My very brief comment on the Pilling report

I wasn’t going to make many comments about the Pilling report [1] released on Thursday beyond sharing on Facebook however, another blog written on the subject has inspired me to write something on it (I promise it’ll be short). The report made 18 recommendations for the Church of England (CofE) but the main four for me are:

  • We warmly welcome and affirm the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained
  • Homophobia – that is, hostility to homosexual people – is still as serious a matter as it was and the Church should repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and should stand firmly against it whenever and wherever it is to be found.
  • The whole Church is called to real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to homosexual people in the past, and to demonstrate the unconditional acceptance and love of God in Christ for all people.
  • We believe that there can be circumstances where a priest, with the agreement of the relevant PCC, should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service but should be under no obligation to do so. Some of us do not believe that this can be extended to same sex marriage.
It’s no secret that the church has heaped misery (and worse) upon on the LGBT community and this has not only caused a lot of resentment towards the church from the LGBT community, but seriously affected how people perceive the church. According to research conducted by the Barna Group “…..the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is “anti-homosexual.” Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians[2]. The church has a lot to apologize for on this. There are many Christians who are gay and it just beggars belief they are denied roles to service God purely because they are gay, but then these are the same people who deny women roles purely because they are women. There’s serious equality issues within the CofE and it’s progressing at the usual bureaucratic pace.
Anyway, the fourth point is what I want to address very briefly, or more specifically the comments from another blog. Andrew Evans wrote a piece about what would happen to the Church of England if they implemented the proposals of the Pilling report regarding this. He outlined a series of events he sees happening:

1. The implementation of the Pilling report and blessing same sex civil partnerships.

2. “But we think marriage is a superior form of commitment to civil partnership. So isn’t it perverse to bless gay couples in a civil partnership but not those who are married?” Next step: blessings of gay marriages.

3. “If we are pronouncing these marriages blessed by God, it’s ridiculous that we’re not actually offering these couples the opportunity to get married in church.” Next step: CofE churches performing gay marriages.

4. “Since clergy are now performing gay marriages it would be bizarre if clergy weren’t allowed to be in gay marriages themselves.” Next step: the full acceptance of homosexual practice and marriage in the CofE. [3]

He suggested that it was part of an attack from liberals who are effectively denying biblical teaching and seems to suggest people should leave the CofE if they get that far. Here’s my response to the above; God I hope this happens, I want it to happen, it should have happened long before now. The LGBT community are people, friends, family, and there is absolutely zero reason why they should be denied the same rights as any other person on this planet. I am one of those liberals who seem to be attacking the church on this subject because I absolutely do not believe the Bible condemns same-sex relationships or the LGBT community, and I will leave a church if they are not open and accepting of the LGBT community. There are many great resources, blogs and articles from Christians which go into why the Bible does not condemn these (Amy Mitchell, John Shore, Justin Lee to name just three) and whilst there is a genuine discussion to be had on this subject, we need to be mindful that like with the debate regarding women in the church, the vast majority of people having the discussion aren’t affected by the results and yet, are the ones who can inspire change.

So if the church fully implement the recommendations and we get to step 4, I will be joining in the party.






God working in the House of Commons

With the release of the Pilling report yesterday (a subject that I will comment on briefly later) I felt compelled to re-release this piece I wrote when same-sex marriage was being debated in the House of Commons.


7:20pm, Tuesday 5th February 2013; the results of the House of Commons debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill came in; 400 for, 175 against, a majority of 225. [1] In political terms this was nothing short of a landslide.

As I was waiting for the results I realized I was actually nervous. I’ve not been interested in politics for a long time but this had my attention, I thought it would be close and when the results came in I actually cheered!! I put a quote from a conservative MP on my Facebook on how this issue was irrelevant and there were more important things to worry about. Sentiments that were echoed by Sky News political correspondent Glen Oglaza. [2] Whilst there are other important issues to tackle, my reactions made me realize that this wasn’t an irrelevant topic. This was an issue that struck at the heart of discrimination and all the work that’s been done over the last 200 years or so to banish it from our society. The results of this vote sent a very clear message – discrimination should not be tolerated on any level.

The battle at times has been pitched as religion versus homosexuality. Images used by the media [3] have done nothing to stem that view. But it’s just not as simple as that. There are many Christians who have opposed this bill, that’s an inescapable fact. But there are many Christians who have supported this bill. I regularly posted pictures and articles in support of the bill; I emailed my MP imploring them to vote yes. When the government released its consultation, I voiced my support for it providing churches had the right and legal backing if they wish to not conduct such a ceremony. In the bill, the government have put what they call a “quadruple lock” which consists of the following:

1. No religious organization or individual minister is compelled to marry same-sex couples or to permit this to happen on their premises.

2. It is unlawful for religious organizations or their ministers to marry same-sex couples unless their organization’s governing body has expressly opted in to provisions for doing so.

3. Amendment the 2010 Equality Act to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organizations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple.

4. The legislation explicitly states that it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples [4]

I am happy that these measures satisfy my concerns. Probably won’t stop someone challenging them in the European Court of Human Rights but the government can’t stop that*. Outside of Christianity, there were some gays who didn’t want this bill to go through or are simply not bothered though I concede they were very few in number. Some rejected the bill on the stance of tradition, politics and the fact gay couples had access to civil partnerships. Some see same-sex marriages as a step to devaluing and destroying the institute of marriage (though on a personal note, heterosexuals seem to be doing that on their own) Lets be open though, there are some Christians who don’t like gays, there are some gays who don’t like Christians. Some like Labour MP Jim Dobbin, feels this whole debate has simply widened the gap between the 2 groups [5] but I will come onto that more later.

The role of religion in western society inevitably comes up in this discussion and Professor Richard Dawkins is set to discuss this subject with Rowan Williams, former archbishop of Canterbury. [6] There was a time when state laws were based on religious views and seemed to change depending on the denomination of whoever was on the throne. In the Middle East, their laws are still directly based on or influenced by religious views (sex before marriage is illegal in Morocco) But the UK is neither in the Middle East or the middle ages. Whilst you cannot expect people to put their religious views to one side when discussing topics (faith simply doesn’t work like that) a government of a multicultural country cannot pander to the demands of one section alone. In a multicultural country, you will never please everyone and that’s why I didn’t’ envy the task faced by the members of the House of Commons yesterday. Inevitably some will see the results of yesterday’s vote as a pandering to the gay community and the trampling on of religious expression. With the government consultation, everyone got to have their say, the majority of respondents were in favor (though the margin seems to vary depending on which article you read) and the government have taken into account religious views with the quadruple lock. Frankly, I don’t see what more they could have done.

The political fallout of this result is still to come. The bill still has to get through the House of Lords and whilst the Prime Minister David Cameron, who pushed the yes vote hard, got his wish, it papers over some scary reading for him. Out of the 175 who voted against the bill, 136 came from his own party, 35 didn’t vote and a further 5 voted for both yes and no, essentially abstaining. Only 127 members of the Conservative Party voted in favor of the bill [7], meaning he needed his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, and the opposition party, Labour, to get the bill through. This is a point Ed Milliband, leader of the opposition, will not be slow in bringing up. Also, those who essentially lost the vote will very quickly go from licking their wounds to sharpening their knives. This is far from over.

As for the religious fall out, the ongoing theological discussion is complicated as most theological discussions are. Do the passages in the Old Testament still apply? Was Paul referring to all homosexual behavior? Would God bless a monogamous same-sex relationship? I’ve been involved in these discussions for some time (and I’ve blogged previously on them [8]) and it can become a mess very quickly. But Justin Lee, director of the Gay Christian Network has produced some great work in not only trying to help make sense of the issues, but to bridge the gap between the Christian and gay communities; a gap I alluded to earlier. He’s recently released a book “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate” (or “Unconditional: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate” as it is here in the UK [9]) dedicated to doing just that. He’s also contributed to a debate on on same-sex marriage and homosexuality. The link to the debate can be found in the other articles section of Evidence2Hope. American blogger Rachel Held Evans has started a series on sexuality to attempt to bring some clarity and understanding to the issue of sexuality and the churches approach to it. [10] More discussion and dialogue is needed as the traditional go-to answer of “homosexuality is a sin” is too basic and does nothing to help the situation and the work of the above mentioned people, along with many others, cannot be underestimated and should be applauded.

I have no doubt that where will be cries of “this vote is indicative of a society who’s abandoned God” and “any Christian who voted for this is denying Christ” Well Jesus once said that one of the greatest commandments was to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) He also went on to explain that our enemies are among those neighbours in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35) Jesus ended that parable very interestingly:

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)

I see the result of the bill vote as a practical application of those 2 commandments. Gays are our neighbors, they deserve the love and respect that we would expect to be treated with ourselves. People may have issues with homosexuality from a theological standpoint but how is restricting their rights, or trying to give them something different (in this case civil partnerships that simply say “you’re not good enough for marriage, here have this instead”) showing love? The short answer for me is that it doesn’t and it seems that atheists/secularist seem to get that more than some Christians do.  Not sure why homosexuals get singled out, Jesus seemed fairly explicit on the subject:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

I don’t see any campaigns to make sex before marriage illegal.

Just to end wrap this all up, people talk about God working in society, I think this is one such example. It’s just reminded me of a quote from Futurama;

“When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all” [11]



[1] (last viewed 06/02/2013)

[2] (last viewed 06/02/2013)

[3]×337.jpg (last viewed 06/02/2013)

[4] (last viewed 06/02/2013)

[5] (last viewed 06/02/2013)

[6] (last viewed 06/02/2013)

[7] (last viewed 06/02/2013)




[11] Futurama; Godfellas.  Episode 18, Season 3. Originally aired March 17, 2002


First published 6th February 2013

*Since publishing this piece, a legal challenge on the block is being mounted (

Worship to Rave

Then young women will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. (Jeremiah 31:13)

This is the culmination of an idea that started about 10 years ago when I thought about the similarities between the rave culture and Christianity and how funny it would be to play Hardcore music in church. This was put aside as I went through my life without God.

Since re-discovering Christ and getting to hear worship songs by the likes Chris Tolman, Tim Hughes, Starfield etc it brought the idea back to the fore. Could you use dance music as worship music? Christian dance music has never really worked for whatever reason but if you could combine the energy of a rave with worshiping God, it would be truly immense!!!

So this is my attempt to do just that – use the energy of a rave and its music to praise and worship God. As I was putting together the tracks for this, the idea began to evolve. Some of the tracks just resonated with me, not just in terms of praising God but in terms of what God is saying. With a lot of these of tracks, the perspective needs to flip a little as these can appear to focus on the materialistic. But if you switch that to it focusing on Christ, the tracks become extremely powerful. If Christ can take worldly things and use them, why can’t we?

Whilst this mix has tracks that sum up various stages of my life, all can be used to worship God and be an example of his glory and everything about him. But music to me is about feeling, it’s about being able to let yourself go so whilst the lyrics are important, it’s the beat the melody and the ability of both to sweep you up and take you on a journey. Music is also a very personal medium in a way. Whilst a couple of these relate to my life, you might find whilst listening they relate to aspects of your life or they resonate for some reason.

There are multiple aims to this really. The main one is to demonstrate that it is possible to use hardcore tracks as worship. It doesn’t just have to be about a guitar, drum and conventional music composition.  Another is to demonstrate that sometimes it pays off not to take things at face value.

So without further ado, the mix can be downloaded direct from my website (may need to right click on the link and select “Save link as….”)

I am glad to have finally given this a proper attempt. This mix means more to me than any other because of what it’s trying to do. It’s completely free and any feedback will be greatly appreciated on either the mix, individual tracks or anything related to it. Feel free to share this with anyone you think may be interested.

Below is the track list:

1) Dougal & Gammer feat DWB – Shine Your Light
2) Mikey Skedale feat Jenna – Through The Darkness
3) Footprintz – Angels (Sy & Unknown Remix)
4) Darwin & Fretman – Summer Of Love
5) Dancelordz – Promises
6) Heaven7 – This Life (Breeze & Styles Remix)
7) Dougal & Gammer – Anyone Else But You
8) Dougal & Gammer – Expressions
9) Eufeion & Miss Defy – U And Me (Together)
10) Heaven7 vs Al Storm – Dance With Me 2010
11) D Code – Direction (Hardcore Mix)
12) Hypersonic vs Jorg Schmid – Doesn’t Matter (Dougal & Gammer Remix)

Hope you enjoy it 🙂

What can I do?

I’m sorry. My responses are limited. You must ask the right questions – Dr. Alfred Lanning, I Robot

Different but equal. That’s the phrase that gets used often during discussions regarding gender equality. It sounds catchy, but doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what it means to be a woman, to be a man, to be a person.

There is a lot of discussion going on at the moment regarding the role of women in the church, but these discussions are not just limited to just the church. In November 2012, #1reasonwhy was launched to discuss the lack of women in the video games industry; a problem that affects virtually all industries. As the video gaming website Gamespot showed in the comments they received, there is a massive problem with attitudes towards women but as they also showed, there are those that will stand up to those attitudes and condemn them [1]. Problem is, with the current situation, the people most in a position to do something about it are men, and it’s the attitudes of those men that are causing the problem. It’s a vicious circle.

The focus is now on how we move forwards and break that circle, which is where we then run into other problems; not the least of which the question that is trying to be answered. The way the question is phrased, what is the role of women in church/society?, is immediately defining their role in separate terms to the role of men; so the question is causing the very hurdle it’s trying to get over. So what question should we be asking? Based on the above paragraph I would start with “how do we change attitudes?” Given the whole discussion is embedded on the premise of assigned roles based on gender, I’d say we need to start breaking down that premise which come in 2 parts; roles for each gender and those roles being assigned. We are very adverse (and rightly so) to society roles being forced on us. To quote Neo from The Matrix; the problem is choice. More accurately though, it’s lack of choice. To assign roles based purely on gender is to say a particular gender is not capable of performing in such a role and cutting down choices. It effectively reduces people to biological components which does zero justice to what makes people, well, people. It actually demeaning. The notion of assigning also suggests control. We are all under the control of someone in some measure at some time. I am under the control of my boss because she’s my boss and assigns me work and I have to answer to her if it doesn’t get done; but my job isn’t off limits to anyone because of their gender, no one has said “you can’t do this because you’re a man”. That only applies to biology; and getting social constructs out of biology has rarely ended well (I don’t need to cite the obvious example).

In order to fix a problem though, you first need to acknowledge there is one. This is not an easy step; experiences and attitudes become engrained and are very hard to shift. I don’t believe you can expect everyone to just suddenly change their minds. I’m not defending such views but I do think we need to be realistic, change is not easy. If people refuse to accept there’s a problem and change, well that’s their problem, but we shouldn’t make things worse by uninformed and half thought out solutions. I am very well aware that some may put this piece in these categories. Experts are consulted on problems because of their knowledge experience, it’s that experience that makes them experts. In this case the experts are women; they’re the ones on the receiving end of this injustice, they’re the ones in the middle of it.  Whilst they need allies in men, us men need to stop and listen for a bit and start asking the right questions. We don’t appear to have helped the situation in the past and have indeed caused it. I know that’s a mass generalization but I think it’s very true. I need to take my own advice though.

So this is my question; what can I do? What can my role be?



Tensing up around God

Anyone who has followed my posts for sometime will know that I was diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder a couple of years ago. Basically I get very down and just want hide around this time every year. Last year was marginally short of hell, but this year has been much better. I’m not on medication this time, I got the light box out earlier than last year, I have a game to play which gets me outside a lot; I’m just managing it better all round (yay for me)

A few years ago though, I injured my knee in a martial arts training accident and whilst I’ve had issues on and off ever since, it’s been causing me a lot of pain of late. This means I can’t go walking as much, I can’t play darts, I can’t continue martial arts training which means being inside more. Add to that the possibility of surgery (something the doctor still has not ruled out) the prospect of keeping it together is looking bleak. So when at church a few weeks ago when I got prayer for healing, my thoughts were on the impact the injury would have on me getting through this period. As I went into last month, I wasn’t healed and many of the questions I raised then I’m still wrestling with now [1].

I had a thought on the train home last night. Even I don’t end up having surgery, it’s going to be a long while before I can get back to fitness to continue my martial arts (and darts, I miss playing darts) It’s quite likely God has answered my prayer; I’m coping with this time of year better whilst I get my knee sorted. He’s got that situation covered. Sounds great and it is very comforting knowing God is with me. It’s at this point though I begin to taste my own hypocrisy. At the moment, any time I hear “God says” or “it happens for a reason”, I tense up to the point of cringing. Any time I hear “the Bible says…” I tense up to point of cringing (maybe Stephanie Drury is rubbing off on me). I’ve just heard these expressions used to justify so much hate that it’s dampened the times when it’s used for love and beauty to the point that I’m probably borderline cynical about it being used at any point. Stories like the pastor who instead of leaving a tip, left a homophobic comments don’t help matters [2]. Christians really don’t do themselves any favours; oh I wish some would just stay quiet.

I think it all has clouded and affected my relationship with Christ in many ways. I can’t look at the Bible without previous arguments over women and the LGBT community and inerrancy ringing through my head. I’m not entirely sure what the Bible is anymore [3]. It all gets very muddled in my head. I haven’t been to church for a few weeks now, preferring time to myself and with the XBox.  Sometimes I feel like just walking away from the whole thing as it seems my life would be a lot easier. Sometimes I wonder if I would be happier if I just walked away and did what I wanted without the baggage that comes with being a Christian. Yet something Dr. Michael Licona said to me keeps coming back:

If Jesus rose from the dead then Christianity is true, even it it were to turn out that there were some things in the Bible that aren’t true. The truth of Christianity is not based on the divine inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible, its contingent on whether Jesus rose from the dead and if Jesus rose game, set, match! [4]

I know I have issues regarding anger, forgiveness and distraction to work through, there’s probably many underlying issues and questions that trouble me. I know I have problems with the church , I know that if I don’t get to church, I probably need to spend less time on the XBox and put on one of my favourite apologists/theologians. This seems to becoming a popular way of “doing church” [5]. This does require getting my head straight and not allowing myself to be distracted for long periods. They say admitting you have a problem is the first (and hardest) step. Maybe I don’t have problems though, maybe this is just who I am at this moment in time and I need to accept that. I’ve wrestled with the nature of me for a long time and me can be very blunt and forthright.

I have great friends, a great fiance and a great God. Maybe it’s time to find that fire once more.








The Bible and the green cross code

green-cross-code-man [1]

I won’t be there when you cross the road, so always use the Green Cross Code

I love my childhood sometimes. Public information videos starring the Green Cross Code Man, who could teleport to any place where young kids needed some instruction on safety near roads, were very popular and helped teach kids about road safety with a memorable code; Stop, Look, Listen, Think! Genius!!

Sometimes I wonder how beneficial it would be if we had something similar for when people are handling the Bible. A public information video for anytime someone begins to utter the words “because the Bible says so”. In it the hero teleports to where they are studying and spells out the danger of simply going “because the Bible says so”, come up with a cool, relevant and rhyming and takes off; or just slap them and say “grow a hermeneutic”. I recommend NT Wright for the role of the hero and I apologise if you now have an image of NT Wright in tight spandex and a cape.

Stop, look, listen and think is pretty good advice for approaching the Bible. Look up from your Bible from time to time. Knowing what it says is great, knowing it’s context then knowing how to apply are something else entirely. Look at the damage certain doctrines are causing, whatever the reasons were for giving us the scriptures I doubt destruction of people was among them. To do that you need to actually go out and engage with people. That requires listening to them, hearing them. How is what you’re saying coming across? What are they actually hearing? Seek out other Christians that don’t necessarily agree with and listen to what they’re saying. Don’t just listen to disagree or seek to correct, listen to learn. You’re not going to agree with everything but think before responding. How would you feel if someone responded to you in the manner you’re about to respond to them? You don’t need to continuously run back to the Bible. The Bible is not the only source of information we have and indeed need, and I think that’s how God wants it. To quote Francis Bacon:

God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation

Or Galileo:

969561_524394634264316_1887435656_n [2]

Look at the history surrounding the Bible, the culture of the time. There’s so many books on these subjects that there’s really no excuse. I sometimes wonder if the biggest mistake Christians made was creating the Bible (yes, we created the Bible). We were given 66 books written by human authors under the influence of the Holy Spirit and we created a book, claimed it came directly from God and made it the center of the Christian faith. We made an idol. I know this will upset some people some more, but I don’t need the Bible to tell me about every detail on how to live my life. I don’t need it to tell me that murder is wrong, that rape is wrong. I don’t need to point to scripture to justify treating people as equals. If you’re constantly saying “well the Bible says” you may want to stop for second. Not even Jesus constantly used scripture.

Stop, Look, Listen, Think.



[1] Image from

[2] Image from

Stop Telling People Their Gay Child is Going to Hell!

Says everything that needs to be said!

Susan Cottrell & FreedHearts


For busybody legalists who think it’s their job to correct others: BACK OFF.Stop meddling with what YOU think is wrong with others, and deal with your own business… I’m guessing you’ve got plenty on your own plate to deal with.

My blood is boiling. My friend Alice lives in a tiny military town full of extremely legalistic churches. Every Sunday and Wednesday, fire and brimstone is preached from the pulpit—but never ­the abundant love of Christ. Women wear only dresses, and red is the devil’s color. You get the picture.

Alice’s daughter is a lesbian. You can watch her boyish gait and swagger and know it’s just part of her DNA, something she did not choose any more than some gay men I know chose to be strikingly effeminate.

Here’s the blood-boiling part: Alice went to chaperone her children’s Sunday school class at a lock-in at the aquarium. It’s the…

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