Thinking Anglicans

Bible and Homosexual Partnerships

Jonathan Wynne-Jones wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph which was headlined Bible supports homosexual partnerships, says bishop.

Other responses to the story were reported by Ekklesia.

The tone of the original story, and the reported reactions of conservatives make interesting reading in the light of a recent Fulcrum newsletter article on Homophobia by Andrew Goddard. The long version of his paper (recommmended reading) can be found here.

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simon dawson
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Whilst I disagree with a lot of Andrew Goddard’s theology, I respect the way he follows a logical argument. For example: “If someone is treating a non-marital opposite-sex couple more favourably than a same-sex couple then the presumption has to be that there exists an attitude towards homosexual people or a hierarchy of sexual sins that cannot be defended. So, for example, if someone running a hotel refuses a double room to two people of the same sex this can really only be defended from a Christian perspective if they require all couples booking a double room to confirm that… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
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Andrew Goddard has obviously put a lot of thought into this paper and it would be a pity for it to not be acknowledged. It is also extremely hard to “add value” without detracting from the work he has done. My prayers are that the people who most need to read it do so, and that God softens their hearts.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

It is deeply encouraging to those of us who may be outside the evangelical certainties, not to mention the new conservatives absolutes; to get a privileged moment in which we may listen from the sidelines to the underground conversations on homophobia in communities in which we are, so far, not really welcome. Well. Maybe sometimes welcome as unchurched, or perhaps interfaith (?) visitors? I can still chat with my former evangelical friends, about the weather and so forth, or the off-kilter bus schedule on the way to work in the morning. Rather nice, but all from a considered ethical and… Read more »

Alan Harrison
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Alan Harrison

Simon Dawson writes: “It always sems illogical to me that as a gay man in an open covenanted, stable, monogamous relationship it would be clearly impossible for me to be accepted for ordination (for example), despite no clear Gospel teaching against me. Yet I know of two people in the midst of divorce proceedings going through ordination now, despite Christ’s own words against divorce (for example in Matthew 5 31)” The point made by Simon is entirely reasonable. Has it been raised with the bishop(s) responsible for recommending ordination of the divorced persons and with Simon’s own bishop? I don’t… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Dear Alan, that would, presumably, be a useful legal line of attack on the church’s prohibition of “actively gay clergy” under equality regulations.. if the issues were exactly equivalent (as many secular courts might rule given a chance). However, in absolute terms “two wrongs don’t make a right”! Divorce *is* tolerated in Scripture, both by our Lord and by St Paul, but on restricted grounds (basically the *other* person leaves the marriage – for different reasons). Same-sex sex is *never* seen as anything other than unholy/sin/an abomination to God. Assuming that freedom of religion and assembly continue to have any… Read more »

David
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>> If the primary Christian criticism of gay realtionships is that it is sex outside marriage, Then ANY example of sex outside marriage is to receive exactly the same censure if the church is not to be described as homophobic. I am not sure I understand Simon or Andrew on this point. Is it seriously being suggested that churches that, in general terms, would oppose homosexual practice would not bat an eyelid to a heterosexual relationship outside marriage? I’d be interested to know of some examples since I am pretty sure such churches are consistent, whether you agree with them… Read more »

Andrew Goddard
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Andrew Goddard

Dear David, Thanks for your query. I’ve not had chance to check exactly the context of the quotation from my piece but a few thoughts as I hope I’m not being unfair. (1) Of course evangelicals are clear that it is non-marital sex that is the problem and I hope I wasn’t suggesting otherwise and setting up an ‘aunt sally’. However, I do think there is a tendency sometimes to treat any form of same-sex relationship as inherently worse (sometimes with appeal to it being unnatural etc whereas heterosexual non-marital relations are at least natural) (2)In relation to society there… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Dear Andrew, maybe you need to be a little careful about not falling into the trap of implying that all sexual sins are the same. Before I get accused of singling out same-sex sex, what I mean is that there are different *reasons* why various behaviours are sinful (unfaithful, disordered, irresponsible, abusive, disrespectful etc). Reducing the arguement to “sex outside marriage” may avoid saying some of the things we are under pressure to shut up about, but I think it has serious weaknesses: 1. It ignores the important fact that even sex within marriage can be sinful (abusive, disordered etc)!… Read more »

David
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Andrew Thanks for responding so carefully to my query. Having re-read your article, I think my concern was more on Simon’s slant on it but I appreciate the effort to which you went. I would certainly back your call that the church or society at large don’t apply different standards to unmarried couples, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Certainly your concern and own experience of clergy affording advantages to unmarried heterosexual couples when they would not do the same for homosexual couples (who presumably may even have more outward commitment to each other through a civil partnership than the heterosexual couple… Read more »

simon dawson
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Andrew.

Thank you for your article. By forcing us to look carefully at the issues with ruthless logic (and – don’t let us forget – some clear compassion) you have produced a situation where David has written a posting, especially his seond paragraph, which I would entirely endorse.

A little example of that Lambeth listening process in action 🙂

Thanks to you to David
Simon

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Yes, I do strongly agree. The questions about exactly what makes same sex relationships / sexual orientations / physical intimacies / bonding so entirely evil needs quite specific answers. And probably quite specific NEW answers. The old received answers were quite easy. We all probably know at least some of them. Queer stuff was first of all, innately defective in itself. Next, such queer stuff caused all manner of other defects, and simultaneously resulted mainly from yet other defects. On top of this, queer stuff was innately filthy and dangerous, both to the people directly involved, and to anybody who… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Dear drdanfee, I think most of us have come to a similar conclusion – that “liberals” and “conservatives” are reaching mutually irreconcilable conclusions because we *start* with mutually incompatible assumptions.. I can show you the consistent prohibitions on same-sex sex in the NT and in the OT and I can show you the Bible’s writers consistent understandings of the nature of God, humans and sex, and you will still tell me that current understandings, “positive experience” and issues of “justice” and “equality” and “oppression” make beliefs in the NT “not the final word” (to borrow an Anglican phrase). On the… Read more »

Robert Gagnon
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To Andrew and any who read this posting, I only just now came across Andrew’s article on homophobia. I consider Andrew a friend and appreciate his several favorable mentions of my work. However, I would like to make a point of clarification. In the longer version of his paper, he states that in the “closing sections” of my first book I am among those who exhibit an unfortunate “tendency” of painting “a very dark picture of homosexual relationships [that] portray same-sex relationships as loveless, promiscuous, disease-ridden, short-term, unfaithful or abusive” (n. 36). This is unpleasant to bring up, but I… Read more »

Robert Gagnon
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To Andrew and any who read this posting, I think that the remarks cited above make clear that I do not see all homosexual unions as void of love, commitment, and other positive attributes. But none of these attributes are intrinsic to the homosexual sex. As I similarly state in my second book, co-produced with Dan O. Via (Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003], 103): “Few consensual behaviors always [with “always” in italics] produce scientifically measurable, significant, and lasting harm. It is enough to establish disproportionately high rates.” I further give two main reasons why such… Read more »

Robert Gagnon
Guest

To Andrew and others, One additional point of clarification, this time not about my views but on Scripture itself. The claim that Scripture does not support the notion of different weights of sins, specifically that homosexual practice is a sin worse than, say, fornication, is inaccurate, in my view. In the Old Testament there is a clear ranking of sins. For example, when one goes to Leviticus 20, which reorders the offenses in Leviticus 18 according to penalty, the most severe sexual offenses are grouped first, including same-sex intercourse. Included at the top of the list were adultery, the worst… Read more »

Robert Gagnon
Guest

Paul’s attitude toward a case of incest in 1 Corinthians 5 makes clear that he too differentiated between various sexual offenses, with some being more extreme than others. This is clear both from the horror in his tone but, even more, from the fact that he has to arbitrate between competing values when he condemns the incest. If there were no ranking of priorities, then how could Paul reject out of hand a case of incest that was monogamous and committed? If the values of monogamy and commitment to longevity were of equal weight with a requirement of familial otherness,… Read more »

Robert Gagnon
Guest

The image given above is offensive, I grant, but it hopefully drives home the point that not all sin is equally heinous, either to God or to us. Now a good case can be made from evidence in Scripture, early Judaism, and early Christianity that among “consensual” sexual offenses only bestiality superseded same-sex intercourse. The case can be made by looking at the severity with which the issue is addressed in Scripture, the foundational character given to the “male and female” character of the sexual bond from creation onward, the extreme deviation from clear material structures of embodied existence given… Read more »