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Journeys on Grace and Truth – ed. Jayne Ozanne

October 21, 2016

jigatAs I am not an evangelical, I don’t share their issues with Scripture bur many do so this book is timely and I hope the members of General Synods, who got as free copy, read it.

 The premise of this book is that it is possible to be a ‘biblically rooted evangelical’ and to also have a ‘positive view of same-sex relationships’.

In her foreword, Ozanne writes ‘The critical question for all of us, I believe, is to ask what is the Spirit saying to our Church today?’

Lay Reader Anthony Archer claims to have grapples with scripture but, sadly, odes not know his Bible because he’s missed out the most contentious passages.

I’m not sure that Tracey Emin ‘marrying’ a stone helps David Ison’s essay.




It was this lack of hope, knowing that I would never ever receive the intimacy and love that I so desperately longed for, that almost killed me. Make no mistake, it is a path which even Jesus says is ‘only for those who can bear it’ .1 For me, it nearly cost me my life. I just couldn’t understand that if God had made me the way he had

Now, let me be clear, I am not personally arguing for a change in the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. I still think that it is a strong position to defend theologically. However, what I am pleading for is an openness amongst evangelicals to discuss a range of differing beliefs to their own and to engage biblically with those who hold them.

Over this particular issue it is doubtful whether further scholarship will aid the debate. In some ways the debate has already gone beyond one of biblical interpretation and become a matter of ecclesiology and church order.

Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture. Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

‘…. reminds us that the Bible is first and foremost a story, the story of God’s involvement with humanity. It is the story which provides the framework for the whole of our understanding and way of life. Its authority is transformative, not just in the truths it reveals at first glance, but in the way it invites us to inhabit the story and discover its life transforming power in our daily lives. As God’s story it has the power to change and direct all that we are and do.’

But for a moment allow a gay Christian man to inhabit the story. In terms of narrative theology, a gay person is there in the garden asking God to find a partner for him who is fully equal to his needs. He wishes to discover mutual support that will sustain them both as a couple through the whole of their life’s journey together and with God. As God presents various possible partners to him – as in the original drama – he sees all of these as inadequate for his deepest needs. He does not recognize one who will be a soul mate in whom depths of sexual intimacy can be found. Various young women are presented to him and, though he wants to be friends they do not awaken in him that deep recognition that here is one who is his partner for life. Then after a while a man is presented to him. There is a different level of recognition and response. This for him is the beginnings of what he has been longing for and he exclaims, ‘This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!’ They can become one.’


‘My hope and prayer is that more and more people will see that there is more than one way to inhabit God’s story in the Bible. As this happens many more will be asking the church to interpret its understanding of marriage in a fully inclusive way – or at the very least hoping that others who disagree will allow blessings of same sex marriages. They will hope that the church will accept a diversity of practice – leaving two contrasting stories/interpretations on the table to allow the dialogue to continue.’

I spoke of blind Bartimaeus calling out to Jesus, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ This is Mark’s final story before Jesus enters Jerusalem. Throughout Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has kept who he is quiet, and now as they leave Jericho others are telling the blind mar to be quiet, but Jesus wants him to speak up. Then there is the won­derful question as Jesus asks, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ and the text gloriously adds, ‘The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want tc see”.’

Sometimes salvation is the healing of things that have bees wrong for a long time.

Jesus is the first Son of David, the first king in David’s line, foi hundreds of years to be acclaimed as king in Jerusalem. The last king in David’s line was Zedekiah. He escaped Nebuchadnezzar’5 armies at Jerusalem, ran and was captured at the plains of Jericho Jericho, where Jesus now is. There Zedekiah was forced to watch a his sons were killed, and then he himself was blinded.

Now Jesus hears a blind man cry out in Jericho and sees a chance to put right a ‘long wrong’. Zedekiah’s (and everyone’s) redemp­tion is coming.

My question to my congregation: so what is your ‘long wrong’? And perhaps, to help 7011 answer that, who are you – deep inside? Who do you see yourself as being? The blind man? Perhaps, per­haps not. The lonely person? The bereaved? The guilty? The sinned against? The poor? The thoughtless? The friendless? The ignored? The abused? Who?

When you have thought about who you are – then what do you want Jesus to do for you?

We preach to ourselves, of course. As I preachrf those., wards, knew who I was. I am the gay man who is a minister of the gospel; and Lord, I want to serve. The thought went through my mind and I was hit by the love of Jesus; it was time to look for my next ministry post.

Mark 10.52: ‘Go”, said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.’

The intimacy between David and Jonathan is also evident in the relationship between the Son of David and his beloved John. We find the two at one with each other during the supper when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. The beloved disciple is found re­clining next to Jesus. Translations are not adequate to the text. Two different phrases are used in verses 23 and 25. One of them says literally that John was leaning against the bosom, breast, chest of Jesus (kolpos).

No English word or phrase fully captures the closeness of the liaison. What is significant is that the word used in John 13:23 is found only on one other occasion in the Gospel of John. In John 1:18 the word is used to describe the intimate relationship between ‘God the only Son’ and the Father. ‘No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son who is close to the Father’s heart (kolpos) who has made him known. It is difficult for a human being to conceive of a closer relationship than that between the Persons of the Holy Trinity. That this word is used of the relationship between Jesus and John is a remarkable expression of the love between the two men. This love finds expression on several occasions.

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