Voices of Hope – April 9th 2019

“Truths to Live By” (Part 2) – “Don’t Conceal the Truth” by the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans

Jeffrey John

During most of my childhood my father had a secret alternative family. He had a longstanding affair with a woman in the next village by whom he had had a daughter. This was known, or at least suspected, by my mother, and eventually by my sisters and me, but it was never confronted or spoken of. It hung in the air for years, generating pain, anger, suspicion, and endless little lies designed to cover up the great big Lie that no one could face.

I used to think I had the stupidest family in the world, but now I know we were far from exceptional. It made me determined that I was never going to live the kind of lie that messed up our family. When I became a Christian in my teens John 8.32 was my natural motto. I started writing ‘the truth will set you free’ on the flyleaf of all my books.

I didn’t realise at the time that in joining the Church I had swapped one dysfunctional family for another – only in the Church, the lying was mainly about being gay.

Still later I discovered the irony that the same text is the motto of the Anglican Communion!

The habit of lying about gayness is ingrained in the Church and is age-old. In this dysfunctional family honest gay couples who want to declare their faithfulness in marriage are forbidden to do so by bishops of whom several are or have been secretly gay or bisexual themselves.

Truthful gay clergy and ordinands are excluded and unlicensed; the untruthful are accepted and promoted. Those in control try to convince themselves that the lying is necessary to hold the show together. The Big Lie spawns endless little lies and cover-ups and corrupts everybody.

But the truth is, only the truth sets you free and saves you.

We have seen it happen in our society, and it is starting to happen in the Church, however hard the leaders and their lawyers try to stop it. The edifice of lies is crumbling, and great will be the fall of it.

So here’s another favourite text and Voice of Hope: ‘Stand up, hold your heads high, for the day of your liberation is near’ (Luke 21.28).

A Prayer

Lord Jesus, you are the way, the truth and the life.

Give us courage to be true to you and true to ourselves, and set us all free to live and love in the glorious liberty of the children of God.


Tomorrow – Lucy Gorman, “The Battle is God’s”, 2 Chronicles 20: 15


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6 Responses to Voices of Hope – April 9th 2019

  1. badfaithed says:

    The truth sets free – but sometimes at the price of crucifixion – the hope of resurrection is what encourages people to press on but there are many whom the clergy divorced spouses network Broken Rites – the network building some truth telling capacity around housing loss, sexual harrassment in the churches, gender pay and progression gaps, and child sexual abuse – http://www.badfaithed.org, and Restored now unlocking the Pandora’s box of coercive control aswell as domestic abuse RESTORED – are bringing to light. They live hand to mouth with very slender and uncertain resources shoring up their work. They walk and undertake their ministered ‘in the shadow of imminent debt’.

    And this is always the way with advocacy and change. Because the Piper plays the tunes of those in power and who have ‘captured the resources’.

    So speaking the truth in love – that Patriarchy is not equivalent to the WAY of Christ – that radical gender equality plays out in home, church posts, liturgy, and outcomes when the mask slips, and the full dysfunctionality is revealed – is profoundly costly – for those whose voices are scarcely ever heard – the survivors for whom a desire to thrive, can frequently feel massively foreclosed. An impossible dream because the power of the systems in place are to protect the mythology which surrounds those who have captured power.

    Letters to a broken church e published by VM friend Ekklessia out this month addresses some of these wider issues which the Ven JJ has detailed around the troubling of gay identity and committed relationships in the churches – Via Media might seek a review on some of it theological reflection pieces around brokenness and ‘denial”.

  2. Gareth Wardell says:

    Brilliant! Thank you so much for your costly commitment to living your life in truth and honesty, and to shining a light on the lies, dishonesty and hypocrisy prevalent within the Church.

  3. John Ayerst says:

    Dear Jeffrey,

    You are so right and it pains me to see so much discrimination in the church that still exists against the LBGTi community, the place where we might hope that the inclusive Jesus and God we preach is practised in action. Thank you. With love Revd Gabrielle and John Ayerst, Berwick upon Tweed

  4. Kes Grant says:

    Nice to read some of your wise words again Jeffrey. It’s a long time since you taught me NT studies and made me read my exegetical sermon assignment to the class. We have both been through the mill because of who we love and yet I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that where there’s love there’s God and where there’s God there’s love. It’s so sad that “The Church” can’t live in that love. I will keep holding you and all who speak out in the light and I will always stand up for love

  5. Jillian Beresford says:

    The churches need to hear your voice Jeffrey John. Too many people have been made to suffer and have been kept from knowing the love of Jesus because of this issue. All should be welcome in God’s house and until the churches make LGBT people welcome God’s will is not being done.

Any thoughts?