There’s no pride in bashing gays, Bishop
Posted on July 20, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
If you’re reading, Bishop Michael, I really didn’t want to have another pop at you about your trenchant and sometimes bizarre views about what constitutes Christian truth. As to the rest of you reading this, I’m sorry if it looks as if whenever Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who retires as Bishop of Rochester in September, makes a public statement I launch an attack on him. Believe me, the routine is tiresome for me, too.
But his comments in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, which he is expected to repeat today, that homosexuals should “repent and be changed” cannot pass unchallenged. Or rather, they should not go challenged only by homosexual rights campaigners, such as Peter Tatchell, who you would expect to be somewhat antipathetic to the expressed view.
Because Dr Nazir-Ali is wrong in the eyes of a broad swath of kind and tolerant people of differing sexualities, social mores and of the Christian faith, other faiths and no faith at all. Badly, badly wrong.
I say that I didn’t want to have another fight with him because such fights polarise Anglicans, and we’re at our best when we’re talking. I went to a private lunch recently, to which Dr Nazir-Ali was also invited. He didn’t show. The seat next to me went empty. I do hope he didn’t bottle it; it’s important that religious leaders don’t just inhabit comfort zones with friends who share their views.
Dr Nazir-Ali’s friends are the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (Foca), who this week will try to get the Anglican schism over homosexuality going again, while denying that they are doing any such thing. Had he turned up to our lunch, I would have asked him why he and Foca are so convinced that they know the mind of God better than those who disagree with them and that their interpretation of scripture is with absolute certainty the one and only true one.
When I write about the Church and homosexuality, inevitably I receive messages that read simply “Romans 1:26-27″ or “1 Corinthians 6:9″, as if that settles something. We can argue scripture until we’re at the pearly gates. But the essential difference between Dr Nazir-Ali and me is this: I accept, disappointing as I would find it in my fiery furnace, that he might be right. By contrast, he and his friends cannot accept that I might be right, claim that I can’t be a proper Christian, and some of them go so far as to suggest that I’ll burn in hell for all eternity.
And there’s the real problem: it’s an issue of intolerance. Anglicanism has long been characterised by a broad tolerance. But my tolerance of Dr Nazir-Ali and his friends, that they are Anglicans with whom I happen vehemently to disagree, doesn’t seem to be reciprocated.
See There’s no pride in bashing gays, Bishop Telegraph.co.uk
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