Monday, July 28, 2008

Lambeth and sexuality

While I have not been posting much about Lambeth here, MadPriest has an excellent blog entry. Here it is:

madpriest and the lambeth elephant

If you were to ask people on my side of the Atlantic to name the European countries with the most permissive attitudes and policies concerning human sexuality, I expect most would answer The Netherlands and Sweden. So to read the following in Sweden's THE LOCAL this morning was a stark reminder of how far society still needs to travel to erase violent, homophobic acts from our so-called enlightened continent.

Two men in their late 20s were stabbed and robbed of their mobile telephones in the Tantolunden area of Södermalm in Stockholm on Sunday night in an attack police are classifying as a hate crime.

“They were two homosexuals who were attacked. The assailants uttered slurs which played on their sexuality and that they had just kissed one another. Then they drew knives and demanded valuables,” said Therese Johansson of the Södermalm police.

Shortly after the exchange of words, one of the two victims was stabbed in the stomach and fell to the ground. He was taken in an ambulance to Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, where he was kept for observation early Monday morning.

The attack came just as Europride, an event for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, got under way in Stockholm.

On the other side of the world, yesterday, in Knoxville, Tennessee, a man walked into The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and opened fire, killing two people and injuring many more. Although this may just be the act of a mentally disturbed man with a grudge against churches, some parts of the media are emphasising the fact that the church concerned had a well-known o=policy of inclusiveness, especially in respect of gay people.

These two stories from the last 24 hours were, no doubt, only the tip of the iceberg, reported because of their sensationalist content. The number of mundane attacks on gay people, both verbal and physical, over this last weekend - the ones that didn't make it into the world media reports (the ones that weren't even reported to the police) - will remain unknown. But one thing is for certain, it will be a very large number in deed.

There will always be people like the gunman in Knoxville, haunted by demons that drive them to do evil things. But the vile men who attacked the gay couple in Sweden were, most likely, just ordinary, unintelligent yobs looking for an easy target on which to vent their hatred. These moronic cowards are given are given, in their minds, implicit permission to pick on gay people and other minority groups, by society in general and the leaders of society (especially leaders who talk of morality) in particular.

When Tony Blair first stood for election I, as a good socialist, voted for his party. When his gung-ho actions in Iraq led to the death of hundreds of thousands of "innocent" people I was incredibly angry. But I did not count myself as responsible for these deaths because I was honestly unaware of Blair's potential to commit such atrocities when I voted for him. However, at the next election, even though I had always voted Labour, they did not get my vote. For the first time ever I spoilt my ballet paper. To have voted for him would have given him my approval of his military strategies and made me personally responsible for any further deaths.

The bishops meeting at Lambeth this week have a similar decision to make. It's a very simple decision. Do they decide to provide implicit permission to the homophobic bullies of the world to continue the verbal and physical abuse of gay people, by going for a policy, wrapped up disingenuously in claims of unity and democracy, that excludes gay people from full personhood and membership of the Church? Or do they sacrifice their power and influence in certain less enlightened parts of the world and promote a policy that can, in no way, be construed as stating that gay people are less than fully human and, therefore, fair game for the psychos? Going for the first option but with that pathetic proviso they are wont to add that the abuse of gay people is unacceptable is just tosh and they know it. In fact, it's more evil than just saying "Kill the gay!"

The problem for those of us in the Anglican Church who are not bishops is that, should our leaders go for option one we will all become complicit in their treachery and responsible for all future acts of violence against gay people, just as I would have been guilty for the deaths in Iraq had I voted for Blair a second time. This will become even more acute if we are forced by the proposed "Inquisition" to keep quiet about our own views. If regarding gay couples as sinful is made an equivalent doctrine to believing in the Incarnation of Christ, any Anglican of integrity will have just two choices: to leave the church they love or to publicly condemn the doctrines of the Church until the Inquisition throws them out.

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