and the church should not be allowed to offer harmful "treatment" to vulnerable people.

But once priest are able to marry gay couples if they wish, once gay priests are allowed to marry, once harmful practices are outlawed - there is no reason why conservative churches cannot remain.
There will be fewer and fewer of them anyway, as more and more young people in those churches come out to their communities and lobby for change.

I watched Pride 2 days ago (and I’m still crying, what a wonderful film!). What really struck me is how the story there mirrored our situation in the CoE.

You had openly gay people coming alongside a traditionally conservative community. You had those who preferred to ignore the reality of people in favour of sticking with prejudice supposedly supported by statistical “facts” (in those days the “fact” that AIDS was injected through the bottom, for example). They preferred their statistics and refused to talk to the actual people who were visiting them.
You had a mother who was desperately worried about her gay son because he seemed to be choosing a life of loneliness and dangers, vulnerable because he was hated by the society he lived in.
Her worries were genuine! But the danger did not come from him being gay, the danger came from the prejudice of those who forced gay people into loneliness, marginalised them and so contributed to lifestyles that could be harmful.
But the majority in the village got to know the gay people and got to recognise the reality of them. It was lovely to see how that changed both sides for the better and how it melted prejudice on both sides.

The high profile anti-gay lobbying by one single family was reminiscent of the high profile anti-gay lobbying by a few noisy organisations in the CoE.
Less noisy but far more substantial and far more life changing was what was happening everywhere else in that village.
We have way to go yet. But we do not need to get sidelined by bitter argument with those who will never change their minds.
We just keep on concentrating on changing minds and hearts everywhere else, and the church will change regardless of what the high profile noise boxes are trying to achieve.

The current facilitated conversation has not come about because some brave souls at the top of the church have decided to push for what is right and just.
They have come about because the church is changing before people’s eyes. Because the rigid hierarchy can no longer close its eyes before that reality. Because the tide is turning and more and more people will want to be seen on the right side of history. Because more and more are discovering their voices and speaking up for what they know to be the truly Christian view.

We don’t need to ban Anglican Mainstream. That would only give them martyr status. They are already, slowly but surely, on their way out.

Happy Jack said...

Alan, if you think Jack is a Pelagian then you do not understand the term. As for Islam, well you completely lost Jack there.

Are you seriously suggesting there is no wilful conduct that might separate us from the love and grace of God and, unless repented, loose the Kingdom of God? If you want to exchange scriptural passages, then Paul has quite a lot to say on this. Or was he a prisoner of his culture too like the writers of the Old Testament?

Do you seriously believe "salvation by grace" is a blank cheque to commit grievous sin? That once moved by grace to faith in Christ, that we do not have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as he moves is to reform our lives and gives us the perseverance to resist temptation?

No, what you actually mean is that you, having reinterpreted scripture through a secular and modernist prism, and now deem active homosexuality as acceptable and consistent with the Gospel.

And, if you want to trade labels, in Jack's eyes, this makes you a blind leader, teaching a false gospel.

This isn't about judging sinners; or hypocrisy in the Church of England; or whether homosexuals are born with their inclinations, made that way by the world, or choose to be homosexual; nor is it about the relative health hazards of homosexual acts. No, these are all distractions. It is about whether active homosexual acts is sin or not. Get that correct and the rest follows.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, Christopher Shell as well - a man who ( as I know from my own forum ) cruises the Internet mentioning his PhD and then going on in post after post (until the mod loses all patience) about anal sex. I'm pretty sure that there's no gay man on the planet who thinks about gay sex as much as Dr Shell does. It really is the same six people putting themselves about on the net on this: all the other heterosexuals have better things to do with their time.

Happy Jack said...


You say it’s about whether same sex sexual activity is a sin or not.
And I agree!"

Oh, goody.

"So maybe we can talk about that?
And maybe we can refrain from throwing bible verses at each other that supposedly prove that gay sex is a sin."

Hmmm ... what is sin but offending God. We know His will and what offends Him through scripture, yet you don't want to include this?

"Now, my evangelical friends tell me that their key to assessing whether their interpretation of Scripture is correct is to test it against the obvious fruits of following or not following their interpretation."

The only test of understanding God's revealed will is living according to His word, whatever this brings, and staying focussed on our eternal destination.

So we know that prohibiting gay people from leading the same lives straights lead causes ............
We know that encouraging gay people to be fully integrated in society and leading the same lives straights lead reduces those symptoms to the same level prevalent in the general population."

We know all this, do we? You don't want to discuss scripture, yet you want to discuss disputed empirical research?

"So I would be really grateful if you, or anyone else here, could give me the view of the opposite side. What good is it that is of such overriding importance that we must accept all the pain and very real harm we cause gay people?
Or, rather, why would a loving God impose lonely and damaging lives on a whole 5+% of the population? What’s the pay-off? Where’s the moral good?

Er .... God imposes nothing on nobody. The Holy Spirit sends all the help we need. And eternal life with God, might be a good outcome.

You want an explanation of mystery of evil in the world?

"Because if there isn’t one, my evangelical friends would conclude, not that Scripture is wrong, but that their interpretation of Scripture is wrong."

Your friends judge spiritual matters by temporal outcomes? Or perhaps your evangelical friends have a vested interested in the debate and what they regard as authoritative? Or, maybe, you are selective in who you listen to for the same reason.

The Church isn't a social club or a community centre intended to make people feel good and fuzzy in this world. Read about the struggles of men and women of God. It has a higher purpose.

Steve Hayes said...

You say that "outing" legitimates assumoptions that you regard as profoundly wrong, and imply that such assumptions include the assumption that there is something wrong with being gay.

In the only case of "outing" (or attempting to "out") an Anglican bishop that I know of the assumptions were just the opposite. I've blogged about it here Are you homophobic? | Notes from underground if you want to know the details, but the "outing" was done by a group of gay activists who were behaving like fascist bullies.

Erika Baker said...

I would happily discuss Scripture. But the problem with your line of argument is that you argue from the point of view that homosexuality is clearly sinful. Whereas we're actually trying to evaluate that premise.

I do not elevate people's experience above Scripture. But when people's experience flatly contradicts what we believe Scripture to be saying, then we need to re-visit Scripture with the possibility in mind that our interpretation could have been wrong.

Dismissing people who do that in sarcastic tones and accusing them of only arguing from vested interests (especially when you know absolutely nothing about the people I am referring to), and accusing us of turning the church into a social club is not a hermeneutical contribution to that question.
Loftily dismissing those who do not share your view may be emotionally satisfying but does not contribute to a respectful debate of a genuine question.

Maybe you need to do some more reading before you can engage constructively in this debate. If you scroll through this blog to January or February, you will find that Alan posted a good list of books for people to get started with that all encourage a deeper engagement with the question.

Erika Baker said...

you're right, the outing or not outing debate is specific to thoseliberal on gay issues (not just gay people). It would be, wouldn't it.

And in that debate, there are opposing views. I happen to agree with Alan's view that outing is never justified.
Why should that view be unacceptable just because others don't share it?

What we're trying to do is to make sure that people are not outed.
And on the whole, the pro gay community seems to be doing pretty well. Despite the pressure to out people, and despite the appalling hurt some of us have experienced at the hands of a hypocritical church, we tend, on the whole, not to hit back by destroying closeted people's lives.
I'm grateful for that.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Steve, any form of bullying seems to me morally questionable. One of the good effects of decreasing public prurience and obsession about sexual orientation is that it undermines the logic that makes it possible for anyone to use anyone else's sexuality as a weapon to compromise their human dignity.

(1) In mainline Islam, I'm told, God is held to be gracious and help but admission to heaven, salvation, is held to depend ultimately on the balance of good and bad deeds someone has committed. Particularly bad deeds disquality. There was a big debate among early Christians about post-baptismal sin with some taking more or less rigorist positions. These eventually resolved into classic reformation concepts of imputed or infused grace. Islam with its less dynamic view of grace setted on the idea people's deeds would qualify or disqualify them — the idea you were articulating above. Pelagianism was a holiness movement and although it's generally only know from what its enemies said about it, the language about sin was very much along the lines you articulated.

As to the Bible, the first one to mention homosexuality as such was published in 1946. There is a microscopic number of texts that apply, 0.002% in fact, all of them open to various interpretations. The way cultural hatred of same sex behaviour has distorted can be demonstrated by considering the 34 texts that mention Sodom. Only one of them, the story of Lot's visitors, talks of same sex behaviour. Yet a "Sodomite" since the 13th century, has been a man who has sex with a man. There's a whole world of meaning in the Bible to be discovered when people take off their homophobic glasses.
My approach to the Bible is not modernistic, but historical and canonical, developed by forty years of reading it in its original texts. All I can suggest is that you read the Bible more carefully.
All forms of sarcasm produce more heat than light.
Jill, figures from 2011 "Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and SexualIdentity in the United States: Data From the 2006–2008
National Survey of Family Growth" from the US Government Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease prevention and control indicate that a greater proportion of straight people than gay practise anal sex. The upshot is that there could be some 120m in the US, as opposed to some 6-7m gay males. If you are genuinely concerned with the health issue you raised, I would suggest you focus on 120m majority of
anal sex practitioners not the 7m, and furthermore it is only ignorance that could want to make the key descriptor of gay males a practice which a greater proportion of straight people practice.

A Vicar said...

Bishop Alan
Your sensible exegesis offered to Happy Jack shows the futility of trying to have a "conversation" with fundamentalists in the Church. They have already made up their minds based upon the inerrancy of Scripture which reinforces their already-established prejudice. I would guess this applies even in the House of Bishops where disagreement on the nature of Scripture can reveal the futility of quoting 'proof texts' to change people's minds. Your comments to Happy Jack suggest he has a different religion (Islam). I would venture this applies to the Church of England as a whole, where vast swathes of evangelicals have a faith totally different from that of Jesus.
What on earth does quoting ancient Scripture have to do with an enlightened view of human sexuality?

Erika Baker said...

A Vicar,
I know you didn't ask me....
but I would like to point you to the clickometer at the top of Alan's blog. The blog is read by far more people than those who comment.
Ultimately, we know that people like Jack rarely change their minds.
But that doesn't matter.
What does matter is that those who read the comments and who may not be quite so rigid, get a full overview of the various positions as well as of the style people use to make their points.

The task is to encourage as many middle of the road people as possible to think this issue through. The likes of Jack on the one side and you and me on the other, we're not going to change our minds.
But church as a whole will.
Partly through this kind of engagement.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Bishop Alan. You have received the ultimate accolade of a vindictive diatribe from Anglican Mainstream, including a link with Peter Ould's 'Cranmer' article exposing your "unpleasant little trick". With these people against you, what proof does anyone need of the rightness of your cause?

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Well I saw the AM piece, and it simultaneously vilifies me for all kinds of detestable enormities, including being the new Bishop Spong (these people have no idea how off the mark that judgment is in every way) and then goes on to say of course he hasn't read the book, and might have to, but resents paying any royalties! The matter speaks for itself.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

I have to say the word "Sodomy" lost its traditional sting for me thirty years ago when I examined the 34 references to the cities of the plain in the Scriptures and discovered to my amazement that only one of them could possibly have anything to do with same sex behaviour. Telescoping this tradition into an insulting term for "gay sex" is an utterly reductionist to read the Bible.

A Vicar said...

Can I ask, through the courtesy of this website, that Peter Ould re-opens his blog so that Jill may return to where she properly belongs? Her obsession with diseases of human orifices is surely part of Ould's 'fundamental orthodoxy' and where Jill seemed content to talk about the subject which she so dearly loves.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

I will draw the line if someone else writes in pointing out that the overwhelming majority of people who suffer from sickle cell anaemia are black, therefore should describe themselves as "Persons of unasked-for skin pigmentation" and be banned from church leadership.

Anonymous said...

I have frequently noticed, A Vicar, that people who don't have a decent argument to put forward resort to being rude.

Many years ago someone close to me died from AIDS. It was horrible, and I have no wish to see it happen to anyone else, and while there is breath in my body I will oppose the kind of behaviour which causes it.

Jill said...

That last comment was from me.

Jill said...

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disease, it is not caused by a specific behaviour.

A Vicar said...

Presumably, Anon, you will oppose an infected partner making love to their spouse, or the risks involved in blood tranfusions. AIDS, unlike you, does not discriminate against anyone.

Anonymous said...

Jill's point is a good one. In telling the young that homosexuality is one good option for them, you are opening the way for an increase in STIs and risky practices like anal intercourse to increase.

What kind of love does this show towards our and others' children? Selling them the 'values' (ahem...) of the sexual revolution? That is really what the church and the gospel have always been about, no?

Anonymous said...

Bishop Alan, you mentioned a study (USA 2006-8) that suggests that 120m straights practise anal intercourse and 6-7m gay men. On no reckoning of the proportion of gay men in the population does that fail to give a higher proportion of gay than of straight.

Best, CS

Happy Jack said...


Jack is aware of both Islam and Palagianism and subscribes to neither position. And he is not homophobic (tsk.. tsk..) nor completely ignorant of the bible.

Jack's is a simple man and his position is simple too. The gift of human sex is for a male and female to share intimacy and grow in love in a life long partnership and, in doing so, be open to the possibility of the procreation of new life.

You clearly believe "once saved (present tense) - always saved (future tense)".

So, a few questions:

Setting aside homosexuality and whether it be sin for now, does committing any sin impact on salvation if we believe in Jesus Christ? Is there no deliberate action on our part that offends God that can lose us hope of Heaven - or is anything and everything 'covered' from the moment we believe?

A Vicar said...

Why are the above commenters obsessed with gay sex? AIDS and STIs are more common among the 'straight' population. Did the above commenters choose their sexuality as an option, like one might select Corn Flakes as opposed to Rice Krispies? If so, when did they decide to become heterosexual?

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

There was much discussion of this among early Christians especially among North Africans about apostasy in times of persecution. This concern was certainly a major driver int he development of auricular confession. Holding as I do a fairly robust theology of the fall, I am rather with St Paul and St Augustine on this one.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

CS the study established (and I'm out of the office and working from memory) around 38% of straights and 30% of gays practised anal sex. The numbers are not easy to extrapolate from there, but if you assume there to be around 300m in the US, subtract prebuescent children, allow for 6%-ish being gay, then you have to remember females are penetrated anally in opposite sex couples, but only males in male/male couples (which seem to be the one Conservatives are obsessional about). At least half of gay people are probably female (again figures vary, but bear in mind well over half of the first cohort to contract UK same sex marriages were female)... the point is far far more straight people than gay do anal sex. Ig you want to crusade on that subject, please direct your campaign at a group who outnumber gay practitioners by a factor of almost 20. And please don't use that particular sexual behaviour to try and stigmatise a minority when you define them by it.

Anonymous said...

Re: Sodom

More than one reference to Sodom may have to do with same-sex behaviour. Jude, and the central Sodom text in Genesis itself. Lot seems to be so appalled by the prospect of it that he will even sacrifice his daughters' honour to assuage the men's lust rather than have the homosexual option realised.

You say 'could possibly', but that reading seems a lot more than possible.

In other places, Sodom is just used as a byword for iniquity (e.g., Jesus's words in Matthew and Luke). Have you ever come across the strange view that there was only one sin of Sodom. Had Sodom had just the one sin, it would have been a byword for righteousness!!



A Vicar said...

In the gospels, Jesus encountered a blind man. Can you tell me what terrible sin he committed? Or perhaps it may have been his parents? Or perhaps he might have been gay?

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

The reference to lusting after strange flesh in Jude is to do with the angelic character of the prospective victims.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting deja vu here, and remembering why I almost never engage in these conversations any more, because it was getting so unhealthy.

I'm reminded of the Madeleine McCann trolls thing that's running at the moment (and fascinatingly, how at least one of them has been unmasked as a sixtysomething churchgoer from a leafy part of Leicestershire). She seems to have gone on about the same subject for years and years, relentlessly, surely taking up a significant part of her waking life. Something's clearly gone wrong in her head, leading her to heap vitriol on people who have surely already gone through enough.

Similarly nothing will ever balance out the perspective of at least two people on this thread: not the sight of so many upstanding, useful, happy loveable gay people contributing to society - or conversely all the other ills in the world which may be avoided by more careful behaviour (a vast proportion of the population are in a pre-diabetic state, a disease described recently by an eminent doctor as 'worse than an HIV diagnosis' - at least in the West where drugs mean the illness is now well controlled.) At some point we must hope there'll be a cure for people who have lost all sense of perspective, but obviously that moment is not yet.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Gay and straight people alike get various STD's, and I don't see the direct relevance to allowing gay people to marry. Trying to help, it may well be that someone who genuinely wanted to reduce STD's among gay people should support their right to marry as it could well reduce the number of sexual partners they may have. IN addition much unsafe practice, gay and straight, is the result of shame and dissimulation, so any way of life that encourages people to be more honest and open about who they are sexually may help.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Having just picked up the Times and Christian Today stories on the McCanns I see what you mean...

Happy Jack said...


Are you ignoring Jack's question - or unable/unwilling to answer.

Here it is again:

"Setting aside homosexuality and whether it be sin for now, does committing any sin impact on salvation if we believe in Jesus Christ? Is there no deliberate action on our part that offends God that can lose us hope of Heaven - or is anything and everything 'covered' from the moment we believe?"

You see Jack isn't interested in the 'mechanics' of homosexual sex, nor whether it is a health hazard. No, his concern is whether it is an offence to God and, if so, how this might effect out Heavenly destination.

So does any behaviour threaten salvation?

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