Wholly Holy (lecture)

Whloly Holy: What does the identity of being LGBT add to the identity of being Christian?

A lecture given by Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, on Wednesday 30 January 2013.

Some extracts:

…And is there a place for LGBT persons in this model? Absolutely. They’re in the front seat of the van. Why? I’ll give you three reasons. One, because a terrifying, murderous and persecuted history, which has left LGBT persons so marginalised, scapegoated, and diminished in the church it’s astonishing they’re still here, makes LGBT persons almost uniquely qualified to identify with those people closest to Jesus’ heart, Jesus’ company, and Jesus’ ministry. After hundreds of years of seeing LGBT persons as living in Babylon, in an exile of their own making, the church is finally beginning to realize that they’re not in Babylon – they’re in Egypt, in a captivity imposed upon them by others. Of course LGBT persons are sinners – everyone is; but at last the church is beginning to recognize that this is a people incalculably more sinned against than sinning, with an inexhaustible store of wisdom and grace to teach their brothers and sisters…

…LGBT people are made this way because God wanted ones like them to do a job no one else could do; and if the church is somewhat slow in affirming specific vocations and attending to long-hidden gifts it’s because it has hundreds of years of unlearning to do in breaking the habits of oppression and letting the Holy Spirit speak through an exiled people…

…What needs to happen now is repentance for the church’s ignorance and cruelty, a renewal of the church’s mission, and a reappraisal of the resources at the church’s disposal. And to lead the church as it discovers what it means to be a minority, to be misunderstood, mistrusted, and seen with contempt, who better to be its leaders and teachers than those who have been in that place all along. I wonder who those people might be…

Complete Lecture [PDF].

Should equal marriage be rejected…? (paper)

Should equal marriage be rejected or celebrated by Christians?, Savitri Hensman

The possibility of opening up marriage in Britain by law to same-sex couples has been criticised by some Christians but welcomed by others. One of the more thoughtful critics is theologian John Milbank, who has eloquently expressed some common arguments against change. This response by Savi Hensman suggests that, while he raises important issues, his analysis is ultimately flawed. Taking into account such topics as tradition, sexual ‘complementarity’, childbearing and sacrament, there is a strong case for equal marriage.

Full Paper [PDF].

Journey towards acceptance (paper)

Journey towards acceptance: theologians and same-sex love, Savitri Hensman

In this paper, Savi Hensman gives a detailed overview of some of the most significant affirmative theological work on same-sex love and the Christian tradition. She demonstrates the unhelpful and simplistic positing of a straightforward ‘conservative versus liberal’ divide on these issues, and draws on Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Quaker and Anabaptist/Mennonite thinkers.

Full paper [PDF].

Making space for an honest conversation (keynote address)

Keynote address: “Making space for an honest conversation”, by Nick Holtam

“In British society, the game is up. Gay people are equal members of our society”, said Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, to the 3rd Cutting Edge Consortium conference, 21 April 2012.

…”So, increasingly, there is an evangelical imperative for the Church to recognise that covenantal same sex relationships can be Godly and good for individuals and society; that they are at least like marriage for heterosexuals, and this is a development that many Christians in good faith warmly welcome. For LGBT people it raises a question about whether marriage is what they want, but for us as a Church there are things to affirm in this development.

It is a disaster that we have allowed the Church to be seen as the opposition to equal civil marriage”.

Full address [PDF].
Commentthe Daily Telegraph

Faith, Gender and Me (article)

Faith, Gender and Me, Elaine Sommers

This article gives a perspective on the gender issues from a transvestite or cross dresser rather than a transsexual point of view. It is presented as an interview with a single person but it describes some general experiences. The interview in the form presented did not take place.

Transvestites and cross dressers have a gender allegiance which accords with their biological sex. There is no desire to seek gender reassignment but there is often an overwhelming need to express the senses of cross gender identity that they do possess…

Article [PDF].

The Transsexual is my Neighbour: Pastoral Guidelines…

The Transsexual is my Neighbour: Pastoral Guidelines for Christian Clergy, Pastors and Congregations, Christina Beardsley

Document [PDF].

This is also available in booklet form from The Gender Trust at PO Box 3192, Brighton, BN1 3WR. An alternative abbreviated version of the document is given in the information sheet section of the Gender Trust website at: www.gendertrust.org.uk.

The full document contains an appendix on intersex conditions: Appendix [PDF].

Transsexual people cover the whole range of sexuality. However the priority is to be oneself. Many seek gender reassignment by surgery to make the body match the sense of gender that is felt inside.

An Acceptable Sacrifice? Homosexuality and the Church (book)

Edited by Duncan Dormor and Jeremy Morris (SPCK, 2007)

This is a collection of essays by an interdisciplinary group of Cambridge authors. A TLS review by John Habgood commended this ‘intelligent and wide-ranging guide’. The key passages from scripture are considered carefully in context.


Memories of Bliss (book)

Jo Ind (SCM, 2003)

This account of a personal journey is a powerful repudiation of a traditional view that there is a given meaning in any kind of sexual expression. Affirming the bodily and the spiritual, it recognizes as absolute only the love of God, neighbour and self. It is a resource for all struggling to hold together their sexual drive and their religious faith.