More on Jeffrey John
I have been asked to speculate on what will happen regarding Anglican politics should Jeffrey John become Bishop of Bangor.
The first important point, as stated by Peter Ould, is that there will be much hedging about his appointment, in that he has declared previously that Jeffrey John is in a celibate civil partnership. Thus a contrast will be made between him and Gene Robinson. Ould says it is sexual practice that debars a gay man from episcopal office, and it cannot be a civil partnership that debars a man because of the Church’s own position on civil partnerships when it comes to pensions. If the criticism is based on his teachings, Ould says, then it is no difference from Rowan Williams’s The Body’s Grace, or indeed what he wrote to Deborah Pitt years ago. Ould concludes, from his "post-gay" perspective:
The best card to play is a combination of the same-sex union ban and the teaching of Dr John on sexual morality, but such an objection has huge implications for the Church of England (as regards its stance on Civil Partnerships).
This really won’t do, nor does the positioning of the goalposts. They had been moved by Rowan Williams, when he sacrificed his friend, as he asks other bishops to sacrifice gays and lesbians in order to have a more coherent Anglican Communion. Rumourland has it that the now Fulcrum people offered Rowan Williams a bargain that Jeffrey John could be a Dean without trouble, but not a bishop, which if so was another one of those bargains that comes back to haunt.
Firstly, I’m not sure my own personal experiences validate or invalidate my analysis, so I’m not sure why Adrian brought them up. But to take his point seriously, I discussed this afternoon with a colleague the situation and we clarified for ourselves the main grounds for objection to Jeffrey John’s appointment to Bangor.
Simply put, it is this. Jeffrey John is an unrepentant sinner and such a man cannot be a shepherd of the people. While all of us are sinners, you cannot have a Bishop who has sinned, that sin is public knowledge, and yet who refuses to even acknowledge what he has done is sinful, let alone repent for it.
The sin that Jeffrey John has committed is having sex outside of marriage. Although he is now celibate, he has previously in the past been sexually active with someone he is not married to. It doesn’t matter that whether he had sex with a man or a woman, and certainly his sexual orientation has absolutely no bearing on the sin he has committed. It would be the same if a male candidate was put forward to be Bishop who was unmarried, was known to have had a sexual relationship with a woman for over five years, and yet refused to accept that it was sinful.
Let me quickly say that revisionists might object to this as other men have been made bishop where it is alleged that they have had previous sex outside of marriage. However, in the case of the person I am thinking of (of whom attempts were made to out him earlier this year), there was a clear position from him since then that all sex outside of marriage was wrong, including any that he may or may not have engaged in.
On which point it is back to GAFCON again. Almost certainly they will not go with the "combination" of Peter Ould. They will just treat it as a progressive Archbishop of Wales and treating Wales as The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are treated. Indeed it would be the first way in for setting up a new Province.
Frankly I think this is naive and underestimates the FOCA crowd. They will respond with consideration and care on this issue because, as I wrote before, there are potential minefields in it if it is not handled correctly.