Sunday, 19 September 2010
Bishop Peter Selby spoke at Greenbelt, and I had never heard him before. I must say I fell instantly in love with his openness, his kindness, his humour and his intellect. He started off his session with the rather shocking question 'Are our churches joinable?' Ouch! He said that in his opinion our response to LGBT people is compromising our organisations. Many LGBT people have responded to the Good News. The church says 'oh terribly sorry, we didn't expect people like you to respond'. We have proclaimed that God loves everyone, this is an extremely incautious proclamation.
So what happens to the church when LGBT people respond to the good news, when they respond to God's call for them to be ordained, and when they find themselves in a loving same sex relationship? They find they cannot challenge the system for fear of losing the job they feel called to, and they find they are living double lives. Peter Selby said that this was a sickness in the church, a darkness that makes our churches less attractive, less open, less free, less joinable. We are all suffering from the pain of the rejection of LGBT people.
He also said that we don't have to be as afraid of people as we think. He allowed an openly transgendered person to officiate as a priest, and people were fine about it. In another place there was an interregnum covered by an openly gay man. The result was that when the advert went out for the next incumbent, it was to stress that the parish was inclusive. He said that the House of Bishops had become a very scared place, and fear is an excellent way of controlling people. He was even told he was being brave for having dinner with a group of gay men after one of the votes at synod went against inclusivity. And so he encouraged us to test the boundaries, saying that if we don't we will be ever more constrained.