I grew up terrified that one day my father might have to make the choice between his faith and me. Because my sexuality seemed so diametrically opposed to both his faith and his job, I thought it unavoidable that one day his support of a gay son would be called into question. "How can you teach us about right and wrong," I'd imagine his congregation saying, "When your own son doesn't even listen to you? Your own son has become the most ungodly of sinners." But the problem he and I have, like the whole of the Christian Faith, is that the whole subject sits in a wholly inconvenient grey area. The Bible does say that homosexuality is wrong, but not once are those words attributed to Jesus. And while Christians seem to be quite content to let certain parts of their Holy Book be open to interpretation, there is a dogged earnestness in their refusal to back down over sexuality.
I have a lot of respect for gay people with Faith. To have been completely ostracised by one's religion and yet to still accept its teaching is an ability that I do not possess. I would say I'm pretty typical of someone of my background; I've been burned by the Church and its teachings and so I wonder why I would even try to reconcile my differences with it now, even if it wanted to. And part of me can't help but think that if they now renege on all their previous teachings about homosexuality, does that just smell a little of hypocrisy? But this is why I have no Faith - because I can't reconcile it with my sexuality one bit. And do I ever think that my partner and I will be truly welcome to become integrated into a community Church one day? No, I really don't. There will always be homophobia in the Church because the Church is where homophobia came from in the first place.
The Church is where a lot of people go to hide from sex. In some respects, the Church represents one of the last bastions of purity in a hyper-sexualised world, but if it's going to react so badly to one aspect of sex and sexuality it has simply going to have to learn to talk about it. But when people are hiding from sex in the Church, how can you expect them to actually want to talk about it? Its recent dialogue about gay priests and same sex marriage has only occurred because they've had absolutely no choice but to address the issue. They, like the rest of Society, have been challenged to re-address their views on sexuality and formulate a new dialogue, based on openness and transparency. Unfortunately, the Church doesn't seem to want to do this, but they now don't really have a choice.
Historically, governments and religions have felt the need to guide people with the way they live behind closed doors, as well as amongst the rest of society. Governments have now begun to recognise that the purpose of government is to govern society itself and not individual people. If the Church is to have any real significance in the modern western world, then it to will have to adapt toward this. How the Church will react to Canon Pemberton's marriage will be a difficult exercise in PR - to discipline him for his actions will be to alienate whatever gay people there are in the Church at present, but to ignore it would be to undermine its own decision not to support gay marriage. However, whatever steps the Church might make toward change, you can guarantee they will happen slowly. That it has taken them twenty years between allowing female priests and female bishops, all the while squabbling backwards and forwards, is indicative of the complete lack of progressiveness amongst the upper echelons of the Anglicanism. I don't think that the Church is ever going to be able to reach a unanimous decision on the issue of same sex marriage however, one way or the other, and it will take people like Canon Pemberton to actually force people to take their stand.