The implementation of the book’s strategy is, I believe, the prime reason for the success of the sexual/gender radicalization now occurring within official Church of England [Cof E] structures.
Evangelical Anglican church leaders and organizations do not appear to have understood the immensity of the threat nor been able to push back to reframe the debate and reclaim the territory. Because sexual behaviours and psychological dysfunction are now included in the protected category of identity and personhood, gay is perceived as and treated as comparable to race. (1) ‘LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex] people’ are thus oppressed minorities in need of state protection. To object to this new status quo or their loving ‘relationships’ is ‘racist’, hate-filled and evil. Indeed, because many of us know people who have struggled hugely to live according to orthodox Christian standards, we are even less sure of how to proceed.
Conservative leaders duck, deny and distract, unlike the rest of us who have to negotiate these minefields in our working lives and do so mostly by keeping quiet and, if necessary, by appeasement. Indeed, many leaders believe they can sit this one out because it is not impacting their ‘preaching the Gospel’ (not yet!). That the content of this Gospel is ever-more truncated does not appear to worry them, nor does the success of 24/7 LGBTI propaganda which ensures the odd sermon on Romans 1 falls on increasingly hostile ears.
Perhaps the latest thrusts inside the Church will prove to be the necessary wake-up call. We must up our game while we still can do so. Below are bullet points of places of epic LGBTI success within the C of E and recommendations for pushback at the end.
1. Thriving LGBTI Anglican (and related) advocacy organizations in the UK
—Inclusive Church; Accepting Evangelicals; Changing Attitude [CA]; Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement; LGBTI Mission; ‘Synod Evangelicals for Good Disagreement’, among others
—Inclusive Church partners with heavyweights like the Church Urban Fund (the Cof E’s poverty charity). (2)
—250+’Inclusive Church’ Cof E churches and 60+ CA Cof E churches. (3)
—An orthodox Christian sexual ethic? From CA’s Sexual ethics: A Report of the Lesbian and Gay Clergy Consultation Working Group(2003): ‘…casual sex can often be addictive and destructive [but], we think it is important to remain open to the possibility that brief and loving sexual engagement between mature adults in special circumstances can be occasions of grace… The exploration of our sexual selves can be something which benefits from involvement with more than one person’. (p. 11) (4)
2. Senior leaders/cathedral champions of LGBT issues
—Public campaigners for gay marriage: Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam (5) and the Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson, More Perfect Union: Understanding Same-Sex Christian Marriage (2014).
—Publicly supportive of the LGBTI Mission: The Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes (2016). (6)
—A senior manager at C of E’s National Church Institutions honoured by two LGBT award bodies in 2016. (7)
—Blessing Pride with Opening Prayer and Flying the Rainbow Flag, York Minster (June 2015). (8)
3. Other prominent and popular LGBT Anglican clergy
—The Revd Richard Coles, Vicar of Finedon, North’shire; hugely popular UK ‘media vicar’, author of the autobiographical Fathomless Riches (2014). Coles claims ‘having lots of casual and anonymous sex with strangers’ was ‘one of the great liberations of my life’. When questioned about its Christian ethic, he was unrepentant: ‘I had a fantastic time.’ (9)
—The Revd Rachel Mann, ‘trans’ lesbian activist at Manchester Cathedral who in 2014 spoke at a wildly successful event with hundreds of evangelical youth workers. (10) A sample of her/his Eucharistic liturgy: ‘Holy God, chuckling wise woman, tender and strange… Christ our Sister, unite us in your holy bleeding… Birth-Spirit, as you coursed in intimacy through the veins of Eve and Adam, Hagar and Abraham, Deborah and Lappidoth, Naomi and Ruth, be the pulse of our lives. Desire us with your desire’. (11)
4. Church of England Synod
—The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain, the first ‘married’ gay priest elected to the C of E Synod, October 2015.
—Inclusive Church’s stall was prominently placed near Reception for the February 2016 Synod. Images at end.
—Stonewall (LGBT Rights) School Champion Programmes in 120+ Church of England schools. (12)
—Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying (May 2014). Though not all bad, by setting sexual ‘orientation’ alongside characteristics such as race and ethnicity, this document for over 5,000 CofE schools reinforces the false but plausible ‘born that way’ notion of homosexuality. (13)
—CHIPS and ‘Pride in Primary’, compulsory LGBT ‘educational’ programmes for 4s+. The former includes mock same-sex marriage ceremonies for 8-9s and prompts to get involved in PRIDE for 10-11s. Research on church school involvement is ongoing. (14) What is certain, though, is that our heterosexual Christian youth, marinated now in all things gay from nursery onward, are changing their ethics to become pro-gay; indoctrination works! (15)
6. The ABC
—‘You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship.’ He went on to explain (March 2013) he had ‘particular friends where I recognise that [,] and am deeply challenged by it’.(16)
—‘If one of his own children were to be gay and fell in love with another person of the same sex, and asked his blessing, how would he react? “Would I pray for them together? You bet I would, absolutely. Would I pray with them together? If they wanted me to. If they had a civil service of marriage, would I attend? Of course I would.” But, I challenged him, conscious of what many evangelicals believe, wouldn’t you say to them that while you love them, their relationship was sinful or inappropriate? “I would say, ‘I will always love you, full stop. End of sentence, end of paragraph.’ Whatever they say, I will say I always love them.”‘ (17)
—The fact that LGBT groups support the ABC’s ‘Shared Conversations’ and report positive results is telling. The ABC has reached his goal: ‘conservatives’ have the right to speak but the issue is tacitly framed as second-order, agreeing to disagree. For the ABC, the aim ‘is not, as it were, to convert the other, but to enable each to listen and see the others as a human being and as a fellow Christian.’(18) For CA, ‘All dialogue takes us forward’. (19)
—The other vital component here is the ABC’s framework. ‘I loathe and hate homophobia. I find it incomprehensible that people should feel that way about LGBTI people. And I’m always ashamed when I find it’. (March 2016) (20) As mentioned above, what had in the past been seen as behaviours or related problematic psychological conditions are now being treated by the ABC as a core and valued part of an individual’s personhood and identity, to be given dignity, affirmation and protection.
—We have tried to connect directly with the ABC but found it impossible. Then we discovered his Correspondence Secretary, Andrew Nunn, is a gay activist who is convinced he was ‘born gay’. (21)
Many now are taking their lead from the ABC. He doesn’t endorse gay marriage, but his uncritical and lavish public support for gay concerns and priorities will leave others thinking that there is no real reason not to.
The ‘coming out’ of ‘good people’, friends and family, proves a game changer for the thinking of many, as is making this issue a matter of abstract rights, identity and ‘loving relationships’, and not bodies, behaviours, biology and appalling unintended consequences. It is classic After the Ball propaganda, brilliant and effective. (22) With the West successfully ‘gayified’ and the Opposition silenced and/or busy elsewhere, the Developing World is next in line.
Living Out (the sole ‘acceptable’ Anglican evangelical response) is good but seriously truncated. Founded in 2013, it offers a website, network and speakers (one is now married to a woman) who have personal experience of same-sex attraction but live according to the Bible’s teaching on sexuality. LO gives helpful pastoral advice, all the more impressive because of the authenticity of its advice givers. It also works with churches to enable them to become more loving and understanding of those with these issues. (23)
However, Living Out is unable to deal with the immense ideological, political, cultural and psychological challenges. First and foremost is the notion of ‘LGBTI people’ — the false correlation of one’s sexuality or sexual attractions with core identity. That there are many and far less palatable sexualities coming out now is the elephant in the room. Nor will LO focus attention on the indoctrination of our young or stand with the increasing numbers of (mostly black) Christians punished by an increasingly coercive state. (24) LO is unable to help those with unwanted same–sex attraction move beyond gay to develop their heterosexual potential. Ex-gays are a powerful response to the propaganda of After the Ball. Ironically, the ABC refused to meet one of my ex-gay colleagues, while we await the outcome in the case of another. (25)
LO also appears unable to expose the false claims for the moral superiority of ‘full inclusion’ which keep shaming and shutting down conservative voices. Here I am thinking of Inclusive Church’s mantra—‘We believe in inclusive Church — church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender mental health, physical ability, face or sexuality’— and Valuing All God’s Children: ‘Everyone is an insider, there are no outsiders’ (p 28). In fact, LGBTI groups discriminate in the same way as conservatives but get away with it because no one publicly challenges them on their exclusion of non-PC sexual minority people who are still semi-closeted. (26)
There are great arguments and resources out there but which receive virtually no air time in British Anglican evangelical circles. Please contact me if you wish to know more. DrLisa1957@gmail.com
Lisa Severine Nolland MA MCS PhD (Bristol) is Convenor, Marriage Sex and Culture Group for Anglican Mainstream
(1) Intersex alone has a biological foundation but is not a ‘third sex'; http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-ideology-harms-children
(3) http://www.inclusive-church.com/directory; http://changingattitude.org.uk/find-a-church
(13) https://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-members Several hundred educational institutions are listed as Stonewall Champions in the UK!
(14) http://www.educateandcelebrate.org/about-us/; file:///C:/Users/Lisa/Downloads/SRE%20bulletin%202015%20Autumn.pdf; contact me for details.
(20) http://www.christiantoday.com/article/evangelism.in.an.age.of.terror.homophobia.and.indifference.an.interview.with.archbishop.of.canterbury.justin.welby/83040.htm http://www.virtueonline.org/ex-gay-anglican-blogger-says-archbishop-welby%E2%80%99s-gay-secretary-blocks-information
(24) http://www.core-issues.org/; other excellent groups include http://desertstream.org/ and http://www.restoredhopenetwork.org/. Personal information from UK ex-gay leaders.
(25) Emerging now in the public sphere are sexual minorities such as polyamorists (plural loves) who are sometimes bisexual (having a lover of both sexes simultaneously); polygamists (think Islamic or Mormon); those with GSA (genetic sexual attraction, also known as incest); those claiming paedophilia or zoophilia as their sexual ‘orientation’.