I don’t think I have ever before posted a criticism of another church or church leader here.  But I can’t leave Bishop Devine’s comments on the gay community without comment.  I’ve tried to find the full text of what he said but it doesn’t seem to be posted anywhere as yet – so I am relying on reports on the BBC website.

Many things to say – but I come down to this one.

Once you start seeing people and groups who are different from you as a conspiracy, you are at risk of not being able to see them as people and respond to them with openness, love and charity.  Once you start to see people and groups who are different from you as a conspiracy, you are at risk of simply seeing them as a threat and being unable to measure, ponder and respond to what they are, what they think and what they say.

I believe that Jesus saw people and loved them as they were.  In particular, he responded to people whom others cast out.


  1. Thanks to both Phil and Kimberly. Ok – I’m going to try and do a more positive recycling of this discussion back at the top of the blog, as it were.

  2. Phil, I think +David is right. This conversation was escalating in ways that are not productive.

    That is not to say that there isn’t a conversation there that is much needed, but once it reaches a point that neither person feels able to respond to what the other is saying, it is time to step back and seek another opportunity to engage more constructively.

    Maybe we can address some of the issues at the listening day? (so, on the one hand, Phil’s concern that church sometimes denies the full humanity of gay people, and David’s concern that no one argument (either a particular view of scripture, or a particular way of expressing issues of justice and inclusion) trump all others without an attempt at mutual understanding.)

  3. David, you disappoint me. Perhaps you could explain to me how my last comment lacked integrity…and why you have suddenly become so sensitive. I still consider the parallel I made to be very apposite. Perhaps we were getting too close to the truth for your comfort.

  4. Phil. I am sorry but we have passed from a careful and thoughtful discussion which had considerable integrity .. into something which is in danger of recycling. I think we should end it there.

  5. I am sorry,David, but I do think that some of those in positions of episcopal authority have responded to threats, perhaps with justification when some dioceses are so fragile, or when the whole Communion is threatened with schism.

    That aside, you accuse me of not challenging the arguments of those who actively discriminate against me. I am surprised that you thing that the victimised minority should be made to justify why they should not be victimised, although that is of course the classic position of the oppressor. The problem of course is that, apart from quoting the very few direct references to homosexuality in Scripture, those who support discrimination rarely articulate why they choose to accept a particular interpretation of scripture on this issue and not on other issues.

    Perhaps you should start, David, by articulating why you, and the College of Bishops, support continued discrimination against lesbians and gay men within the Church, and yet freely ignore with little demur the Dominical injunction against heterosexual divorce.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Phil. You’ve made me think .. not very successfully, I fear.

    I’m not sure that it is fair to suggest that those in leadership like myself act as we do only because we are responding to threat. I hope you think better of us than that!

    No I don’t think views held with integrity are unchallengeable. Just that I haven’t heard you challenge them. Those views are not unchallengeable – the ‘scriptural authority’ arguments do not trump all others. But neither, in my view, does the discrimination argument – not matter how keenly and justifiably it is felt by people like you.

  7. David, thank you for engaging in with me in this discussion. I don’t think I was suggesting inclusiveness without boundaries, but the points I was trying to make above were that those who support direct discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the Church do so by placing conditions on those such as yourself in positions of authority: “if you treat lesbians and gay men equally we will: leave your church, not pay our quota, not accept your authority” – take your pick of their threats. Whereas lesbians and gay Christians are saying “please treat us equally and we will continue to respect the integrity of those who do not think we should be treated equally – whilst disagreeing with them”. No threats – but then we don’t have the power to make threats. Secondly they discriminate against us not because of what we believe, but because of what we are, because of what God made us.
    Do I understand you to say that if a view is held with integrity it is unchallengeable? Hitler had very strong beliefs held undoubtedly with integrity. Racists have strongly held beliefs supported by the authority of scripture as they interpret it. Supporters of slavery had very strong beliefs supported by the authority of scripture as they understood it. Integrity is no criterion of truth of beliefs. It is the other side who draw the lines to exclude lesbians and gay men. You will probably know the quote: “those who draw a line of exclusion are often surprised to see Jesus on the other side of it.”

  8. This is difficult. I think you may have missed my point that inclusiveness which doesn’t have any boundaries at all simply ends up as a kind of exclusion.

    Secondly, you can accuse the church of actively discriminating … but you are choosing not to recognise that the church is deeply divided on this issue. Can you recognise integrity in those who take a view different from your own and claim the authority of scripture in support of it?

  9. David, you are quite right all should be welcome and none excluded. But there is a major difference in the way that the Church treats those who oppose the inclusion of lesbians and gay men as full and equal members of the Church and the way that it treats lesbians and gay men. The difference is that the Church actively discriminates against lesbians and gay men, and publicly supports such discrimination. How would you feel in +Gene Robinson’s position or Jeffery John’s? Listen to us when we say that the Church does not include us!

  10. The SEC is a church in which many voices contribute to a dialogue on this and other issues. As in other churches, those voices rightly express a range of views so it is very difficult for the SEC to express a view with the same clarity as the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed many of us belong in most of the viewpoints at the same time. That is not a lack of principle – more an honesty about the complexity of the issues. That said, I think that the instincts of the SEC tend mainly – but far from exclusively – to lie in the liberal direction. That comes out of history, out of conviction, out of current practice and from statements such as that made by the College of Bishops in March 2005. Inclusiveness may sound like a good standard around which to rally – but the irony is that to include some is to exclude others.

  11. The position of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in respect of homosexuality is unequivocal, honest and unambiguous in its homophobia and bigotry. But at least one knows where it stands – where does the SEC stand one often wonders.

  12. Well said, +David. If +Devine believes gay people are not entitled to consider themselves victims, perhaps he would feel differently if a member of his family had been mugged because of his orientation.

  13. David, Bishop Devine’s comments are an appalling piece of revisionism: is he suggesting there were no pink triangles in the Nazi death camps?

    His attempt to suggest that those whom he dislikes are engaged in some sort of ‘conspiracy’ smacks of the sort conversation heard in sectarian circles at the height of the Troubles.

  14. I haven’t seen the original remarks or the BBC coverage, so I can’t comment on what the other Bishop has said or not said.

    That said, I really like that last paragraph of your’s +David.

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