Thinking Anglicans

Hereford: more from the Church Times

This week’s Church Times has three items about the Hereford tribunal case.

Two of them are subscriber only until next week, but for the benefit of subscribers here are the links:
Priddis loses, but sticks to his guns (this is a revision of my earlier article with new quotes from the bishop after I interviewed him last week).
Why this constitutes illegal discrimination in which I set out how the employment tribunal found against the Bishop of Hereford.

The third item is by Giles Fraser: The split of orientation and practice helps none.

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NP
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NP

Dr Fraser is a very intelligent man, I know – but he should not expect many to fall for his arguments here. My orientation is to have lots of affairs with various women…..shall I satisfy it or deny myself? Orientation is obviously not the same as practice……and orientation is no excuse to ignore the bible. Dr John was not acceptable to many in the CofE because of his WRITINGS. It does not make sense to make people bishops when they are obviously trying to change the teaching of the church on a particular issue and effectively giving support to those… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“My orientation is to have lots of affairs with various women”

No, your orientation is to be sexually attracted to women. It is your own human sinfulness that leads you to promiscuously express that orientation. But then you know that , after all the listening and consulting and studying you did.

“It does not make sense to make people bishops when they are obviously trying to change the teaching of the church”
So no Cranmer, then? And no Evos?

“anybody with 10 minutes of pastoral experience would know that the bishop was being wise”

I’m guessing you have less than five minutes pastoral experience.

Andrew Brown
Guest

In defence of NP, it seems clear that the Bishop might have been displaying wise. I have not so much as met any of the participants in this story but it is at least theoretically possible that people coming out of a relationship overestimate their future chances of celibacy. It’s not the sort of thing about which you can make hard and fast rules. It has to be judged from case to case. That seems to me clear in principle, and that is why I am unhappy with the tribunal’s decision, even though I’m perfectly prepared to concede that in… Read more »

L Roberts
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L Roberts

The Church of England has no teaching *. * Except -rather suspiciously — the lives of lesbian and gay people. If you contest this, I shall ask you “What is the teaching of the Church on * the number and nature of the sacraments * the ministry * the nature and means of salvation * the Godhead * the person and work of Christ * Revelation * the Bible * the life and ministry of women * marriage and divorce If we consult the Reports of the Doctrine Commission, the historic formularies, and the writings of Anglicans theologians and teachers… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Bang on the button, Giles Fraser.

Giles Fraser
Guest
Giles Fraser

NP, consider this: In 1996, a controlled study of 64 heterosexual men (half claimed to be homophobic by experience and self-reported orientation) at the University of Georgia found that the allegedly homophobic men were considerably more likely to experience more erectile responses when exposed to homoerotic images than non-homophobic men. NP, a study like this raises the questions: what is orientation as opposed to practice? Would you say that a person who self-describes as straight but gets an erection when exposed to homoerotic films has a homosexual orientation? Suerly that seems daft. Homosexuals are people who have sexual relations with… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

bad mood today, Ford?

-yes, it did make sense for the RC church as an institution to resist people like Cranmer…..unless you want to promote disunity, most organisations (not the AC, I know) do not promote people who are actively trying to undermine the agreed positions of the institution…..it is just not common-sense to do that.

-the fact is that Cranmer et al had strong biblical justification for the changes they wanted (i.e. they were calling the church back from error) …….this is the difference between being a reformer and being a false teacher.

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

I am amazed that Andrew Brown supports the bishop in seeking to with-holding posts from well qualified and experienced people, if they are in a relationship. Has he not heard of equal opportunities. This is anti-gay. In the long run, it is untenable. The Church of England has already said that it accepts the right of lay people to enter same gender relationships, and the right of the clergy to go to the registry office to enter civil partnerships. I welcome the support of liberals and others for the lives and loves of lesbian and gay people. But don’t you… Read more »

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

Some of us, like LGCM etc., are calling the Church back from error …

Peter O
Guest

Giles, You miss the point entirely. +Hereford is perfectly correct in saying that orientation isn’t the issue, not because he wants to have an excuse to be anti-gay but rather because he recognises that Scripture doesn’t treat sexual orientation as a human distinctive worthy of acknowledgement or acclamation (or denigration). The conservative position is very simple – it is sexual behaviour and it’s signification that God directly teaches us about in the Scriptures. Arguments of the morality of orientation are beside the point because Scripture, in it’s ignoring of the subject, demonstrates that sexual preference is not the matter at… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“they were calling the church back from error” And leading us us way too far into the errors of people like Calvin. Substituting one error for another isn’t all that great! “strong biblical justification” But Biblical authority is not absolute, NP. You simply will not admit that considering Scripture as one very important but not exclusive source of authority is a perfectly valid approach to Christian doctrine, much less that it actually IS the Tradition of the Church. You are so convinced that innovation equals error that you can’t even admit the innovative nature of your own beliefs, you have… Read more »

acb
Guest

There’s a longer and rather better typed version of my views on my blog. It’s not that I think that it is right to discriminate against otherwise well-qualified gays: I don’t. But the law does — at least it says that the C of E has a right to discriminate in certain circumstances. Given that the law is as it is, I think the tribunal made a wrong decision. This does seem to me a case of equal opportunities. I would want the bishop to have the same discretion when it came to assessing whether a straight, divorced priest was… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Dear Giles Thanks for your reply. I am not sure you are right in saying orientation and behaviour are one and the same. Maybe the studies you mention just show that we can all be tempted to some extent? I am tempted to tell lies, to sleep with various women, to be harsh, to steal etc etc….this is our sinful nature, still at work in us. But these things do not define me…. I have an “orientation” towards them and I do fall sometimes but I repent and fight the temptations….I cannot justify my sins. So, we come back to… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“But that line of reasoning is to posit a feeble God who, foreseeing our discussions 2000 years later. was too weak or incompetent to inspire the writers of Scripture to address the subject”

God does things in His own time, not according to our perceptions. He gave the Law, then, when He saw His own time, came Himself to redeem us. By your line of reasoning, this would suggest He was too feeble to redeem us as soon as we had Fallen.

Hugh of Lincoln
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Hugh of Lincoln

Conservatives need to define “sexual behaviour”.

At what point does a purely platonic friendship start to become sinful?

Giles Fraser
Guest
Giles Fraser

Peter O. I think you misunderstand me. On this point I agree with you 100%. You wrote: “Arguments of the morality of orientation are beside the point because Scripture, in it’s ignoring of the subject, demonstrates that sexual preference is not the matter at stake.” That is my position too. Absolutely. Now it so happens that I take a different line on sexual activity. But that’s not what I’m going on about here. What I want to say is that the orientation/practice distinction is a bit of a con. Either orintation issues in practice – in which case we judge… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

NP:”…….this is the difference between being a reformer and being a false teacher.”

And who is to judge? Oh, I suspect Cromwell thought himself as biblically oriented as well.

Brian MacIntyre
Guest
Brian MacIntyre

“….anybody with 10 minutes of pastoral experience would know that the bishop was being wise and also caring by saying maybe it was too soon for Mr Reaney to be giving assurances that he would not enter into another relationship.” Anybody outside this Big Brother organization called the Church, and many inside it, must be wondering why anyone would be placed in a position of having to inform a bishop about the current or future status of one’s love life, period, in order to get a job. In the the company I work for, asking people that sort of personal… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“What could it mean to say a person had a homosexual orientation, if he never once had any sort of sexual relationship with a member of the same sex? I suggest it would mean next to nothing.” Oh dear: I find myself in the uncomfortable (and unfamiliar!) position of *disagreeing* with Giles+. I am a person in the orientation/status he describes. Rather than mean “next to nothing”, it merely means—in the time I have understood myself to have the orientation—that I haven’t met Ms. Right yet. (Lord have mercy!) [But when I do, I promise—having met all commitments to God… Read more »

Peter O
Guest

Giles, I understand what you’re trying to say, but if your piece in the Church Times wasn’t a dig at conservatives then why did you have to use the language of homophobia? I still think you’re wrong about orientation and practice. I knew very well that I was “homosexual” (for want of a better word) despite eventually years of celibacy. You can’t deny what your desires are. And this means also that your analogy of mass murder is a red herring. If someone had a deep temptation to murder (some people are psychotic in this manner as I’m sure you… Read more »

Giles Fraser
Guest
Giles Fraser

JCF. Because you say ‘she and I WILL partake of a ‘sexual relationship’ you connect orientation with practice – even if only through intention. I am not saying there is no such thing as orientation. Simply that it is not possible to make sense of orientation entirely independent of practice.

Charlotte
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Charlotte

Peter O wrote: “The only possible objection you can have to this is that the authors of Scripture, inspired by God, didn’t understand sexual orientation. But that line of reasoning is to posit a feeble God who, foreseeing our discussions 2000 years later, was too weak or incompetent to inspire the writers of Scripture to address the subject,” These same authors of Scripture, inspired by God, thought pi = 3. Does Peter O think that to say otherwise is also to posit a feeble God? One who, foreseeing the Pythagoreans, was too weak or incompetent to inspire the writers of… Read more »

Peter O
Guest

Where does the Bible say that pi = 3? If you’re referring to 1 Kings 7 then I think you’ll find http://home.teleport.com/~salad/4god/pi.htm answers that little bit of silliness.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

” Because you say she and I WILL partake of a ‘sexual relationship’ you connect orientation with practice – even if only through intention”

…which is what the bishop did.

Bingo!

Sean Doherty
Guest
Sean Doherty

This is just a bit of political sophistry to paint evangelicals into the corner of being homophobic by saying we ought to be discriminating against anyone who sees themselves as having a homosexual orientation (regardless of whether they do anything about it). It fails on (at least) three levels. 1) Regardless of whether Giles Fraser and Peter Ould (and Sean Doherty for that matter) think the notion of orientation is a modern invention, most gay people do not see it this way at all (apart from the more radical Queer by Choice type theorists, who as far as I can… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

I am rather taken aback by Andrew Brown’s comments. If the Bishop wants to play by the official rule book – then he should be fighting to change those rules so that the CofE does not bring disgrace upon itself by the way gay people are treated (lay or ordained). A wise bishop would work out more indirect, less intrusive and degrading (‘humiliated’ I think was how Mr. Reaney said he felt) ways of coming to a view re the moral suitability of someone for a job. Less wise bishops (though better than Hereford!) I know historically have asked direct… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Peter O, why are you willing to accept the rather tortured bit of reasoning to which you linked, rather than the plain sense of the inspired Biblical passage? Isn’t it that you yourself would find it hard to believe that pi=3? And therefore the Bible must not say so, either.

Shall we move on to the “waters above the firmament,” then?

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

“there is a moral difference between experiencing a sexual inclination and acting upon it”

We all agree there is nothing sinful with homosexual orientation.

But:

The Communion Prayer of Penitance comes to mind: “…we have sinned against thee, through our own fault, in thought, and word, and deed,…”

Consider this:

Homosexuality has a unique status – the DEED is sinful, yet the THOUGHT isn’t…???!!!

Can you expain this discrepancy?

acb
Guest

Neil (1) I have no intention of getting involved with the internal politics of the Church of England. (2) I don’t see that invoking Bob Runcie gets you off the hook. He was, after all, the man who barred Ritchie Kirker from ordination. Obviously, being gay should not in itself bar anyone from ministry; just as obviously, not all gays are suitable for all jobs,and some of them are going to be unsuitable precisely because of their sexuality. Of course the victims of such a policy are going to feel humiliated and demeaned. That’s tough. I don’t see that it’s… Read more »

Peter O
Guest

Charlotte,

I have a degree in hard sums. Trust me, the page I linked to is a perfectly reasonable (and mathematically acceptable) explanation. It isn’t tortured in the slightest. If you’re not able to follow a simple piece of mathematical reasoning (or able to accept that bowls have rims) then that is your issue.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

As a mathematician by training I have to repudiate the rather eccentric apologetic being advanced above. What Pi is or is not, and whether the Bible defines it correctly, is quite apart from the point. But it is philosophically interesting in the exploration of what a number is, the modern understanding of which would be incomprehensible to the Biblical writers – and would involve such questions as ‘what do you want to use your numbers for – measuring, counting, or solving problems’ (and some basic training in any engineering discipline where the question is not: what is the exact answer?… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Peter O., let’s try again, without the ad hominem, if possible. Here is my reading of your claim. Having studied mathematics, you know on non-Biblical grounds that pi is not equal to 3. Therefore, you say that the “plain sense” of 1 Kings 7 must be discarded, in favor of a lengthy explanation involving bowls and their rims, because the inspired authors of the Biblical passage could not possibly have been in error about the true value of pi. I say it is more plausible to believe that Divine Revelation here accommodated itself to the state of knowledge in the… Read more »

Peter O
Guest

No Charlotte, what I am claiming is that the “plain sense” reading of Scripture leads one to a value for Pi pretty well close to it’s actual value. The passage clearly states the dimensions of the bowl which,on careful examination, make perfect mathematical sense.

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

Runcie was also the one who ordained Richard Kirker deacon.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

But what about the “waters above the firmament,” Peter O? How do you explain those away?

Cheryl Clough
Guest

This is one of those debates worth chuckling over. Orientation is not the same as proclivity. One extreme of puritanism is that even thinking about sex is a bad thing. That’s why people used to walk around in rough clothing and beat themselves, they were trying to beat the desire out of their bodies. Them some wise souls pointed out that they were probably satisfying masochistic tendencies, so were in actual fact satisfying the body they were trying to repress. God help us, if we are to be judged on our sexual fantasies then I am so far condemned that… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

A question for the rest of you, if you would. Peter O. holds Scripture to consist of propositions about, inter alia, history, astronomy, mathematics, and biology. These propositions are all true, because God would not have permitted the inspired authors of Scripture to err. Thus, whenever a Scriptural proposition is clearly contradicted by scientific propositions, either 1) Scripture’s plain sense must be tormented until its propositions are made to agree with those of science (e.g. pi) or 2) the scientific propositions must be rejected as false (e.g. macroevolution rejected in favor of Creationism). To my knowledge, this is not a… Read more »

Peter O
Guest

Charlotte said:

“Peter O. holds Scripture to consist of propositions about, inter alia, history, astronomy, mathematics, and biology”

And where did I ever say that Charlotte? Perhaps you’d like to provide us with a reference? This line of attack (saying that I believe certain things without documenting them) doesn’t help your case.

I’ll respond to your questions once you show us where I said what you claim I believe.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Peter O., these are simple deductions from your own statements. If you did not think Scripture consisted of propositions about, inter alia, mathematics and human psychology and physiology, it would be of no concern to you whether 1 Kings 7 set the value of pi, wrongly, at 3. It would also be of no concern to you whether Scripture discussed sexual orientation as well as sexual practice. In the first case, you could accept the thought that the ancient Hebrew authors of 1 Kings might not know the true value of pi and yet be inspired. But instead you have… Read more »

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

PeterO I had gained this impression of your beliefs too….

Was it something you said ?

NP
Guest
NP

Sorry Giles Fraser – I did confuse you with Giles Goddard (which is a compliment!)

I know what you mean about “churchy spin” but still, I do not see you equation of a temptation with a person’s identity….we all fight temptations and fail sometimes. Our identity is more than any temptation.

The issue in the AC is all about redefining something as not a sin……and the people (“conservatives”) are often accused of rejecting people when they are in fact just sticking to the bible and rejecting the attempted justification of a sin

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“But instead you have a torturous argument to show that the ancient Hebrew authors of 1 Kings did know the true value of pi, several centuries before the Pythagoreans demonstrated it.”

A few centuries later, surely?

Peter O
Guest

Charlotte, We keep coming back to whether the link I gave to explain that 1 Kings 7 passage was “tortuous” so let’s settle that once and for all. Please demonstrate why the mathematics on that link are incorrect and I’ll happily withdraw my defence of that explanation why the 1 Kings 7 passage doesn’t argue that pi = 3. All you have so far is that “it’s tortuous” without explaining why. Australia? Where did that come from? I mean Britain isn’t described in the Bible. Neither is India or South Africa or King Charles Spaniels. What is your point? And… Read more »

Peter O
Guest

And as for my arguing that sexual orientation doesn’t exist, you really aren’t reading what I wrote. I said: The conservative position is very simple – it is sexual behaviour and it’s signification that God directly teaches us about in the Scriptures. Arguments of the morality of orientation are beside the point because Scripture, in it’s ignoring of the subject, demonstrates that sexual preference is not the matter at stake. The only possible objection you can have to this is that the authors of Scripture, inspired by God, didn’t understand sexual orientation. But that line of reasoning is to posit… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

“…the people (“conservatives”) are often accused of rejecting people when they are in fact just sticking to the bible and rejecting the attempted justification of a sin…”

Can that be construed as an acknowledgement that sometimes people who advocate for the outcastes are actually just sticking ot the bible? For example John 16:2 where souls will try to put others outside the synagogues but Jesus points out in John 16:3 that such souls know neither Jesus nor God (and thus by inference the Holy Spirit).

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“I do not see you equation of a temptation with a person’s identity” I’m surprised, what with all the “listening” you did! “The issue in the AC is all about redefining something as not a sin” No, the issue is about what the definition of that sin, and how it is preached, does to the people defined as sinners. Again, I’m sure you know that after all the listening. I’ve been saying it for months, as well. See, if you preach your message in a hateful manner that reveals you do not accept the basic humanity of the people to… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“But that line of reasoning is to posit a feeble God who, foreseeing our discussions 2000 years later, was too weak or incompetent to inspire the writers of Scripture to address the subject, leaving us with a clear conflict between his Holy Spirit breathed words and modern sensibilities” Is that the same feeble God who, not foreseeing our disobedience thousands of years later, was so weak and incompetent that he had to send his own son us to save us from our sins? The Bible is not a detailed rule book handed down by God, and it says nothing about… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Simple. It says, by plain meaning:

ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high. A line of thirty cubits would encircle it completely.

Repeat: completely.

The hindquarters of each were towards the inside. Its thickness was a handbreadth; its brim was made like the brim of a cup

towards the inside. Its thickness was..

This sort of fundamentalism goes nowhere anyway.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

I’m interested to hear your view, Peter Ould – you accept the existence of same-sex orientation as a morally neutral attribute – in this you are at odds with Peter Akinola who says it is an “acquired syndrome”. I’m still curious to know what you define as “sexual behaviour”. For the mover of an unsuccessful amendment in the recent Covenant debate, the matter boils down to “sexual intercourse”. But not all couples engage in this. Leaving the bedroom out of the equation for the moment, how do you interpret Scripture on Civil Partnerships? Two people of the same gender falling… Read more »