What's the point? I mean, really. Four evangelical bishops (including the omnipresent Lord Carey, former ABC) have written to the Telegraph to remind us (again) of the fundamentals of Christianity in the modern world: here is their opening parapraph.
SIR – On Monday the High Court is to be asked to rule on whether Christians are "fit people" to adopt or foster children – or whether they will be excluded, regardless of the needs of children, from doing so because of the requirements of homosexual rights.
Two Christian foster parents have been removed from a register in Derby because they don't like gays. This is, say the bishops, an afront to all Christians because clearly all Christians are now no longer seen as fit people to look after children.
What is the point?
I mean, I think there are three or four things that strike me straight away, though I'm no bishop and never will be.
1. Views on sexuality are not the most essential part of our Christian heritage. Views on Jesus are. Views on the Bible are important too, clearly - but concrete applications of minor ethical scriptures found therein are something we need to be careful about. Nuance is the first casualty of a war written in headlines. All Christians are not excluded from being foster parents because one couple takes a vocal stand against homosexuality. That one couple does not speak for every Christian - not even for every Christian who labels themself evangelical.
2. When will these guys understand the simple pragmatism of Jesus' teaching, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? Because what the world hears is this: "We want to come down hard and sharp against gays. Persecute them. They are getting too big for their boots. It's time someone took a stand." And what happens then is, we have declared open season on ourselves. Do unto others... If it's OK for us to be bigots against somebody else, it's OK for them to be bigots against us. This is how this happens. We don't solve it by getting louder.
3. I read in one article about this foster couple that they said they would never support a gay lifestyle as an acceptable alternative; but if they ended up with a child who was gay, would they then reject the child? If that's a possibility, I find it remarkably unchristian, and would understand why with the local council might not put a child in their care. After all, though social services might be careful to match child and foster parents, not every youngster knows themself; a kid who wants to come out but fears (another) loss of home would then face a particular burden.
4. Am I alone in being depressed by seeing bishops view this subject as the greatest moral conundrum of our age? Why aren't they ridding the church of rich, selfish, lazy bankers? Or those who oppose or ignore climate change and related ecological issues? The Bible says far more about our stewardship of the earth and about the corruption of wealth than it ever says about sexuality, and even if you want to see being gay as wrong you have to see greed and oppression and raping the land as far, far, far more evil.
So I am glad to see reports (even ambiguous ones) about last week's Lausanne Conference in some papers. No, I didn't see reports of many Anglican bishops from these shores in attendance, though Alpha's Nicky Gumbel was there. But I did read (even in the Guardian!) of a far deeper grasp of Biblical concern for the world and the people of the world than Lord Carey & his friends seem to display.
What's the point? The stats on this blog reveal that one of my continually most popular posts is one where I critique George W Bush's professed Christianity. So let me redress that balance and express here how we should live as Christians in the profound words of George Bush (Snr): "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing". We, the ordinary folk in ordinary places, must simply get on with ordinary Christian living: loving God & our neighbour, not excluding anyone from God's love and doing our best to both pray his renewing Kingdom power into this world and to work it for here as best as we can.