An Unfinished Reformation (article)

Susan Gilchrist (2013)

There were many doctrinal changes that the Church adopted in regard to the role of women, gender equality and transcendence and to gender and sexual variance during the first three centuries of its existence. This study uses the results of recent research on gender dysphoria and personality development as a tool to re-examine the historical backgrounds and the reasons for these changes.

The results of this analysis challenge many of the traditional doctrines that the Church has adopted on the role of women, gender equality and gender and sexual variance. In some Churches the social changes of the last fifty years have promoted a re-evaluation of Christian teaching, but also a retrenchment into literalism and fundamentalism in others. This analysis supports this re-evaluation and gives historical and theological support to the changes that are being made.

Please note that this material is offered for discussion and comment. It does not represent the current policy or the current attitude of the Coalition, or any of its constituent groups.

This document has been updated to include comments on the Pilling Report. (12 December 2013)

Article [PDF].

Church Views on Sexuality: The Middle Ground (paper)

Church Views on Sexuality: The Middle Ground, Savitri Hensman

It is clear that Christians hold a spectrum of views on sexuality and marriage. However, the popular idea that there are two warring blocks that may be labelled ‘traditionalists’ and ‘revisionists’ is simplistic and can be misleading as well as unhelpful. Current tensions could be reduced and reframed significantly if more church leaders acknowledged the extent of common ground in the middle of this continuum, allowed limited flexibility of practice, and enabled their communities to develop practices of discernment oriented towards the “grace and truth” (John 1.13-15) that lies at the heart of the Christian message.

In this paper, Ekklesia associate Savitri Hensman identifies seven widely held positions on sexuality. She suggests that those with supposedly diametrically opposing views often have more in common than they may at first think. Equally, she argues, in Christian terms, that coexistence among those sharing a ‘middle ground’ is not about weak compromise, but instead reflects an approach both deeply rooted in Bible and tradition and open to change as a living community led by the Spirit.

Paper [PDF].

Preparing for Pilling

In December 2013, the House of Bishops will receive a report into the Church of England’s “Approach to Human Sexuality” from a group chaired by Joseph Pilling. It is understood that the report will then be discussed by the full College of Bishops in January 2014.

When the House of Bishops established the review in July 2011 it did so because it wished “To offer proposals on how the continuing discussion within the Church of England about these matters might best be shaped in the light of the listening process. Our intention is to produce a further consultation document”. The Pilling report will therefore be a report to the House of Bishops and it will then be for the House to decide, in the light of the report, what proposals and process of consultation it wishes to launch.

The LGB&T Anglican Coalition expresses its appreciation of the discussions it has already had with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and it is now understood that the outcome of these talks will be subsumed into the Pilling Report. There are already leaks about what the Pilling report may contain. See for example:
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/006294.html and clearly a period of intense discussion lies ahead. It is important that all those who wish to contribute to these matters participate in the debate.

Taking a chance on God

2 November 2013, 10:30–17:00, at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London

A day long workshop for LGBTQ Christians and their friends.

How are we called to be disciples and leaders? What does our experience as LGBTQ Christians, or as straight friends, teach us about trust, faith, and spiritual growth?

This day long workshop in the heart of London at historic St. Martin-in-the-Fields offers fellowship, input, and space for those who feel called to deeper reflection, and for those who feel inspired to spirit-led action.

Press Release [PDF].

Archbishop’s speech to Evangelical Alliance

On 28 August 2013, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury opened the new headquarters of the Evangelical Alliance. During his speech he told the audience that the Church must “repent” over the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past and said most young people viewed Christians as no better than racists on these issues. More to the point, he now understands just how dreadful conservative Christian attitudes seem to anyone under 35. He said “The vast majority of people under 35 think [the church’s resistance to gay marriage] is not just incomprehensible but plain wrong and wicked, and they assimilate it to racism and other horrors.” While the Church of England has yet to deliver on these issues, this gives hope of a greater awakening by the Church.

Article [Thinking Anglicans].
Full speech + Q&A .

On “Men and Women in Marriage”

For immediate use: press statement on: “Men and Women in Marriage”, a document from the Church of England Faith and Order Commission.

The Coalition wishes to register its dismay at men “Men and Women in Marriage”, the recently published report from the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England. Ostensibly an affirmation of what the Church of England believes about marriage, it appears, to us, to be merely an attempt to justify the Church of England’s recent submission to the government opposing same sex civil marriage. It also makes specific and derogatory references to same-sex relationships…

Press Release [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].