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Human sexuality and the Church of England

posted 20 Aug 2016, 02:53 by Solihull Parish

Some questions:

  1. “I am gay and I want to come to your church. Will people welcome me?”

  2. “I’m gay and I live with my partner, will your church welcome me?”

  3. “I’m gay, in a civil partnership and wish to be ordained. Will the Church of England ordain me?”

I wonder how you’d answer those questions…

The answer to (3) is “No” unless your relationship is celibate; yet the church wouldn’t demand this of a heterosexual couple.

Now three statements:

  1. Nigel* is an ordained priest in the Church of England and he and his partner recently converted their Civil Partnership to a Gay Marriage. His Bishop told him he could no longer have licence to serve in the church he was appointed to lead.

  2. Fred* has been in a gay relationship for many years and he works as a priest in the Church of England. His bishop turns a blind eye: he realises that if there was a witch-hunt of all the gay priests living in civil partnerships in his diocese, the diocese would collapse.

  3. Church of England priests are not allowed to officiate at the marriages of gay couples, despite the equal marriage bill being passed over a year ago.


    *not their real names.


    The Church of England for many years has discussed and made statements about gay people and it’s only just starting to catch up on the issues of bisexuality and transgender. The Anglican Communion is deeply divided on the issue and is under threat of breaking up over it. Many young people (inside and outside the church) are astounded that the church is still living in what they think are the Dark Ages. It is a further nail in the coffin for the Church. Yet, most of us have met gay people, have gay people in our families and friendship groups and know many stable gay relationships. However, many gay people aren’t welcomed into their churches because they are gay, or churches will only welcome gay people who are celibate.

During the last two years, selected people from every diocese in the Church of England have been engaging in professionally facilitated “Shared Conversations” in an attempt to enable people of differing opinions to listen carefully to each other. In July of this year, the General Synod has then been trying to explore ways of moving forward.

“Journeys into Grace and Truth – revisiting scripture and sexuality” is a book that was published to coincide with the recent General Synod meeting. It consists of a number of chapters each written by a different person giving their perspective on the gay issue. It was originally written for people from the evangelical wing of the Church of England – being a book written by evangelicals for evangelicals. Contributors include the Bishop of Liverpool, the Dean of St Paul’s, London and the Bishop of Dorchester. Jayne Ozanne, who has edited this book, tells her story of suffering two nervous breakdowns due to the church’s attitude towards her as a gay person. It’s a book that I believe needs to be read by everyone in the Church of England regardless of their churchmanship.

By the time you read this, I hope we’ll have some copies for you to buy – I really hope you read it.

Jane Kenchington