Over the past few weeks davidould.net has received lots of correspondence about the latest transgender priest to “come out” in the Diocese of Brisbane. We’ve held off while the Appellate Tribunal story ran, we gathered some more information and in anticipation of a story that was published in the Australian this weekend.
On 22 November 2020 a special parish meeting was called at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Ipswich, where the Rev Steve McMahon announced that he was now “Selina McMahon”. All those at the meeting received the following 10 page briefing document:
The document is fairly self-explanatory. Sources from within the parish tell davidould.net that this is yet another of a number of instances where Rev. McMahon has withheld information from the parish about his intentions around a number of related issues. They speak of an agenda to promote a revisionist agenda around matters of sexuality and gender without ever properly consulting church members. Orthodox views have been increasingly sidelined to the extent that requests for Bible study on these topics has been rejected. So when McMahon states in the briefing document that the LGBT agenda is “not something I am pushing for” (page 9) there are those in the parish who have a very different experience.
Nor was there any wider parish consultation on a recent decision to become an “affirming church”. The “coming out” decision was not discussed with all the parish council. Overall there are a number of long-term members feeling very betrayed by an absence of consultation leading up to this profound announcement.
The 22 November meeting was described as a “congregational meeting” and yet davidould.net understands there were a number present who were not part of the congregation. They were also joined by the regional Bishop Cam Venables. No substantial questions were allowed from the floor during the meeting where McMahon’s transition to “Selina” was presented as a fait accompli with no place for debate.
“Not … a Campaigner”
McMahon says in the briefing document,
I do not see myself as a campaigner [on LGBT issues]briefing document, p.9
McMahon took up the position at Ipswich four years ago after emigrating from the U.K. and has been an activist in the gender/sexuality debate. Here, for example, posing with other members of Equal Voices Australia (original photo link).
This wider agenda has not been openly and proactively disclosed to all parishioners but it is hard to reconcile with McMahon’s claim.
The Diocese of Brisbane media machine has already been at work spinning positively for the story, using their online magazine to publicise the filming of an interview with McMahon.
But the co-ordination of her coming-out announcement with Dr Aspinall has raised eyebrows, especially after racy photographs of Reverend McMahon in vamp guise were posted on the movie and celebrity fan website, IMDB.
Contacted on Friday, Dr Aspinall’s spokeswoman could not say whether he knew of or endorsed Reverend McMahon’s provocative photo shoot.
The briefing document provided at the original parish meeting raises a number of questions and seeks to avoid others.
McMahon has been actively cross-dressing since the beginning of their marriage (and, presumably, before) and was “running my whole life” from “Selina” (McMahon’s own description). Why was none of this ever disclosed to the parish prior to McMahon being given the position? Did McMahon not disclose as part of the interview process? Or did those interviewing know but choose to keep it all a secret?
Why did the bishop keep it from the parish for 18 months? If it was to protect the mental health of McMahon then why was someone with acknowledged mental health struggles allowed to take pastoral care of others (both for their own sake and those entrusted to them)? If this is not a mental health issue then why was such a radical state of affairs kept secret from those who it would most effect?
Then there is the question of McMahon’s marriage and it’s interplay with the current conflict within the Anglican Church of Australia. The Diocese of Brisbane seems to have now solidly taken the position that sex and gender are simply irrelevant to marriage. First we had the promoting of the Inkpins’ marriage as exemplary and now McMahon’s own statement (endorsed by the bishop) fudges the question in classic revisionist style.
McMahon states that “no surgery has taken place” and so “there is no bar to that union [between a man and a woman] taking place”. This comes immediately after implicit criticism of those who “believe that my transition does not make me truly female”. Which begs the question: which is it? Is McMahon now a woman or not? If “truly female” then we have a woman married to a woman. If not, then what exactly was being announced and how “female” is McMahon actually? How are parishioners and the wider church meant to respond when McMahon isn’t clear?
McMahon’s fallback on the question of marriage is to point to the “sacramental” and “unchangeable” nature of marriage, citing Jesus’ statement “what God has joined together, let no-one separate (Matt. 19:4-6. Mark 10:7-9)”. There is no hint of irony in the referencing of the full words of Jesus:
“Haven’t you read,” [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”Matthew 19:4–6
All these revelations comes as transsexual minister Jo Inkpin announced that they would be moving to take up the leadership at Sydney’s Pitt St. Uniting Church in the New Year.
feature image: St Paul’s Facebook Page