Chris Bryant: The Church of England needs to forget its silliness about homosexuality

 

Share
Related Topics

Anyone who has ever heard Jeffrey John preach, read his poetry or met him knows that he is a man of immense spirituality who should have been made a bishop years ago.

Sadly, the Church of England has got its cassocks so firmly in a twist that it seems completely incapable of coming to the same conclusion, purely and simply because he's gay.

In the old days it was all very simple. Homosexuality was a deliberate choice, a perversion, a sin.

Gay men were skipping along the rose-pink path to the everlasting bonfire and gay clergy who were caught in the act were dismissed, disgraced and defrocked.

But nobody seriously believes that anymore. Most church leaders know your sexuality is not something you choose, but something you discover. So you could even argue that God has made some people gay, which is why the Church of England no longer condemns anyone for just being gay. Indeed, it even teaches that homophobia is immoral.

But in a classic twist of English logic, the Church still maintains that it's fine and dandy to be gay just so long as you don't do anything about it.

Celibacy is the rule – especially for the clergy – as same-sex sex is definitely off-limits.

There are two problems with this. For a start it is a great big lie. It ludicrously pretends that Jeffrey would be the first-ever gay bishop.

But I remember terribly anguished and frighteningly closeted gay bishops in my theological college back in the Eighties. One became quite a close friend, and his relief the moment he retired and took up residence with his lover of 20 years was a sad joy to behold.

And 10 years ago a bishop asked me, in all seriousness, whether it was wrong that he had just decided that he had to appoint a straight man to a particular inner-city parish because literally every other vicar in the area was gay.

What is even worse, though, is that the Church's double-speak is so cruel. It condemns people to a life without the joy of sexual intimacy – and all to placate a theology that is as misplaced and out of date as Christianity's onetime advocacy of slavery.

Is it too much to hope that one day the Church of England will get this silliness out of its system?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Search Account Manager

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive

£25000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an acknowledged...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Central London, Bank

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C++, Ruby/ Perl) - £40k

£40000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C+...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: sculpture, silly jokes and a guide to solving all engineering problems

John Rentoul
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: Sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital