A few thoughts on the appointment of Nicholas Chaimberlain, the first openly gay CofE Bishop who is in a commetted relationship.
If you are a believer, presumably you think that being a Bishop is perhaps one of the most important jobs you could do. Guiding the flock towards the teachings of Jesus Christ in a compassionate, caring manner is surely a job that you want only the best, most qualified of your clergy to do. Now I am not a member of the CofE for my sins, and I don't choose bishops, but I have had 37 years of running a business, so what lessons can I bring to the table.
In my studio, the most important people are my engineers. mending guitar amplifiers is perhaps the most important of jobs. If you employ someone who is incompetent, you could electrocute and kill someone. So when I choose who mends my amps, do I worry about their sexuality or what they do in their bedroom? If I did I'd be an idiot. As it happens the man who mends my amps is gay. As far as I am concerned this fact is totally irrelevent. He's a bloody good engineer, a nice bloke and a good laugh to boot. But he has the job because he is the best person I know to do it (our other amp mender isn't gay, that isn't a problem either. He's also pretty damn good).
So if I am the Church of England and I'm choosing a Bishop, should I choose the best person for the job, or should I choose someone who is less well qualified on the grounds that their nocturnal habits are more in line with the morals of a few Church bigwigs? Now I daresay a few people are saying "but doesn't the bible say that being Gay is a sin?". Well in the old testament there are quite a few things which were deemed sinful, but when Jesus came along he made a whole new set of rules. He didn't say a lot about sexuality, but what he did say was to look at your own behaviour before judging others. He stopped an adulteress from being stoned to death with the words "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". He also implored his followers that they should not look at the splinte rin their brothers eye when they have a plank in their own.
We are all sinners. It is part of the human condition. It is crystal clear to any sane person that the clergy are far from perfect. Whatever Nicholas Chaimberlain may or may not be, he has two qualities that I think admirably qualify him to be a Bishop. Firstly he is honest about his sexuality and secondly he is brave. If I were to be responsible for appointing Bishops, honesty and bravery are two qualities I'd love to see in candidates. Appointing him sends the message that the Christian church is for all, we're all sinners and none of us are excluded. It shows that the Church is prepared to move away from the attitudes of the dark ages and accept people for what they really are.
A successful church should welcome everyone. There should be no divisions in who can be members and who can be in positions of authority. If someones sexuality is based on consensual relationships with adults, then everything else is none of yours, mine or the Archbishop of Canterburys business.