Earlier this week the Anglican Church announced an attempt at progress with regards to gay Anglicans. To be fair to them it is important to mention that there are some hard line Anglicans who are against any kind of acceptance of homosexuality and therefore any reforms have to be minimal in an attempt to please everyone. But rather the new policy regarding gay bishops seems to have upset everyone, myself included.
The basic outline is they now accept gay men in civil partnerships as bishops, provided they repent of all homosexual activity and commit to being celibate for the rest of their lives.
I’m not religious so my right to complain is limited, but frankly the details of the conditions of being a homosexual bishop in the Anglican church are awful. On the one hand, yay you can be gay and a bishop, on the other they are actively encouraging self loathing and you must accept yourself as a sinner for who you are. The church at large does not exactly make a mystery of its views on homosexuality, so it is hardly surprising this new policy would be limited, but enforcing this sense of extreme fundamental wrongness on its believers is surely cruel.
The part that really sticks for me is the demand that they repent for all sexual activity, as far as I’m concerned sexual activity is a sign of love and closeness and who we do it with depends on us as people. As you’ve probably gathered I believe that your sexuality is as much a natural part of you as your need to breathe, and the idea that this is wrong simply because you fell in love with someone of the same sex seems ridiculous. I think that forced repenting encourages self loathing and despair over a part of you, and I think this is cruel and morally wrong, so you should love your neighbour but hate yourself if you’re gay?
If these men are in civil partnerships and to all intents and purposes married (see Gay Marriage – Saint or Sin? http://wp.me/p2f7rM-5j) , why should they be deprived of the right to show their love and affection for their partners, when straight bishops have no such restrictions. Surely in order to be a bishop you must be devout and prove yourself as a good spiritual leader, so why should your private love of your partner come into it?
Frankly I think all churches everywhere should live and let live, stop being so preachy! (Get it?)