Updated yet again Saturday morning
First of all, a roundup of links on the story so far. Episode 5 was here. Earlier episodes all linked from there.
Since our original publication of Linda Woodhead’s article An error in the House of Bishops Guidance on Same Sex Marriage we had a follow-up in More about historical error in the House of Bishops statement.
And we have also reported that the LGBTI Anglican Coalition sends open letter to House of Bishops and Bishop of Oxford writes to his clergy on same-sex marriage.
Now the new items.
Today in the Church Times there is Sexuality ‘fudge’ sticks in critics’ throats by Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake. This quotes the Archbishop of York:
Dr Sentamu, speaking at a meeting of Jewish and Christian students in Durham in the middle of last week, said that the Church of England’s position was that “a clergy person has a right, an expectation, to live within the teaching of the Church, but for lay people and others they should be welcomed into the Church.
“Immediately, when you say that, people say that I’m homophobic. You can’t win on this one. How can I, on one hand, uphold the teaching of sexuality as I see it in scripture, and yet, at the same time, say – this is Anglican fudge – that people’s sexual orientation cannot lead to discrimination because they’re human beings just like anybody else, and God loves them deeply?
“As far as I’m concerned, whatever the sexual orientation, gay people are people, and they need to be given the same protection.”
The story also reports that:
In addition, a group of 21 academics has stated that a statement in the Bishops’ guidance “is wrong”. The guidance suggested that the legalisation of gay marriage meant that, “for the first time” civil law and C of E doctrine of marriage diverged.
The academics, who include Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor David Martin, and Professor Linda Woodhead, call this “inaccurate and misleading”, arguing that the Church’s understanding of marriage has differed from civil law since at least 1857, around questions of divorce and second marriage.
In reply, the secretary to the House of Bishops, William Fittall, wrote this week that the bishops knew that canon law and statute law had not been identical for years.
He maintained, however, that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex partners was of a different order of disagreement.
He also said that the point about a divergence between canon and statute law was not essential to the bishops’ theological case.
The full text of the letter, which has now been sent to all members of the House of Bishops, is available below the fold.
Update 1 The CofE Communications Office on Friday afternoon published Full Correspondence with Professor Linda Woodhead on Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance.
Update 2 Alan Wilson has published Who’s fooling who about history?
…It seems to me vastly unfair on those who struggled against Deceased Wife’s Sister marriages between 1842 and 1907 to suggest that a marriage setup that ran counter to Leviticus 18:18 should be a minor matter of “accidents” whilst one that potentially breaches Leviticus 18:24 should be a fundamental, matter of “substance.”
What really intrigues me about the whole rhetoric of “redefinition” developed by the Moral Majority on the West Coast in the 1990’s is how appealing it is to those who don’t want to allow gay people to marry, but how completely ineffective it has been with everyone else. Not only did it pancake seriously in both houses of the UK parliament, but all those right wing websites that swore to carry on the struggle after the legislation went through last year seem to have packed up and gone home. I wonder why?
Update 3 It appears that Update 1 left out one of the emails received by Linda Woodhead.
[Original article continues]
And there is an analysis of the Bishop of Oxford’s letter by David Pocklington here: Oxon Ad Clerum: Bishops’ Pastoral Statement
The Church Times also carries a very interesting article by Will Adam titled Breaking the rules on gay marriage
but this is available only to subscribers.
The Bishop of Salisbury issued this statement: Bishop Calls Attention to Same-Sex Marriage Guidance.
27th February 2014
Error in the Bishops Guidance on Same Sex Marriages
We write to alert you to the fact that an important statement in the Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriages issued on 14th February is wrong.
The guidance claims that: “There will, for the first time, be a divergence between the general understanding and definition of marriage in England as enshrined in law and the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England and reflected in the Canons and the Book of Common Prayer.” – House of Bishops, 14th Feb 2014, Appendix, para 9.
This is inaccurate. Civil law and church teaching have diverged before, on at least two occasions. The first was in relation to the marriage to a deceased wife’s sister, the second in relation to the remarriage of divorcees.
There has been a robust discussion of this topic between experts on ecclesiastical history, law and sociology which Dr Scot Peterson summarises here.
We are all in agreement that the statement in the Bishops Guidance is mistaken and misleading. Since it forms an important part of the case which is being made, we felt it was right to draw the mistake to your attention. We respectfully ask that it be corrected.
Our attempts to resolve this matter by writing to Mr Arora and Mr Fittall have failed. There is growing concern amongst the academic community about the situation.
Looking to the future, some of us are anxious to improve channels of communication with the Church, so that our research and scholarship can be used constructively. If you would be interested in a meeting to discuss this issue, we would be very grateful if you would reply to Professor Woodhead.
Professor Callum Brown FRSE, University of Glasgow
Professor Arthur Burns, King’s College London
The Revd Dr Mark Chapman, Ripon College Cuddesdon
Professor Grace Davie, University of Exeter
The Revd Duncan Dormor, St John’s College, University of Cambridge
Professor Kenneth Fincham, University of Kent
Professor Sarah Foot, Christ Church, University of Oxford
Dr Matthew Guest, University of Durham
The Revd Dr Carolyn Hammond, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge (member of FAOC)
Professor Gerard Loughlin, University of Durham
Elizabeth MacFarlane, St John’s College, University of Oxford
The Revd Dr Judith Maltby, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford
Professor Iain McLean FBA, Nuffield College, Oxford
Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch FBA, Saint Cross College, University of Oxford
The Revd Professor David Martin FBA, London School of Economics
Dr Charlotte Methuen, University of Glasgow (member FAOC)
The Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, King’s College, University of Cambridge
Dr Scot Peterson, Balliol College, University of Oxford
Professor Alec Ryrie, University of Durham
The Revd Dr Robert Tobin, Oriel College, University of Oxford
Revd Dr William Whyte, St John’s College Oxford
The Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham
Professor John Wolffe, The Open University, President of the Ecclesiastical History Society
Professor Linda Woodhead, University of Lancaster