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Church of England Bishop says Failure to Redefine Marriage Leads to LGBTI Suicide

Church of England Bishop says Failure to Redefine Marriage Leads to LGBTI Suicide
Leading CofE Lesbian Jayne Ozanne launches foundation to overturn traditional marriage
Tragedy of Suicide did not deter Jesus from heterosexual definition of marriage

COMMENTARY

By Julian Mann
www.virftueonline.org
April 12, 2018

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, believes that the current teaching of the Church of England on the heterosexual nature of marriage is conducive to suicide, according to The Guardian. But in assessing Bishop Bayes's call for the Church to embrace same-sex 'marriage' as a compassionate change, it is important to point out that a person's choice of sexual conduct is not the only cause for discrimination in the Church of England.

Bishop Bayes chairs the trustees of the Ozanne Foundation, which is campaigning for the Church of England to change its present, exclusive definition of marriage as between one man and one woman for life. At Ozanne's media launch this week, The Guardian reported him as saying: 'We know that many LGBTI+ people have suffered pain and rejection from Christians, personally and institutionally, to the extent that many have left the churches or in some cases have felt compelled to self-harm or even to take their own lives. And this goes on today. We need to do better.'

But does Bishop Bayes believe for the same reason that the Church of England should cease to be discriminatory in its evaluation of the giftedness and character of candidates for the ordained ministry and the episcopate?

If a person who was not recommended for training as a Church of England minister but who believed as a matter of their personal identity that they were called to this role were tragically to take their own life, would Bishop Bayes argue for a self-selecting vocational policy?

If an ordained clergyperson who believed that they were called to be bishop as a matter of personal identity but did not become one were to take their own life, would he argue that self-selection should be the rule in choosing candidates for the episcopate?

Bishop Bayes became a bishop under the present appointments process under which a range of candidates are assessed and objective tests are supposed to be applied in discriminating between the one candidate who is right for the role and the rest who are not chosen. Presumably, Bishop Bayes believes the current arrangements were properly applied in his case and he emerged as the right choice for Bishop of Liverpool.

Otherwise why did he accept the role?

The Christian Today website interpreted perhaps rather opaque remarks by Bishop Bayes at the Ozanne launch as indicative of his belief that the Church of England should lose its exemptions under UK equality law. These currently allow local parish churches to refuse to perform same-sex ceremonies. Under the headline, 'Bishop and senior clergyman join calls for Church of England to lose equalities exemptions', the website reported Bishop Bayes as saying:

'We want to ask the churches to answer the question -- if we mean what we say about opposing homophobia, if we believe what we say about wanting to include everyone, if we believe that God made every one they are, then what does that imply for our public polices?...I don't think we should just ignore what the government has done and I certainly don't think the government should tell the Church what to do. But I do think we should continue to advocate for greater freedom and in the end who knows what that will mean? It may mean that one day it will be possible for people in a same-sex relationship to have that relationship affirmed in a way that is now illegal and in that case we would have to change the law.'

In its present marriage Canon, the Church of England officially affirms the loving teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ who said: 'But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder' (Mark 10v6-9 -- King James Version).

No man was more compassionate than Jesus but is it not significant that the devastating reality of human suicide in a fallen world did not deter him from articulating such an exclusively heterosexual definition of marriage?

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK - www.oughtibridgechurch.org.uk - and he is the author of Christians in the Community of the Dome - http://epbooks.org/product/christians-community-dome-julian-mann/ - published by Evangelical Press.

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