The Church of England's most senior openly gay cleric is understood to be considering suing his employers for discrimination unless he is made a bishop.What in the world? When you have enough "openly gay clerics" that one is recognized as being the "most senior", you should see that as a problem. What would one make of a Roman Catholic priest who was said to be in a celibate longstanding civil partnership with a nun? I wonder what Paul would say about someone who is demanding that he be installed as a bishop in spite of being openly homosexual and threatening to sue if his demands aren’t met? I don’t think 1 Corinthians 6: 1-8 even begins to address what is going wrong here.
Dr Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, was forced to stand down by the archbishop of Canterbury after being appointed suffragan bishop of Reading in 2003 following objections from conservative evangelicals.
Two years ago, John – a celibate priest who is in a longstanding civil partnership with another cleric – was prevented from becoming the bishop of Southwark after the archbishops of Canterbury and York stepped in.
Reports on Sunday suggested John had become so exasperated at his treatment that he had hired Alison Downie, an employment and discrimination law specialist and partner at the law firm Goodman Derrick, to fight his case under equality law. Four years ago, Downie successfully represented a gay youth worker who was found to have been discriminated against by the bishop of Hereford because of his sexuality.
Another big issue here is not the homosexual “celibate priest” or even the notion of people who are allegedly Christians threatening to sue other Christians if they are not recognized as a bishop (as if a secular court decision can make one a “bishop” in the church). The other big problem is that this is an issue of employment law, a clergyman suing his employer, i.e. the church. When the church treats some Christians as employees and other Christians as employers, we have lost any sense of what the church is supposed to be about. I don’t care how you slice it, when a person depends on an organization for his wages and benefits he is an employee no matter how you dress it up.
And people wonder why so many Christians are so frustrated with the church as we understand it…