Sacrificing Children to Molech
(These words were prepared for the debate in General Synod on the paper GS2055 in February 2017. As Living in Love and Faith is published, the fruit of Synod ‘not taking note’ of GS2055, it seems appropriate to republish them now)
In 1985 Dr Hume Maxwell, founder of The Gay Christian Community in Johannesburg, told me all that I ever needed to know about Gay Sex. His words were short, simple and profound. ‘Remember Andrew, it’s not about the sex!’ The Gay Christian Community, met under the pastoral oversight of a former member of the House of Bishop of this General Synod, who in those halcyon days, even licensed an Anglican priest as their chaplain.
A generous community they taught me how anyone could love God and each other in permanent, faithful, stable relationships of ‘stunning quality’. In the middle of a country riddled with apartheid I learnt that ‘Love Wins’ and faithfulness between human lovers reflects the divine love God has for each of us.
Like Gay Sex, ultimately marriage is ‘not about the sex’ either.
In Common Worship, and the revisions that lead up to it, the Church of England subtly altered its doctrine of marriage by changing the order of the three gifts of marriage
Marriage is given, that husband and wife may comfort and help each other, living faithfully together in need and in plenty, in sorrow and in joy.
It is given, that with delight and tenderness they may know each other in love, and, through the joy of their bodily union, may strengthen the union of their hearts and lives.
It is given as the foundation of family life in which children may be born and nurtured in accordance with God’s will, to God’s praise and glory.
(The Marriage Service – Common Worship)
We put children at the bottom of the list – marriage is a haven in which children may grow but not all couples can (or indeed choose) to bear children.
We put sex second on the list – nice but not essential to the sacrament.
But above all the gifts of marriage it is love and fidelity that we put first. For this is the one gift that is common to all marriage with or without children, with or without physical intimacy.
Marriage, like part of the LGBTI+ community, is ‘not about the sex’.
This report before us, instead of being about love is, sadly, about nothing but sex, and seems to encourage exploring sex with a perverse, prurient, even pernicious voyeurism, naively presuming that the whole of human intimacy and faith can be summed up in a single orgasm!
It makes me sick and it makes me weep for my church.
Once again, I find myself embarrassed by my faith and ashamed to be a priest in this Church of England.
This report has already had far reaching effects.
Because of this report, dear clergy friends of mine, Gay and Straight, will no longer be able to be ministers of the Gospel. Having endured one too many beatings at the hands of Christian brothers and sisters, they will renounce their Orders.
Because of this report, the faith of Lesbian members of my parish, just beginning to grow into the knowledge of the love of Christ, will be stillborn. Having waited in hope for the Church to respond in love to their love they will now be married at the Register Office and now no longer attend worship. They are, with sadness, turning away from a church that they thought might be beginning to learn to welcome them
Because of this report, one of our sons, a youth leader, student activist, and member of Diocesan Synod, will demonstrate more integrity than our church and, (in refusing to lie about his God given identity as a Bisexual man), will not answer the vocation to ordination that God laid on him when, as a teenager, he first gave his heart to the perfect love of Jesus.
But it is not these people who worry me.
Adults will find other places of welcome and succour. Wonderful places such as Diverse Church, Two:23, and The Open Table Network, my lesbian friends and I will continue to pray together. Our son will continue to serve his Lord though probably not in Holy Orders.
The people I worry for our younglings, our rainbow children.
I lay awake at night praying for that one, still young in the faith but not accepted for who they are, who today will be tempted to reach for a length of rope, a razor blade or a cliff edge. I weep for the next Lizzie Lowe* and my heart breaks.
It seems as if the church I serve no longer worships the God whose steadfast love endures forever, the God who will not break a bruised reed, the God who refuses to extinguish a dimly burning wick. Instead, in a fit of self-righteous justification, we offer our rainbow children as a sacrifice on the fiery altar of the awful god Molech!
I am frightened for our precious rainbow children and for them, their parents, their families and their friends, so with every fibre of my being; I refuse to take note of this report.