A Storm In The Church…?

Before my book ‘When Angels Lie’ was first published (Magpies Nest Publishing) five years ago, I asked a Cambridge scholar if he would kindly read it and give his opinion. It must be noted here that the gentleman in question happens to be a churchwarden in the Anglican Church and not someone to champion gay rights, nor is it a book he would normally read.
He had a number of conclusions. One was that ‘… your book could cause a storm in the Church’ and another, more specific, ‘…could make the general public look at the Anglican Church, its clergy and its adherents with new eyes.’
I will ignore here the positive remarks made by him, and those of a newspaper reviewer who spoke of an urgency to read on and on. And elsewhere you can read a ‘tens across the board‘ review. Here I want to concentrate on the unjust situation as regards gay clergy and the Church’s attitude to homosexuals generally.
Five years on since I published that book. Have things changed? Legally, yes. In Church circles? It seems to me, not a lot. And that has surprised me as, at the time, there seemed to be positive movements for greater acceptance. Yes, there has been acceptance at the price of celibacy in some circles, but even that is beyond consideration for some Evangelicals where homosexuality is considered evil sinful or a sickness.
Biblical quotations continue to be made as regard the sinfulness of homosexuality. Should we then comply with the Bible on all matters? Punish by stoning? Bar women from public speaking? Condone slavery? We live in enlightened times. Not so many years ago, slavery was accepted by Christians, just as was poverty for those born into it (the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly and ordered their estate’)
But, the prophets’ message is one of justice and equality for all people. We do not worship a book, or anything other than God himself. For a Christian that is the God we see in Jesus Christ. God is love. It is God who calls and God who enables. Who is man that he should deny those whom he has called to serve? St Peter would have denied Gentiles water baptism but God acted first and baptised them in Holy Spirit.
It follows then, that those whom God has called, of whatever colour and sexual orientation (and that person shows forth the necessary gifts and fruit of that calling) the Church cannot, in Truth, deny that calling.
To a certain extent, that is what my book is about. Other issues abound as the setting is a Parish of three churches, in the throes of change and of controversial Holy Spirit revival — not all of it welcome. The characters are drawn from life, and so are the relationships, conflicts, co-operation, friendliness, love, joy and pain of daily situations. Of course, for truthfulness of daily living, sexual relationships come into the story — women falling for their vicar and a shocking affair involving an ‘angelic’ teenager who brings about a crisis threatening all that has been achieved.
The story is seen through the eyes of a cleric whose whole will is devoted to answering his calling, serving God with heart and mind. And with the comfort and support of the man whom God had brought into his life. A perfect partnership of love and ministry within two sets of parishes drawn together in team ministry.
I won’t give away the end.
I had considered a sequel of ‘five years on’ but the way things are progressing in the Church, what I had in mind then, will have to wait a few more years to be written!

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