THINKING ANGLICANS

CofE and the Church of Sweden

My report for the Church Times on this subject is published today. It can be read at
English bishops say Swedish proposal redefines marriage.

For the General Synod questions which announced this to the world, go here.

For the original of the CofE letter, see this PDF file.

Other reports covering this:

George Conger Religious Intelligence English Church attacks Swedish same-sex blessing move

Ruth Gledhill also dealt with it towards the end of her blog entry Princely Bishop of Durham rides to the rescue.

Since all these articles were written, there have been reports in the Swedish press too. The following are in English:

Stockholm News The Anglican Church criticizes homosexual marriage in Sweden

The Local Anglo-Swedish rift over church gay marriage

….Sven Thidevall, the Church of Sweden’s bishop in Växjö in south central Sweden, was surprised by the letter, which he called “not especially flattering”.

He interpreted it as a warning that Sweden’s church risks being isolated if it moves forward with the proposal.

“How we handle the marriage question affects so much more than how we refer to same-sex church weddings,” he said in a statement.

“Now it’s also about our place in the community of Christian churches.”

Thidevall went on to say that, while he is in favour of the proposal to allow same-sex couples to be wed in Churches, he thinks it’s important for the Church of Sweden to listen to other churches.

“The Church of England has made some polite but critical reflections on how the Swedish church is addressing important theological questions,” he said.

“We need to listen carefully to our sister churches before we decide how we can best do things. What else is a communion of churches for anyway?”

34
Leave a Reply

avatar
4000
34 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
20 Comment authors
Ford ElmsChristopher ShellBillyDRobert Ian WilliamsMikeM Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

“The Archbishops’ Council responded that ‘as we understand the situation’ what was now being proposed was a ‘fundamental re-definition of marriage and of basic Christian anthropology.’ Making marriage gender neutral was ‘at odds with the Biblical teaching about the significance of God’s creation of human beings as male and female as this has been received by the Church of England and by the Catholic tradition in general.” I really do try to avoid being “snarky”, but “Christian anthropology”? Really! The esteemed gentlemen who authored this letter from the Archbishop’s Council to the Church of Sweden need to board the nearest… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Let me also remind you that there has never been a “doctrine” of Human Sexuality like the late modern, anti Modern.

The traditional view from the 10th century in East and West was Chastity for all, and (for the West from Lateran III in 1139 Abstinences (“sexual” abstinence not being the foremost among them) for the ordained.

This lasted up to 1966 when it was supplanted by anti Modern Social Politics in the West, and is still the law in the East.

jnwall
Guest
jnwall

I would expect that the Church of Sweden will politely request that the Church of England mind its own business.

Swedish Lutheran
Guest
Swedish Lutheran

There’s a certain degree of dishonesty in this debate. The reaction from the CoE could easily be anticipated. Other, similar reactions will come from conservative lutherans in Finland, Estonia, Latvia and the third world.

The Church of Sweden has no reason to apologize and it’s disheartening to see that two Swedish bishop are already caving in, indicating that the Church of Sweden can be blamed.

Conservatives in Sweden will try to create a drumbeat, with the help of other conservative churches, in order to stop the decision (Kyrkomötet) in favour of same sex marriage this autumn. Let’s hope they fail.

Thomas Peters
Guest
Thomas Peters

Karen, “Among the greatest obstacles for the C of E, the FCA, and the ACNA is their collective indifference to the human sciences. There is, first of all, no such thing as “Christian anthropology”, not at least since the late Middle Ages. Anthropology is now a scientific term denoting a discipline that has no denominational allegiance.” Methinks that the “anthropology” being referred to here is not the science of anthropology, but the Christian doctrine of the nature of humanity. Back in the day, when I was thinking about attending seminary, I looked through a variety of seminary catalogues at course… Read more »

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

And yet, their argument, which hints at late JPII two natures proposals, flies in the face of Chalcedonian anthropology–there is one human nature–not male and female natures. Thomas Laquerc’s “Making Sex” is the finest history of ideas on these matters. Goran is correct that this is a late-Modern piece. And let me also suggest that they’re not dealing with fellow Anglicans here, but Lutherans. And a Church known for its smarts, at that. The smarties among these folks in terms of systematics and biblical theology make Rowan Williams and NT Wright look soft and squishy scholars.

Tim
Guest

Peter, Karen: I also was skeptical when I saw the phrase, but wikipedia seems to know quite a lot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_anthropology

I vaguely remember encountering `monism’ and had a mental note to investigate the area a bit more – just didn’t know it fell under the name of “anthropology”. Interesting.

Ford elms
Guest
Ford elms

“”Christian anthropology”?” This is an unfortunate term. It is NOT speaking about “anthropology” as we understand the term today, but about something different and totally relevant to the current debate. It informs the debate about sexuality, or it should. But it isn’t what is meant by the modern term “anthropology”. But you knew that. “It is simply cruel for the Churches to continue to attempt to be the “sex police” for the human race” Well, not necessarily so. Sexual relationships are a very important part of what it is to be human, of how we relate to each other and… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Sorry to see C of E bishops spouting such rigid stuff.

christopher+
Guest
christopher+

Bishop Sven Thidevall of Växjö is quite right about this, in any event: “We need to listen carefully to our sister churches before we decide how we can best do things. What else is a communion of churches for anyway?” But listening carefully and being in a communion of churches does *not* mean having to do simply what people in another church tell one to do because they do not want to listen themselves and thus seek to maintain the status quo (or at least not rock the boat) no matter what. That is not – and cannot be –… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

Conservatives in Sweden will try to create a drumbeat, with the help of other conservative churches, in order to stop the decision (Kyrkomötet) in favour of same sex marriage this autumn. Let’s hope they fail.

Posted by: Swedish Lutheran on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 1:36pm BST
Karen,

I had no idea it could be overthrown like this. It sounded like a ‘done deal’. Very disappointing. I do hope all will be well with this necessary and long overdue reform

The religious spirit is served by such steps. As is the human.

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

karen macqueen’s writes with clarity, honesty and real understanding of the issues – and then helps the likes of me, to get a handle on things in TEC.

Her passion for Christianity and justice presented with such clarity, and honesty, is a pleasure to be able to read.

murdoch
Guest
murdoch

The statement “Male and female he created them” is wrong and has caused much mischief. Biology indicates that he created them female, then set up processes that adapt about half of them in a masculine direction. The process is variable, and there seems to be no ideal development. If the individuals are viable, they live on and join the community.

Was it Bacon who urged dogmatists of his day to consult the book of God’s work, as well as the books of God’s supposed words?

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

The theo anthro drumbeat – that categorical, separate, polarized notions of male-female are sacred (summed up, short hand, as complementarity?) – is a really recent religious ideology, historically considered. As a new idea, it seems to emerge as a reframe (thus a finalized answer?) to change dilemmas. Especially in domains of shifted ideas about women, sex, gender, sex roles, power. Once we let women have power, access, resources – you can expect their queer offspring to be, not very far behind. Women are far less knee jerk anxious about gay men, for example. They already know what it is like,… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Biology indicates that he created them female, then set up processes that adapt about half of them in a masculine direction.” Biology indicates no such thing. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny? It is not ideal, and is variable, you are right on that point. I once read an Orthodox source that describes Creation as ongoing, that everything comes into being and is sustained in being by God’s creative will. So when does the creation of human beings actually start? Having our bloomers in a knot over abortion for so long has led us to the msitaken idea that there is a “moment… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Okay, so the English letter to Sweden puts a hot finger on some sore points of disagreement. So what? We might notice that the theological anthro being referenced by the English traditionalists lifts up an idealized explication of gender differences, mainly from a pre-existing pure male point of view. Thus, male is male and female is female, each an allegedly separate piece of the large puzzle. Holy Matrimony fits the two pieces together, and we have a sacred whole, a blessed humanity picture. These basics are supposed to be sacred, final, eternal revelation truth. Given that, legacy believers get to… Read more »

Oriscus
Guest
Oriscus

To my mind,a “Christian Anthropology” ought to be measured by how closely it hews to the standard of Gal 3:28.

Other teaching, though it be attributed to St Paul himself, might be, on its best face, an adaptation to contemporary social mores, a defensable inculturation, maybe, but it is surely no “Christian Anthropology,” for it subverts the outworking of the Gospel.

Nick Lincoln
Guest
Nick Lincoln

This highlights the inadequacy of using verses from Scripture to prove that you are right and your opponent is wrong.

These bishops (and many others) use the Genesis imagery of Man and Woman to support “traditional” marriage. Like you say Christopher, flying in the face of the imagery of the “one human nature”.

What happens when you put that imagery alongside that of St Paul?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”

JCF
Guest
JCF

“We all start out with female parts, but some of us carry certain genetic material that stimulates these parts to develop differently.”

Ford, I don’t think you’re really saying anything much different from murdoch here.

There are many evolutionary biologists, FWIW, who believe that the fragile Y chromosome is destined to fade away in human reproduction eventually (and that’s WITHOUT an artificial assist!)

No matter: human (which is to say, sentient) beings will continue on, one way or another—as long as we don’t kill ourselves via weapons or pollution! (That’s MY “Christian Anthropology” ;-/)

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Drdanfee on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 7:29pm BST hits the proverbial nail on its head, methinks.

“Thus, male is male and female is female, each an allegedly separate piece of the large puzzle. Holy Matrimony fits the two pieces together, and we have a sacred whole, a blessed humanity picture.”

Oh, oh! The half spheres of Plato come to mind ;=) Heathen!

“These basics are supposed to be sacred, final, eternal revelation truth.”

Platonism, again! Heathen! Culture ;=)

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

The Church of England criticising the Church of Sweden. Pot to kettle.

There are more women priests in the Church of England than clergy in the whole Church of Sweden. Yet in 1960, the Church of England criticised the Church of Sweden for ordaining women.

The Church of England allows the re-marriage of divorced persons.It has changed its view of adultery. As Bishop Saul stated at general convention this was the most significant restructuring of marriage.

MikeM
Guest
MikeM

Well, I for one have written to the Church of Sweden, indicating my wish to serve it on the basis of this enlightened approach, and I hope such messages of support go directly to it from anyone else with the same feeling. I am glad of this episode – at this moment there is still a persistent undercurrent in my psyche to seek out ordination; as I have mentioned this more and more the reply filtering back to me is that not only will it take a long, long time before anyone is likely to validate this undercurrent but that… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

The Church of England will no more be able to break communion with the Church of Sweden than the Episcopal Church.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Ford, I don’t think you’re really saying anything much different from murdoch here.” Murdoch seemed to imply, or I inferred, that God created us all female, and then His creative initiative stopped and males arose because of some procedure He had put in place for that to happen. I am arguing that God created ALL things, and that that process cannot be seen as a single one time event, but is continuous. Thus, the creation of male from female, which we know to take place in utero, is NOT something extra to God’s creative acts, it is one of God’s… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Karen- Obviously the things that are ‘normal’ include many that are good and many others that are not good, so I wonder why it should be relevant that a given behaviour is (like window-breaking, as well as helping old ladies across roads) part fo the ‘normal’ spectrum. My answer: because the professionals in question are trained to ask the question ‘is it normal?’ while excluding other equally relevant questions. And since truth is about comprehensiveness and multi-dimensionality, that is not as it should be. What is the age or average age at which homosexual orientation is considered to be… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“One can always rightly say ‘I haven’t met many homosexual babies or indeed childen'” From the things you say, Christopher, I’d say you haven’t met many homosexuals at all. But you’ve been very good at ignoring anything that real honest to God homosexuals have told you on this site, so who knows? I don’t understand it either. I mean, the message that God calls homosexuals to celebacy and repentance does not require you to ignore our experiences, nor to promote falsehood against us. You’d get more of an audience if you dealt with us honestly and with respect than you… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Ford- You misunderstand. In saying ‘What are the data?’ I was not implying that there were none (of course data exist for all sorts of things!), but rather asking for chapter and verse. Karen was giving a misleadingly one-sided picture, and I was pointing out that the reality is more complex. I have met, I guess, the same number of homosexuals as the next guy, but am hopefully more homest than average in not letting personal considerations and friendships get in the way of thought. We have all groaned at the mutual back-slapping from in-groups on book cover recommendations.… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“point to the fact that self-identified homosexuals arise more from those groups that encounter campuses promoting same than from those that do not;”

Christopher, I don’t understand this. Could you rephrase it?

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“asking for chapter and verse” And in response to your claim that: “self-identified homosexuals arise more from those groups that encounter campuses promoting same thamn from those that do not” I was asking you for chapter and verse. What’s more, your use of the word ‘promote’ and the overall statement itself certainly implies that people “become” homosexuals in response to the “promotion” of homosexuality in the society around them. If that is not what you meant, please clarify. I was also asking you to consider the possibility that gay people avoid situations that are hostile to them, and, if they… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

Wait – gay people arise from environments that promote homosexuality? Is that what Christopher Shell meant? But that doesn’t make any sense. Certainly none of the gay people I knew back home in Ft. Worth, Texas, were encouraged to be gay – in fact, it was one of the least encouraging places in the United States for gay people that I can think of.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

The answer to all these points is important, since Karen’s impression that the genetic/inborn factor predominates needs modification/correction from so many different factors that she does not mention. The research I referred to was the [USA] 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey, published as E.O. Laumann et al., The Social Organisation of Sexuality (Univ. of Chicago ’94). 3159 adults were questioned, making this the largest USA survey to that date. If there’s been a more recent one I’d be grateful for the info. -I should correct what I said in one minor respect: the contrast was not between some… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

Another thing to consider about studies like the one Christopher refers is whether or not they accurately reflect how people actually view their sexuality, or whether they reflect how people want others to view their sexuality. Consider this (via Wikipedia): “…the Hamburg Institute for Sexual Research conducted a survey over the sexual behavior of young people in 1970, and repeated it in 1990. Whereas in 1970 18% of the boys aged 16 and 17 reported to have had same-sex sexual experiences, the number had dropped to 2% by 1990. “Ever since homosexuality became publicly argued to be an innate sexual… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Billy-
Thanks. That is an important factor which should go alongside the seven others I mentioned. Of course, as you note, the interpretation of the figures by Volkmar Sigusch is just that: interpretation.

Rural to urban increase was actually 600% for males and 86% for females.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Christopher, there really isn’t any point in showing you the various possible causes for the statistics you cite, is there? You seem to be saying, or I am inferring, that society encourages homosexuality, so more people choose to be gay. Is that it? And you won’t consider other possibilities?