Will Martyn Percy’s Call to Repentance Help our Fractious Debate?

“Bravo Martyn Percy!  I salute your for your thoughtful, prophetic and brave statement of the reality that we now find ourselves in as a Church.  Your call for meaningful acts of repentance for the Church’s woeful response to homosexuality worldwide is beautifully timed, coming as it does ahead of the all important Primates meeting in January.”

That said, I can’t help wonder if his contribution will prove “helpful?  I suppose it rather depends on who he perhaps is intending to help..

I would offer that virtually everyone I know – from all sides of this complex and painful debate – believe that the status quo is unsustainable and that significant change is inevitable, indeed many would say long overdue.  The critical question though is how we manage this change.  The process is key, and that is where the rub lies.

Sadly we have for too long had what can at times seem like “trench warfare” between the two sides of the debate.  Both feel hurt and misunderstood and as a result, both are becoming more and more defensive in their thoughts and actions.  Martyn very accurately points out that the pain on these two sides is not equal, and he rightly calls for greater recognition of the inequality and imbalance of power in the current debate – we LGBT Christians are bringing our very selves to the debate, not some ideology we happen to sincerely believe in.


What’s more, we have sorely missed national champions who will speak out for us.  There have been some notable exceptions, such as the Bishop of Buckingham and the Bishop of Salisbury, but on the whole there has been far too much fear and dare I say cowardice (hiding behind the excuse of an idol called “unity”) that has inhibited our leaders from leading.

As a result many within the LGBT Community have little faith, or indeed respect, for the Church leaders who are supposed to be their shepherds.  Instead a significant number feel that they have often been overseen by people with incredibly sharp teeth who have often caused yet even more heartache and pain.

So is this “helpful” to the LGBT Community? Absolutely, it starts to show us that people understand the injustice we face and are prepared to stand up for truth and the gospel.

Is it “helpful” to how things will progress?  Well sadly I fear his calls for repentance will fall on deaf ears.  I too have challenged the Archbishop about the need for some significant acts of repentance for the way in which the Church has treated the LGBT community.  In my opinion the Shared Conversations process that we are currently undergoing will be of little value unless this happens – as angry hearts will only be speaking to deaf ears.

It would take an incredibly brave and humble Archbishop to now act on Martyn’s advice.  I would like to think that Justin, of all the men of God I know, might be able to do this – but I somehow fear that given the gauntlet has been thrown down publicly he will be hesitant to be seen to pick it up…and so an important opportunity will be lost.  Martyn may well have had more chance to have his call heeded if he had tried to do this privately – perhaps he did?

For the sake of those who are deeply suffering the outworkings of such a cruel and misguided interpretation of scripture as many currently believe, we need desperately to resolve this issue.  Our young in particular need to be protected from the dangers of conservative theologies that teach them to hate who they have been created to be.  How will this change?  Not by trench warfare sadly, but by looking to build understanding between the differing groups and so paths of reconciliation.  That’s why I so passionately believe in Good Disagreement.

Does Martyn’s essay help this?  Well he is definitely showing the courage to speak the truth – the question is whether he is speaking it lovingly enough for the right people to hear.  I personally would beseech them to do so, so that we might therefore find a way of building trust and understanding between all sides….only time will tell.

Read the whole essay Sex, Sense and Non-Sense for Anglicans and the press release.

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2 Responses to Will Martyn Percy’s Call to Repentance Help our Fractious Debate?

  1. Stephen Bentley says:

    For the C of E the most worrying thing is that really no-one cares. It has shown itself, down the years, to be so hopelessly behind public attitudes as regards women priests/bishops and sexual/gender issues generally, that it has managed to bypass the stage of nasty little clique and moved straight into national joke.

  2. Jeremy Bates says:

    Effective moral leaders like King and Tutu realized that speaking the truth lovingly in private doesn’t get you very far, especially when it’s the powerless speaking to the powerful. I think it’s time for us to re-read MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. And for prophetic voices to speak out.

Any thoughts?