Saturday, 11 July 2009

Greenbelt, ‘gay evangelicalism’ and CMS: Summer 2009

Ed: Some of us are also old enough to remember when Greenbelt brought on the bikini-clad girl dancers of the Sheffield Nine O'Clock service, whose leader, Chris Brain, was later discovered to be involved in what have been described as "abusive relationships" with a number of people. Greenbelt also brought us the fringe meeting addressed by a White Witch. As one of the early Greenbelt attendees, I always valued its willingness to be experimental, but it lost the plot when it ceased to apply evangelical principles to what it wanted to teach people, often very young Christians, attending the festival, and what it wanted to celebrate as the gospel.

According to its website, ‘Greenbelt is an independent Christian charity working to express love, creativity and justice in the arts and contemporary culture in the light of the Christian gospel.’ It is the largest Christian festival in the UK, almost 20,000 strong, with a fascinating line-up of speakers, subjects, genres and modalities. It also appears strongly pro-gay. Gene Robinson, gay bishop poster boy (although oddly, that was not mentioned) and Giles Fraser, head of Inclusive Church (that was also not included) are on the rostrum, along with gay rights advocates Robert Beckford and Paula Gooder. Gay worship groups, OuterSpace and Journey, will be leading in worship while gay bands, Athlete and Royksopp, will be entertaining the crowds. Read here and here, also here

This is rather worrying: it is called the gayification of the church. Almost more insidious is that it exists, cheek by jowl, with other worthwhile, important and solidly orthodox aspects, lulling those who might otherwise get upset into a false complacency that ‘things are not really that bad!’ I guess it all depends on what ‘bad’ means. That the Gay Pride flag was flown over London’s historic St Martin-in-the-Fields to celebrate Gay Pride days ago and that the Archbishop of Canterbury just met with a leading US LGBT group, although, oddly, there was no time to meet with the orthodox hounded out of their churches (which they have paid for and maintained) or those from ex/post-gay groups — two of the most recent examples — should speak volumes!

At some point we as a church will have to face the music. We have tacitly, incrementally forfeited an agreed-upon Christian sexual ethic (no sex outside heterosexual marriage) which had held for the past millennia. Now, in effect, we accept and some promote the ethic that as long as sexual ‘relationships’ are ‘loving’, ‘committed’ and ‘faithful’, they are blessed by God and if those in them wish to marry, they should be allowed to do so. Is this not so? Acclimatization moves on to acceptance. Acceptance moves on to normalization. Read more

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1 comment:

steve thackray, england said...

Athlete certainly aren't gay, and Royksopp aren't to the best of my knowledge(certainly a google search revealed nothing about their sexuality) and Gene Robinson might be gay but to describe him as a " gay bishop poster boy " is pushing it a bit.
more to the point i don't get why folks are getting in a strop about this now, greenbelt festival has a long history of creating a safe space for gay and lesbian christians this is nothing new. Some christians are comfortable in a broad event that includes many views others are not.
as far as the 'gayification of the church' goes i'm finding it hard not to laugh. Firstly what does the made up word "gayification" mean? and secondly how the blazes does a couple of small pockets in the church where gay and lesbian christians feel free to be themselves count as "gayification"