Thinking Anglicans

Yet more on the civil partnerships decision

The BBC reports on a Mixed response to CofE decision to allow gay bishops.

Emily Dugan writes in The Independent that a Fresh storm hits C of E after move to allow gay bishops.

Barbara Ellen writes in The Observer that Gay sex is in the closet, but don’t blame the church.

Victoria Wright in The Independent has these useful Dos and Don’ts for gay Bishops in the Church of England.

On BBC Radio 4 yesterday Norman Russell and Peter Selby debated the issue on the Today programme, and later Giles Fraser and Lynette Burrows debated it on the PM programme (between 17 min 23 sec and 24 min 20 sec).
And this morning there was Richard Harries and Michael Lawson on the Sunday programme (between 34 min 28 sec and 43 min 32 sec).

Jerome Taylor writes in The Independent that the Primate of Kenya hits out at Church of England lifting of gay bishop ban.
The primate’s full statement can be read on the Anglican Mainstream website.

Alan Wilson writes A chink in the walls of Kafka’s Castle?

For Ekklesia Symon Hill writes Gay bishops: C of E offers crumbs from the table
and Savi Hensman writes The Church of England and gay bishops – has sexuality policy shifted?.

Taylor Carey writes for Lay Anglicana about Men in Pink: The Church of England’s Gay Bishop Decision.

Carrie Pemberton writes No sex please, we’re gay British bishops.

Archbishop Cranmer writes that Homosexuality is an issue blown out of all proportion.

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Rod GillisDavid Shepherddr.primrosePaul TheermanPat O'Neill Recent comment authors
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Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Heard Archdeacon Lawson say this morning that the problem is that since everyone knows that civil partnerships are sexual no bishop who says that he is celibate will be believed. Ask before this is all about sex, and evangelical prurience.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

All those who think the announcement has been ‘slipped out’ ought to subscribe to TA. We knew about it more than a week ago.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

I often wondered what ever happened to those guys who wrote the Monty Python stuff. Obviously, some of them went on to have careers as policy writers for the church.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Could there not be a discussion about what Scripture actually says about homosexuality and what it does not? These people talk as if it’s clear that “Scripture condemns homosexuality.” It most certainly does not, not in any way we can accept. Leviticus can only be accepted if we stone adulterers, people who work on the Sabbath, people who misuse incense, and people who eat shellfish… Would that we heeded Leviticus on removing the debts of the poor every 7 years. Sodom was about justice. In Greek, those supposed NT references to homosexuality do not stand up. Many scholars believe they… Read more »

David Shepherd
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Cynthia: ‘Leviticus can only be accepted if we stone adulterers’. You confound the guilt of a prohibited behaviour with the penalty. It’s clear from Christ that the guilt of adultery was actually extended to include the exercise of sexual desires outside of the boundaries of marriage (Matt. 5:28). If the guilt of adultery could remain a sin in the NT (‘Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more’), why not other Levitical sexual prohibitions, especially those denounced by the apostles? You also limit the NT homosexual proscriptions to temple prostitution, when there is no indication of this qualification.… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ cynthia “Could there not be a discussion about what Scripture actually says about homosexuality and what it does not? ” Good question. The NT writers know nothing about human sexual orientation in the contemporary sense. And, there is the further question about how much biblical exegesis alone can contribute to a discussion of contemporary ethical problems. Better to focus on the range of transcendent values found in a variety of Scriptural texts, both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian renewed Covenant. Example: The kingdom of God language is a metaphor for the ideal community. A range of values such… Read more »

Paul Theerman
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Paul Theerman

David–

But without disagreeing with your interpretation of Romans (“all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”), your comment actually leads one to endorse Christian same-sex marriage, as calling on Christ’s participation to help and assist us in our self-giving of one to the other, and to avoid the “self-serving actualization of our desires.” Sauces, gooses, and ganders, so to speak.

Counterlight
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Counterlight

Now that the Clobber Verses have been elevated to the rank of of Most Basic Essentials of the Christian Faith along with Belief in the Incarnation and the Resurrection, Institutional Christianity will die. Demonization of same sexuality fails all the tests of evidence, experience, reason, and justice, and deserves to be thrown in the dust bin with slavery, the subjugation of women, and the Ptolemaic cosmos (all once defended by the churches as necessary for salvation). The stone of homophobia that the builders should have rejected has now become the chief cornerstone of historic institutional Christianity. Upon this rock, the… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Thanks for addressing this. Rod, your methodology makes a lot of sense to me. Father David, your points are interesting, and I can see it in the big picture, but it hardly responds to loving same-sex couples. I really don’t see that Paul is talking about that at all. I’m sure you’ve studied the Bible in Greek, as have I. It’s a bit rusty right now and I’m too lazy to whip out my Greek Bible (OK, I’m recovering from surgery, not lazy). But one of the words in Paul actually does seem to refer to the practice of temple… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re counerlight “Such a church should die.” A church that dies to itself is actually pretty theology. Bravo. Raising the Christian community to new life requires that Christian ethics be done in an ethical manner. Official voices articulating a Christian ethic have a responsibility to be aware of what is at stake. Promoting attitudes that are opressive, stigmatize, traffic in ignorance, and ignore the benefits that “memory reason and skill” produce in the humanities and social sciences is irresponsible. In giving shape to a Christian ethics, the Christian ethicist must behave in an ethical manner–do no harm. As long as… Read more »

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

According to the actual text of Romans 1, Paul is condemning homosexuality resulting from idolatry. Paul says that the “wicked,” although they knew God, did not honor or give thanks to God, and “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animal or reptiles.” (vv. 21-23, NRSV). “Therefore” (“Dio” in Greek), “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (v. 24) because (again) they worshiped a creature rather than the Creator (v. 25). Paul then continues with another causative phrase related to the previous discussion of… Read more »

badman
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badman

No-one should expect the Pilling group to come up with anything progressive or even credible. It is made up entirely of men. No women. It is made up entirely of married people. No single people. It is made up entirely of people aged over 45. No young people. It is made up entirely of straight people. It contains no-one who is divorced, single, widowed, gay, bisexual, trans, young, childless or in any other way facing the sort of challenges which human sexuality poses to those who are not ageing happily married men. Joseph Pilling is 67 and has been married… Read more »

David Shepherd
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Paul: ‘your comment actually leads one to endorse Christian same-sex marriage’ If the scripture can continue to denounce adultery, why not other sexual prohibitions? Why should homosexual acts be the exception? I find it strange that some liberals can claim, in one breath, that there are significant and relevant examples of subtly acknowledged homosexual orientation (David and Jonathan; Jesus and John). They claim that homosexual unions were embraced by the early church. In the next breath, they assume that NT writers who founded the same church knew ‘nothing about human sexual orientation in the contemporary sense’ and that this makes… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re David Shepherd’s comment, “Suddenly, the first-century text has immediate applicability to a contemporary issue.” Nail on the head.

Contemporary controversies simply cannot be worked out with appeals by either party to the “immediate applicability of ancient texts”. Genuine respect for anceint texts, regarded by many of us as sacred, means respecting both their insight and accepting their limitations. All texts have to be “mediated by meaning” to use an old Lonerganian expression.

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

badman: I think you have slightly misread the TOR that the HoB issued in their statement of July 1st last year. Your penultimate paragraph suggests that the terms of the review of the Church of England’s approach to sexuality in general (and in the light of the listening process) is constrained by the the context of the Church of England’s teaching on same sex relations as set out in the General Synod motion of November 1987” and that it will “be consistent with the approach taken by the Anglican Communion in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998”. In fact,… Read more »

David Shepherd
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Dr.Primrose:
In the NT, Paul does not restrict the societal descent into idolatry to just graven images. At least, no more than Christ restricts adultery to the external act. He warns of: ‘covetousness, which is idolatry’ (Col.3:5) So, the decline into homosexual acts could equally affect a society (like ours) that has been overtaken by worldly greed. The cause is the elevation of our adulation of physicality beyond the bounds of divine order.

I’m surprised that you would restrict the depiction of any sin to its ancient overt externalised expression, especially when Christ challenges us to internal purity.

Gary Paul Gilbert
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Gary Paul Gilbert

Excellent points, Counterlight! Scapegoating seems to be the big trope for Christian fundamentalism.

Liberation theology starts from the experience of the marginalized and says they should not have to justify themselves to straight or straight-acting white males.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Anne
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Anne

Badman: “No-one should expect the Pilling group to come up with anything progressive or even credible. It is made up entirely of men. No women. It is made up entirely of married people. No single people. It is made up entirely of people aged over 45. No young people.” Thank you for this very helpful comment, badman. I hadn’t really been aware of the composition of the group, but it is really astonishing that anyone could think that, with the best will in the world, a group with such a narrow direct experience of the reality of human relationships between… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“If the scripture can continue to denounce adultery, why not other sexual prohibitions? Why should homosexual acts be the exception?”

I note that adultery is specifically prohibited (all by itself) in one of the Ten Commandments. The Levitical verse is something of a government regulation–“here is how a violation of this commandment shall be punished.”

There is no similar prohibition of same-sex activity in the Ten Commandments…only the Levitical “regulation”. This leads me to believe that it represents an addition by man to god’s commandments.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

David, the text of Romans says what it says. It expressly deals with worship of created things, not God. You don’t offer any other interpretations. In other contexts, like the example you note, idolatry can mean other things. But that isn’t what Paul was talking about in Romans.

Actually, my theology doesn’t accord with your last statement and I’m surprised and disappointed that you would say things like that.

David Shepherd
Guest

Your interpretation limits the guilt to Gentile idolaters. The reason that Paul can in Romans 2 indict the Jews who condemns converts from overt idolatry is because it is hypocritical: they have succumbed to the same temptation in a less overt way: ‘And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?’ (Rom. 2:3) How would a Jew be considered by Paul to do the same things as those in Romans 1? Were they temple prostitutes too? Or was the same principle at work in… Read more »

Paul Theerman
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Paul Theerman

David– Thank you for responding. But I am confused by your response. I am glad that scripture condemns adultery, because adultery is wrong! But the judgment that it is wrong is not simply because it is condemned in scripture. For example, I would not necessarily uphold its wrongness on the basis of the 10 commandments, as some commentators point to that prohibition as against one man poaching another man’s property. Not supportable today, in any way. What does support an ethical rule against adultery is the rich and repeated language that compares the love of God towards his people to… Read more »

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

The text in Romans 1:21-28 discusses persons who worship created things rather than God and makes no limitation to Gentiles or to temple prostitutes. Other Biblical verses may, with various degrees of sucess, be used to interpret those verses of course. But the ignoring the actual text seems to make those interpretations problematic.

David Shepherd
Guest

Pat:

Really? What you’ve said, could be said of incest.

David Shepherd
Guest

Dr. Primrose: I haven’t ignored the actual text. Paul is clear that the concomitant sexual behaviour (described in your words: ‘God gave them up to degrading passions,” meaning at this point men and women having sexual relations with members of the same sex (vv. 26-27)’) is a judgement of reprobation from God. Paul claims the process is a universal and active principle: ‘against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men’. The Jews are equally guilty. So, what you haven’t explained is how same-sex activity becomes morally neutral, instead of the demonstrable result of reprobation described in Romans 1, only because our… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re Romans 1:26-28 etc. Let’s note first of all that post Shoah Christians cannot take Paul at face value here, as the last word, that this text presents Christians with a host of intellectual challenges of which sexual morality is the least of our worries. But let me ask this question. Who is the “they/them”, who is the “autous” Paul is referring to when he writes “ God gave ‘them’ up to degrading passions…”? Are “they/them”, for example, faithful contemporary Christians who love God, who have embraced the Gospel, who are “in Christ Jesus ”, and who as GLBT persons,… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

Hi Rod, Let’s leave the holocaust out of this. All Paul concludes is that, without Christ, both Jews and Gentiles are no better than each other before God: ‘What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;’ (Rom. 3:9) In your second paragraph, you assert, via a rhetorical question, a congruence between the revealed New Testament apostolic gospel and homosexual expression, when that is the very premise under examination. Are they congruent? It is a logical fallacy called ‘begging the question’: petitio principii.… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Hi David. You avoided answering my question. Who are the “they/them” Paul is describing in Romans 1:26-28? Paul is describing ancient pagans out side the church in the ancient world and behavioral phenomena. Paul could not have anticipated a church in the modern world dealing with complex issues of sexuality as we now understand them, nor could he have understood human sexuality in the manner in which it has come to be understood in the multidisciplinary age of our time. Salvation and the Jewish-Gentile question are the major themes of Romans. Just as post Shoah Christians can no longer read… Read more »