The bodice-ripper, it seems, is to be superseded by the cassock-ripper – or so reports in The Sunday Times would lead us to suppose. There it was alleged that an elderly bishop nearing retirement is planning a frank expose of his own sexuality and that of numbers of other Church of England bishops. In a church which has only recently seen the unveiling of the Anglican Communion’s first openly celibate gay canon the revelation was hardly surprising.
Despite the paradoxical protestations of the Right Reverend Gentleman in question that his bedroom activities ought not to be of public concern, of course they are. The gay lobby, which prompted the Sunday Times revelation and posted it on the internet, is determined that they should be. And he himself is clearly determined to coin an honest penny demonstrating the fact. So what are we to make of it all?
The universal Church, as everybody knows, maintains and has always maintained, that homosexual activity, like adultery, is sinful. Nevertheless it has always, everywhere and inevitably, ordained sinners. There are, in consequence, both clerical homosexuals and clerical adulterers. Every reader of New Directions, I suspect, knows at least one of each, or think she does. She is reluctant to find them out, for fear they find her out. The Church, in that sense, is a shifty fellowship of sinners looking for salvation. Not a pretty prospect; but judge not, that you be not judged!
The aim of our contemporary enlightened theological revisionists, however, is to tidy all this up, and to be done with notions of guilt and judgement altogether. They seek to extirpate, for all time, the stigma which has been placed upon quite blameless human activities. God, it is said, made the homosexual gay and the adulterer promiscuous. He saw what he had made, and behold, it was very good. All Creation and no Fall for them!
This vivid perception has not yet been extended (in theological circles at least) to the bisexual and the paedophile. But logic being what it is, that is only a matter of time.