Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Bishops say gay billboard 'confusing'

The Anglican Bishops in Auckland dismiss a church billboard about gay marriage as cliched and confusing.

 • Where this church is on the blessing question

Taonga News  |  29 Aug 2012  |  5 Comments  

The Anglican Bishops in Auckland believe a St Matthew-in-the-City billboard about gay marriage leaves a confusing message and does not effectively communicate what good relationships are about.

The billboard shows two bride dolls kissing on top of a wedding cake. The caption reads: "We don't care who's on top."

The Auckland Bishops say the Anglican Church cares about good relationships and so does care about ‘who is on top’ in a relationship.

Bishop Jim White says that oddly the billboard does not convey clearly what St Matthew’s claims are the key foundations of a relationship – mutuality, fidelity and love.

"The billboard is a confusing message trading on clichés that I don’t think St Matthew's actually stands for," he says. 

Bishop Ross Bay is disappointed by the billboard but says he is not surprised because St Matthew’s stance on gay marriage is well known.

He says it adds nothing new to a good understanding of the issue. "This is a time for listening to one another and for careful conversations about a sensitive issue. Those conversations are getting under way in Parliament and wider society and in the church." 

The Bishops say the billboard opinion is that of the St Matthew’s congregation and does not represent the Auckland Diocese or the wider Anglican Church.

The Bishops are encouraging the church and the wider community to have respectful conversations that lead to a greater understanding of the issue currently before Parliament. 


Fred Brunell

I passed the billboard earlier today and despite myself, had a chuckle. As one who has spent a number of years within the advertising and communications industry, I can’t agree that the message is confusing. The message is unambiguous. Further, it is cheeky, multi-layered, and like the best of billboard communication, subversive. How refreshing if our city’s evangelical churches had the wit and wisdom to communicate their message in just such a thought-provoking and challenging manner.

Sande Ramage

I am sad that the bishops have taken this view. It seems to me that we need a multi-faceted, broad, open, sometimes funny, sometimes cynical and sometimes even irritating approach to matters in the public square including equality in marriage.

St Matthew in the City has consistently tried to offer this and without question it’s sometimes going to get up some peoples noses. I admit that, on occasion, I’ve been irritated by St Matt’s responses and I’ve have to sit back on my heels and think about what’s going on in me instead of trying to project my anxiety back onto them. It’s been an interesting experience and enlarges rather than diminishes me.

I thank them for what they've been doing and I hope will continue to do. It opens the marketplace much wider for all people to see the possibility of an intelligent humorous, earthy and gutsy 21st century faith that makes our eyes sparkle and our hearts race towards an engaging soulful existence.

Keep at it!

Gail Young

Further to the Bishop of Auckland's comments, this is not sending a confusing message; but a disgusting one. If the Parliament of NZ and the public in general wish to be Apostate, that is their business but it is a sad day when the Church of England steps outside of its Constitutional obligations and joins in the Apostacy. This lack of leadership in the Auckland Diocese is alarming.
St Mathews in the City should have been told, not only to remove the billboard from church property but also to bring their theology back into the teachings of Christ and the faith of the Apostles as required by both the Constitution and the Church of England Empowering Act 1928. What the bill board in particular and St Matthew's website in general are espoucing do not fall within Christ's teachings concerning marriage or within the Apostles faith. This attitude is completely contrary to the Ordination Vows of these priests.

Jeremy Younger

Dear Bishops, the trouble with the Church isn't that it fails to communicate, the trouble is the Church communicates exactly what it is, as you have shown so clearly in your response to the billboard at St Matthew’s.

Despite what you say in your parsimonious press release about St Matthew’s failing to communicate, I want to say as loud as I can that St Matthew's communicates a clear, inclusive, Gospel centred message of excitement, humour, joy and incarnation. That’s what I reckon you can’t stand!

We LGBTI people – those who have left the church and those of us clinging on by the tips of our feather boas – thank St Matthew’s for being one of the few, clear voices that speaks of an understanding of the things of Christ that is welcoming, celebratory and honest.

Would that we had ever heard from you, the Bishops of Auckland, a public statement of welcome to LGBTI people and a commitment to the rooting out of homophobia in the church.

It seems to me that you are so desperate to maintain (or hope to maintain) your sad, naïve desire for unity in the church that you fail to realise it can never be more than a Cl...

Glynn Cardy

While I understand why my bishops made the above statement, I don’t agree with the stance they have taken. Bishops are not just accountable to the Church. They are not just accountable to those who dislike priests and parishes addressing contentious issues and the manner in which they do so. They are also accountable to those on the periphery of religion and beyond, those who are hurt by religion’s conservatism, and those who are looking for hope in the form that St Matthew’s and other like-minded churches offer.

It would have been nice if my bishops, while maybe distancing themselves from the humour, acknowledged that the issue of same gender marriage is one that many Anglicans and many New Zealanders support. Instead their press release [unlike any comment in the secular press] focuses on the wording of the joke, rather than the issue it was pointing to. Their press release distances them from us and, more importantly, from the many who support same gender marriage. It would have been nice if they had encouraged others to make public comment on the issue.