Recently the Church of England's House of Bishops lifted a ban on priests in same-sex civil unions from being elected to the episcopate. This was doubtless largely an attempt to stay relevant in a progressive world, and stem the flow of resentment that began when the Church imposed the ban 18 months ago.
However, this attempt at being progressive simply serves to underline how backwards the Church's beliefs are. It goes without saying that the Anglican Church must be commended for their relatively positive stance towards homosexuality, allowing open homosexual individuals to be ordained in the priesthood and even the episcopate. However, there still exists a vast divide between the status of heterosexual and homosexual relationships. The Church recognises marriage as exclusively heterosexual, and the lifting of the ban is less an acceptance of the homosexual relationships of the Anglican priests in question and more an ignorance of them. To the Church, a priest (or now even a bishop) that is in civil union with a partner of the same sex is in the same situation as any other priest or bishop that is in no relationship whatsoever; both are bound by laws of celibacy, as (heterosexual) marriage is seen as the only acceptable sexual relationship.
So, yes, in a way the lifting of the ban on bishops in same-sex civil unions is a step forwards. But is it a cause for celebration? In essence, these men (for still only men may become bishops within the Anglican Church) have their relationships unrecognised and their sexuality denied as their heterosexual peers have not. This is not the Church being progressive; this is another reminder that homosexuality is still inferior, still unrecognised, still thrown the occasional bone like the lifting of a ban in exchange for vows of celibacy not required of any other member of the Church.
Less a step forwards and more of a reluctant shuffle.
Throughout this blog post, "Church" refers only to the Church of England.