Pro-Homosexual Church of England Dean Spins Smyth Report to Blacken Evangelicals
By David W. Virtue, DD
February 14, 2017
A pro-homosexual Church of England Oxford Dean is attempting to paint evangelicals as those who "torture and oppress" are therefore responsible for the Church's alleged homophobia and should accept same-sex relations as normative.
The Very Rev. Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, has made the link in an article published on the website of Modern Church, a society promoting liberal Christianity, of which he is a Vice President. (He is not the first to make such allegations and to attack evangelicals, that "honor" goes to Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham.)
In the essay, called Beating the bounds in states of unfeeling, Prof Percy says of the House of Bishops' report, Marriage and Same-Sex Relations After the Shared Conversations, to be debated at Synod on 15th February, "We learnt far too much about how tortured the authors all felt in this debate; and much of their own agonizing and pain. But we learnt virtually nothing of the pain of the people - the very subjects of the report - that the church continues to torture and to oppress."
He claims the Bishops' report is guilty of "projective identification" -- communicating their tensions, chaos and confusion in a way that causes similar feelings in the reader. He writes, "They project their powerlessness on to the very groups who most need compassion and liberation."
Against this background, Channel 4 News reported a police investigation into Jonathan Smyth QC, a prominent conservative Evangelical and former chairman of the Iwerne Trust, which raised money for the holidays. The Camps were the responsibility of Scripture Union at the time. He is alleged to have carried out 'brutal lashings' on boys in his care, not at the camps, but in a garden shed near his home.
Professor Percy's essay seeks to understand this tragedy and the Church's responsibility for it, so lessons are learned to avoid such a scenario in future. He highlights connections between the Smyth case and wider issues in the church, including classism, elitism, sexism and homophobia. Percy sees this, too, as "projective identification". He says the leaders are working out their own ambivalences and hostilities towards their own bodies and desires.
He critiques the conservative evangelical doctrine of "complementarianism"- that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life and religious leadership -- which, he argues, "legitimizes socio-psychological behavior patterns." He writes, "Those men who most fear their relationship with their own bodies, and the bodies of women (that is to say their ambivalence, the need to repress their own desires, often with associated feelings of shame, and sometimes of disgust; and quite often with some seeking to repress an inchoate homosexuality) simply transfer that to other groups, and attempt to make them feel as they do."
Percy concludes by calling for "some revolutionary emotional and ecclesial intelligence to rectify this. Otherwise, the Church of England will continue to be a place that is full of "states of unfeeling". It won't even be able to enter into the experience of women, let alone our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, who are part of the church."
So what, exactly, is going on here with all this psychobabble dressed up as serious analysis from the Dean?
Apart from being theological rubbish, it is a brilliant plot by the gay lobby who were "angry" at the Bishops' report - a proxy anger for the bishops of Salisbury, Manchester and Liverpool, all of whom would like to see the ban on gay marriage lifted. Enthusiasts for same-sex marriage are angry. For them, this subject is the great battleground, and they are uncompromising fundamentalists. Their most formidable opponents are the mainstream evangelicals who now provide the greatest drive and largest number of recruits within the C of E. If the gay marriage faction can convince the media and public that their opponents are all John Smyth-style weirdos, they are much more likely to prevail. Indeed, experts now think the bishops will lose the (advisory) vote on the report at the Synod because of the Smyth story. Yet more bitterness is injected into the debate.
The other truth is that Welby had nothing to do with it - he was only an "intern". He has since apologized, on behalf of the Church, "unequivocally and unreservedly", saying that it "failed terribly" in this matter. Actually he did not need to do this, personally or in general. He was only 21 years old when he was a dormitory captain, and heard nothing against Mr. Smyth at the time. How would he have known when the brutal acts never took place at Iwerne? None of this took place on the grounds of Iwerne camp.
To make the psycho-sexual predator Smyth the poster boy for evangelicals is like saying that a host of sado-masochistic homosexual priests are the poster boys for the Roman Catholic Church.
The deeper aim, as one astute observer of the HOB noted, is to vote to "NOT' take note of the report which will be a test vote on whether they can command a majority in synod, get a number of people on any further committee work, and if it succeeds leave the field open for a free for all.
A brilliant strategy, but will it work? Based on what this writer observed in The Episcopal Church over many years is that the answer is probably yes. The divide and conquer strategy can work along with the relentless push by groups like Integrity and Changing Attitude to keep pushing the envelope, results sooner or later with a weakened Welby simply folding his tent and marching towards Changing Attitude, a white flag in hand, begging Colin Coward's forgiveness. Scripture be damned. Welby may well turn out to be another Tony Campolo, a renowned evangelical sociologist and social activist who felt the pain of homosexuals, but not their sin which might actually keep you out of the kingdom.
When he was Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold employed a strategy of huddling small groups of bishops together, making sure that men and women with diametrically opposed views had to face each other. That made it hard for someone like Bill Wantland, Mark Lawrence or a Bob Duncan to declare homosexuality wrong, when opposite you sat Gene Robinson, ready to weep tears into his miter about the Church's alleged homophobia.
England's evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics will need to be at their sharpest to oppose the psycho-babble and pain-feeling bishops and their acolytes and deal them sound blows with "sound teaching" and good theology otherwise they will lose the plot and the divide in the Anglican Communion will only widen making reconciliation impossible.
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