Andrea Williams, member of the Church of England’s Synod for Chichester, responds to an article recently published in The Argus by Martin Warner, the Bishop of Chichester.
You can read the Bishop’s article in full here.
I am writing to you regarding your “2021 message to readers of The Argus” published on 1 January. It is wonderful to have such a platform and opportunity to engage the local community, and that is why I felt such sorrow on reading your message.
Your message laments the cancellation of Brighton Pride last year and its absence as “a huge gap in the cultural kaleidoscope.” You go on to write glowingly that “Brighton Pride is an exuberant affirmation that LGBTQ people are a distinctive element of everyday life.”
Brighton Pride does not merely affirm the existence of LGBTQ people or campaign against their persecution. It celebrates all kinds of sexual relationships and practices that go well beyond what even the most liberal members of the Church of England support. Further, it denies the call to put away our old self and old desires (Ephesians 4:22) and to live no longer for human passions but for the will of God (1 Peter 4:2).
In what possible way can this be something Christians can support? Do you genuinely believe God looks approvingly on an event that brazenly idolises and celebrates self, and sexual sin in all its forms?
Can you not see that Brighton Pride is antithetical to the gospel?
As the Bible so beautifully reminds us, all people are made in the image of God. We are called to love everybody, but that does not mean we must celebrate and endorse everything they do or stand for.
It saddens me that your endorsement of Pride will confuse so many and is heartbreakingly detrimental to the gospel. It distresses me that, as a result, people will be led astray.
I am not suggesting for a moment that the way to use this opportunity was to criticise Brighton Pride – rather, that to deliberately promote it is at best a bad misstep and at worst something much deeper and troubling.
This was a moment to declare, in the midst of a health pandemic, when people are fearing for their mortal lives, the glorious good news that Jesus Christ came to rescue and redeem each one of us from our sin, and through His death and resurrection, to restore and transform us into His likeness. It is the fantastic good news of eternal life, free of sickness, pain and death.
As Christians, we are called to humility and the very title ‘Pride’ ought to give us pause for thought. You comment that “one of the damaging effects of emotional and economic exploitation is the destruction of another person’s pride and self-esteem,” but it is the Pride movement itself that is emotionally exploitative and damaging. By supporting sin, it damages its participators and promoters. But it also damages Christians trying to be faithful to the Bible’s teaching. Any whiff of dissent from Pride and you are branded as a bigot and a homophobe. In 2019, churches in Brighton were marked out in chalk by Pride-goers for not being sufficiently pro-LGBT.
It is challenging for churches in Brighton to demonstrate their love for all people while standing firm on issues of sexuality. It is frustrating for those seeking to share the true gospel in the city to see you give unqualified support for Pride.
Jesus calls all people, from every background and with any identity or desire, to lay all their baggage down and come to him for rest (Matthew 11:28). That rest means forgiveness from all wrong and the Spirit’s power to transform them into his beautiful image. That’s the message that Brighton and this world needs to hear.
Jesus was not even mentioned in your message.
Just imagine pointing the readers of The Argus to the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), our deliverer (1 Thessalonians 1:10), our Good Shepherd (John 10:11), our King of kings (Revelation 17:14), our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4) – to Jesus the hope and saviour for the world?
Instead, readers were offered the spirit of the age, with the barest sprinkling of Christian wisdom at the end.
I pray that you will reflect upon my comments and consider what you truly want to achieve in our diocese. I long for a bishop and a church that will offer our lost world the one true source of life and hope – our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
You are in my prayers,
Andrea Minichiello Williams
Member of General Synod
Chief Executive of Christian Concern