Thinking Anglicans

a way ahead for the CofE?

ABCD: a way ahead for the C of E was the title of an article written by David Edwards and printed in last week’s Church Times.

David L. Edwards sets out his vision for the future of the Church: ‘If the Anglican experiment is to be a failure, the tragedy should not be underestimated’.

The letters stand for Activities, Blessing, Conferences, and Discretion.

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Simon SarmientoMerseymikeThomas RenzGöran Koch-SwahneCheryl Clough Recent comment authors
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Neil B
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Neil B

The early part of the article seems to be trying to set up the issue as a geographic one. That is self-evidentially not the case. The disagreement is in no way Africa v North America with the Church of England somehow caught in the middle as the honest broker.

And as for this:
“The C of E has already made the decision for itself. Homosexuals, whether “active” or not, are welcome to be communicants and full members of a congregation. The clear implication is that their condition is natural and unchangeable.”

This is blatantly untrue.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Well thanks loads to the Rev. Dr. Edwards – apparently somebody with great experience of the CoE and who inhabits a position somewhere on the mixed middle spectrums – for finally speaking up so clearly. His ABCD thing is rather akin to what I had earlier imagined the Archbishop of Canterbury would be so capable of saying. Though, alas, apparently not. The only thing that tasks me very much in his views (as a reader from afar) is the tone he unwittingly or knowingly adopts when he mentions gay discretion. It makes him sound like he still cherishes the bad… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

I agree with Neil B’s comments about the ex-Very Rev’s Southwark’s piece. Nothing new said, just another attempt to frame the current crisis in the liberal paradigm in the run up to GC2006 in June, reports from the [still strangely silent] ABofC’s commission, the issuing of invites to Lambeth 2008 and the next GS meeting in July. I love this for instance: “For long, the vessel in which this experiment was conducted was supplied by English nationalism, the British Empire, or the English-speaking culture, but always there was a hope that the result would benefit the universal Church that is… Read more »

AlaninLondon
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AlaninLondon

It seems to me that the ECUSA is being punished for refusing to ‘play the game’ in the way most English Bishops are adept. Unfortunately, nods and winks are not a generational response in England but continued practice today. ‘Having a blind eye’ serves most Bishops well when they can espouse continued support for the ‘church’s traditional teaching’ when approached by the media or conservative evanglicals. These Bishops know very well what the real situation is in terms of the numbers of gay clergy both celibate and more importantly non-celibate. After over twenty years as a priest I know this… Read more »

John Wall
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John Wall

Here, here. Or, perhaps, hear, hear. At last, someone who speaks with wisdom, and not as the scribes. The world Fr. Edwards describes is not ideal, but at least it is compassionate and endurable.

John Henry
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John Henry

“Thanks for all your common prayer, common reflection, and advice, dear Primates. We will consider what you say. Of course, none of you are legislating for any Anglican believer, anywhere.” Well said, Drdanfee! Sadly, many ‘reasserters’ are blissfully unaware that Lambeth Conference resolutions have no legislative function for the AC, but, rather, are expressions of the minds of the bishops gathered in conference. Nor do primates’ meetings legislate for the rest of the Communion, no matter how pompous the demeanor of some of the primates and metropolitans. The two trains are on a collision course and there is, unfortunately, no… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Neil
Would you care to explain which bits of the quote you cite are “blatantly untrue” and explain why you think that. I imagine that Dr Edwards is referring to paras 23-25 of
http://www.cofe.anglican.org/news/pr5605.html
Simon

Neil B
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Neil B

Could it be the massive unproven jump of logic that “their condition is natural and unchangeable” follows from the earlier part of the statement? Or, could it be that the HoB statement you imagine he is referring to was badly discredited from the word go and carries no legal or moral weight since the Bishops themselves are divided over it and are not committed to enforcing it – not to mention its widespread rejection at a local level? Or, could it simply be the equating of a HoB statement with a “CofE decision” even though the legislature has been denied… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Compassionate and endurable? Oh yes. Keep the blessing of same sex committed loving relationships behind closed doors and task gays to exercise ‘discretion.’ There is a word for that, and the word is ‘closet.’ No thank you. Been there, done that, paid the emotional and moral price of living a lie so as not to offend the salacious curiosity of others. No thank you, Not going back.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Thanks all for some good contemplative postings so far (thanks for the link, Simon). At one point Alan B wrote “On a political point, I would say that conservative evanglicals and their allies in England too know the real situation on the ground – but they do not want to create too many ripples because it is essential that the Englich church be firmly ropped in to the conservative agenda to give their cause legitmacy, greater influence and power. They have already boxed in Rowan Williams – and once ECUSA is expelled (the real wish of the conservatives) they can… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Neil
I can understand that you personally disagree with those three statements, and probably more besides.

Leaving aside the issue of whether it follows from Dr Edwards’ previous remarks, do you believe that in any cases at all it is true that sexual orientation is natural and unchangeable?

Simon

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Simon I look forward to hearing Neil’s reply. I’ve been thinking about this whole tolerance thing overnight, because one comment in the article started my cognitative juices flowing. Namely, that a lot of current GLBT material puts Christians off, but that peeking through keyholes to ensure purity is even more repulsive. My contemplations were along the lines of when Moses was called by God to take the Israelites through Exodus for 40 years. If the people at the start of the journey had to write to defend themselves, or articulate what they stood for. They would have failed abysmally (they… Read more »

Neil B
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Neil B

I am not at all convinced Simon. I think the burden of proof for this must be on others. I have heard a lot of assertion – but seen no convincing evidence. The New Testament in particular has an expectation that sexual practice is reserved for heterosexual monogamous marriage between one man and one woman and that everything outside of that is considered wrong (ie is sin) and is a result of the fall – which is why sexual immorality of all sorts is condemned alongside other sinful practices resulting from the fall. Equally the call to holiness leads those… Read more »

Columba Gilliss
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Columba Gilliss

I would go beyond ‘natural and unchangeable’ to say the wide range of sexual identites is to be accepted as another of God’s diverse gifts. Just as God did not chose to make a single skin color or type of flower — God rejoices in variety and calls us to do so. What, to me, is the greater challenge and more important quality is honesty — honesty within ourselves and between ourselves. How can I grow to be the person God created me to be? How can I not only be true to myself but make it safe for others… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

I couldn’t help being bemused about the question of suitable sexual practice. Maybe I am being mischievious, but it brought back overtones of the Victorian era where women were not meant to enjoy sex and were meant to lie down and think of England. There are also elements of the Calvinism or other puritan strands that saw sex as a burden of sin that worthy souls were meant to overcome. Has anyone done an analysis of the cultural parallels where earlier Christians passed judgment on the suitable sexual activity of married heterosexual couples, and how some Christians seem to be… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Thanks very much Neil.

My question though was about “orientation”, and whether you believe it is “natural and unchangeable”. I don’t think you have answered that.

To me, this is kinda in the science domain, not the theology one, like heliocentricity of this universe, and Darwinian evolution. Both of which were seriously questioned by Christians as being contrary to what the Bible was then generally believed to teach. But are now generally accepted by most people. And certainly by most British Anglicans.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

the Fall does NeilB regard this as a datable event?

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

One might say “The presence or absence of sexual orientation is in the science domain – what you do with it and why is in the theology domain”, if this did not imply too strong a dichotomy between the domains. The gay gene debate has something but not very much to do with theology. Few human beings seem to have a natural inclination to sexual fidelity (homosexual or heterosexual). The phrase “contrary to what the Bible was then generally believed to teach” acknowledges that the heliocentricity of this (part of the) universe and Darwinian evolution are not “contrary to what… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

Dear Thomas – No it cannot be simply about ‘true to yourself’, though how ghastly to think people can be bullied and frightened by a so-called Christian culture which is judgemental and bigoted (granted unwittingly in some cases and through ignorance, but the effects are nevertheless serious and we shall all have to answer for our actions). What it means to be the person God created me to be might be to proclaim liberty to captives, maybe to set the downtrodden free, possibly to bring glad tidings to the poor…or maybe to focus on the agenda set in Matthew 25.… Read more »

William R. coats
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William R. coats

This conversation and virtually all talk about heterosexuality and homosexuality focuses on personhood as essentially established by a particular set of affections. Then the Scripture and Tradition are drawn in on the conservative side to show that only certain sexual acts are permitted. But surely Scripture has more in mind than sex when it speaks of persons. Marriage is certainly more than the correct anatomical arrangements which may lead to children (though for years the church held this to be the major factor in marriage). Marriage is about intimacy and companionship of which one central part is sexual expression. When,… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Biologist friends at the university where I teach say that searching for ‘a’ gay gene ignores the complexity of genetic determination of traits. Very few things are turned off/on by ‘a’ gene. Rather, a number of genetic markers, often influenced by the presence or absence of other body chemicals, act – or not – in complex relationships to result in particular characteristics. The ad hoc analogy that I often use – handedness – turns out to be better than I knew. What I ask people is when they decided to be right or left handed, and, if you force a… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Thomas Renz wrote: “Few human beings seem to have a natural inclination to sexual fidelity (homosexual or heterosexual).”

Since this statement is absolutely contrary to my experience as a human being and as a priest, I wonder whether it does not in fact come very close to being the real subject matter here…

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

At the very least, thanks to modern empirical data, we have to seriously consider that Gay is Natural in at least four senses of the word. Do your homework, online and elsewhere, and you can readily find out what I mean if you really want to know. You can start with Professor John Corvino in a lecture via streaming video, at: http://www.lib.wayne.edu/services/media/lectures/corvino.php Yes he is gay. He teaches philosophy and moral philosophy at Wayne State U. in USA. Readers can also get a book he has edited, from Rowman & Littlefield, titled Same Sex: Debating the Ethics, Science, and Culture.… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

This is an excellent discussion. Simon, I liked the way you worked to your point – it was too good to comment on at the time. The other issues about what is inherited/biased have now come up more for discussion. This is a red herring that has been used to stall the discussion for decades. Actually, the postings about left- and right-handedness parallel the discussion in some ways. What the postings overlooked are those people who are ambidextrous (equally able to perform either left- or right- handed tasks). Educationalists can tell you that such souls often have a harder time… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

“I am not claiming heterosexual “superiority” in any way for myself or anyone else.”

Of course you are, Neil B.

In your view, heterosexuals are able to enjoy (physical) spousal love, without sinning. In contrast, homosexuals are not so able.

If that’s not a case of superiority/inferiority, I don’t know what is…

Neil B
Guest
Neil B

Simon: It may have been buried in other text but I think this is pretty clear: “So no, not “unchangeable” and no not “natural” in the God-given sense of natural.” Perry Butler: I’m not aware of being able to date the fall in history, no. Can you? drdanfee: Neither of your links (above) work. JCF: is * that * superiority? Wow! I think you have a different understanding to me of the English language. So a single person who has no sexual partner is really in the pits then? You must really pity them! Yet the Apostle Paul doesn’t agree.… Read more »

Paul Bunnell
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Paul Bunnell

I’d like to comment in particular about “ABCD” – as well meaning as Dr Edwards might be, I do hope this “middle ground” is NOT seen as the way forward for the AC. I wonder that God might grieve that any prayer might be offered in “secret”, so as not to offend. I don’t wish a blind eye on any bishop. I don’t think this is a gift from God. To accept gay and lesbian people at the Table, like “non Anglicans and other people we know nothing about” must be offensive to any sense of community, not to mention… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

I have fixed the links drdanfee supplied (final full stop was the cause of the problem).

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear drdanfee, the difference between some strange popular beliefs in the middle ages and the current debate on same-sex sex (and some other liberal favoured sexualities) is that the latter is clearly and consistently condemned by writers of both the New Testament and the Old Testament, as well as the Church throughout the last 2000 years, and the by far the majority of all churches in *all* parts of the world today ! The basic reason for this is that God wants to make us into the people He wants us to be, not into the people we want to… Read more »

Derek
Guest
Derek

Random thought regarding the standard line Neil used above: “The New Testament in particular has an expectation that sexual practice is reserved for heterosexual monogamous marriage between one man and one woman and that everything outside of that is considered wrong (ie is sin).” I’m having a forgetful moment; where does the NT legislate “one man, one woman” apart from the Pastorals’ injunctions on priests and bishops being the husband of only one wife? That is, point me to where the NT condemns polygamy for the laity… Not that I’m arguing for it myself *at all*–I just want to make… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Neil B’s comment “So a single person who has no sexual partner is really in the pits then? You must really pity them! Yet the Apostle Paul doesn’t agree.” is a bit too simplistic. Paul encouraged celibacy as it made it easier to focus on God’s work (1 Corinthians 7:28). But he didn’t ask people to deny their sexuality, and in fact where they had strong sexual drives, Paul’s exhortations were for them to take a spouse and relieve their sexual urges e.g. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, 1 Corinthians 7:31-40. As an aside, I’ve been contemplating Paul’s writings regarding the role… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Neil thank you for your answers to my question. I am sorry I did not spot your specific response when I read your first answer. Just to get my mind entirely clear: I asked: …Do you believe that in any cases at all it is true that sexual orientation is natural and unchangeable? and your reply was: I am not at all convinced Simon. I think the burden of proof for this must be on others. I have heard a lot of assertion – but seen no convincing evidence…So no, not “unchangeable” and no not “natural” in the God-given sense… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Thomas Renz asked:
So I presume, Simon, that by “generally accepted”, you do not mean to say that British Anglicans generally accept that “the Bible got it wrong” but that it is now generally accepted that many had misread the Bible on these matters.

Thomas, your presumption is correct.The first sentence of your second paragraph is also a correct interpretation of what I think and was seeking to say.

I’m a little puzzled though as to why you introduce such a contentious phrase, as I don’t think either David Edwards or anyone else has used it here.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

What is “God-given sense of natural”?

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

You are right, Simon. Probably few commentators on Thinking Anglicans would be entirely comfortable using the phrase “the Bible got it wrong”. And yet the sheer absence of reference to sustained, serious Scriptural exegesis is remarkable. “Some Issues in Human Sexuality” was meant to be a study guide – what happened to the study? The report’s tendency is to claim that the weight of scholarship supports generally traditional conclusions. In my judgement, this reflects accurately contemporary biblical scholarship. Those who advocate a change of policy/doctrine with regard to homosexual activity will need to show either (A) that the report misrepresents… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Thomas ; I think the basic divide is far greater than that. More and more, liberals are questioning the authority of the Bible, not just its interpretation. What is needed is a recognition that the Bible is no more than a book, purely the work of men, of their time and culture, who may well have been inspoired by their faith to write – but that’s as far as it goes in terms of inspiration. I do not believe that words are inspired. John Spong and Sea of Faith appear to me to make far more sense than anyone currently… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Thomas Sorry for the delay in responding on this one. I must say I think any lack of enthusiasm shown for SIHS is more to do with its appalling literary style than due to its content. Regarding your A B C argument above, I’m not sure I accept the premises that your list exhausts the possibilities, but never mind that. I want to comment about your option C. I really really don’t understand how your comment: “that biblical scholarship is not unanimously agreed (never has been, never will be) means we can interpet the text as we like.” relates to… Read more »