The Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones “now regrets having written a letter opposing Jeffrey John’s consecration. He opposes the Windsor process, which is designed to tie down Anglican teaching more securely to Scripture. He evidently sees no problem with continued communion with the American episcopal church, and distances himself from the view that homosexual intercourse is a sin like adultery. All these remarks indicate a marked shift in his views; and the bishop seems, subsequently, to have made no effort to disabuse the Guardian readers.
What has led him to this change of heart? He ascribes it to the dialogue between the diocese of Liverpool and the dioceses of Virginia in the USA and Akure in Nigeria. He says he now sees the African rejection of homosexuality as determined by their context and the American acceptance of homosexuality as determined by theirs. Nigerians oppose homosexual activity because it is illegal and disapproved by Muslims. African Christians do not want to be seen by Muslims as taking the path of Western moral decadence. American Episcopalians however see the question of homosexual rights as a question of civil rights. They do not want their generation to be accused of discriminating against homosexuals as their ancestors discriminated against slaves and blacks.”
Liverpool was one of the major ports that brought slaves to North America, including Virginia. The slave ships originated in Liverpool. There are no words that can accurately describe what those men and women and children went through on those slave ships, what suffering they endured when they were enslaved against their will for generation after generation in a country that dreamed of liberty. It is a stain on the history of both our countries. We are not healed from those years. We merely survive them.
The audacity, then, to draw a parallel to the horrific suffering those men and women and children endured because they were black to those who engage in behavior that is contrary to the overwhelming majority of Christian biblical teaching worldwide (including in Africa itself) is to, in fact, trivialize what happened to the millions trapped in slavery, to trivialize those ships that left Liverpool for America.
There is simply no comparison. It is outrageous. African Americans in this country – many of them liberal in their politics, but conservative in their religion – oppose the use of their history as a mantra for gay rights. Just how much research did James Jones do when he was in Virginia anyway?
We have a human will, we have choice over our behaviors – we may not like it, we may throw temper tantrums and our toys, but we still have choice.
We have no choice as the color of our skin. We have no choice when we are taken against our will, locked in chains, and sold as property, generation after generation after generation.
That James Jones points to the Diocese of Virginia as to why he’s abandoned his biblical principles is not only tragic, it is unconscionable. How can he be in Liverpool and forget? How can we be in Virginia and not remember?
Next time, Bishop Jones, why don’t you go on down to Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina and take a Sunday afternoon stroll along Fort Moultrie. That’s where your Liverpool ships landed, where more than 200,000 men, women, and children – the ones that survived the horrific journey – were taken from the ships and sold as property in the Slave Markets in Charleston. And what evidence do we have of their suffering today? The Slave Markets are preserved in Old Charleston, but any trace of where the ships from Liverpool landed, any trace of where the slaves were held, this Ellis Island of Slavery – but for a lonely historical marker and finally a donated bench – has been totally lost. On Sullvian’s Island, it’s still as if it never happened.
Professor Gordon Wenham & Revd Dr John Nolland, Trinity College, Bristol, have written a thorough rebuttal to the revisionist rethought that James Jones apparently embraced publicly after his visit to the Diocese of Virginia.