Celibate Gay Men Could Be Church Of England Bishops

Celibate gay men in civil partnerships could be ordained as Church of England bishops.

Legal advice is due to be published this week saying homosexual clergy in civil partnerships can become bishops, as long as they are celibate.

Only Those In A Celibate Civil Partnership Need Apply

You read that right: if you are gay and in a civil partnership, you can become a priest or a bishop in the Church of England, but only if you are celibate. The mind boggles as to how the authorities would go about verifying that two men in a civil partnership are not sexually active.

The move is in response to the Equality Act, which came into force between October 2010 and April 2011, and  which protects from discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

In spite of the timidity of this approach, the decision risks deepening divisions over gay clergy, which threaten to split the Anglican Communion worldwide.

Church Can Exclude People In A Sexually Active Civll Partnership

From The Guardian:

The legislation means employers cannot discriminate against someone on the grounds of sexual orientation, but provides for a “genuine occupational requirement” to be imposed.

This effectively allows the Church to exclude someone in a sexually active civil partnership, or to impose a requirement relating to sexual orientation to “avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers”.

Therefore while the note says “a person’s sexual orientation is, in itself, irrelevant to their suitability for episcopal office or indeed ordained ministry more generally”, candidates can be required to be celibate.

The guidance says that someone in a sexual relationship outside marriage cannot be ordained, but there is no such rule for a celibate person in a civil partnership.

The issue of whether openly gay men should be ordained is highly contentious in the Church of England; last year Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams declared that he had no problem with gay clergy as long as they were celibate.

Interesting logic, Dr. Williams.

A Little Background

Gene Robinson became the U.S. Episocpal Church’s first openly gay bishop in 2003, in the Diocese of New Hampshire, and at the time, it dominated the headlines around the world. African bishops condemned his consecration, and evangelicals in the Church of England warned that it would cause an irreparable split.

Also in the U.S., Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, became a bishop in Los Angeles in 2010.  At the time, Rowan WIlliams warned that the American Church’s decision to elect her could threaten the unity of the Anglican Communion.

In terms of the UK, there is legislation currently under review that could result in woman bishops by 2014, although it faces many hurdles before then.

Not As Dire As Archbishop Timothy Dolan

It can be said that the situation with the Church of England is a marginal improvement over the attitude of Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who is fighting hard to defeat the New York Marriage Equality bill, just one vote away from passing in Albany. Dolan has been fierce in his opposition to same-sex marriage, portraying it as a perversity against nature.

Patronising Discrimination

While at first glance this proposed legislation by the Church of England looks like a move forward, it is not. Since no restrictions such as celibacy apply to heterosexual clergy, this move is nothing more than patronising discrimination, disguised to look like equality. Shame on you, Church of England.

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Photo Credit: prayitno via Creative Commons


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Brandon, I didn't know football was forbidden by the Bible. I thought it hadn't even existed in Biblical times. Or was there a prophet perspicacious enough to foresee the future invention of football and forbid it?

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

This is probably something that has been going on for years in secret, now without that hypocrisy...

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

Wake up Lika. A straight man has to be straight up with his wife only.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

Shellfish again, doesnt anybody read Acts 15:29? It was the same reason we don't circumcise Chrustians

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

The Church of England reads and follows its Bible. The Episcopalians follow their heart. The Bible wins if you are a true Christian.

rene davis
irene davis5 years ago

thank you.

Brandon Calderon
Brandon Calderon5 years ago

@ Tom Y.: If being a homosexual is so destructive, and hence the "Scriptural prohibition", why do you not follow ALL Scriptural prohibitions...scroll below to see more [with references], but I'm sure your clothing has more than two cloths, you enjoy football, may have been divorced, etc. Besides, Leviticus? You subscribe to that loony book...the only place where homosexual [between men, not women] is even mentioned? Wow, just wow.

The point is that he Bible was written by men, not God. Evil men use/used and reformed the ancient Pagan metaphors in order to control the masses through blind obedience. I don't know if it started out that way or simply evolved, but what I can say is that people tend to pick and choose what they want out of the Bible...holding onto "this scripture", but ignoring "that one".

The simple truth is that homosexual behavior is observable in the Natural world over thousands of species, including Homo sapiens. If you want to follow God, then follow Nature and the very and original truths bestowed by [God]. They tell us that it isn't destructive at all, but natural.

Jennifer Cockayne
Past Member 6 years ago

There are many things wrong with the Christian Churches and those of most religions probably, although I do not know much about them. The teachings of the Church are that a rich man has as much chance of going to heaven as a camel going through the eye of the needle, yet the Catholic and Anglican churches are filthy rich that was why celibacy was brought in by the Roman church - to stop its bishops giving away church land to their sons.

A Church is supposed to teach the word of their God through the tex of the prophets deciples of God. Why do clerics today think they have the right to second guess their boss? I have no issue with homosexuality, people do what they do, it is a natural part of living and should not be discriminated in the normal workplace. However the Church is supposed to uphold the teachings of God, and if those teachings say no gay bishops - that is the end of it. If you don't like it - tough - go elsewhere.

Sven J.
Sven J.6 years ago

The VERY IDEA of having a church at all is to follow Jesus and to preach what he has preached. If we do not want to follow him and do not want to live as his disciples it is logic not to be a member of and not to work in a church but to choose another job. If we make an honest analysis of Jesus teachings I can not see how it would be possible to combine a sexually active gay- or lesbian relation with leading the congregation of Jesus.
Jesus ABSOLUTELY preaches love towards all people: hetro, homo, bi and a-sexual people,
but that does NOT mean he supports everything we do. Jesus loves me but he does not love all my choices in life. If we honestly look at Jesus teachings about the old testament, about creation and its intentions and many other things I do not see it as probable that we can combine active one-sex coupple-relations with that. It is no must to be a mamber of a church. If we want to follow Jesus we can be members.Jesus preaches a radical new life being his followers. He calls it being born again. I am not for the law stopping hopmosexual relations but the internal choices of a church must be the ones closest to the teachings of Christ. Otherwise it is no church at all. The church it self must decide about appointing preasts and bishops and so forth.If one doesn´t like it one need not to be a member.Then that person can start an own "church".The important thing is not to follow mens thaughts but to follow Gods thaughts and plans for creation. If Jesus is

Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

Okay, I'm not sure if I understand this. Gay men in a committed relationship have to be celibate to serve in a church? But a straight man can be a whore with a wife, mistress and a prostitute, and he's okay? Is it just me, or does it sound messed up (AND very UN-Christian)?