I am really disappointed with myself. Even though I have had first hand experience of his two-facedness, I actually fell for Justin Welby's dissemblance for a while last week. With the evenhandedness of his rhetoric being so much more conciliatory in tone than anything his predecessor ever came out with I let myself think that maybe his actions would be evenhanded as well. No such luck. If anything the bishops have become even more anti anything gay than they were before the Pilling Report recommended they should be less anti gay.
From THE BBC:
The Church of England's House of Bishops has ruled out special services of blessing for married same-sex couples. Clergy will not be allowed to enter same-sex marriages, the new guidance added. Anglican clergy of the same sex are allowed by the Church to enter civil partnerships, but only on the understanding that they will remain celibate.
Furthermore, the bishops have made it clear that they will not ordain anybody already in a same gender marriage. They also took the opportunity of reminding priests and deacons that they had to do what bishops tell them to do.
But the most embarrassing thing the bishops came out with is the insistence that although they would allow priests to pray for same gender couples they can only do so after they have lectured the couple on how evil they are being according to the Church of England's teaching. However, the bishop's reminder of the priest's vows at ordination may well have highlighted a way that non-homophobic priests can completely ignore this episcopal commandment. Priests do promise to obey their bishops but only in respect of matters that are lawful. As the Law of the Land has now rendered same gender relationships, including marriage, completely lawful, preaching against them would be preaching against the law. Although such un-English behaviour would not be subject to punishment, as there is freedom of speech in our nation if not in our national church, it does beg the question as to whether or not the Church of England can remain the established church of the realm if it is not prepared to acknowledge and follow the law of the realm.
I realise it is easy for me to say this as I've already been financially cast adrift by the Anglican Communion but I think the time for considering other episcopal (or even non-episcopal if your faith in bishops has gone completely out of the window) options. If we lived in the USA that would be far simpler than it is in England where our alternatives are a bit "out there" to say the least. Perhaps it is time for a schism in the national church but, different to the schism in the USA, it will be Christ-based clergy who form their own dispensation rather than the usual "Bible based" ones. At the very least, I think it is time for inclusive clergy and supportive laity to organise in a way that offers protection for inclusive clergy who wish to follow their conscience rather than follow the orders of a morally moribund house of bishops. I wouldn't rule out industrial action. In fact, I would recommend it as a tried and trusted way for the humble to bring down the high and mighty from their thrones of straw.