Bishop James Presidential Address March 2013
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones has said that it maybe time for the church to ask the question about the blessing of civil partnerships. In his Presidential Address to the Diocese of Liverpool Synod the Bishop said “if the Church now recognises Civil Partnerships to be a just response to the needs of gay people then surely the Church now has to ask the question whether or not it can deny the blessing of God to that which is just”.
Following a tradition he has established at Synod, the Bishop expressed his continuing reflections on a range of topics as his contribution to debates within our diocese.
The Bishop offered his thinking following an exposition of Philippians 1 v 1-11. In this Paul and Timothy wish Grace and Peace and by combining the greetings of the Greek and Jew created an inclusive message. As the Bishop stated “the Gospel of Jesus Christ is embracing and inclusive. How has the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in spite of its Global reach become so alienating and exclusive?” The Bishop then goes on to say “over the years I have shared with you my thinking about how the Gospel of embrace may be felt by those who are gay”.
The Bishop clearly stated that “I believe that there is a difference between heterosexual union and same gender intimacy and that it is appropriate to maintain that difference in the language we use.” But he did say that is may seem extraordinary to future historians that “the litmus test of orthodoxy centred on whether or not one had a generous attitude to those who are gay.”
Bishop James has prayerfully reflected on the issues of human sexuality over a number of years. From his groundbreaking essay, Making Space for Truth and Grace to this address, his concern under God has been to find a way to enable an accommodation of sincerely held yet differing opinion on ethical issues. His Presidential Address in 2010 argued for a “diversity of moral conviction” within the church stating “Within our own fellowship we are brothers and sisters in Christ holding a variety of views on a number of major theological and moral issues and we are members of a church that characteristically allows a large space for a variety of nuances, interpretations, applications and disagreement. I know that sometimes it stretches us, but never to breaking point, for it seems to me that there is a generosity of grace that holds us all together.
“If on this subject of sexuality the traditionalists are ultimately right and those who advocate the acceptance of stable and faithful gay relationships are wrong what will their sin be? That in a world of such little love two people sought to express a love that no other relationship could offer them? And if those advocating the acceptance of gay relationship are right and the traditionalists are wrong what will their sin be? That in a church that has forever wrestled with interpreting and applying Scripture they missed the principle in the application of the literal text?”
Making Space for Truth and Grace
Presidential Address March 2010
Also read related addresses from the Bishop of Liverpool