Sex, flags and the Bishop of Ely

Observing the stats on this blog is always interesting. Racism, pervasive as it is in our society, attracts little interest; lack of diversity in regards to race, gender and social class a little more; liturgy – and the stats shoot up, we love a debate about maniples or whether a Eucharist at New Wine with nothing other than the Dominical words is valid. But all of these pale into insignificance in relation to the thousands who visit here when “sex” is in the title.

So, welcome!

The cathedral at Ely has been in the news over the summer after flying the Rainbow flag on Ely Pride Day. I take a rather ‘conservative’ view on this issue. Where does this stop? As a spoof post showed why not fly a UKIP flag?! Better to stick with the diocesan standard and the Union flag.

However, it is the bishop of Ely’s recent statement (September 10th) that interests me. I know Stephen a little and am fond of him. He is a kindly, godly, man and always speaks sensibly, if cautiously, on Education, his brief for the House of Bishops.

The paragraph that stands out is this one:

“The official agreed understanding of the House of Bishops of the Church of England is expressed in Issues in Human Sexuality (1991). Every Ely ordinand has to read this and agree to operate within its precepts. This has stood for 27 years and there is no plan to remove it.”

Bishop Stephen issued this statement just before the recent College of Bishops’ meeting which examined the work on the 2020 teaching document on sexuality which is now to be called “Living in Love and Faith“.

Does Bishop Stephen’s statement mean that Issues will continue to be in force (whatever that means) after the teaching document? If so, I think we need to be told.

I have written recently on why I think Issues is so spiritually and morally destructive for the church and for our mission to evangelise the nation, see here.

In some ways it is no surprise that there is to be no change. If our bishops were to suggest any change prior to the 2020 Lambeth Conference we might see many fireworks, so perhaps the document is designed simply to give Justin his Conference so he can retire knowing that he did not preside over the break up of the Anglican Communion …

… or the granting of full human rights to LGBT people in the church.

“Radical Inclusion” was the Archbishops’ call after General Synod rejected the bishops’ last effort to maintain the status quo.

We are not an inclusive church, children in our primary schools tell me this almost every time I visit. No one, not even children, are fooled by saying that LGBT people are welcome in our churches … unless they are prepared to collude with our present position.

I am not expecting same sex marriage any time soon, however, radical inclusion can only be achieved by truth and reconciliation. Our bishops can create a truthful culture if they want. They can do that without changing the teaching of the church, honesty is always a first step to reconciliation. It appears that they choose not to take this path.

“Every Ely ordinand has to read this and agree to operate within its precepts.” says the bishop of Ely.

Pull the other one.

The child sexual abuse crisis in the church reveals our failure to recognise the operation of power in institutions.

This is Cambridge University. Does he think they are being honest and truthful? Does he believe them? Does his DDO believe and agree with Issues? Does she believe her ordinands? Are they both concerned for the spiritual and psychological health and maturity of their ordinands?

Jesus wept. Jesus who said, I am the Way, the TRUTH and the Life.


1 Comment

  1. I agree. The whole plan is to defer discussion of matters of sexuality until after the 2020 Lambeth Conference. However I doubt whether the plan will work. I cannot see the lid being kept on the bottle for another two years.


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