by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of ViaMedia.News
It’s a strange thing, being talked about.
The House of Bishops meets this week to do just that…to talk about “us” LGBTI Christians.
They do so without one openly gay or transgender bishop in their midst – this is the House not the College of Bishops, and yet they are going to decide what they are going to do with “us”.
I personally can’t think of another institution in the modern-day world that would be able to get away with this, but of course, the Church has been getting away with such practices from time immemorial.
It comes on the back of a rather unpleasant document that sought to name and shame loyal Christians for having the courage to be openly gay. No thought, of course, to our safety, or indeed to the pastoral implications of what they did. I know that many within GAFCON are more than aware that some of us have had acts of homophobic violence perpetrated against us already this year…but I suppose they just think that is par for the course.
So they’re going to talk about “us” without “us”. The one thing we have been asking them not to do.
We’re told to trust “them”.
I for one will definitely pray for “them” as “they” meet.
The problem is that the whole debate is now framed about “them and us”, divided groups differentiated by our sexuality and gender.
All we want is to be treated as an inclusive pronoun – “we”.
To be equal members of the Body of Christ, not second class citizens, where we’re appreciated as a community to be embraced and loved rather than a problem to be solved. Goodness knows most of us have had enough rejection and pain already.
So we have to hold our breath and wait – and hope that when our ears burn, it is because the Holy Spirit is at work and that truth and grace are being spoken and heard.
Jane Ozanne, a Member of the Church of England’s General Synod, reminds us of the fact that today and tomorrow – Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (22 & 23 November 2016) the Church of England’s House of Bishops will be at a special meeting to discuss the place of LGBTI people in the Church. They will need openness to the grace of the Holy Spirit.
In the meantime, the GAFCON Primates have issued a warning to the bishops that they will not countenance any movement forward from the outdated understanding of Gender and Sexuality that they, themselves, continue to uphold – in the face of Western society’s shift to a more humane and just outlook towards this significant minority of people living in our world in the 21st century. Many Church families include people who are L.G.B.T. or I.
This article needs no more expansion from me. Jane states very clearly the situation of the Anglican Communion, in which different parts of the world have different views on whether LGBTI people could – and even should – occupy a place of dignity in the Churches of our Communion, especially in places where the local government has passed laws against discrimination on the grounds of sexual difference.
This meeting will be a test as to how intent are the bishops of the C. of E. on the inclusion of LGBTI people in the mission and ministry of the Church and also, perhaps at this stage more importantly; how sexism, homophobia and transphobia have no place in Christian society. Jesu, Mercy; Mary, pray.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand