Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 20 August 2016

India Sturgis The Telegraph ‘The bishop made clear to me that there would be consequences.’ Meet Clive Larsen, the reverend who left the church to marry his gay lover

A profile of Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester, Asian Express ‘The only way forward is together’: Church of England’s first BME Dean reflects on a decade of work

Philip Christopher Baldwin Gay Times Shared Conversations – A different attitude to LGBT worshipers

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John HoldingVictorianaKateFather Ron SmithDaniel Berry, NYC Recent comment authors
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Daniel Berry, NYC
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Daniel Berry, NYC

Are you kidding me? The Telegraph called him a “reverend”?

Kate
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Kate

The piece by India Sturgess is outstanding because of the words of Clive Larsen she reports:

“We can bless nuclear bombs, we can bless warships, the Archbishop of York has blessed TGI Friday, but the church can’t and won’t and is reluctant to bless same-sex relationships.”

That makes the Archbishop of York look like a complete and utter ass. The Bishop of Manchester fares little better. Forget the theology and just feel how that comparison resonates.

Kate
Guest
Kate

If Clive Larsen has eloquently supported LGBTI people, in my opinion, Philip Baldwin has done the opposite. He said

“However, for an LGBT worshipper like myself, the Church of England is still not fulfilling its role. I want to fall in love with another man, to marry in church, so that we can celebrate our love for Jesus together.”

So he wants the church to ignore sexual orientation while he himself defines himself in terms of sexual orientation. Can he really not see the incongruity?

Pam
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Pam

After reading Clive Larsen’s story I feel a mixture of emotions. I’m happy that he has found true love with his partner, that he has found the courage to stand up to a church that won’t acknowledge the validity of that love, and that his family are so supportive. I’m sad that not all gay people will have that sort of resolution, yet.

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

Kate – Certanly the church should ignore sexual orientation just as it does race. But saying that a gay man wants to marry another man is hardly “defining himself in terms of sexual orientation” any more than another man wanting to marry a woman. Indeed, wanting to worship Jesus is part of his self-definition as well.

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

“The reverend” is pretty good. So is “gay lover.” Does the Telegraph say “opposite sex lover” one wonders?

Elizabeth Lintower
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Elizabeth Lintower

Let’s get logical. One can “acknowledge the validity” of all kinds of love between people, including love between those in an informal or a legal gay union, while still believing that “marriage” is between a man and a woman, whatever a parliament may decide – and our Commonwealth Parliament in Australia has yet to decide to change our law.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

“…our Commonwealth Parliament in Australia has yet to decide to change our law.” You might send a fact finding delegation to Canada.

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/07/02/how-canada-led-the-way-on-same-sex-marriage.html

Pam
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Pam

Elizabeth Lintower, the context is Britain, 2016, not Australia, dark ages. “Valid” means legally or officially acceptable. Same-sex marriage is legal in Britain. Therefore, logically, acceptance should follow. Except if one doesn’t believe that following the law is acceptable.

Brian Ralph
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Brian Ralph

Yes, Elizabeth. A reason I am glad I emigrated to the more enlightened New Zealand and am now proud to be a Kiwi. Here I only feel 2nd class when I enter a church. I feel I am a 2nd class citizen every time I go back to my country of birth, the only time I bother to use my Australian passport.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Elizabeth,
the logic is simple. At present, the CoE does not recognise the religious validity of same sex marriage (it must, by law, recognise it’s legal validity in Britain).
This letter is one step in the long process of attempting to persuade it of this legitimacy.

That many don’t agree does not alter the logic of the process.

Turbulent Priest
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Turbulent Priest

Liz, the train has left the station. “Separate but equal” isn’t acceptable any more.

Kate
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Kate

Nathaniel, you are overlooking that the church has for centuries seen herself as the Bride of Christ and straight. The proposal to allow same sex marriage does change how the church identifies herself and consequently how some members identify themselves. Read the many letters and articles by traditionalists and it is obvious that allowing same sex marriage does impact their self-identity and quite strongly. I know many liberals cannot understand that, but there is a clash of self identification. Paraphrased the author was saying “I am gay and won’t change: you (the church) are straight but must be bi.” That… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

«”The reverend” is pretty good» There is also a contradiction in saying that the Church should be agnostic about race and sexual orientation but should see some sort of dichotomy between ordained and non-ordained Christians and that ordained Christians should edify themselves with an exclusive honorific? 21st century Anglicanism is going to be about equality. First it was the ordination of women. Now it is same sex marriage. Next is vestments – we have already seen some relaxation but there will be more. Personal edification through the use of titles like “father” and “reverend” will be deprecated. Then comes understanding… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Kate, “…the church has for centuries seen herself as the Bride of Christ…”

This correctly points to one of the reasons why those who are conservative/traditionalist on the SSM issue reject the notion of local options for parishes and dioceses. It also points to one of the reasons why some traditionalists/conservatives oppose the ordination of women.

However, the question that can be put to those taking this view is : Which is more important, a metaphorical turn of phrase in the service of an ecclesiology, or the baptized person worshiping next to you?

William Tighe
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William Tighe

“Same-sex marriage is legal in Britain. Therefore, logically, acceptance should follow. Except if one doesn’t believe that following the law is acceptable.”

You should be pleased you live in 2010s Britain, rather than 1930s Germany, where your “logic” would compel you to write: “Anti-Semitism is legal in Germany. Therefore, logically, acceptance should follow. Except if one doesn’t believe that following the law is acceptable.”

Tom Downs
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Tom Downs

“church has for centuries seen herself as the Bride of Christ and straight. The proposal to allow same sex marriage does change how the church identifies herself and consequently how some members identify themselves.” Kate, you do realize that “Bride of Christ” is a metaphor; it’s not supposed to be taken literally. Forcing it just muddles the meaning.

Kate
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Kate

Rod, I think you have summed things up admirably and I agree but a battle between I-am-gay-deal-with-it against the-church-is-straight-deal-with-it gets nowhere. For me, Baldwin is essentially taking the I-am-gay-deal-with-it approach. I think it is unhelpful and unproductive, quite possibly counter-productive.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Kate: “…the church has for centuries seen herself as the Bride of Christ…” The church saw herself that way at a time when the bride was the groom’s property, often as part of an arranged marriage; and when the wife was supposed to submit to the husband. It was a useful metaphor to express the Church’s dependence on, and submission to, Jesus. Nowadays, however, being the “bride of Christ” suggests being in a freely chosen relationship of equals. This may not be the metaphor that the authoritarians are looking for. Unless the Church is now a fourth person of the… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“One can “acknowledge the validity” of all kinds of love between people, including love between those in an informal or a legal gay union, while still believing that “marriage” is between a man and a woman, whatever a parliament may decide” Well, yes. But same-sex couples, overwhelmingly, WANT to get MARRIED. They’re not going to settle for “an informal or a legal gay union”. So Elizabeth, what you really have to face, is your desire to impose *your will* on them (whether in Church or State). How comfortable are you saying “No, you may not”…especially when those same-sex couples simply… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I’m just glad that there is at least one parish in the Church of England (Southwark Cathedral) where the author of the article,Philip Baldwin, can actually feel loved, welcomed and accepted for who he IS, regardless! “Christ died for ALL sinners” – including me. Thanks be to God!

Pam
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Pam

@William Tighe: I take your point although I do not live in 2010’s Britain but in Australia. A place I am pleased to live in.

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

Well, I think this site has hit a new low in allowing the comparison of same-sex behavior and marriage to the Nazis’ Final Solution.

Well done, Thinking Anglicans.

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

There can be absolutely no communion between the traditionalist/reactionary camp and we who embrace a liberal theology.

To attempt to force together these two opposing religions into one camp is damaging to both and a sign of corruption and failure in the ecclesiastical structure.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Obviously, drawing parallels between same-sex marriage and genocide, and the UK in 2010 to Nazi Germany in the aftermath of the Nuremberg laws, is entirely reasonable.

To start with, anti-Semitism in Germany harmed people who didn’t consent to being the victims of anti-Semitism. Same-sex marriage affects no-one other than the happy couple who consent to being married. So unless you think that there are round-ups taking place in which young men are forced into marriage at gun point, your “comparison” is aside from being offensive – Godwin’s Law! In one posting! – is also simply wrong.

Turbulent Priest
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Turbulent Priest

Dr Tighe’s post is very offensive indeed but I’m glad that the moderator allowed it so that we can understand the sorts of things that are being thought and said. I won’t speculate how his comparison would go down with the Ukrainian Catholic church of which Dr Tighe is a member (or was in 2010).

See http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/diagnosis-of-drtighe.html

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I didn’t find William Tighe’s post offensive, just wrong. It’s true to say that because something is legal it is not also necessarily moral. Nazi Germany was a silly example for all the reasons Interested Observer lists. The core point is that people have to prove that their position is not immoral and harmful. The question must now be turned around towards opponents of marriage equality: On what grounds can the traditional position still be considered to be moral and beneficial to the individuals concerned and to society at large, knowing that stigmatising a whole group of people as somehow… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

“Where else does God mandate knowingly causing harm to a whole group of people?”

The slaughter of the 12,000 inhabitants of Ai wasn’t exactly harmless.

With regard to Elizabeth and William’s posts, I consider them the most reasonable and logically coherent posts in the thread.

I think it’s a pity if we alienate people from posting at Thinking Anglicans, simply because we disagree with their premisses.

Their logic was impeccable.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re the introduction of Nazis and Nazi era Germany in debates, nothing to see here folks, it’s just Godwin’s law.

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

“Their logic was impeccable.”

Are you sure Susannah? It seemed to me what was being argued was at the very least a false analogy with a whiff of reductio ad absurdum and possibly a straw man thrown in for good measure.

I think the word you might have been after was ‘fallacious’ not ‘impeccable’.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Susannah,
are you saying that you believe that God actually required the slaughter of the people of Ai and all the other cruelties attributed to him throughout Scripture?

Are you saying that you can read the New Testament and find in it a God who mercilessly requires the suffering of one random group of people? For absolutely no benefit to anyone?
Who else by gay people is being singled out for this? Not just in one instance, but as a law, forever and ever?

Susannah Clark
Guest

Erika, you asked us where, and I was replying: in the Bible. No I don’t think the biblical narrative is a reliable representation of God’s likely views on the slaughter at Ai. It is the narrative of victors, ‘claiming’ mandate. Andrew, Elizabeth’s assertion that you can regard gay love as valid, while believing marriage is ordained for male-with-female, is a logical statement and claim. Both those things are possible conscientious beliefs. Her logic is plain. I don’t agree with her premiss about marriage, but logic doesn’t take sides. She can credibly hold both views, though I don’t myself. Regardless of… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

With friends like these …

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

Strangely enough, I feel “unwelcome to post” when a part of my created being is compared to genocide.

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

“The logic of his Nazi example works pretty well, even if the association is invidious.” Again, I beg to differ. I would suggest that far from being faultlessly logical, William is proposing a false analogy. ‘Law’ under an authoritarian dictatorship is only superficially comparable to ‘law’ under a liberal democracy: in the two very different situations ‘legal’ means very different things. The two situations- (late) 1930s Germany and (early) 21st century Britain are not just different in degree, they are substantially different situations and the same conclusions with regard to law cannot logically be drawn. We all do it, of… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Susannah,
thank you. So maybe I was too cryptic. The question is whether it is God’s character to demand a lifestyle from a random group of people that is harmful to that group.
As you say, like so many other victories attributed to God’s will in Scripture, the slaughtering of the Ai is the narrative of the victors claiming mandate for the slaughter they visited on people.
That’s not quite the same as God stipulating a moral rule for people that causes them harm.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thank you, Fr Andrew, for noting the difficulty with such analogies or comparisons.

One wonders if St Paul’s enthusiasm for the civil authority’s bearing of the sword against wrongdoers (Rom 13:3-4) was at all diminished when that same sword was aimed at his neck. Two-edged logic, indeed.

Kate
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Kate

The proposition being advanced seems to be that denying marriage to gays and lesbians cannot be God’s plan because it causes undue suffering. Although I support same sex marriage, I find this particular argument unconvincing. Take someone born with acute gender dysphoria instead. With the present state of medical science, if hormonal and surgical treatment for the gender dysphoria is chosen, the consequence is sterility. It’s a choice which for many is between two types of suffering. (That ignores the fact that for some because of age, physiology or being born in the wrong country that post-transition looks, genitalia etc… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

To refuse to try to alleviate unnecessary suffering, with the cry that it is “God’s Plan,” is to abrogate your calling as a Christian and unworthy.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Kate, thank you for engaging with the argument. I think there is a material difference with your example. Random suffering exists throughout human life. And the question why God “allows” it has been engaging Christians throughout the millennia. This random suffering can affect everyone and anyone at any time. That is not the same as God picking out a group of people and “mandating” a lifestyle for them that is guaranteed to cause them suffering and the misery of knowing that God would believe their loves to be sinful. When there is no good reason for this, no benefit to… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Erika I can accept that there is a difference with my example, although I am unconvinced as to its relevance but you are now talking of “mandated” and “imposed” and there I think is perhaps your error. Anglicans often use the phrase walking together and a definition of sin sometimes used is that it is behaviour which increases the distance between us and God, it disrupts the walking together with God. So the question is whether God might ask us to do something difficult to walk with Him, and undoubtedly He does. This could – were it a sin –… Read more »

I_T
Guest
I_T

“Being gay is your cross to bear” — how many have heard that before? Interesting that people are so willing to put a cross on someone else’s shoulders, particularly if they are not of a group to bear it themselves. The argument over what to do with straight, divorced people is illustrative. i would argue that most churches on the left or right have found a way to work with divorce in some way. Even the Roman Catholics are trying to figure out a better way forward. I suspect this is because the majority of people are straight, and can… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Kate, I think we’re still talking cross purposes. Or maybe I don’t understand your theology of suffering. Are you suggesting that God wills every illness and disability people suffer? Because my understanding is that he does not, but that he does not prevent them. Jesus himself healed suffering. So the idea that people are born perfectly capable of loving and committing themselves to exclusive relationships, but that God requires that they must not enter them, knowing it will cause suffering, is completely against what we know of God’s character. Usually, when I have this conversation with conservative evangelicals, they accept… Read more »

John Holding
Guest
John Holding

“One of the key differences between Anglicanism and Catholicism is that we have presbyters, not priests. Priests intermediate between man and his god; presbyters are shepherds.” – Kate That’s your definition, not a definition accepted by all Anglicans. Many, perhaps most, Anglicans around the world (and indeed all my friends in the CofE) refer to members of the second order of ordination as priests, not as presbyters. For what it’s worth, presbyters are elders, not shepherds, as any good Presbyterian will tell you, or any etymological dictionary. The idea that presbyters are shepherds and priests not is simply an opinion… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Kate, once again you are making dogmatic statements here that do not hold up in reality. When you state, categorically, that “Marriage is created when one first loses one’s virginity, not in Church” is, demonstrably, not the case in every circumstance. Your argument here is neither traditional nor liberal, and suits neither side of the argument. I can instance for you an actual situation where a gay male priest has actually entered into a Church Marriage ceremony with a woman – within the context of the Eucharist and conducted by the local bishop of the Anglican Church. The couple and… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Kate, as the liturgy states, marriage is made by the mutual consent of the couple, before witnesses, indicated by pledging of troth, exchange of rings, and joining of hands. The officiant declares this quite clearly. The marriage exists from this moment forward. The officiant does not create the marriage, but certifies it by this declaration. Consummation does not make the marriage, but renders it indissoluble — in theory though not in practice, and even then only in some legal systems and circumstances. But the marriage itself exists prior to the wedding night — and it is the marriage that distinguishes… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Liturgy also speaks of husband and wife yet many here think liturgy is wrong on that. Until Recently, a wife had to vow obedience but that has changed. Liturgy is hardly a certain guide. I prefer Mark 10:7-9. That makes clear that a joining of flesh is the essence of marriage and is definite that it is God who joins the couple together, not the couple making vows, not a minister or priest, not civil authorities but God. Whatever liturgy says, and whatever view of marriage is presently in vogue, on this I believe I am simply reflecting what the… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Kate, Mark 10:7-9 clearly indicates that they are man and wife prior to becoming one flesh. That is the point of what I was saying, and what the liturgy points out. It is consent that makes the marriage a marriage. What happens on the wedding night makes the married couple one flesh; it doesn’t make them married. It renders the marriage indissoluble; which is what Jesus is addressing.

Sexual intercourse without the commitment of marriage is fornication. See 1 Cor 6:16-18 for Paul’s explanation.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear Kate, I’ve been reading back through your comments and am wondering why you are intent on the negatives. Being anti-clerical is one thing – and I suppose most of us A.C. clergy have become used to that – but I’m afraid I find your general comments to be less than inspirational. I know that some Anglicans find solemn liturgy and vestments a problem. However, there is only one way to accommodate your dislike of them. Just move to another parish that perfectly suits your needs. This might reduce your obvious stress level.

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

Kate, the argument – and distinction – you advance about meaning and use of the terms “presbyter” and “priest” strike me as eccentric at best. The fact is that regardless of tradition, those whom we call priests are technically ordained to the presbyterate by their bishop. Also technically, they are “vicars” of the bishop in that their ministry is the exercise of the priesthood of the bishop. Meanwhile, the word “presbyter” has no necessarily sacramental content: it simply means, “elder,” and therefore is open to use in the variety of ways seen in other polities and traditions. As to the… Read more »