by Giles Fraser
Friday, 24
January 2020
Reaction
17:11

I disagree with the Church about sex, but I’m not leaving

The Church of England bishops have re-iterated their teaching on homosexuality in what they call a pastoral letter. Credit: Getty

The Church of England bishops have re-iterated their teaching on homosexuality in what they call a pastoral letter — though I am not entirely convinced there is all that much pastoral about it. Sex is only morally acceptable, they say, between married heterosexuals. Many of us in the church strongly disagree. Including some bishops themselves.

So why do those of us who have so different a view remain within the C of E? You joined the club, you gotta abide by its rules. Except that we are not members of some exclusive gentleman’s club. The church has always been bigger than the narrowness of some of its teaching. “For the love of God is broader than the measure of man’s mind” as we sometimes sing.

And not only that: living with ambivalence towards the church of which one is a member is not disloyalty, it is maturity. As psychoanalysis has rightly demonstrated, we are ambivalent even towards our parents. And dealing with conflicting feelings towards them is what constitutes growing up. I suspect gay children of disapproving parents may identify a little with this. Yes, I am angry. Yes, I will keep on trying to change their mind. No, I will never walk away.

As the people of God, the church is full of different people with different opinions, many of which I don’t like. But we are a part of each other. And the idea of a pure church, rid of all opinions other than those I agree with, has no interest for me. The church is bigger than that. And thank God for that.