One In 10 Church of England Bishops Could Be Secretly Straight
THE Telegraph brings news that one in 10 bishops “could be secrely” gay. Or to put it another way, one in 10 bishops could not be secretly gay.
In the Telegraph, John Bingham reports that in his new book (More Perfect Union – Understanding Same-Sex Christian Marriage), Bishop Alan Wilson of Buckingham claims that almost 10% of Church of England bishops “might be gay”. The Bishop observes:
Particular attention sometimes falls on one vulnerable group with especially complex needs – gay Church of England bishops… By 2014 there were said to be a dozen or so gay bishops. By definition, these men are outstanding priests who have managed to navigate the complexities of a structurally homophobic institution well enough to become its iconic representatives. They may well have a bigger investment than others in keeping the closet door tightly shut…
Many who have publicly resisted same-sex marriage also have a dog in the fight arising from personal experience. This can arise from ambivalence or guilt about ways they have handled family members who have come out as gay, as well as their own sexualities… They have more on the line than some others. They also have greater status and security, but some of them may end up among the last people able to understand the need for change and bring it about. This can be expected to be the case especially for gay evangelical bishops, with their historically less well developed networks and support systems.
The Reverend Peter Ould is unimpressed:
Right, so the reason gay bishops are in the closet is because they are deeply twisted, repressed souls who are trapped in a cycle of shame and suppression. And oh, we must be especially sorry for the evangelicals – they’re the really screwed up ones.
Back in 2011 he wrote:
What would the outing of gay bishops in the Church of England actually achieve?
Well firstly, it would expose to public view as homosexual a number of men who have been faithfully celibate and abiding to the church’s teaching steadfastly for all of their lives. They would be outed for the only reason that they were single and gay rather than single and straight, outed by folks who argue vociferously on their blogs and websites that people should not be singled out just because they were gay and for no other reason. Who at this point would be the hypocrites?
Secondly, it would expose to public view men who had in the past engaged in sexual activity outside of marriage, who had repented of that sin and had then ordered their lives to be very clearly in line with the church’s teaching. Attempting to out these men would simply show for public view the glory of the good news of forgiveness for sin repented of. It would demonstrate to all that the church does grace and restoration and does it for any and all who will accept their sinful error. Whilst initially it might be embarrassing and uncomfortable for the individuals involved and their families and friend, it would then provide ample opportunity for the clear distinction in the church’s teaching between orientation and behaviour to be explained and to be shown to be perfectly manageable for individuals to live, even individuals who had erred in the past. The men outed would become instantly heroes of orthodoxy, icons of repentance and grace.
Thirdly, and controversially for some in the conservative camp, it might even expose to public view men who had managed for well over a decade to live in a “covenanted friendship” without any sexual activity whatsoever. It would demonstrate to all that deep friendships do not need to be sexualised and that Christians can find ways of ordering their lives clearly, of committing to others whilst staying faithful to the purity of the marriage bed.
Finally, it would not change the position of the Church of England. What it would do though is undermine the position of those who engaged in the outing, namely because the only direct effect of the outing would have been to shame certain individuals for not supporting the position of those who did the outing. Such a goal (the shaming of individuals because they do not agree with you) is base indeed and not worthy of anybody who takes clearly Christ’s call to love your neighbour as yourself. Those who engaged in the outing would be seen clearly by all to be self-serving and operating out of a position of anger, bitterness and envy, a position of sin.
Forcing people to reveal what legal act they prefer doing with other consenting adults to fit your agenda is just cruel.