At General Synod there were 160 requests to speak in the big debate on Sexuality. I was not called to speak, but had I been this is what I had prepared to say…
I hold a conservative/traditional/orthodox view and I will continue to do so unless and until I can be persuaded that the Bible teaches otherwise. So I would not bless a same-sex relationship. I minister in an eclectic evangelical church in the centre of Cheltenham, and I am aware that there is a diversity of views in this church, and it would be unwise to seek to be a campaigning church. I am aware of similar diversity in other churches like our own.
I have two sons, both committed Christians (thank God). They are in their early 30’s, one works in development and one in human rights and they have terrific discussions from their particular perspectives, but they are agreed that our concentration as a church on this issue is massively distracting in the face of world issues around refugees and climate change, to name but two concerns.
Like all of us I have been praying about today and a text has come to mind persistently from Acts chapter 5, where that paragon of wisdom, Gamaliel stood in the Sanhedrin and said, if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them.. Maybe, just maybe, that text could feed into our discussion. Is it that bad, given the existing inconsistency and overall incoherence in our thinking, because we are not agreed, that we can trust one another and live with inconsistent and even incoherent practice, because until Jesus comes again, we live in a messy world. Can we not respect one another’s consciences in the meantime?
I was also reminded of something that Bishop Tucker of Uganda said over a hundred years ago, not long actually before he collapsed and died on the steps of this very Church House, when he challenged his fellow missionaries about their attitudes to African Christians; he said, ultimately our failure to trust each other is a failure to trust the Holy Spirit.