Thinking Anglicans

Carlisle clarifies

The Bishop of Carlisle, Graham Dow has issued a statement, snappily entitled Statement from the Bishop of Carlisle clarifying remarks about the Government.

…While people are of course free to make choices, at the heart of the problem is the fact that our society is institutionalising these changes in marriage and sexual morality with legislation. In a meeting where almost all of those attending look to the Bible for moral teaching, I reminded those present of the difference attitude towards the Roman state between the Letter to the Romans and the Book of Revelation.

By way of clarification I would want to say that the Government has certainly been “God’s instrument for good” (Romans 13), for example in the promotion of the equality and in social inclusion, in its support for poorer nations and its emphasis on the environment. However in the last year or two it has been imposing its own moral agenda in a way that is contrary to long standing Christian morality and the significant voice of Christian churches…

Earlier reports about the event to which he refers can be found here.

A different view of the book which was being launched can be read here.

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Counterlight
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Counterlight

So, should the UK government promote the Biblical concept of marriage? I don’t think Parliament is willing to legalize and promote polygamy. We tried that once in the USA.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Interesting that the Bishop of Carlisle appears to recognize this “discontinuity” in the Scriptural witness concerning obedience to the State. I hope some day he will see that in extending the civil right (and and civil rite) of marriage to loving couples committed to each other for life, regardless of their gender, the State may in fact be “God’s instrument for good.”

Pluralist
Guest

The usual advice is that if you are in a hole, stop digging – and best for Graham Dow not to remind people that he is there.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

No, it has not been ‘imposing’ anything – Dow may have forgotten that the gay rights legislation was voted for by all of the main parties and even a significant number of conservatives! That’s called representative democracy. We do not have to ask permission from bishops first….and since when has an institution which the vast majority has no active connection with been ‘significant’? Of course society is instituting changes through the law – and they have the right to do so , taking into account, and rejecting, his advice that he and his church knows what is best for me… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Here is yet another Christian leader making it appear to the rest of the world that Christianity is opposed to concern for human rights and justice for gay people. What a catastrophic witness to the wider society! He thinks he’s standing up for timeless values when it is clear to the rest of the world that he merely hasn’t been able to get his head around living in a society that values honesty and commitment by gay people rather than stigmatising them. The Church of England is so poorly served by its leadership at the moment – can’t we have… Read more »

kieran crichton
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kieran crichton

As Gough Whitlam could have said:

Well may we say ‘God Save the Queen’ because nothing will save the Bishop of Carlisle

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

At what point does a government stop being ‘“God’s instrument for good” (Romans 13), for example in the promotion of the equality and in social inclusion…’ and start ‘imposing its own moral agenda in a way that is contrary to long standing Christian morality’. The Bishop thinks that this point has been reached within the past two years or so. But why not when the equal age of consent was agreed some years ago, or in 1967 with the partial decrimilisation of homosexuality, or indeed in the wider spere of social relations with the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act and the… Read more »

Tim
Guest

`I reminded those present of the difference attitude towards the Roman state between the Letter to the Romans and the Book of Revelation.’

Somehow, I’m unconvinced a lecture from Revelation would carry much sway in the House of Commons.

cryptogram
Guest
cryptogram

Richard could well have added the Deceased Wife’s Sister legislation, which the bishops opposed diligently from 1841 to 1906, and even in 1949 they opposed the addition of a Divorced Wife’s Sister provision, proposed by Lord Mancroft, grandfather of the one who’s in the news today.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“Deceased Wife’s Sister legislation, which the bishops opposed diligently from 1841 to 1906, and even in 1949 they opposed the addition of a Divorced Wife’s Sister provision”

OK – help for the poor Yank. What are these? I think maybe I once knew, thanks to an English murder mystety, but am vague on the concept.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Well, if we’re going to look to history why not revisit the Tudor settlement of the scriptural tensions between Leviticus 18:16 and Deuteronomy 25:5. Whether the state was, in this case, “God’s instrument for good” is a matter of dispute, but we would not be having this discussion had things gone otherwise.

cryptogram
Guest
cryptogram

In England it took 65 years for legislation to pass through parliament permitting a man to marry the sister of his deceased wife, largely due to the opposition of the bishops, with plentiful quoting of Leviticus. (Familiar?)

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Fr Mark-

What is so intrinsically good about being ‘ a modern person’? So much for people who lived in other ages. They just didn’t get it. Salvation is to be born in the twentieth century.

In any case, there are about 7 (is it?) thousand million ‘modern’ people in the world. They are characterised more by their diversity than by their uniformity. I wouldn’t like to predict what percentage of these ‘moderns’ agree with you.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Christopher: I don’t think it’s to do with whether being modern is better than living in an earlier time (I sometimes feel that life as an Anglican priest in the much more comfortable and liberal 18th century C of E must have been far preferable to today, for example). It is rather what is appropriate. One cannot speak to a society by adopting inappropriate forms of discourse: preaching a 19th century Anglican sermon showing how the lower orders should know their place (“the rich man in his castle, the poor man at the gate/ God made them high and lowly,… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Fr Mark- I guess I still don’t agree – for these reasons: (1) What has being up-to-date got to do with anything? Being up-to-date is the default option for unthinking people who have not reviewed/weighed the various options. That doesn’t make it either right or wrong, but it does make one wonder why uptodateness/fashionability is in any way a relevant issue. (2) You are so wrong about the rich man in his castle. It was a wrong attitude then as well as now. You are not seriously suggesting it was right then and is wrong now? (I also doubt whether… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Christopher: you misunderstand me very much if you imagine me to be a himbo. I am so wedded to being out-of-date that (i) I go to church at all; and (ii) I loathe the ugly modern wrecking of traditional ecclesiastical aesthetics, to the point that you won’t catch me celebrating without wearing a fiddleback. Do you share my Christian conservatism in these areas, or is it only when it comes to not being able to deal with gay people that antiquarianism trumps common sense? I think the Gospel calls us to be profoundly counter-cultural: that is precisely why we should… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

“It is not ‘nasty’ to speak one’s actual beliefs truthfully, any more than a driving instructor is nasty to critique a student’s performance. They are issues-directed not personally-directed.” Actually, there are driving instructors, teachers, preachers and managers who are fired from their jobs for exactly these reasons. The objective is to have a mature soul who is capable of driving a car safely so that they, their passengers, other drivers, pedestrians and hopefully most animals don’t get hospitalised or killed by incompetent driving skills. An instructor who leaves their student paralysed with fear is a danger to both their student… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Cheryl- I am sure that plenty of instructors are rightly sacked for making theur students quivering wrecks, but what has that got to do with whether they can critique their students’ performances? ‘Critique’ does not mean ‘unconstructively criticise’, it means ‘review, saying what was good and what needs improvement/practice’. Hi Fr Mark- I was not talking about you and your character but about your proposals for Bp Dow having to lie about his true beliefs if he wished to be allowed the right to speak to ‘modern’ people at all. I also agree that people are bullied for being… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Christopher Your postings continue to dodge the “how” and its impact. Nor are we called to critique every problem. Jesus’ call to remove the plank from one’s own eye before commenting on the splinter in another’s comes to mind. Or his comments that only cast a stone at another if you are without sin, and no one threw one. Both are exhortations for restraint. The sad thing is there are some feel that their position gives them the right to pass judgment on others, get a gaggle of them together and an “undesirable” in the church can run the gauntlet… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Christopher: I agree about conformity. Bishop Dow’s views are those of the narrow conformity of the judgmental Christianity of my childhood. I think the Church needs the courage to be radical, and drop that awful inheritance. You sound as if you have no idea how dreadful it is to grow up gay in a hard-line Christian household. I resent the canard, often repeated by those on the illiberal side of this debate, that the rest of us are feeble-minded. I think that refusing to face up to what the Spirit might be saying to us through the world in which… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr Mark
“This is clearly catastrophic if one cares about the survival of the Church.”

If I’m honest I don’t care much about the survival of the church as an aim in itself. I care about the survival of God as a valid concept in people’s lives, as the Christian story as a guide to a God-filled life. If it happens that the church is no longer able to reach people and point them to God, then the church will die. And rightly so.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Erika: yes, of course you’re quite right, point taken.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

It is exactly this ‘let’s be cool and follow what the young ones think’ that is so insecure and incorrect. Both young people and old have an immense amount to offer. But on average the older will have more wisdom than the younger – a fact agreed by most societies there have ever been – unlike ours who shunts the old out of sight and ridicules the grans who have physical symptoms resulting from their progeny’s behaviour on ‘Big Brother’. It is a well-known fact (!!) that our own society has a youth complex & it is mindless to just… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Christopher: you misunderstand completely, it’s not about trying and failing to be trendy. There’s nothing worse than ageing trendies in churches: I’ve always loathed the way aesthetic leftovers from the sixties have been trying to wreck churches ever since. Mostly they are, oddly, Con Evos, who get rid of anything beautiful or traditional in their churches, e.g. replacing choirs with moronic praise bands, replacing ancient chancels with vile magnolia-painted nylon-carpeted “worship spaces”, etc. And yet these same people are telling me I’m not conservative enough! No, it’s not that at all that I am advocating. I think real Anglican conservatism… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Who are these ‘we’ who have the aforementioned attitude to divorce? What I find really scary is this corporate personality, which by definition can only be made up of people who cannot or don’t want to think for themselves. Divorce, on the contrary, is fairly clearly one of the things on which we have tolerably clear dominical teaching. Whether or not the anglican church accepts that teaching is utterly irrelevant: it is still there. Any conceivable organisation has (and must have) a bias against someone. If its god is inclusivity it will have a bias against the non-inclusive. If its… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Christopher It still bewilders me how you can be so insightful and yet so blind at the same time. I actually think that was an excellent posting. To continue your reasoning. It its God seeks balance it will have a bias against extremism. If its God seeks diversity it will have a bias against extinction. If its God seeks complexity it will have a bias against stagnation. If its God seeks peace it will have a bias against tyranny. If its God seeks faith it will have a bias against legalism. If its God seeks forgiveness it will have a… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Cheryl- Shock sensation – the Ark of the Covenant has been found??! R u sure you have not been watching too much Indiana Jones? People sometimes come along with fundamentalist blanket generalisations like ‘Jesus was inclusive’. These result from accepting the bits of Jesus’s sayings that we like and rejecting the bits we don’t like. Everyone will admit that that is dishonest. He was (for example) inclusive (eventually) of Gentiles; exclusive of hypocritical pharisees; he warned all and sundry about the dangers of Sheol and/or Gehenna, a topic on which he probably has more to say than any other… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Christopher, just remember that gay people were never mentioned by Jesus at all.

Benjamin
Guest

At what point are Christians to allow freedom, and at what point are we to set moral law?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I would have thought that all Christians would support freedom within a moral framework.

The problem only arises when one group tries to define for all times and for everyone else what “moral” is, thereby calling those who don’t agree “immoral”.
To me, that is immoral.