Monday, 23 May 2011

A Chosen Trajectory - The Assembly decides

Well, it was a tense and intense day at the Assembly, but the Church is now set on a trajectory which MAY lead to the the acceptance and affirmation of gay ministers in stable and committed relationships.

It is strange as - in my heart - I feel both relieved and hopeful - although my mind is still not completely resolved on the matter. Perhaps I still have to travel a little bit yet - but then I have already travelled a long way on this issue...

Conversations with some of my congregation today reveal that they too have been travelling and I was as immensely proud of those to whom I spoke today as I was of the General Assembly. Whatever my unresolved intellectual issues, I found myself turned off by the narrow apparent 'certainties' of the traditionalists.

But - like many others who share the relief and hope I am experiencing - there is a sense of sadness too. Sadness that many will feel very betrayed and bereft at the decision today and will think that somehow the church has moved away from true 'biblical' faith. I profoundly disagree with that perception, but I can understand their pain.

So let's all take a moment to feel their pain too.

And surely none of us - even those who are most committed tot he revisionist position - can feel anything but sorrow that some may chose to leave. I hope and pray that unity might still prevail. But I fear that there may be some - perhaps many - defections. And that is profoundly sad.

And spare a thought too for our sisters and brothers who are gay but who have felt it a matter of Christian faithfulness to struggle to maintain celibacy. No matter our views, these fellow Christians must feel a sense of abandonment and confusion this evening.

And I feel also for those sisters who are ordained ministers and adopt a traditionalist stance on this issue. If there is a split they must be wondering where their 'home' might be in the future.

The journey ahead will continue to be painful and difficult and the outcomes uncertain. Much prayer and considerable grace will be needed in the days to come...


  1. What a pastorally sensitive commentary. :)

  2. Thanks Liz. Appreciate. Feel more a sense of the pain than I do 'jubilation' at the moment (tho with much relief too! and - truth be told - not a little surprise)

  3. So now what do we do with those problematic passages in the Bible, David, especially 1 Corinthians 6? Do we just tear them out as if they weren't written? How can that be called biblical scholarship?

  4. On the same basis Stushie, how do we deal with 1 Corinthians 14: 34? (And I could go on!) Even many 'conservative' commentators will recognise that 1 Corinthians 6:9 may be subject to translation issues which may not directly apply to what we now think of as homosexual relationship and practice. (as I am sure you are aware). The NT passage that remains problematic for many (and possibly still for me) is Romans 1. But all this over a couple of genuinely disputed texts?!?

  5. David, thank you for this helpful post.
    Of course we don't tear problematic passages out of the Bible as if they never existed. We must take account of the times and places in which they were written, and the changes in understanding between then and now.
    We should consider God's loving attitude towards each of us, and Christ's example of drawing out gifts rather than finding fault in people.

  6. folks, thanks for the comments. It has been pointed out to me that the phrase in my initial post 'I found myself turned off by the narrow apparent 'certainties' of the traditionalists.' did not quite reflect the actual tone of the day's debate, that 'certainties' are not limited to one'side' and that - most importantly - the phrase was hurtful to the many thoughtful, gracious and sensitive folks of the 'traditionalist' persuasion. Those who have pointed this out are correct, and I apologise to them and to all for that particular phrase. what I should have said and what I really meant (but what that phrase stated as it is and in that context fails to communicate) was that I have been hurt and turned off in the ONGOING debate by SOME of the traditionalist persuasion etc etc. Not all by any means. Not only traditionalists either I freely acknowledge. And not specifically on Monday past. I think what has got to me at some points in the ongoing debate (ie - not just Monday's)has often been a matter of 'tone'. But that is another matter. I may blog further later on some related matters. But meanwhile I apologise for that phrase, for hurt unintentionally occasioned by it and for its inaccuracy in the context and in the way it was phrased

  7. Hi David... did my assembly 'review' this morning and showed some pictures that one of my congregation took during 'Roll away the Stone' - there were many comments about the interior shots of St Cuthberts - some of which are in the slide show he rushed together for today

    (thoughtful post btw - thanks) blessings Dorothy