Gavin Ashenden looks at what General Synod hath wrought in its decision on banning therapy
At the General Synod of the Church of England two decision were taken which rip the Church from its moorings. They launch it secularised, into a therapy culture from which it has chosen to take its priorities, and from which is craves affirmation.
In and of itself, neither the motion rebuking and forbidding so called ‘conversion therapy’ nor the one looking to provide new liturgies for the transgendered, are theologically nuclear in their wording. The problem lies in their priorities and their trajectory
The synod could not be bothered to define what it thought ‘conversion therapy’ might be. Perhaps it was simply ignorant that many Christians would see the confessional as the place where for them, conversion therapy took place, – or perhaps in its rush to suck up secular approbation, it did not care.
A few people tried to read from the Scriptures to remind Synod that their very identity as Christians depended on both turning and being healed – that is both conversion and therapy, or ‘therapeuo’, in the Greek text. But so hasty was the rush to want to offer hope for the romantic and erotic longings of the gay and bisexuals amongst and beyond them, that there was no sign that these readings were heard.
And here is the central and core issue. All the arguments in favour of the so-called protection of the gay community from the threat of any change, or diminution or healing of their biologically frustrated sexual longings, were repudiated as some kind of threat or oppression to gays.
What escaped the attention of the gay crusaders, was that all human beings, all straights, gays and ‘LGBTI-QWERTY’& other alphabetic variants, have disordered sexual and other longings.
To be a Christian is to surrender our appetites and longings, ordered and disordered to Christ. That’s what it means to take him as Lord. That is what he encourages us to do in Matthew 11, when he says “Come unto me all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy. My burden is light.”
The great travesty committed by the Church of England was to put forgiveness out of the reach of Anglicans. It did this by insisting that there was nothing to repent of, nothing to be sorry about, nothing to ask for help over in the face of sexual desires that were at odds with our biology or our commitments to Christ.
But the only condition in which one can remain a Christian is to turn to God in penitence for our wilfulness and dis-orderedness, and ask for forgiveness, healing and transformation.
What the C of E has done is to put sexual longing – for a particular group of people, off-limits to repentance. In which case it is off-limits to forgiveness, and change.
For a Church honed in the fires of the Reformation and the priorities the Reformation embodied in being faithful to a Scripture one had access to, this is an act of disordered identity crisis all of its own – none the less crucial for not being about sex; it is an act of careless or wanton self-destruction.
It creates a new Jesus for itself – a heretical fake Jesus. One might call this imaginary Messiah, ‘the fake therapist’.
Where the real Jesus saves us from our sins and offers us renewal in the image and furthers the likeness of God, the fake Jesus offers to make us comfortable in our skins, cosy with our sexual appetites and untroubled by having the central areas of who we are off limits to the interference of God.
This comes under the historic categories of both blasphemy and heresy. It interferes with peoples’ salvation. It replaces faith in the Living Christ with pseudo-therapy. It is an abandonment of the heart of the Gospel; and this is done by people who when they use the words “Jesus, holy, love and acceptance”, have twisted the words to mean very different things from what the Church has always intended.
What will happen now?
Anglicanism is an episcopal Church, and the betrayal is one that lies at the feet of the bishops of the Church of England, who have preferred social and secular kudos to the sacrifice and integrity of the Gospel, and gone along with the replacement of Christ the Saviour with Jesus-the-fake-therapist.
There must come a new episcopal jurisdiction to whom the faithful can look for comfort, fidelity and leadership – a new Anglicanism that is in fact the old Anglicanism recaptured from the secular civil servants who serve this new religion.
Leave the civil servants in their legal offices with responsibility for the upkeep of so many churches that have become museums, and let the faithful look to new bishops who will guard the orthodox faith, offer spiritual nourishment, lead the Christian community in its struggle against the growing anger of the secularists who seek to silence them.
Until the Lord comes, we protect His bride from assaults from without – and assaults from within.