Friday 1 December 2017

On the Sexuality of Heirs to the Throne

And so it all kicks off over the sexuality of a young man who's probably not got beyond the "girls are yucky" stage.

Kelvin (not "Kevin", Gruaunida subs please note)  started it all months back,when he published a blog on how to progress the equality of gay people in the Church of England and, among his many ideas, suggested praying that Prince George be gay - in effect to force a decision by the Church of England.

Christians should pray for Prince George to be gay, says minister Very Rev Kevin Holdsworth says C of E will be forced to support same-sex marriage if the ‘Lord blesses George with the love of a fine young gentleman’

Enter Gavin Ashenden, former Chaplain to the Queen. Now, whenever I read "Chaplain to the Queen" in relationship to the Alternative Alternative Church of England's Missional Bishop, I remember these words from Hardy's "Return of the Native:"

"You little children think there's only one cuckoo, one fox, one giant, one devil, and one reddleman, when there's lots of us all."

Much like Chaplains to the Queen. The Guardian, Telegraph and all the rest tell us that the Right Reverend Secretly a Bishop for Years Ashenden is "a former Chaplain to the Queen" without ever saying "one of the 47,000 former Chaplains to the Queen."

Anyway, what's he said now? In the Guardian, we have:
"A former bishop to the Queen[1], the Rev Gavin Ashenden, has described the comments as “unkind” and “profoundly un-Christian”, and said the prayer was the “theological equivalent of the curse of the wicked fairy in one of the fairytales”.
Speaking to Christian Today, Ashenden said: “To pray for Prince George to grow up in that way, particularly when part of the expectation he will inherit is to produce a biological heir with a woman he loves, is to pray in a way that would disable and undermine his constitutional and personal role.
“It is an unkind and destabilising prayer. It is the theological equivalent of the curse of the wicked fairy in one of the fairytales. It is un-Christian as well as being anti-constitutional. It is a very long way from being a blessing for Prince George.”"
Now I reckon Kelvin Holdsworth shouldn't have brought Prince George into it. Not out of deference. But because George is a kid. But I don't think he was doing or intending any harm. He wasn't seriously suggesting praying for George to be gay. He was being silly, and playfully making a point that when it comes to real people, hard and fast and uncharitable rules can (should) be broken.

But I reckon Gavin Ashenden's words, if accurately quoted, are genuinely harmful. First up by equating prayers with magic. Secondly because he lumps expectation onto that very child he is supposed to be protecting. What if a royal defies the "expectation" that he or she do what the public, the Establishment and one of the many former and current Chaplains to the Queen should do what they want? What if they do want to marry the "wrong" person, of whatever race or gender? Does the history of the Royal Family in the later 20th Century suggest that when they marry the "right" person, happiness ensues? Is the role of any person, royal or not, to be boiled down to ensuring they are capable of breeding? Why is Gavin Ashenden subordinating somebody else's life to ensuring that they carry out their "consitutional and personal role" of perpetuating a Royal Family that currently seems capable of perpetuating itself quite well without any interference?

There's one person being really unkind here. And it ain't Kelvin. Nor is it the sub-ed who mis-spells his name in the strap. No, it's one of the former and current Chaplains to the Queen. We know which one.

I'm going to disagree both with Kelvin Holdsworth and Gavin Ashenden. I hope and pray that Prince George grows up to love and marry the right person for him. Or, indeed, to decide that he has no "right person" and be happy with that. And I pray that the example of his poor grandmother will remind us that forcing anybody to marry what the Establishment decides is the "right person" - for whatever reason - is no way to interfere with anybody else's life.

[1] Critics believe that the 144,000 before the throne in the Book of Revelations may actually all be Chaplains to the Queen.

Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

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