Bishop of Liverpool: Gay Christians have a right to be angry with the Church

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The Bishop of Liverpool has criticised the Church of England’s approach to LGBT issues in a blog post.

The Anglican church has been under increasing strain in recent years over its policies on homosexuality and same-sex unions.

Under current rules, the church punishes clergy members who perform blessings for gay unions or enter same-sex marriages themselves, but both rules are regularly flouted.

More than a third of the Church’s governing body recently signed a letter urging bishops to reform its approach, but conservatives within the Church have threatened a split if the policy is relaxed. Exacerbating the feud, the Bishop of Grantham recently came out as gay.

In a post for Christian news blog ViaMedia, Rt Revd Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, acknowledged “anger” with the Church.

He said: “[We need to] combat poor practice in the Church.

“The poor practice is this; people whose inner and outer lives are deeply impacted by an issue, and who become angry as a result, are discounted precisely because of their anger.

“This has been the age-old fate of women in the West, and the fate of any oppressed group, and it is the fate of many LGBT people in the Church today. The advice from the men at the top (and they usually are men, and they are always at the top) is the old, infuriating, demeaning advice: ‘Calm down, dear’.

“Calm down, and clam up. Don’t feel what you feel, or at least don’t express it. Behave. Let’s hear an argument, not a cry. Deny your deepest pain, and your deepest love.

“Instead play our game, our arguments-only game, our game that believes people only really exist from the neck up; calm down, dears, because your game is not legitimate, and we have decided that, and we are always right.

“In the face of this old and cold advice I want to offer an even older, warmer, Biblical encouragement to those on the edge in the churches, and in this season to LGBT Christians in particular: be warmly angry, be hot with anger, but do not boil away. Be warmly angry, but do not boil away.

“Feel what you feel, and turn the feeling to strength. Don’t mourn, organise. Let the person you are in God speak out, so that your own desires and your own anger become the engine for a just world.

“Come as you are. Be as you are. Leave differently. Love differently. Bring your heart’s desire to bear on the life of our community. Make yourself heard, and if people like me act as if we know you better than you know yourself, then set us to rights, tell us the truth, motivate and stir and provoke us to know your anger as you know it.

“And then, please, for all our sakes, exercise your courage, the virtue by which your aggression becomes reasonable. And bring your courage to bear on the councils of the church. And share facts and logic and truth and history and perspective, and (yes, of course!) argument.

“But never lose your anger, even after you’ve let it blow through you as the sun goes down, and refused to allow it to consume you. Bring your next-morning anger, your tempered anger, your reasonable passion, the truth of how you feel, and contribute it to the whole community, which desperately needs to listen to it.

“Make a difference. Return, day after day, in the face of discouragement and misunderstanding and opposition, to make a difference again.

“Keep on making a difference until things are different.

“And thank you for bearing with us still, and for enriching our half-awake lives, and for waking us up further. And thank you most of all for the passionate word of Christ that you have received and that you – and only you – can speak forward into our church’s symphony today, a word of the heart, the word of love and anger.”

The Bishop was previously the centre of a row over LGBT rights, when Nigeria’s Anglican Church severed ties with his diocese in a dispute over a gay honorary bishop.