Thinking Anglicans

More about church reactions to same sex marriage

Continuing the soap opera, but broadening out a little from the bishops statement.

Savi Hensman Church of England faction urges punishment of partnered parishioners

David Pocklington Clergy, same-sex marriage and (quasi-) law

This is a good summary of recent discussion on the legal issues affecting CofE clergy who choose to enter a same-sex marriage.

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Sex and Marriage

The controversial thing about same sex marriage – as distinct from same sex relationships, same sex civil partnerships, or even plain old same sex sex – is that if sex takes place within marriage, it isn’t sinful. Not all marriages (or other relationships) involve sex, of course. But it is the sex that is controversial.

Those who take an unhealthy interest in other people’s sexual sin have had a mantra – all sex outside of marriage is wrong. Marriage good, all other sex bad, is meant to be the rule. (Its a rule few people observe, but the point of this sort of rule is idealism rather than realism).

And that, of course, is why the idea of a couple of the same sex marrying each other, if you think gay relationships are always wrong, is a problem. Thats why the Church authorities – who argued vigorously against Civil Partnerships when they were first mooted – are now desperate for clergy in those partnerships to stay there, rather than get married.

Tom Brazier A promise is a promise

This is not a post about same sex marriage and the church. But I want it to be read by those who are talking about same sex marriage and the church. I especially want it to be read by @notsuchgoodnews, @MirandaTHolmes, @kateboardman, @StLCowley, @churchnw6, @StPancrasChurch, @changingatt and others who possibly disagree with me. Because this is something we should be discussing…

Church Times Gavin Drake Westminster rules on gay marriage in shared churches and chapels

Sam Norton Where is the redeeming grace?

There is one aspect of the conversation about gay marriage and so on which is really starting to become clear to me, which is, put simply, that to get from a conservative premise to a conservative conclusion you need to resort to some distinctly ungracious arguments…

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Mark Hart
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Mark Hart

You seem to be short of a snappy title for this drama series. How about Bishops’ Bad, The Pilling, Narrowchurch…?

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes is, of course, absolutely right that this is all about sex, and who can have it and in what circumstances. So in that respect it is about control. But the issues is wider than that because it all goes back to issues of the control of women’s sexuality, necessary for the survival of the tribe or family, property rights and inheritance; a control which puts men in charge of women and their bodies and which thus makes men superior to women (which is, of course, where male ‘headship’ comes from as well and why the whole lgbt issue… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Tom Brazier link is broken, and should be

http://tomblog.firstsolo.net/index.php/a-promise-is-a-promise/

ED: FIXED.

Tobias Haller
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Thanks for Tom Brazier’s helpful thoughts. I do think the crucial issue here is the meaning of “lawful.” A great deal revolves around this word, and given the English desire for a rather complex (to this American) legal system, in church as well as state, a few things require some exploration. I see the episcopal office as largely executive, and the enforcing of law is one aspect. That is an aspect that requires great care. We have a situation in which the civil law is clear — same-sex marriage is (or soon will be) “lawful.” The state of church law… Read more »

Fr Paul
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Fr Paul

Re: The Tom Brazier article. He correctly states that “In these we promise to “bear true allegiance” to the monarch of England”. That, presumably, would be the same monarch of England who signed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 into law?

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

“The Evangelical Group of the General Synod (EGGS) committee wants laypeople in same-sex relationships to be disciplined too.”

An Inquisition, perhaps? Autos-da-fe? Excommunications? Or maybe just flogging, Islamic style?

What planet have these people been on for the last fifty years?

And what are the legal ramifications of “disciplining” people who are doing nothing against the law.

Pathetic.

John
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John

Tom Brazier is actually South African. He’s also talking about ‘obedience’ to a range of things, of which obedience to the monarch is least important. I don’t agree with him. But I know him and his family. He is an extremely nice and good person. I sincerely hope that TA commentators will not trash him just because he believes promises should be kept (as I do not when they can reasonably be argued to be overridden by other factors). He is not remotely ‘judgemental’ or ‘homophobic’. When he was trained up in our church he could not have adapted more… Read more »

Chris H
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Chris H

Nathan, there are all kinds of things which a church might discipline for that are not illegal. My previous bishop had an affair for several years, not illegal. Those who knew it didn’t want him to lose his pension, so they did nothing. Should he have been disciplined? Should they for hiding it? Should the priest who’s actually an atheist or an Anglican/Hindu priest be removed or the guy who is deacon and a drunk, etc.? I know this is slightly messier in a country that considers the head of the secular gov’t to be the head of the church,… Read more »

Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

With reference to Miranda Threlfall-Holmes’ article and Richard Ashby’s comments – thank you both. In the same tribal-property values frame I think we can identify ‘miscegeny’ laws in the USA not so long ago. In half the states of the United States those identified as ‘colored’ were not allowed by law to marry those identified as ‘white’ when President Obama’s parents married. These laws were overturned in block by the Supreme Court decision Loving vs Virginia. Then of course there was the prohibition under the Nazi regime in Germany prohibiting Jews from marrying anyone else. Quite sad I think that… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Sam Norton’s piece was most refreshing. He speaks of his deafness, for instance, as a natural disability – not necessarily an aspect of the Fall of humanity. Likewise, there is the situation of left-handedness, which once, influenced by linguistic accident, as being considered ‘sinister’. I was fortunate, in that my teachers did not feel the need to ‘correct’ this ‘disability’. In fact, science has now linked left-handedness with ‘right-brain’ function, peculiar to a minority of people, but with its own compensations. Does that sound a wee bit like the phenomenon of sexual-orientation differences occurring in a minority of people (even… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Fr Ron,
as James Byron pointed out in the comments on Sam Norton’s post – seeing homosexuality as a disability can only be a first position en route to full acceptance and equality.
Because otherwise we still end up with the thought that “the poor dears can’t help themselves, we cannot blame them for not being able to be properly moral”.
It would be a nice practical way forward towards equality.
But as a theology in itself it is still condescending and it will not do.

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

Homosexuality a social disability? You have to be joking! Without gays there would be no arts, not much literature, no theatre or opera, no musicals, no interior design, no cool bars, no fashion, no gossip – in fact none of all the things that make society social.

And think how dull church would be without all the gayness that has been there since the beloved disciple.

LGBT people are a positive social boon – we don’t have any kind of a disability!

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Archbishop Runcie postulated the equivalence of homosexuality with ‘disability’. It didn’t wash then and it doesn’t wash now. It’s patronising, untrue and a get out for those who can’t admit the truth to themselves.

Father Ron Smith
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Tom Brazier’s article smells to me like a whiff of brimstone – rather than the ethos of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He says his post is not about Same-Sex or Heterosexual Marriage, and yet it seem to focus on mistakes made in the solemnisation of such marital ceremonies. A lie is a lie, is a lie! In the act of making promises to life-long fidelity in a marriage, I’m pretty sure that most people are sincere in their commitment, but, because of circumstances – sometimes beyond our control – we make mistakes. A lie is evidence of one’s proclivity… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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“It would be a nice practical way forward towards equality. But as a theology in itself it is still condescending and it will not do.” – Erika –

But, Erika, do you not agree that it is a useful start – for people who have no other way of coming to what we know to be the right understanding?

There are more ways of approaching a subject than by ‘full frontal’ attack.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Fr Ron,
yes, it is a useful start and it is probably the level of debate that needs to happen among evangelicals.
But I wouldn’t go as far as calling it ‘most refreshing’

John
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John

Fr Ron,

I strongly suggest you re-read Brazier’s piece. There is no ‘whiff of brimstone’ about it. He is not remotely homophobic. He even makes it pretty clear that he wants official church policy to change. He’s just bothered about people breaking promises – several different kinds of promises. He wants the church to move as one. There he’s wrong, because it won’t, but that ‘wrongness’ is not moral wrongness in the sense you impute.

Dave
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Dave

I love the way liberals attack sexual righteousness by misrepresenting the truth! Thus MT: “Those who take an unhealthy interest in other people’s sexual sin have had a mantra – all sex outside of marriage is wrong.” and SN “to get from a conservative premise to a conservative conclusion you need to resort to some distinctly ungracious arguments”. They might like to wonder at how “ungracious” Jesus’ “unhealthy interest” in sexual sins was: “whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery”, “… adultery, fornication … These are what defile a person” and, for good measure, “…… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Dave,
where did this Jesus teach you to be obsessed with other people’s sex life?

Look at what you quoted. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away”.
He did not say: “If someone else’s right eye causes him to sin, tear it out for them and throw it away.”

Let other people lead their own lives based on their understanding of our faith. And let God sort it out in the end.
You are not called to do this for him.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“They might like to wonder at how “ungracious” Jesus’ “unhealthy interest” in sexual sins was” The New Testament has a great deal more in it about divorce than it does about homosexuality. If the Church of England placed a commensurately proportioned emphasis on divorce, and made it quite clear that divorced people (and those that are married to divorced people, as surely their relationship is either adulterous or bigamous?) were to be denied sacraments, made ineligible for ordination, etc, there would be a strong consistency to the position. It would mean that their sexual morality was fixed, biblical and not… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“Let other people lead their own lives based on their understanding of our faith. And let God sort it out in the end.
You are not called to do this for him.”

Now that is wisdom! Thank you, again, Erika.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Go, Miranda! Part of the value you give to your overt support for both Women and LGBT people, is the fact that you, personally, are a respectable married woman priest. Your status makes you a most valuable ally in the current controversy. Power to your elbow!

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Sadly, Ron, you are completely right.
Only yesterday someone said to me that he wasn’t exactly going to listen to gay people’s views of their own lives, they were bound to be self serving and prejudiced. The only people who could possibly get him to reconsider his views were pro gay straights.
And he wasn’t even ashamed of himself.