Bishops Can Be Gay, But Only If They Don’t Have Sex

The Church of England on January 4 confirmed that gay clergy in civil partnerships can, after all, become bishops, but only if they agree to remain celibate.

Of course, heterosexual men are free to become priests and bishops within the Church of England and pursue their sex lives, so presumably straight sex is morally and spiritually fine, but not gay sex.

As reported in The Independent, Bishop of Norwich Graham Jones, speaking on behalf of the Church’s House of Bishops, said in a statement:

The House of Bishops has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate. There had been a moratorium on such candidates for the past year and a half while the working party completed its task.

Thus did the Church of England reopen discussion on this highly controversial issue.  Eight years ago, in 2005, the Church decided that someone in a same-sex civil partnership could become a priest as long as they were celibate; bishops were not mentioned. Six years later, in 2011, it was decided that gay clergymen could not become bishops.

The decision comes on the heels of the Church’s failure to approve legislation on women bishops in November, a decision that  angered many and caused the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Doctor Rowan Williams to say the Church has “lost a measure of credibility.”

Then came the December announcement by the Government that the Church would be exempt from gay marriage legislation.

And now this. By alienating both women, who are barred from becoming bishops because they are inferior, and gay people, whose sexual activity is regarded as wrong, is the Church of England trying to destroy itself?

Not to mention, how are the authorities going to find out if those bishops are really being celibate? Giles Fraser, writing in The Guardian, has a great take on this:

“So, bishop, are you having sex with your partner?” I can’t imagine anyone asking that question with a straight face. And what constitutes sex anyway? Snogging? Toe-sucking? (Is there a Church of England position on this?) Yet the new line from the C of E – ludicrously, that gay men in civil partnerships can be bishops as long as they refrain from sex (or to put it another way, we’ll have gay bishops as long as they are not really gay) raises the question: how on earth will the authorities ever find out? A CCTV in every bedroom? Chastity belts in fetching liturgical colours? No, the only way the bedroom police could ever really know is if they ask and play a moral guilt trip about honesty on those being interrogated.

Another issue could be exactly how this new ruling will work. Will male, gay candidates for bishop have to promise to give up sex, however defined, in order to go before the interview panel? Once at the interview, will they have to deal with questioning on their personal life?

A further issue is discussed in The Independent:

Symon Hill, a Christian writer and associate director of the Ekklesia think-tank, said the Church was still enforcing discrimination.

“Unfortunately this is being presented as progress but it’s really another announcement of discrimination,” he said. “It’s saying straight bishops can have sex but gay bishops can’t. Celibacy is a gift from God. Some people are called to it, other are not. It’s not a second-best option for second-best clergy.”

Thank you, Mr. Hill, for elevating the conversation to a more dignified place.

As supreme head of the Church, I wonder what Queen Elizabeth has to say about this latest display of homophobia? For myself, I understand why I left the Church of England a long time ago.


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Photo Credit: diretosacristia


Amanda A.
Amanda Ashworth5 years ago


John Hablinski
John Hablinski5 years ago

BMutiny, I came to the same conclusion concerning Christopher. He indeed has the zeal of a convert. Pray away Gay is such a travesty. They believe there is nothing their omnipotent God cannot do and so, by extension, becoming straight, because they also think it is a choice, should be no problem. Though the programs have been repeatedly discredited some insist the “treatment” is viable. I’m afraid our Christopher is yet another victim. I suppose not everyone can be Proud in their sexuality. For these especially when they have been administered a heavy dose of religion the inherent self loathing must be horrendous. I have to think accepting oneself for who you are is far and away the best and happiest course to follow. I wonder if there is a parent insisting Christopher be straight. It’s just sad.

Ness .
Ness F5 years ago

Carla and Mary, you hit the nail on the head!!

Carla van der Meer
Carla v5 years ago

;Christopher M, you ARE a SNL parody: When bigoted religious have verbal diarrhea and are immune to reason which has been around since the enlightenment. Long may you rave.

Mary B.
Mary B5 years ago that what is happening to you? You're trying to pray away your gay?......for an adult you make very juvenile coments

Carla van der Meer
Carla v5 years ago

OOPS. Gandhi said ' i like your Christ, but not your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ'

Carla van der Meer
Carla v5 years ago

Tine for the "Gospel according to Christopher M" Are you shilling or is this a springboard for the a career with Faux or the American Family Center? I'm sure One Million angry moms would take you in a pinch. You have exhausted your tired rhetoric will neither convert nor persuade us. Especially given your bigoted beliefs,I thought your people were supposed to be accepting and loving. If Christ met you today, he'd have nothing to do with you. Once again, I must paraphrase Gandhi 'Christ'.


Bishops or other clerigs should not be gays, what an example is that

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

Hows this for an SNL parody? The Teletubbies led by Tinky Winky singing you got to pray away the gay.. pray away the gay, after which Jerry Falwell throws Tinky Winky back in tne closet.

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

My point being, in my 2 previous posts, that it is not WEIRD OFFSHOOTS OF CHRISTIAN GROUPS that are for LGBT Equality, Gay Rights, Gay Clergy, Gay Marriage, Gay "Sinlessness" - i.e., people not going to Hell because they ACT ON being born Gay.
{By the way, just for fun, if Sex is BAD outside of Marriage - and Gay people are not allowed to get married - WHY DID GOD CREATE PEOPLE GAY? Just to TEST them? and 99.99% of them would FAIL THE TEST OF CELIBACY? If you think Sex is BAD outside of marriage, then that would seem to be A REALLY REALLY GOOD ARGUMENT FOR GAY PEOPLE TO GET MARRIED... No???????}
Anyway, these are NOT "weird groups", but MAINLINE groups - and not "weird individuals" but LEADERS meeting in Synods, Presbyteries, and whatever they call their meetings to decide policy. Groups such as the Methodists are DIVIDED - and NOT just by a few "outside agitators" either, but DIVIDED RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE.
And - AND - AND - VERY GOOD BIBLE-BASED ARGUMENTS, very LOGICAL and COHERENT and LEARNED - are being used by BOTH SIDES!!!!! And, it is REALLY FUN TO FOLLOW THOSE ARGUMENTS - they are supposedly based on "what was REALLY MEANT by this word or expression" - NO CONSENSUS THERE, EITHER!
How do YOU KNOW which side is "CORRECT"??? You CAN'T PROVE IT. You just ARBITRARILY CHOOSE WHICH SIDE YOU *WANT* TO AGREE WITH... BOTH SIDES use the Bible and supposed "facts"... no, I don't necessarily "know" what the Bible "really" said, either! But, among RELIGIOUS LEADERS, there IS NO