Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 29 June 2003

Homosexuality and the Church of England

I have deliberately posted nothing so far about the crisis currently playing itself out in the Church of England. Partly this is because I am not a member of that Church, so what it chooses to do is only of peripheral interest to me. On the other hand, I have over the months posted quite a lot about the scandals affecting the Roman Catholic Church in various countries (for example the UK, US and Canada) - and I'm not a member of that Church either.

Why the difference? Well, it's really boredom with the attitudes of many so-called 'good' church-going people and the fact that I find it difficult to remain engaged in arguments which seem so sterile and so repetitive. However, I will make a very few remarks about some of my feelings about this whole fiasco.

The Church of England a while back adopted a policy that whilst active homoseuxal activity was acceptable (or at least tolerated) for the Church's lay members, it is not acceptable for the clergy who are expected to be celibate if they are homosexual. This seems like a crazy and unworkable policy to me, but that's the way it is. The logic behind tolerating what are classified by Church doctrine as 'sinful' activities by the laity, whilst insisting that similar behaviour by the clergy is forbidden, is very confused - in my humble opinion.

The current crisis centres around a person called Canon Dr Jeffrey John, who has been named as the next Bishop of Reading by the Bishop of Oxford. Dr John has been in a monogamous homosexual relationship with a partner (also a clergyman) for well in excess of twenty years, but has stated that his relationship has been purely 'platonic' for many years. So, theoretically at least, his current lifestyle for many years would seem not to contravene Church policy. So-called 'evangelists', however, don't see it that way - and of course they mostly deny they are 'homophobic'. I find it difficult to take such denials very seriously.

Certain parts of the Church of England and some of its overseas dioceses are threatening to break away and to take the assets they control with them. It seems this would be a major blow in terms of loss of personnel and in loss of financial resources. Far be it from me to interfere in the internal affairs of what is after all just one of many religious 'cults', but I'd suggest that whilst the Church of England within the UK should take note of what some of its overseas dioceses are saying, their decision must be based upon the situation in this country. One of the strong objections, for example, comes from Jamaica - a society notorious for having vurulently anti-homosexual attitudes. I really don't see why a modern western European nation should take much heed of the views of a culture with such wildly different social attitudes on many matters.

Unfortunately the Church of England occupies a special position in the UK in that it is the 'established' religious denomination in England and Wales, the major component of the UK and the leader of this particular 'cult' (the Archbishop of Canterbury) by tradition sits in the upper parliamentary chamber, the House of Lords. It is also a fact that this 'cult' has a drastically diminished membership in recent decades, but it continues to exercise an influence upon our social climate which is now quite out of balance.

The argument for 'dis-establishment' becomes stronger by the day, in my view. The same can be said of the Church of Scotland within Scotland. If the members of these 'cults' wish to live by certain codes of conduct, then good luck to them, provided they do not contravene civil law in so doing. However, I stronlgy resent the influence these 'cults' have on the whole population, whether members of these Churches or not, for example in gaining exemption from very recent legislation guaranteeing non-discrimination against homosexuals in their employment.

That is really all I have to say about this matter - for the present, at least.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Welcome to my comment area. Whilst all comment is welcome you are requested to respect the views of others. To read full terms for use of this facility, please visit my 'Terms of Use' section, linked to under the 'About this Blog' heading at top right of the blog. Note added 12JUL2010 - All comments will now be pre-moderated before they appear in this blog; this is a measure to prevent 'spam' commenting, which has become frequent of late. Thank you.