Another Day, Another Crisis…

But I didn’t think it was going to be *this* crisis (all over again).

A confidential meeting, chaired by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has approved Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, to be on the shortlist to be the next Bishop of Southwark.

He is understood to be the favoured candidate.

Dr John is a hugely divisive figure in the church after he was forced to stand down from becoming the Bishop of Reading in 2003 after it emerged he was in a homosexual, but celibate, relationship.

Promoting him to one of the most senior offices in the Church would trigger a civil war between liberals and conservatives and exacerbate existing divisions within the Anglican Communion.

Members of the Crown Nominations Commission, the body responsible for selecting bishops, will vote this week on whether Dr John’s name should now be put forward to the Prime Minister for final approval.

David Cameron has been made aware that Dr John is on the shortlist for the post and is understood to be supportive of such an appointment.

Once the preferred candidate is rubber-stamped by Mr Cameron it is passed to the Queen for final approval.

The best of the early comment comes from John Richardson.

I cannot speak for those who would support the appointment, but I want to urge those who might oppose it to think very carefully before they object, for the situation is nothing like as straightforward as might be assumed.

First, we ought not to condemn Dr John because he is, in the words of the Telegraph article, ‘openly homosexual’. I have said many times, including on this blog, that we ought to have far more ‘openly homosexual’ people in the Church. Indeed, one of the clergy I most admire is ‘openly homosexual’ — at least, he has openly told me his is ‘gay’ — and I would have no problems whatsoever attending his church or working with him in any capacity.

We would not be in half the mess we are in today if the Church, during the years in which homosexuality was almost universally regarded as perverse, had acted as a haven for real sinners, rather than a rather choosy hostel for the outwardly saintly. We ought to remember the words of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Secondly, it would be difficult to condemn Dr John’s appointment on the grounds that he is in a relationship with someone of the same sex. The Church of England accepts the existence of civil partnered clergy, and although some (including myself) may think this is a mistake, the House of Bishops has made it clear that this acceptance is based on the provision of assurances that such relationships are sexually celibate. Moreover, Dr John has (as I recall) declared that this is the case for his own relationship.

There are therefore no current grounds within the Church of England’s teaching and practice regarding Dr John’s domestic arrangements for condemning his appointment as a bishop.

In fact, the only grounds I can see for objecting to Dr John’s appointment in principle lies in his teaching about human sexuality.


In other words, if Dr John’s appointment is seen as a potential casus belli, it needs to be appreciated that we are potentially at that point in more than one other diocese. Personally, I do not think this has been understood, and I am not at all sure that the implications have been considered as they ought to have by those who might think this is an ‘open and shut’ case.
Before any fierce objection is voiced to the mooting of Dr John, therefore, it needs to be asked, “Why him? Why now?” And if the objections are, nevertheless, made and actions do in fact follow, then for consistency’s sake this should not just apply to Dr John’s appointment, which may, in any case, never happen.

Wise words I think. I would add another objection to the one that John raises, and that is whilst Dr John is currently celibate, he has never repented of his previous sexual activity that was sinful.

I guess the big problem though is that Dr John is iconic for the revisionist cause. In some sense the objection to his promotion *is* because of who he is, not because he is gay but rather because of what he stands for. In that sense the elevation of Dr John to the See of Southwark would be massively controversial – it would send a large and blatant signal that the revisionists were in the ascendency and that a serious challenge could now be made to the Church’s doctrine of marriage.

I think that’s all I want to say at the moment. If Dr John is formally proposed as the candidate I’ll address the issue again.

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26 Comments on “Another Day, Another Crisis…

  1. Oh yes, please, please can we have him? I met him on a retreat for the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and gay Christians and was impressed by his preaching. Clearly a gifted cleric who is highly spoken of by so many.

    I also think that his appointment could actually be very healing, especially for queer Christians, their families and friends in this current climate, if conservatives and liberals can manage not to fight over this one, justice could be done with respect to JJ and bridges could perhaps be built?

    Just a suggestion…

  2. This is very interesting.

    As one who lives and works in Southwark, many know of Jeffrey John first hand. And by all accounts he is a decent enough guy. No problems there. Genial people rarely become unpopular bishops.

    Yet this is interesting because it is clever.

    Since he is celibate, he dances through the key objection. The other objection of his teaching on sexuality being wrong, well, many bishops are of dubious orthodoxy anyway, so that's a given!

    Therefore the LBGT lobby can get an openly homosexual man in post, and make this a fact on the ground. Once this fact is established, the next step will be an actively homosexual bishop, which will garner much less opposition due to the presence of Dr John.

    Clever, and it will probably be a successful move.

    We orthodox in Southwark have a lot to think about.

  3. "….he has never repented of his previous sexual activity that was sinful"

    So is one entitled to ask if have you publicly repented of yours. Peter? Every one surely has some sexual sins stashed away. Are you seriously suggesting every clergy-candidate should make a public clean breast of them? ….or is it only for sins of the homosexual type which need to be aired? Hmmmm….

      • My question was about entitlement to knowledge, not the actual details, Peter. Sorry if that was not clear from my question.So why does Anglican Mainstream (in general) think it has entitlement to know Jeffrey John's unrepented sins but not, for example, Michael Nazir Ali's?

        • I think the issue is that Dr John has publicly stated his sinful activity and has made no attempt to repent of that. If you can find a similar situation for Nazir-Ali then by all means point it out.

  4. From the Church of England's website at http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/socialpublic/ma

    The development of Anglican thinking on sexuality can be most helpfully found in Some Issues in Human Sexuality – a guide to the debate – commended by the House of Bishops in 2003.

    The mind of the Church has been expressed formally on two occasions. First, on 11 November 1987, the General Synod passed by 403 votes to 8 the following motion at the end of the debate initiated by the Revd Tony Higton:

    'That this Synod affirms that the biblical and traditional teaching on chastity and fidelity in personal relationships in a response to, and expression of, God's love for each one of us, and in particular affirms:

    1.that sexual intercourse is an act of total commitment which belongs properly within a permanent married relationship;

    2.that fornication and adultery are sins against this ideal, and are to be met by a call to repentance and the exercise of compassion;

    3.that homosexual genital acts also fall short of this ideal, and are likewise to be met by a call to repentance and the exercise of compassion;

    4.that all Christians are called to be exemplary in all spheres of morality, including sexual morality; and that holiness of life is particularly required of Christian leaders.'

    Secondly, in December 1991, the House of Bishops published a statement Issues in Human Sexuality (CHP 1991). This endorsed the traditional Christian belief that the teaching of the Bible is that heterosexual marriage is the proper context for sexual activity between two people. It went on to declare that what it called 'homophile' orientation and activity could not be endorsed by the Church as:

    '… a parallel and alternative form of human sexuality as complete within the terms of the created order as the heterosexual. The convergence of Scripture, Tradition and reasoned reflection on experience, even including the newly sympathetic and perceptive thinking of our own day, makes it impossible for the Church to come with integrity to any other conclusion. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are not equally congruous with the observed order of creation or with the insights of revelation as the Church engages with these in the light of her pastoral ministry.'

    It also argued that the conscientious decision of those who enter into such relationships must be respected, and that the Church must 'not reject those who sincerely believe it is God's call to them'.

    Nevertheless, because of the 'distinctive nature of their calling, status and consecration', the clergy 'cannot claim the liberty to enter into sexually active homophile relationships' (Some Issues 1.3.19-20).

    In July 1997 General Synod passed a private member's motion moved by the Archdeacon of Wandsworth to:

    a.commend the House of Bishops' report Issues in Human Sexuality and acknowledge it is not the last word on the subject;

    b.in particular, urge deanery synods, clergy chapters and congregations to find time for prayerful study and reflection on the issue addressed by the report.'

    The 1987 Synod motion and Issues in Human Sexuality are the two authoritative Church of England statements on the issue of homosexuality.

    As a member of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England also respects the teaching of Resolution 1.10 on Human Sexuality of the 1998 Lambeth Conference (the ten-yearly meeting of all bishops of the Communion) which expresses the declared mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole.

    I'm not an Anglican so I'm open to correction, but I understand that CofE bishops are in charge of ensuring that Anglican doctrine is proclaimed in church teaching. I this is so, then the response to Jeffrey John's nomination is simple. He may well be the most saintly and sensitive man and a thoroughly good egg all round.

    But that is emphatically not the point. Doctrine matters and his teaching on homosexuality is contrary to Anglican doctrine. So he cannot be a bishop. And if he becomes the Bishop of Southwark, then based on his very clear proclamation of teaching contrary to Anglican doctrine, he is a hypocrite.

    • >>>But that is emphatically not the point. Doctrine matters and his teaching on homosexuality is contrary to Anglican doctrine. So he cannot be a bishop.

      Nonsense. +Rowan (for example) never publicly 'repented' of his views in The Body's Grace, and nor is it necessary for him to do so, as he stated that , whatever he believes privately, bishops should support the public teaching. And the attempt by conservatives to raise Lambeth resolutions to Magisterium-comparable levels of infallible pronouncements is wholly inaccurate and Anglican (of course, if they are infallible pronouncements, then those Ugandan et all 'conservatives' who whip up violence against LGBT people are ignoring Lambeth 1998 1:10 too). Jeffrey John lives in accord with C of E's expectations of clergy (despite Anglican Mainstream types engaging in once-an-active-gay-always-an-active-gay dogwhistling). Perhaps he should publicly 'repent' of his past relationship , tho, just so that we can watch the goalposts move yet again ( 'he might have publicly repented, but personally I don't really believe him …')

      As for Nazir-Ali, presumably he repents of his sins (like, gays very much included, we all do) at the appropriate part of public worship and private devotions.

      • Hear, hear…

        Philip, surely to be a hypocrite, there has to be an intention to deceive, to pass oneself off as other than one is? If so how could this apply to Jeffrey John, were he to become Bishop of Southwark, given that he is quite candid about his disagreement with this (small) area of C of E teaching?

        Couple of other things:

        1) How can 1991's 'Issues…' be an "authoritative statement" when its own foreword, I think, proffered it as a discussion document, and when the 1997 motion you yourself quote called Synod to "acknowledge it is not the last word on the subject"? It's not exactly a coherent word on the subject…

        2) More importantly, and risking pointing up my own hypocrisy: the question of truth. Doubtless part of a bishop's job is to ensure that church teaching is proclaimed. But if it starts to dawn on folk that a little piece of that teaching may not be based in truth, what then? Why is Dr John (or anyone) obliged to teach something that in conscience he cannot believe is true?

        in friendship, Blair

        • Blair

          The hypocrisy is not in any lack of honesty by Jeffrey John about who he is. He is to be applauded for being honest that he self-identifies as gay, a costly stand to take in the Anglican church.

          I repeat, it has nothing to do with him being gay, it is to do with his teaching. Anyone can correct me if I am wrong, but a bishop takes vows to promote the doctrine of the church and one of his jobs is to be its custodian in the diocese.

          Rowan Williams could take that oath in good conscience as, whatever his private views, he has recognised that in his role as ABC he has to uphold orthodox teaching.

          Jeffrey John has repeatedly declared that current Anglican doctrine on homosexuality is wrong and will be changed. He is entitled to his views but he cannot unilaterally change doctrine. This is what will effectively happen if he becomes a bishop, in the same way that the ordination of Gene Robinson effectively changed ECUSA doctrine, despite many tortuous manoeuvres to try and claim otherwise.

          ‘The 1987 Synod motion and Issues in Human Sexuality are the two authoritative Church of England statements on the issue of homosexuality’. That’s a fairly clear statement of current doctrine, isn’t it. And, if JJ becomes a bishop, it is his job to uphold it.

          The parallel is that if the Prime Minister’s cabinet takes a collective decision then ministers are required to defend that decision in public, whatever they privately think. Or resign, which a number of ministers very honourably did as they could not support the collective decision to go to war with Iraq. I think that it is a very good comparison, except of course that Christian doctrine is far more important than cabinet collective responsibility.

          He cannot therefore hold the position of bishop and, in all good conscience, then take vows to promote and protect Anglican doctrine. If he is nominated, accepted and then takes these vows he is a hypocrite. And, as doctrine matters, it will send a very powerful signal to the rest of the Anglican Communion that doctrine is considered unimportant in the CofE and that the church is committed to the same path as ECUSA.

          • Evening Philip,

            I understand that your objection is about Dr John's teaching, not who he is, but I still don't see how he fits the definition of a hypocrite as you've not shown how he would be intending to deceive anyone.

            And on the matter of his teaching: Peter commended John Richardson's early comment on all this, and one of John R's points was that if folk are going to object to Dr John's appointment on grounds of his teaching about homosexuality, then they will also have to object to the teaching of some current diocesan bishops (John R's blog post of 26 June lists some of them). The C of E House of Bishops is not of one mind on this issue, it seems (as in 1991, presumably, hence the 'double-mindedness' of 'Issues in Human Sexuality'). So, why is Dr John's teaching on this matter an argument against his being appointed to Southwark?

            Also I would like to question your analogy with Cabinet collective responsibility. The bishops aren't (…shouldn't be?) just a group of men defending decisions they have taken and will answer to voters for – what they defend must be based on, accountable to, truth. It seems to me that when it comes to the gay issue, the prior question is whether what the church is teaching is true, not whether all bishops are 'on message' in defending it.

            in friendship, Blair

            • Blair

              Again, I’m open to correction as I’m not an Anglican. But as I understand it, in the Anglican church bishops have an especially important role in defending and promoting doctrine and it is part of their vows. It would, of course, be ideal for all priests to be required to promote orthodox doctrine as part of their vows, but perhaps that is expecting too much of the CofE.

              So this role of the bishop should be taken very seriously, and be seen to be taken very seriously, in any church which believes itself to be an orthodox Christian church.

              I hope that I’ve shown that the CofE’s stated doctrinal position remains very clearly that homosexual behaviour is a sin.

              Clearly it is right that all clergy have the right to hold their own personal views on ‘the gay issue’ (TGI) in all good conscience. It is also important in a broad church that personal views held in good conscience should not, per se, be a barrier to church office.

              JJ, in the speech posted by Peter, is at pains to both stress the catholicity of the CofE and the need to go through the full process of scriptural justification and support if church teaching is to change.

              But in the same speech he is quite clear that ‘committed, loving and faithful’ gay relationships are not sinful and should be recognised by the church. This view is very clearly not CofE doctrine.

              JJ is also a special case because of his commendable honesty about his views rather than the classic Anglican fudge, as I posted earlier.

              If he is nominated and supported to be the BoS, he will have to vow to uphold CofE doctrine. And, given the openness with which he has expressed opposite teaching on TGI, he cannot in all good conscience make that vow. If he does take this vow, then based on his expressed views, he is a hypocrite, notwithstanding the fact that he is also a courageous and honest man wrt to his own self-identity as gay.

              He would be a hypocrite because with the one hand he claims to support catholicity and a full process of scriptural discernment and justification wrt TGI. But on the other hand he would be prepared to take the vows of bishop to defend doctrine that is against his teaching.

              If he did so, given his high profile status, it would be difficult to avoid the conclusion that he was establishing ‘facts on the ground’ to promote doctrinal change by stealth, in just the same way that ECUSA has done.

              I saw John Richardsons comment. And if stopping JJ from becoming BoS puts some existing bishops in a difficult position, then so be it. Church doctrine, its protection and defence, and its change through full process of scriptural justification and discernment rather than ‘facts on the ground’, is frankly far more important!

          • >>>>Jeffrey John has repeatedly declared that current Anglican doctrine on homosexuality is wrong and will be changed. He is entitled to his views but he cannot unilaterally change doctrine. This is what will effectively happen if he becomes a bishop

            Really? On what basis? Why it is simultaneously ok for bishops or other clergy to hold private views on homosexuality contrary to the last lambeth vote, but NOT ok for Jeffrey John to become bishop? Don't you think there are a number of Lambeth statements (which, again, you really are not justified in treating like papal decrees) that a number of conservative bishops would disagree with? What evidence do you have that a + Jeffrey John would 'unilatterly change doctrine'? It doesn't sound like you really think he's 'entitled to his private views' to me.

            • CB

              The answer to your question is straightforward. JJ does not just hold private views in good conscience. He has publically and repeatedly declared that church doctrine on homosexuality must change. And, as I pointed out in earlier posts, he has therefore become something of a cause celebre for both theological liberals and conservatives.

              FWIW I think that personally he was treated appallingly in 2005 with all the prurient interest in his private life. But he remains the 'gay not-quite a bishop' in the CofE, in the same way that Gene Robinson was 'the gay bishop' in ECUSA. And his actions since have done nothing to disabuse anyone of that notion.

              Public symbols are important, especially when they are perceived as changing doctrine. And in any church that is catholic and orthodox, doctrine should only be changed with full process of scriptural justification, not on the basis of catching up with society or to accommodate 'facts on the ground'.

  5. John's time has come. He should have been made a Bishop years ago. Bishops are required to teach official doctrine as 'the deposit of faith' but surely they are also entitled to believe, at least privately and possibly also pastorally and academically, that this teaching should now be changed – or at very least that the debate continues to be heard in public rather than being swept out of sight by exclusion of those who differ.

    Whatever the 'official teaching' of the church there is clearly a considerable body of Anglican opinion which differs from it – and I think the only position of integrity requires that this division is accepted and lived with rather than becoming a reason for schism.

  6. BTW I also think the idea of required 'public repentance' is a nonsense. This is a matter of conscience. I very much doubt that John believes he needs to repent even though he has now accepted the celibacy rule. We certainly don't need some kind of 'inquisition' in the Church!

    • "I also think the idea of required ‘public repentance’ is a nonsense".

      St Paul did not share this attitude. See e.g.

      1 Corinthians 5

      Galatians 6v1

      1 Timothy 5v20

  7. I would have thought by Philip Coles's definition in his last para…"And if he becomes the Bishop of Southwark, then based on his very clear proclamation of teaching contrary to Anglican doctrine, he is a hypocrite" Dr John would be the very opposite of a hypocrite. A schismatic, perhaps, even a heretic, but hardly a hypocrite. In many ways the hard edge many want the church to make on doctrine encourages even more hypocrisy of the all too frequent "say one thing but do another" sort. And, for what it's worth, it seems to me that the formalising of the distinction some make between private sin and public sin seems to be moving certain branches of Anglicanism closer to Islam with its shame culture (the four witnesses of Sharia and all that. It goes with their view of scriptures too – something more in common with the Mormon view than the tradition the wider church has always held).

  8. CB and Andrew

    With respect, you're missing the point. Whatever Rowan Williams' personal beliefs, his teaching as Archbishop of Canterbury on homosexuality is in line with Anglican doctrine as he recognises the reality. You cannot be ABC and teach contrary to Anglican doctrine.

    Jeffrey John has made it very clear that his teaching is against Anglican doctrine on homosexuality. And in doing so, he has unfortunately but entirely unsurprisingly become something of a cause celebre for both theological conservatives and liberals. I can have much sympathy with the personal difficulties he has with being placed in this position and I do not agree with the homophobic abuse that has been given to him by some conservative commentators.

    But, ultimately, this is nothing to do with his hmosexuality or whether he is active or not. Such issues are indeed a prurient intrusion into his private life as well as being irrelevant.

    The issue is plain. If he is nominated as the Bishop of Southwark then the CofE very clearly has reneged on the requirement that bishops proclaim Christian doctrine. The CofEs doctrinal teaching on homosexuality, which I posted earlier, will be seen to be unimportant. And it will be seen as such by catholic and orthodox Christians around the world. In a very real sense this is the CofE's 'Gene Robinson' moment and the point where traditional Anglican fudge can no longer be cooked up.

    So, does the CofE believe that its doctrine is important? Does it still claim to be orthodox and Catholic in its teaching? These are the issues that Jeffrey John's nomination, successful or otherwise will very firmly address.

    • Hmmm. Well, if only orthodoxy on this issue is allowed, why not look first to those bishops who do go against the official Anglican teaching on these issues? For example there are bishops who are involved with pro gay groups, there are dioceses in which there are regular masses for LGBT people, whether celibate or not, set up with the knowledge and support of the bishop.
      What about James Jones and Michael Perham, are you saying these bishops should be sacked because they have spoken out saying we must allow a diversity of views on this issue?

      It isn’t JUST Jeffrey John standing on his own against the church, the church is full of those who sympathise with him and his views and many, even bishops, who are prepared to express those views and act accordingly in their ministry with LGBT people. What about them?

      Also, we increasingly live in a society where gay people are out and visible, entering into CPs, respected and no longer ridiculed, loved by their families and friends who expect them and their partners to be treated with dignity and respect. How long do you think you can slam a tin lid on the church and tell yourself you have contained your “problem”?

  9. Philip do you think that the Bishop of Liverpool should be sacked for also advocating a different approach?

    The current Anglican approach also calls for a sensitive dialogue with those who don't share the traditional view. It accepts civil partnerships amongst clergy (so long as they are celibate) and even active sexual relationships amongst the laity so long as they are not scandalous (seems to be the pragmatic position in the parishes at any rate). Accepting that we have 'openly gay' bishops (and John would NOT be the first, even in England) seems fully in accord with ongoing dialogue and exploration of an issue that the Church is still thinking it way through.

    BTW, 'Wicked conservative', the apostle Paul believed in lots of things we don't, but no-one can repent (in public or private) of something they don't believe is sinful. The Church has no common miind on this question.

    • Andrew

      I don't think that he should be sacked. But he should be given a very firm reminder (public, as his statement was public) that it is not his job as a bishop to publically float possible doctrinal changes on homosexuality, but it is his job to proclaim and support Anglican doctrine.

      Of course, I recognise that the CofE is not actually that sort of church, and that is one of the reasons that I am not an Anglican. But the issue is does the CofE stand by its stated doctrine. And given the current international situation on TGI in the church, that has major implications for the rest of the Communion.

    • "the apostle Paul believed in lots of things we don’t".

      Speak for yourself!

      Seriously though, if that is the level of engagement with Scripture that we can expect from revisionists, then I don't see where dialogue can go from here.

      I'm curious about the theological underpinnings of this idea of "the common mind of the Church". It sounds to me like we're saying if enough people hold a heretical belief, then it no longer matters, regardless of the truth, i.e. the faith once delivered to the saints.

      What is the critical mass of dissenters required before something that used to be standard Christian orthodoxy becomes an issue where "the Church has no common mind" and assent is thus a matter of individual choice? If enough Christians doubt the Incarnation, will that too become an optional extra?

      • "if that is the level of engagement with Scripture that we can expect from revisionists…" Replying out of frustration is not a great place to start – but wicked, if you want to engage with good argument from revisionists, why not address those of Jeffrey John whom Peter's quoted at length? Or those of Gareth Moore OP? Or Rabbi Steven Greenberg on Lev 18:22?

        For me it's not a question of "regardless of the truth" or reaching a "critical mass of dissenters", but of whether or not the church's traditional teaching about same-sex sex and (more recently) about gay people is true. Would you be willing to show how the traditional teaching 'cashes out' in terms of how it's lived?

        in friendship (and some exasperation), Blair

        • Hi Blair,

          I'm sorry if I exasperated you – perhaps I expressed myself inelegantly.

          I didn't mean "there are no good biblical revisionist arguments at all", but rather in the specific context of this thread I found it a bit much for Andrew just to say dismissively that public accountability of church leaders – a thoroughly biblical notion – is "nonsense", and then to suggest that the writings of St Paul, still one of Christianity's great theologians, can be cherry-picked or ignored as we see fit, without any attempt at explanation or exegesis. That approach is not conducive to helpful discussion.

          I absolutely agree that we are talking, ultimately, about truth.

          But I have to stick to my guns on this question of whether all of Christian faith and morals are up for grabs in what Canon Andrew calls the "both/and" model of the CofE, because no-one will give me a straight answer. How far can we get with the model of a church that holds conflicting truths "in tension", if there is no such thing as a core of Christian faith to which one must assent if one wishes to be thought of as a Christian?

          Revisionists' admirable desire to be inclusive leads them to be very reluctant to draw such lines, but inclusiveness is not the only virtue. And it is simply not biblical to suggest that there is no essential core to being a follower of Christ. As Jesus says, "Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, will be saved, but only he who does the will of my Father". Unless we can know with some certainty the will of the Father, this command is ridiculous.

          I'm very sorry, but I'm not sure what you last question means.

          God bless,

          WC

          • That's OK – & I was butting in to a conversation I hadn't been part of and wasn't exactly expressing myself elegantly either.

            For what it's worth I agree with most of your 4th paragraph and from my angle it's not that "all of Christian faith and morals are up for grabs", but a question, as I keep droning on about, of whether the church's traditional teaching on 'the gay thing' is true. Part of discerning that, it seems to me, is about the lived effects of that teaching – that's what my unclear question was about (I think!). How is someone who says, 'i am a gay Christian' to live according to the 'orthodox' view; how does it work, what are its effects? I think that's what I was driving at :)

            in friendship, Blair

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