Thinking Anglicans

More discussion on appointing gay CofE bishops

Updated again Saturday

First, there was an item about this on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme.

The radio programme synopsis can be found at this page.

Colin Coward has transcribed the pertinent section at BBC R4 Sunday programme interview with Colin Coward and Canon Chris Sugden by Edward Stourton.

Second, Cif belief has this Question of the Week: How should gay bishops be chosen?

And the first article published in response is by Lesley Fellows:
The Church of England has double standards when it comes to gay bishops
The checklist used to stop Jeffrey John becoming Bishop of Southwark seemed deliberately designed to exclude him.

Thursday update

Peter Ould has added to Cif belief this article: End the cold war over gay bishops.
We know the church is divided on gay bishops. What’s needed is a synod vote after full public discussion of all the issues.

Friday update

Colin Coward has added another article to this: Homophobia has infected the Church of England.
The church must find the courage to deal with the poisonous culture of anti-gay prejudice in its appointment of bishops.

Saturday update

Mark Oakley has added Gay or straight, allow clergy to reflect the rest of us.
We can’t have one morality for laity and one for clergy. An ordination checklist would be inhumane and hypocritical.

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Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

This is getting way too foolish as a few grown men scurry around trying to exclude honorable/qualified LGBT people and heterosexual women from ¨the highest¨ levels of participation of Anglican/English Churchlife…levels formerly reserved for gallant Anglican heros and apparently some timid bisexual men and closeted homosexuals…suddenly, it´s becoming clear that some of the people at the ¨top¨ know little about evaluating true human character, their own or anyone elses…looks like transparency is the only way forward for the Archbishops and everyone else.

Peter Edwards
Guest
Peter Edwards

Seriously, this is a pointless exercise. Whilst there are some – let’s keep it simple – gay men who are happy to be entirely frank about their sex lives, there are very few gay clergy (male or female – we haven’t got quite as far as the women yet) who are likely to do so in the public domain. Much the same as for heterosexual men, women and clergy. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the various groups cannot understand each other, though I suspect that gay-soc has a better understanding of het-soc than vice-versa. All of this makes the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

It is interesting that even Dr.Chris Sugden admits that there are 40 bishops in the Church of England who ‘know about’ the existence of practising Gay clergy within their diocesan teams. The fact that he denounces them as being wrong-headed does not help the situation of either the bishops or the clergy concerned, but it brings the problem of the culture of enforced duplicity out into the open. It does draw attention to the fact that the Church of England needs to get its act together on the issue of the reality of the place of Gays in the Church… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

So the CofE has taken a lesson from British Rail in blocking the admirably qualified Jeffrey John from the episcopate in that it seems he is the wrong kind of homosexual!

Fr John
Guest
Fr John

As a retired priest who spent my whole active ministry in the church of England, and now resides in the care of the Scottish Episcopal Church near Edinburgh, I am more than saddened to see the unholy mess the Cof E finds itself in. Reading how the early church prayed together, and then under the guidance of the Holy Spirit chose, ‘elected’ the new member to be an apostle. It seems to me that this a good example to follow, as is done in the Scottish and American episcopal churches. Here in Scotland we have some fine Bishops and Primus,… Read more »

toby forward
Guest

It’s fairly simple. There’s a Biblical precedent in the case of Matthias. Every time a vacancy for a bishopric arises there should be two candidates, one gay, one not. Then toss a coin (or draw lots) to see who gets it. God will determine which way the coin lands, as he did in the Acts of Apostles.

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

How disappointing to read that interview transcript. Classic Radio 4 “balanced reporting”, i.e. “Let’s get two people to talk past each other for a time just short enough to preclude any substantial exploration of the topic.” Here’s an interesting (if facile) experiment: imagine that they’re talking about marijuana instead of sexuality. Coward notes that the bishops encourage their clergy to smoke up at home, so what’s the difference if a bishop himself inhales? Sugden, by contrast, is persuaded that pot is a gateway drug and that the pot-smoking activists are trying to get heroin addiction recognized as a legitimate, nay… Read more »

A J Barford
Guest
A J Barford

A fitting tribute to the late Colin Slee will be the implementation of root-and-branch reform of the process for appointing bishops in the Church of England, which has been brought into disrepute by recent events. July’s General Synod should appoint a fresh inquiry to find out what happened during the Southwark CNC, allow all other participants to put their side of the story, and to publish its findings with the aim of restoring public confidence. Given the very stringent demands the candidates were subjected to with regard to their personal lives, it follows that the conduct of the appointment process… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

Christ was forthright enough to not only castigate the nit-picking Pharisees, but to recognise the devil at work in Judas (John 6:70). He also denounced Peter’s worldly triumphalism, with the words, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’ (Matt. 16:23) The much-quoted saying, Judge not, and you will not be judged’ (Luke 6:37) didn’t stop Paul from exposing the hypocrisy of the Judaizers and any powerful internal leaders who sided with them (Gal. 2:11). His fair-minded approach even recognised the earnest (though misdirected) intentions of his opponents, ‘For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

While I agree with Peter Edwards that it might have been good had all of this not become a part of the church’s pelvic obsession, sad to say, it has. The problem in the current debate seems to be, once again, the double standard applied to gay and lesbian persons. If the “rules” applied to Dean John were in place, as I understand them, a man who had premarital sex with the woman who became his wife would be disqualified from consideration. For those, such as myself, who do not believe that morality is determined by biology, I think the… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

So, David S, you insist that Colin Coward should have told us WHEN he stopped beating his wife (er, husband). Got it.

seitz
Guest
seitz

I suspect you mean ‘straight’ not ‘strait.’ “a man who had premarital sex with the woman who became his wife” and then taught as Bishop that this was the acceptable practice of the church and ought to be allowed whether marriage followed or not…is this what you are suggesting? That is the analogy and yes it needs to meet the ‘test of the Gospel’ and it does. This is the ‘across the board standard’ I believe you are looking for. Can you name a Bishop of the Anglican Church who believes the acceptable teaching of the church is that Christ… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

seitz; “”a man who had premarital sex with the woman who became his wife” and then taught as Bishop that this was the acceptable practice of the church and ought to be allowed whether marriage followed or not…is this what you are suggesting? That is the analogy and yes it needs to meet the ‘test of the Gospel’ and it does.” This is what Abp Sentamu seems to teach nowadays, in his comment that it was good for Prince William and Kate Middleton to have lived together before marriage, as it’s as well to “test the milk before you buy… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Was Sentamu as Bishop of the Church saying that the sexual behaviour of Kate and William was acceptable as a new version of the Christian faith and practice, or was he acknowledging a fact about this couple independently of the church’s teaching? You give out above that the ABY said ‘it was good for W and K to have lived together before marriage, as it’s as well to test the milk…’. I don’t think this is what he said, but it is interesting how his remark is recollected in the form you have given it. No this is not the… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Dr. Seitz, you are reading between far too many lines here, and missing the lines. I did not say, nor do I intend, most of what you presume here, at least as far as I understand you. But I do not recognize your attributions as coherent with my opinions. Did you bother to take a look at the point to which I was responding in the list of criteria? A man who had premarital sex with his wife and was not abstinent in marriage would be disqualified from ministry. I said nothing about teaching… nor does the guideline to which… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

JCF:
Lithe lunge, rapier ready. Yet, wrong-footed response to *written* remarks requires ‘remise’ rather rapidly.

‘En garde!’

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“That guideline would eliminate from consideration for appointment to the episcopate even “repentant” gay priests who later entered an abstinent civil partnership, and who taught against liberalizing trends.”

Is this truly so? Please corroborate.

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

‘Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:’

So, the eternal safety net isn’t guaranteed by a pluralist, laissez-faire society, then? God knows who’ll join the heterosexual crowd in losing the automatic imputation of moral uprightness!

No prizes for guessing those who’ll maintain the presumption of innocence regardless.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“is a celibate person with homosexual inclinations therefore ‘gay’…or ‘celibate’? If the latter, can they be outed to ‘benefit’ the cause of the former?” – cseitz – One of the problems about your question here is that the ontological reality – that gayness is a fact of their normal biological nature for a small percentage of human beings – is still not at all acceptable to most homophobic ‘Global South’ style theologians like yourself, Christopher. The fact that some gay people are disposed not to act upon their natural sexual inclinations hardly renders them free from ‘blame’ by the homophobes;… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“I suspect the rub in this is expressed in the language quandry of ‘gay.’ Does the term refer to an ontological fact? the choice of a homosexually inclined person to adopt an understanding of his/her own ontology, and identify publicly with that? is a celibate person with homosexual inclinations therefore ‘gay’…or ‘celibate’? If the latter, can they be outed to ‘benefit’ the cause of the former?”

Is this a parody (ala “Christwire”)?

I fear it isn’t. (It ought to be!)

[@ DavidS. My work here is done. But please, continue petard self-hoisting if that’s your thing…]

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

And that was the best you could come up with. I pity that poor congregation…

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

I hope I live long enough to see this carry on played out….I expect in 20 yrs time the C of E will either have realised the current situation is unsustainable ( Who knows, the government may intervene to like Peel in the 1830’s!) and “adjust” as it did on women and the vote, contraception and divorce; it may fragment into its constituent parts or ,perhaps the most likely, it will simply become economically unviable!

Robert ian Williams
Guest
Robert ian Williams

If the House of Lords is reformed and the bishops retain their seats.. this will be the only modern western democracy which reserves seats exclusively for men and by implication seats where active open gays are accepted!

12 seats reserved for bishops ( on £300 a day) for a denomination, whose regular adherents represent less than 2 per cent of the British population.

It’s time for the Church of England to do what the Church of Sweden did, politely ask for disestablishment before it is embarrassingly forced upon them.

john
Guest
john

These situations are incredibly difficult (I write as one wholly committed to full gay equality in all areas). But I do think that in this particular situation, IF JJ was (in other respects) the best candidate, he should have been appointed. He is ‘celibate’ (to use a word). He is in compliance with C of E policy. If the objection then is he hasn’t ‘repented’, the reply is that there can be legitimate difference of opinion about these matters, provided people observe official policy officially. If the objection then is: he cannot be a focus of unity, the reply is:… Read more »

RJB
Guest
RJB

“Does the term refer to an ontological fact? the choice of a homosexually inclined person to adopt an understanding of his/her own ontology, and identify publicly with that?” Not a satire, but an entirely valid question. I would suggest neither: beyond vague and shifting categories of sexual response, it’s hard to identify any essential ‘fact’ about persons that makes them ‘homosexual’ other than the cultural discourse that deems them to be so. The ‘outing’ of (mostly) celibate priests by well-meaning but misguided gay rights campaigners in the 1980s demonstrates that nobody is above being labelled with terms they may not… Read more »

seitz
Guest
seitz

The question is not whether it is ‘acceptable’ (is this an aesthetic category?) but whether it is based in fact/reality.

A person with homosexual inclinations (even ‘science’ declares these are on a sliding scale for all people) who chooses a life of celibacy cannot without further ado be declared ‘gay.’ This has nothing to do with ‘acceptability’ to me or to you. It merely shows the difficulty of the logic of so-called inherent ‘gayness’ (to extend the neologism one more time).

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“A person with homosexual inclinations (even ‘science’ declares these are on a sliding scale for all people) who chooses a life of celibacy cannot without further ado be declared ‘gay.’ “

Well, that seems distinctly odd. It would never occur to most people to consider celibate straight people as somehow “not straight;” I can’t imagine why it would apply to gay people. Why is sexual activity an indispensable part of being gay, but not of being straight?

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“William and Kate walked the same walk as any Christian couple contemplating marriage, with the stakes probably higher precisely because they did not seek to hide their private lives.” The Royal Family does not seem to have striven to make their private lives open to the public at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. From this side of the Atlantic they seem to control access to their private lives (or, rather, attempt to control such access) rather strongly. “Should they have been made to stand up and renounce their sexual intimacy before marriage? Maybe. But in a manner that is… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“A person with homosexual inclinations (even ‘science’ declares these are on a sliding scale for all people) who chooses a life of celibacy cannot without further ado be declared ‘gay.’ “

Let’s do some substitution work with this to see how valid it really is:

“A person with heterosexual inclinations (even ‘science’ declares these are on a sliding scale for all people) who chooses a life of celibacy cannot without further ado be declared ‘straight.’ “

Nope. Doesn’t make any more sense that way.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Dr. Seitz, you ask, “‘That guideline would eliminate from consideration for appointment to the episcopate even “repentant” gay priests who later entered an abstinent civil partnership, and who taught against liberalizing trends.’ Is this truly so? Please corroborate.” Here is point three from the list of “impediments” • whether he was in a continuing civil partnership with a person with whom he had had an earlier same-sex relationship; Note that it says nothing about abstinence, though that is assumed as part of the whole concept that any continued same-sex sexual activity is an automatic disqualifier. “Repentance” is added as a… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest

I am deeply uncomfortable with the concept that those who desire the full acceptance of gay relationships promoting anybody on the grounds that they are ‘gay but abstinent’. I understand of course that they are furious at seeing able gay candidates passed over when said candidates seem to filled all possible requirements previously made. But I still think it is more wholesome to simply insist that gay relationships are morally equal to straight ones. Despite this, I do acknowledge the deep hypocrisy involved in calling on gay people to ‘repent’ of sex with somebody they love. Pause and consider. Why… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“A person with homosexual inclinations (even ‘science’ declares these are on a sliding scale for all people) who chooses a life of celibacy cannot without further ado be declared ‘gay.'”

Does that mean that any celibate person (regardless of whether happily or unhappily so) is neither heterosexual or homosexual but asexual, or does this strange definition only apply to gay people?

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Would the restrictions that were applied to Jeffrey John to disqualify him from becoming a bishop be applicable to a heterosexual candidate in a married relationship who “slept” with his (or her, some day, I hope) spouse before they were married? I strongly suspect the answer is “no”. Homosexual, gay, ontological, not ontological, that’s all beside the point to this particular Yank. If there is one set of rules for open heterosexuals, and another set of rules for open homosexuals, then, as far as I’m concerned, the CofE ought to be ashamed of itself. Thank you, Father Ron Smith for… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

seitz: “A person with homosexual inclinations (even ‘science’ declares these are on a sliding scale for all people) who chooses a life of celibacy cannot without further ado be declared ‘gay.'” For a time when I was younger, I thought that, as I was sure God was callng me to be a priest, I was also therefore being called to celibacy. However, I was certain that I was also gay. The thing that made me realise that I wasn’t necessarily called to celibacy was knowing some really screwed-up older gay clergy, trapped in denial and with perpetually wandering hands, a… Read more »

John
Guest
John

There is a point here of the utmost importance, which concerns not only the issues themselves but also the manner in which the debate about them is conducted. There are ‘orthodox’, ‘traditionalist’ people (the terminology doesn’t matter, because the reference is sufficiently clear) who are straight (strait?) and true, and whom we should strive to the utmost to accommodate (that is, share our home with). These people are in practice also pragmatists, because, despite their absolutist theological claims, they recognise that within the shrinking Christian community people have to get on, despite differences, and that here (in the UK, and… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

The simple reality is that using a term like ‘gay’ because it is a neologism means its meaning is not univocal. RJB puts his finger on the tricky landscape this new language lives in. The present discussion appears to assume there are distinct categories of ‘being’ that are more trenchant than gender (or more vague, like the ‘genderless’ fiction in Toronto, with the young infant ‘Storm’). So, one is ‘Gay’ and that means adopting the acculturation of Gay life (being and acting as conjoined). Or, it means, someone who chooses not to adopt that life and indeed rejects the term,… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Bill D–‘celibate’ people are routinely classified as ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ because they have not married. To say there is a self-evidence called ‘celibate straight people’ is again to demonstrate how assumptions are not realities. As for Christian marriage. The vows still include faithfulness, for life. If one had been engaged in pre-marital sex, that life is over, and a new life begun. Sex outside of marriage is adultery and sinful. That is a fact whether people choose to live accordingly or not. So you have indeed witnessed this in marriage ceremonies. T Haller. Your category was: “gay priests who later… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Bill D and Erika B: +1000!

The idea that you can’t be/ID as “gay” w/o current/former same-sex activity is LUDICROUS (as I could testify to first-hand).

People *know* their sexual orientation (as they also *know*, independently of their orientation, whether they’re called to celibacy *or not*). The only question is whether the Church is going to continue, on the basis of faulty and/or bigoted Bible translations/interpretations, to try to COERCE persons of one orientation (Teh Gay one) to think its *inherently* sinful to act on.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Dr. Seitz, got it in one. I too would say it ought not be an impediment, but there it is in the list which started this whole discussion.

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“Bill D–‘celibate’ people are routinely classified as ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ because they have not married. To say there is a self-evidence called ‘celibate straight people’ is again to demonstrate how assumptions are not realities.”

Hmmm, that pesky passive voice. Just who is doing the classifying, Mr Seitz, and why should we pay attention to it?

“As for Christian marriage. The vows still include faithfulness, for life. …So you have indeed witnessed this in marriage ceremonies.”

Oh, I’ve seen marriage ceremonies. I simply do not believe your spin on them.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

I’m not sure what the term “sliding scale,” in describing sexual orientation, as used in some of the comments above, means. The comments ascribe to this “science” (quotation marks in the original). This is a very misleading term, particularly if it implies some kind of straight line. A great number of human characteristics are best described by a bell curve. For example, there are relatively few very short people and relatively few very tall people with most people falling in increasing numbers toward the middle. There are some human characteristics, however, that don’t fall into a bell curve. For example,… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

cseitz: “sex outside marriage is adultery and sinful”. Adultery is normally sex in contravention of a marriage vow. The content in various contexts is not only sexual, but to do with protecting property, inheritance and the continuity of the family name. Hence the marriage custom illustrated in Ruth, which is also about ensuring that the brother’s widow is not abandoned and family honour.

Did Jacob commit adultery? If so, how is this identified as sinful?
Did Esther commit, or encourage, or condone adultery? What allows her action to be approved?

Geoff
Guest

“Here we also run into the problem of ‘sliding scale.’ Does a ‘straight’ person with ‘homosexual’ inclinations become ‘gay’ when these reach __ %? When they have a same-sex encounter?” This is rarely the issue you’re trying to overthink it into, and I certainly do not need sexual experience to give an accurate account of my sexual orientation. I sincerely doubt you kept your options open as an “undeclared major” before your first sexual experience ruled out your possible homosexuality! The facts of the case, to fall back on legalese, is that a given number of the population will at… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest

‘Is Gay a political term as much or more than a quasi-biological term? Hence its appearance latterly but not before the 19th century?’

A common fiction. In fact, Rick Norton, (Mother Clap’s Molly House)shows quite clearly that men self-identified as being homosexual as early as the 1700s.

Colin Coward
Guest

Christopher Seitz: “All these areas of confusion are not the homophobias of ‘global south style’ incubation, but belong to the welter of our age. To declare terms univocal is not to make them so. This is why it is equally false to speak of ‘scientific’ facts independently of a sociology of knowledge.” You know, I don’t care whether identifying myself as gay is an action you want to question and challenge and disbelieve. Exploring and investigating the ‘welter of our age’ and saying that it is equally false to speak of ‘scientific’ facts independently of a sociology of knowledge traps… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I don’t know why we get tangled up in ever more esoteric discussions about what gay “means”. It’s a completely irrelevant conversations. Either same sex relationships are sinful or they’re not. If they are, no-one should enter into them, if they’re not, anyone who falls in love with a person of the same gender should be able to. If someone tells me that they have never in their lives fancied a woman and feel repulsed by the mere thought of a relationship with one, it is not up to me to query why they feel that. Unless I believe them… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Add into this the business of social construction, and the *process* of maturation, and at what point is boy X ‘gay’ and at what point ‘straight’ and how does that come about?” – cseitz – Again, Christopher, you are clouding the issue. If you were ever brave enough to talk seriously with an intrinsically gay person about when he/she perceived the fact that they were ‘different’, he/she would most likely tell you that he/she can hardly remember a time of ‘not knowing’. This is the situation for many gays who would find it very difficult to form an intimate relationship… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

Race and ethnicity are at least as complex as sexuality and gender. Yet, in the primitive church, they managed to see off the Judaizers, on one hand, and those who held a completely permissive view of grace, on the other. They ensured that those on a ‘sliding scale’ of gentile origin and acculturation complied with the Noahide code (Acts 15). I believe that a contemporary version of this code would work. In spite of this, it will be for some, as back then, an unsatisfactory compromise. St. Peter’s appeal to that Council was founded on: 1. the recognition of the… Read more »

Counterlight
Guest

When persuasion fails, there’s always tiresome pedantry.

Fr John
Guest
Fr John

Reading these blogs, I find many of them insulting, and simply dry as ditch water accademic arguments, about other people, as if they were not human. All human beings have been created by God, whatever their sexual orientation. Created for Gods glory, and the benifit of the human race. Many of us have accepted the call by God to serve as priests in his church. Sometimes after deep questioning , because of our sexual orientation, but in the end God Called, the Church accepted that call, and many of have served a life time ministry. So please do not discuss… Read more »