"[The House of Bishops] confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate."
-Statement by Church of England
The Church of England must feel they have found a clever solution to a knotty challenge. Gay Bishops can now be ordained in the church, but they must be celibate. In a sense this decision of the House of bishops is the culmination of a decade of controversy that has threatened to tear the anglican church Worldwide apart.
From 2003, when Jeffrey John had to stand down his appointment as bishop of reading over his
relationship with a long time partner, the issue of gay bishops was bound to eat away at the soul of the church. Indeed, Rowan Williams, the erstwhile arch bishop of Canterbury, had in 2004 predicted that dark days lay ahead.
So has the church of England finally put this all too contentious matter to bed? Certainly not. The decision that Bishops can be in gay relationships as along as they practice abstinence is ridiculously absurd! Rather than look at the Bible for direction, the Church decided to use human wisdom in tackling a matter that can simply not be treated as a social debate or rights issue. This has given rise to an inherent contradiction of practice. How can one be gay and celibate at the same time? Its like saying its alright to be a thief as long as you don't steal- bizarre to say the least.
The decision to ordain gay bishops, though not entirely surprising, will not sit well with the Anglican Communion in Africa, whose cause is being championed by Nigeria.
No doubt had the Church of England been more mindful of the Bible's warning in Romans 1, such an issue would not even have arisen:
"And the men, instead of normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved."
The Bible expressly condemns Homosexuality as sin with attendant consequences. Interestingly, the punishment prescribed for homosexuality is not immediately apparent as God will simply let them suffer within themselves the penalty the so richly deserve. Little wonder the first ever recorded case of AIDS was among homosexuals- and the HIV scourge has been prevalent among that community ever since.
While I do not condemn allowing homosexuals into church, there is a marked difference between coming to God's presence as-you-are and being God's priest while doing something he so clearly abhors. Of course the argument among liberals will be that even the most pious of priest have their own flaws and even sin. The simply answer I have is that we still recognize those failings as sin. Sin which can be forgiven when we go to God in contrition.
By allowing the ordination of Gay bishops in the church, what the Church of England is essentially saying that homosexuality is not a sin, its just being different!
In the coming days there will be rigorous attempts to either affirm or denounce the Church of England's decision. The Anglican church in Africa will probably make good their threat to breakaway. But no matter what happens next, the Church of England will emerge worse of than when this issue first broke about a decade ago. Dark days certainly lie ahead.