Jeremy and Mike would like to convert their civil ceremony into a marriage as a sign of their love and commitment to one another. But there is one tiny problem; if they do this Jeremy will no longer be able to work as a Reader in the Church of England. He must decide between marriage and ministry.
The issue is not, apparently, that Jeremy is in an openly gay relationship but rather that he is seeking a perfectly legal civil marriage. What bizarre world are we are entering? A Civil Partnership is OK but deeper commitment is not. If the Church came out and said it was against gay relationships, I would not agree but at least I could understand it. It would be an honest statement, and certainly very counter-cultural.
Instead the Church is living with an unholy fudge driven by fears of splits within the Church of England and between the Church of England and parts of the wider Anglican Communion. And we hold this fudged unity at the cost of people like Jeremy and Mike and many others like them.
And saddest of all, the Church is made to look ridiculous – and tragically by extension many will go on to think that the idea of God must therefore also be ridiculous. And all the pious statements from Bishops saying the Church welcomes the gay community is pie in the sky. How can anyone who is gay ever feel truly welcome in a Church which asks a man to decide between marriage and ministry? Such actions mock the idea of an inclusive Church.
The Church of England needs to come out and make a clear statement either for or against gay relationships. Then at least we can all decide if we want to continue to be part of this confused and confusing organisation. The current Alice in Wonderland like world of the Church, where nothing is what it really seems, is simply not sustainable. When sharing in the local Pride procession feels more life affirming than the ramblings of the Church, something is very wrong.
“What a strange world we live in…Said Alice to the Queen of Hearts”
― Lewis Carroll,