The House of Bishops have expressed a desire to "establish a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people, for those who experience same sex attraction, and for their families". They need to remember – being nice to someone whilst hitting them is still abuse!
Believing you can change your tone so that members of the LGBT community are given "welcome and support" while teaching that being in a loving, faithful same-sex relationship is sinful is not only in my mind unbiblical, it creates untold spiritual and emotional damage – especially in the lives of the most vulnerable, our young adults. The report does nothing to address this.
The nation will look on incredulous at this report, and yet again will recoil from a Church that fails to show love or understanding to those it has constantly marginalised and victimised. They have judged us and found us wanting – wanting in love, wanting in justice and wanting in honesty. A Church that yet again chooses to obfuscate and fudge this issue. Sadly, most want no part with us.
If you doubt me, then you try to talk about the love of God to a young gay man who has been rejected by family members, beaten up by his friends and ostracised by his community or church for being gay! Or indeed try talking to his best friend, or his sister or anyone who cares about him – they too feel his pain, and don’t understand why the Church stands by and does nothing.
This Bishops' report fails to recognise the mounting evidence that was given during the Shared Conversations of the prolonged and institutionalised spiritual abuse that has been meted out against the LGBT community. To demand that they be celibate for life because of their sexual orientation, and to only recognise one interpretation of scripture on the matter is cruel, unjust and ungodly. So much harm has been perpetrated by those seeking to "pray the gay away", or by those denying the love of life-long committed relationships.
So much harm has been perpetrated by those seeking to "pray the gay away"
We refuse to see the Godly fruit of same-sex love, and instead pretend that the briers and thorns of depression, self-harm and self-hatred caused by harmful teaching is "God’s way". Let me be clear – it is not! It may be what some people through conscience believe and chose to live out, but to teach that as a way of life is to completely misunderstand scripture and ignore what Jesus himself said in Matthew 19:11, where he said celibacy was "only for those to whom it has been given". That is, a gift.
I am ashamed to be part of such an institution that is incapable of recognising and responding to the diversity of views that were expressed during the Shared Conversations. I am angered by a House of Bishops who have sought only to address their own concerns about having to question ordinands at the expense of showing any real leadership on the substantive issues. Most of all I am deeply concerned for the well-being of vulnerable LGBT teenagers growing up in many Christian homes, who will continue to be subject to abusive teaching and practices that we know causes depression, self-hatred, self-harm and sadly even suicide.
Lord have mercy on us all.
Jayne Ozanne is the editor of ViaMedia.News