>So the Bishop of Rochester has declined Archbishop Rowan’s invitation to the Lambeth Conference and has decided to join the alternative conference oddly called Gafcon (sounds to me like a hot air company). To me it seems rather a strange gesture coming a week after widespread demands for the priest who conducted the “wedding” of two gay priests to be disciplined have been heard. Surely, if we are to be called to be obedient to the church’s teaching – one of the leading advocates of which is the Bishop oif Rochester – then the Bishop of Rochester should be seen not to be undermining the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Homosexuality is supposedly at the root of the divisions of the Church of England and the Gafcons are apparently united around that one issue – that it should not be tolerated. I think I see it rather differently. I see it as a power struggle – and how shocking that the followers of the one – “who emptied himself taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbbled himself and became obedient to the point of death” (Philippian 2) – should be involved in power struggles. The issue of homosexuality is their rallying call and the point of vulnerability – the chink in the armour – of those they oppose. The way I see it is as a struggle between the old command and control mentality referred to by Dee Hock, founder of Visa and the chaordic type of organisation emerging as part of our information age. Lambeth represents the self-organising – this time there’s no resolutions, just bishops coming together in the hope that by so doing they will be better bishops. The Gafcons will plot and scheme, pass resolutions, flex their muscle, spit fire, trying to “command and control” which is a temptation Jesus steadfastly refused to submit to – and so make a story for the world’s media. The message will not be “God so loved the world …” but “see how these Christians love (is this where a “sic” should go?) one another” – hardly a compelling message.
And those people who are gay get squeezed out. They are the real victims. They are victims of prejudice – cast out into the realms of darkness – the the alleys where, it just so happens, Jesus walked (or should I say “walks”).
I have to say that two of the people I love most dearly are gay. They are both in loving, stable long-term relationships which have enriched them and both relationships shed love and blessing to others. One of them is a civil partnership which rang with as much holiness as any wedding I have ever attended – even though it could not be contracted on “holy ground”. When I think about it, I could be deeply hurt and offended. The offence is to the head – the hurt is to the heart. What those who are gay make of it I shudder to think – I am very sorry to be in an institution that so offends them – but will work to promote a community where people matter and where rules and regulations are seen as “sheer hell”. Dee Hock again:”Heaven is purpose, principle and people. Purgatory is paper and procedure. Hell is rules and regulations.” Pray that Lambeth prepares for heaven, and that the Gafcons realise there’s no future in hell.
Friend Katherine sent me this article from Newsweek on the devil incarnate – Gene Robinson – a different perspective.