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Home > Culture and Society

The Church of England: Ambivalent to be gay

30 July 2005

Once again the Church of England has returned to one of its obsessions: homosexuality. Not that Rowan Williams and the guys are planning to hit a couple of bars in Soho then go on to a club and check out the talent in a celebration of liberated sexuality and popper-fuelled hot man-love. Oh no. Instead theyíre back to their strange and unnatural practice of endlessly talking about it.

The C of Eís problem with gayness comes around as regularly as Christmas, and once again the church has arrived back at its usual position of saying itís more-or-less OK to be gay, but not to actually have gay sex.

If we have to hear this weary old news story one more time weíll scream Ė a little like Marco off Big Brother 5 - but despite that it does look set to run and run. The Church of England finds it very hard to accept homosexuality, partly because of the traditional anti-gay stance of the church and the Bible, but also because, with falling attendances, it canít afford to alienate traditional churchgoers. The C of E is having to deal with a further problem: the fact that its African churches (one of the few vital bits of the organisation) tend to oppose homosexuality.

The result is the worst kind of fudge (no pun intended). The C of E is effectively saying that itís OK to have sexual desires that happen to be directed toward the same sex, but you canít act on them. Itís not dissimilar to the idea of celibate priests, but considering the church is meant to be a loving organisation, does it really think itís acceptable to condemn its gay members to a lifetime of suppressing their basic nature? (Which, by the way, is sinful. Imagine how good *that* would make you feel about yourself.)

Yet again the church is caught between scripture and tradition and modern society. Of course, from the C of Eís point of view it doesnít *have* to accept being gay as OK, and an inconclusive theological debate is a great way to avoid having to confront the issue. But is the idea of being gay and in a long-term relationship (basically the same as heterosexual marriage) really so objectionable in 2005?

Apparently it is. When it comes to His tiny creatures, the Lord God made them all. But he clearly didnít want them to lead normal lives.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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