New heresies spring up in the life of the Church from time to time, although on closer examination they turn out to be old heresies slightly reformatted.

Jayne Ozanne is a vocal exponent of a gay rights and her approach is a very simple one, but no less perverse for its simplicity.

She preached recently in a sermon at Wadham College Oxford:

“Today, though, I am back in the Church of England witnessing to the extraordinary love that God has for all his creation. You know, the church can argue about theology till it is blue in the face, what it can’t argue with is the testimony of incarnational truth. Those of us who stand tall and say: by the grace of God I am who I am. We are gay, we are Christian, and we are loved by God!”

She makes two distinctions. Theology set against personal experience, and what she calls ‘incarnational truth.”

These are both simple, although misleading misapprehension.

Because theology is personal experience. It is the taking of personal emotional, spiritual and intellectual experience which starts with the individual and then placing it in the corporate experience of the body of Christ. Theology and tradition are lived and tested spirituality.

But by putting theology to one side what Jayne is really saying is “I want my experience to take precedence over anyone else’s.”

The problem with this is that the body of Christ has tested Jayne’s experience and declared it to be a perversion which becomes more prevalent in an idolatrous society and undermines the teaching of he Gospel (Romans 1.)

When she was a heterosexual evangelical, Jayne would have sung this worship song:

Jesus, take me as I am

I can come no other way

Take me deeper into You

Make my flesh life melt away

Make me like a precious stone

Crystal clear and finely honed

Life of Jesus shining through

Giving glory back to You.”

It came out of the charismatic renewal, and like all renewal in the Holy Spirit it is predicated on repentance. It recognises the grace of God which does indeed as Jayne says ‘take us as she are.’

But Jayne forgets, ignores or censors the next step; ‘make my flesh life melt away’ with the plea for further purging and cleaning of the flesh by the Holy Spirit.

When Jayne talks about the ‘incarnational truth’ this is a euphemism for the flesh life. Her sexual longings have become turned and twisted away from procreation in heterosexual marriage, the only place the Holy Scriptures condone sexual longing. By ‘incarnational truth’ she is in a self contradictory way, reaching for the language of theology she has just marginalised, to cover up the longings she has which reflect the broken distortions of what St Paul called ‘the old man’, but we might easily reach for gender equal language and call ‘the old woman.’

Jayne puts her fingers into her ears, and goes ‘la la la la la’ refusing to allow this murmuring of the Gospel to disturb her. She gives thanks for her lesbian longing in the same spirit as the pharisee in Jesus’ tale who also gave thanks that he was wonderfully made and wonderfully pious. But Jesus looks instead the publican who falls to his knees and cries “Lord have mercy on me a sinner’.

We might take Jayne’s new theology more seriously if it were set in penitence instead of pride.

The early fathers of the Church tried to highlight the difference that Jayne is trying to hide by making a distinction between the image and the likeness of God.

They would have agreed with Jayne that she was wonderfully and mysteriously made in the image of God, but pointed out that this was only half the story. We were also mysteriously and tragically marred in our imaging of God, and his likeness was hidden and badly distorted by our pride, our lusts, our longings, our self-justifications and our sins.

Only repentance and the renewal of the life in the Holy Spirit can begin to restore that likeness and mend the marred image.

But neither Jayne, nor the LGBTQIAA experiment in self justification will have the second part of the Gospel which both Jesus and St Paul make chrystal clear.

Perhaps it would help Jayne to go back to the chorus which reflects both Scripture and the mind of God so clearly:

“Take me deeper into You

Make my flesh life melt away

Make me like a precious stone

Crystal clear and finely honed

Life of Jesus shining through

Giving glory back to You.”

Gnosticism, a private revelation of pseudo-intimacy and superior self justification was identified and rejected by the Church every time it raised its head. Scripture, tradition and the whole Church echo the call of God to all those who place their sexual longings and behaviour outside heterosexual marriage, to repent, be welcomed home, and cleansed, renewed and healed in the Holy Spirit.


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