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.

References:

[1] http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1891063/pilling_report_gs_1929_web.pdf

[2] https://www.barna.org/barna-update/teens-nextgen/94-a-new-generation-expresses-its-skepticism-and-frustration-with-christianity

[3] http://www.andysstudy.com/2013/11/how-to-boil-frog-of-biblical-ethics.html

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2 thoughts on “My very brief comment on the Pilling report

  1. Where do you think Pilling will lead?

    I read in it that the Royal College of Psychiatrists is not accurate about the scientific observation of homosexuality, and that if they slanted their contribution a little towards conservative Christians they would be more palatable- but also I read that the discussions should take two years from now, and that shows hope of movement.

  2. evidence2hope says:

    “Where do you think Pilling will lead?”

    My cynical side says nowhere as the CofE are under no obligation to follow any of it. I hope I’m wrong

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