Sunday, 6 January 2013

Keep it Up - It Directs the Traffic

Let's put it like this. The yet more controversy in the Church of England is doing no harm whatsoever to the Unitarians, and indeed is doing the denomination no end of good. Suddenly the empty ice cream carton on the recently reshown The Simpsons: Unitarian flavour ("There's nothing there."  "Exactly.") isn't quite so empty. What has been the case for the Unitarians is now much more publically out there and obvious.

In the past weeks the average age of the Hull congregation has collapsed. The two who were new today were unconnected with the two new some weeks ago. Come to give it a try... And of course people like it because the stress is different - the stress is that you are your own authority and your faith is encouraged in a collective setting but it is your own to develop and express. There's been a swing towards Paganism too, the version that isn't watered down. It all adds to the mix.

Did the Church of England 'bury bad news' at the end of a meeting's text report? Please don't notice a change of policy. Not at all. No one in a Civil Partnership being considered for becoming a bishop is going to get far if he (as it remains) preaches in favour of gay love. It would be a fine line indeed for someone in a Civil Partnership and preaching in favour of sexual expression with your significant other who then reassures the appointers that, by the way, although we approve we are not doing it ourselves.

The requirement would surely be that the Civil Partnership couple regard sexual activity between them as sinful biblically: they'd have to preach against it even if it comes with difficulty and personal cost. Even then said bishop to be might not be a 'focus of unity' given the stink some would make of an appointment.

It's as locked up in its twisted logic as it was.

Giles Fraser says in such a situation it is morally right to lie. Well that will reassure the nut-jobs. Preaching in favour of sexual expression, in a Civil Partnership too but "No we are not at it ourselves". "Are you not lying?" "No we are not lying - but it is morally right to lie." ("So then you could be, so no you cannot be a candidate.")

It is moral to tell the inquisitor to "get lost", but what is the motive to lie? Stay in the job and draw the salary? Motive matters in the moral response of telling a lie.

Whatever your position, an organisation does have the right to define its boundaries. If you are unpaid and a minister, you might think about ministering from a friendlier organisation. If you are paid then really you ought to start considering other means of support, unless there is a real prospect of change. You do not have to stay where you are.

Meanhwhile, thanks, because Unitarians have gays and lesbians in ministry, and will be some to marry. They will marry among themselves and marry others. They have and will conduct Civil Partnerships. It's all good, as they say.

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