THINKING ANGLICANS

After Grantham

There has been a lot of media coverage of the news about the Bishop of Grantham, first reported here.

This news report by Madeleine Davies in the Church Times incorporates many of the responses to the news from other people or groups: Bishop of Grantham: ‘I hope to be a standard-bearer as a gay man’.

The full text of the letter from the Bishop of Lincoln to his parishes can be found here.

The full text of the GAFCON statement can be found here.

Statements from LGCM and LGBTI Mission are also available.

ACNS has Secretary general clarifies view after gay English bishop “outed”

Anglican Mainstream has a convenient compendium of links to responses from a variety of perspectives.

Some other viewpoints from the blogosphere:

Vicky Beeching The first openly gay bishop is a huge step forward – but it’s not enough

Beth Routledge The Church of England, and The Sex In Sexuality

Kelvin Holdsworth Sexuality, Celibacy and Bishops

Savi Hensman A gay bishop and loving everyone: the dilemma of church leaders

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cseitz
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cseitz

K Holdsworth says he wants to know what the good Bishop thinks about Issues. But hasn’t he already clarified that? The Guardian certainly has him and the others involved say he is declaring himself within the present teaching.

Don’t shoot the messenger here. Just read his own comments.

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

The Bishop of Grantham has declared himself within the present absurd teaching of Issues.

I am indeed interested in what he thinks of Issues which is very different. But, as I said, not until every other bishop has been publicly asked if they agree with it too.

Diocesan Synods provide an ideal environment for the question to be asked and answers recorded.

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

Christopher Seitz: not attempting to shoot you at all, but, the remarks by the bishop simply repeat what the present situation is and confirms that he abides by it. It simply doesn’t report what he thinks about the present situation. But we are very aware that, with perhaps one or two exceptions, we have little idea what bishops think about the present situation as there is a rather obvious agreement of silence about the whole matter. The number of questions that the bishops comments beg are considerable

Susannah Clark
Guest

“…what the good Bishop thinks about Issues… he is declaring himself within the present teaching.” Christopher, obeying teachings and agreeing with them are two different things. I’d suggest the bishop may have ‘put up’ with the rules imposed on him and all other gay and lesbian priests, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he endorses them as the permanent ‘best outcome’ for the future. He, of course, and other bishops, must state their own views on gay sexuality. And so must all priests and lay members of the Church. I hope we’re not so infantilised that we think the bishops ‘know… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Read two good essays now by Ian Paul and also Wes Hill. The latter describes himself as a Gay Christian and is opposed to sexual relations between members of the same sex. He is probably known to this blog. He surmises that the good Bishop thinks about celibacy as he does: as a way to avoid conduct that Christ has not warranted. I can’t say that we have read that thus far in this particular case, but who knows what will be said in time.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

cseitz,
I understood the bishop to say he complied with Issues, not that he agreed with it.
Our current sexuality debate proves that it is perfectly allowed to have different opinions about this.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Kelvin Holdsworth might do well to read the Wikipedia article on celibacy before he claims pedantic – and inaccurate – distinctions between celibacy and abstinence. The Wikipedia article, drawing on authorities, observes that celibacy means either refraining from marriage or refraining from sex, and not the narrow meaning Kelvin tries to ascribe to it.

The rest of his article is equally muddled, indeed so muddled I find it impossible to say anything sensible about it.

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

cseltz

I comply with Issues, I certainly do not agree with it. Actually, I cannot think of anything else I resent quite as much.

Susannah Clark
Guest

“I found it impossible to say anything sensible…” Kate, I’ll leave that assessment to you. Personally I found Kelvin’s article intelligent and coherent. Intercourse, blow jobs, sex toys, kissing, sexual embrace, cuddles, masturbation in private… what constitutes ‘celibacy’? In biblical terms, none of the above are envisaged as ‘being celibate’: celibacy is setting oneself aside for God, instead of another close personal relationship. But the Church is only fixated with what people do with their bits, and for the sake of its rules for priests, if you’re not having intercourse, and you keep the rest of it quiet and hidden,… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Guest
Daniel Lamont

I read Kelvin Holdsworth’s post carefully and didn’t find it anywhere near as muddled as Kate does and my view seems to be shared by other commentators on his blog page. It would be helpful if Kate would spell out just why she finds it so muddled.

Brian Ralph
Guest
Brian Ralph

Kate, As a teacher-librarian, I always told students to take Wikipedia with a pinch of salt and NEVER to use it as a reference. As usual I find Kelvin Holdsworth’s article to be spot on. The Church of England is a laughing stock and the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot lie straight in bed. To ask any person, bishop, priest or layperson to divulge what they do in private is insulting and demeaning. After 65 years declaring I was a Christian to the amazement of most of my friends, straight and gay who almost never enter a church, I have recently… Read more »

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

“The Wikipedia article, drawing on authorities, observes that celibacy means either refraining from marriage or refraining from sex, and not the narrow meaning Kelvin tries to ascribe to it.” Not sure Kate that you have interpreted the Wikipedia article correctly. The key differences between celibacy and abstinence have to do with celibacy being a voluntary state, the result of a sacred vow. Others would add, as I do, that it is a response to a calling from God, and is based on religious conviction. If you regard celibacy as only meaning abstinence from sexual activity, then the question is what… Read more »

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

I am content to be compliant with neither Issues nor Wikipedia.

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

“…a way to avoid conduct that Christ has not warranted”

Flying in airplanes? Investing in the stock market? The list could go on and on, but it seems an odd way to judge the value of something, to say Christ has not actually warranted it. There are many things He did not mention, and homosexuality, with all the power any sexuality has for good or ill, is one of them.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

People seem to know exactly what the bishop thinks about Issues. Here is what he said. It sounds closer to Wes Hill and Ian Paul’s take on the matter than what one reads here.

Chamberlain said, “I don’t think we’ve reached a position where the church is going to be marrying same-sex couples,” he said. He declined to express objections to the C of E’s celibacy rule for gay clergy. “My observation of human beings over the years has shown me how much variety there is in the way people express their relationships. Physical expression is not for everyone.”

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Declined to express objections” is wonderfully diplomatic.
I think at the very least we’d need some further clarification of whether that meant that he agrees with it or that he simply refuses to criticise it in an interview with the Guardian.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

“I am content to be compliant with neither Issues nor Wikipedia.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between a writer and a social media pundit.

Thank you, Kelvin.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

I’m sorry, but the more I see of conservative Anglicanism, the clearer it is to me that they really, really, really, really *hate* (a word I use very rarely and with full emphasis on its actual content) GLBT’s, even if they are GLBT, and consider us a sort of lower life form from which neither wisdom nor sense can come.

So, why are we worrying about communion with them, again?

S Cooper
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S Cooper

Mark Brunson – institutional unity ….why? Because the big wigs want to be part of a big global thing with air travel to poor places….to look concerned?

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

good lord. when did the gospel become a rule book?

Kate
Guest
Kate

Issues teaches that sodomy is un-Scriptural. It doesn’t impose anything (nobody knows what gay couples do in private). Gay clergy are expected to though to publicly affirm the teaching of the Church – just as straight clergy are expected to affirm the teaching against sex outside marriage even though we all know of clergy who don’t feel bound by that teaching either. And while some disagree, Scripture is surprisingly clear in its prohibition of sodomy. The celibacy provision in Issues doesn’t stop same sex couples engaging in any other form of sexual intimacy. Stretching the definition of celibacy to include… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Kate, As a teacher-librarian, I always told students to take Wikipedia with a pinch of salt and NEVER to use it as a reference.” Brian, with respect you are wrong in your emphasis. Wikipedia is part of Web 2.0 and is a primary reference in relation to the common understanding of the meaning of words which is necessarily something best reflected by social media. At best dictionaries are a lagging authority and most students don’t consult (or have access to) the latest addendums to the OED but rely on what are, in essence, outdated references. This is the way in… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Not sure Kate that you have interpreted the Wikipedia article correctly. The key differences between celibacy and abstinence have to do with celibacy being a voluntary state, the result of a sacred vow. Others would add, as I do, that it is a response to a calling from God, and is based on religious conviction. If you regard celibacy as only meaning abstinence from sexual activity, then the question is what is the basis for this state. IIHS compels abstinence from sexual activity. That is not celibacy, although it does produce the same goods as celibacy in terms of denying… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

S Cooper: With you, I think that the desire for unity facilitates some less-than-admirable “wants.”

But I would include among them the desire of the UK and its Monarch to be at the centre of a worldwide Commonwealth.

Surely the Communion is part of that post-imperial project.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“To say to a whole group of people: you must remain celibate and obey our views on sex… and gay sexuality falls short of heterosexual ideals…” This is yet another aspect of the muddled thinking. It’s why I struggle so much with Kelvin’s article which is an amalgum of such muddles – a veritable muddle of muddles. Firstly recall that Anglicanism has a history of creative ambiguity. If you go back to Elizabethan times, the parallel was the Presence in the Eucharist. Physical but not metaphorical transubstantiation was ruled out but the rest was left vague so people made of… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

Kate, I still don’t understand why you think that Kelvin Holdsworth’s post is muddled but we will hav to disagree. Given that some commentators on this blog are, for example, members of the US Episcopal Church(TEC), the Anglican Church of Canada, the SEC, in whch church Kelvin Holdsworth is a priest, it is worth remembering that ‘Issues in Sexuality’ is a specifically Church of England document which was a statement made by the House of Bishops to Synod in 1991. It has no force outside that church unless it has been adopted by another member of the Anglican Communion

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“He surmises that the good Bishop thinks about celibacy as he does: as a way to avoid conduct that Christ has not warranted.” – cseitz – Nor did Christ deny its possibility, Christopher! One of the problems now is that many rigorous conservatives do not believe that it is possible for anyone to live together in a same-gender committed relationship without having sex – despite Bishop Nicholas’ testimony to the contrary. I guess we who are more liberal about all this just can’t win this argument anyway. I personally, can at least testify that it is indeed possible for a… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Ron Smith–my comment was a digest of what Wes Hill said. He is a Gay Christian. He does not believe sex between two men or two women is what Christ allows. I thought that was clear.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“I personally, can at least testify that it is indeed possible for a homosexual to live in a loving partnership with a heterosexual partner, in a marriage without sex. Now, what do you think of that possibility, Christopher?”

That is one of the most wonderful things I have read on TA in many a month. Someone who has been able to look past their own sexual orientation when choosing a partner and testimony that sex is not an essential for a loving marriage.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@cseitz, I’d never heard of the Bishop of Grantham until this story broke. I have no comment on his situation. I have no familiarity with, nor any particular interest in, the C of E’s internal polices on matters like this.

However, I notice that your views often mirror those of the Communion Secretary. Similar script, different venues. His views are often found in the house organ ACNS (see linked story above). Your views may often be found here, where many GLBTQ folks, and those of us who support them, also post.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“Scripture is surprisingly clear in its prohibition of sodomy.”

and

“but the hypothetical bishop himself might just mean he refrains from anal sex.”

Kate, you seem to have a more interesting Bible than mine. Can you point me to where anal sex and /or sodomy appears in the scriptures?

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Gillis — you made the exact same comment at another blog. I responded there.

I didn’t see +Josiah I-F passing on quotes from the Guardian, but perhaps I missed something.

Jo
Guest
Jo

My recollection is that sodomy, i.e. the sin of Sodom is condemned. The tricky bit is that the sin of Sodom is that her people were haughty and well fed, and did not help the poor and needy (paraphrasing Ezekiel).

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“My recollection is that sodomy, i.e. the sin of Sodom is condemned” Jo, you are correct the sin of Sodom is condemned and that sin taken to be variously haughtiness, violation of hospitality norms or forced sex with angels. ‘Sodomy’ with its specific meaning in English i.e. anal intercourse – is not mentioned in the Bible in either hetero- or homosexual contexts. Quite how the Scriptures can be ‘surprisingly clear in its prohibition’ of something they don’t actually mention I don’t know. Some parts of the scriptures are arguably not very happy with same-sex intercourse though to suggest that this… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ cseitz, “…you made the exact same comment at another blog. I responded there.”

Yes I did. You made one comment there consistent with the several you made here.

“I didn’t see +Josiah I-F passing on quotes from the Guardian, but perhaps I missed something.’

Quod scripsi, scripsi

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“Quod scripsi, scripsi”.

Thank you Pontius Pilate. But what was your point? Lots of people have similar views — Ian Paul, Wes Hill, +JI-F, myself and on it goes. That we would respond similarly means only that we haven’t changed our minds recently. Selah.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Ezekiel 16:50a refers to committing to’evah. This isn’t inhospitality and it isn’t sex with angels. I think it is wiser to say the Bible is wrong than to try to make it say something else.

וַֽתִּגְבְּהֶ֔ינָה וַתַּעֲשֶׂ֥ינָה תוֹעֵבָ֖ה לְפָנָ֑י

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“Ezekiel 16:50a refers to committing to’eva’

A word which is without a good English equivalent (though often translated as ‘abomination’) In the hundred or so times it appears in the Hebrew OT it most often refers to foreign cultic practices (e.g. Deut 7: 25-26; 18:9-12) particularly iIdolatory (Ez. 5:11, 6:9, 6:11, 7:20, 14:6, 20:7-8, 22:2, 44:6-7, 44:13) etc.

Not in a single instance does it refer to anal sex.

Jo
Guest
Jo

So how are you translating that word and on what basis?

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@cseitz, “Thank you Pontius Pilate.” lol! That’s always the comeback I get when I use that phrase. (I used to quote him whenever I was conscripted to take minutes for one or another of our clergy meetings). Pilate, as one of the gospel dramatis personae, has only a few lines, but they are such good lines, don’t you find? ( as an aside, is he speaking with divine inspiration do you think?) Anyway, that line one seemed good to me in the current context. “That we would respond similarly means only that we haven’t changed our minds recently.” That does… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

Abomination: to’evah.

As I said, it is a wiser move to reject the Bible when it says things like this than to try to make Sodom about bad table manners and inhospitality.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Dear Mr Gillis

I have known +JI-F for many years and count him as a friend. He helped run a conference on Islam we sponsored a couple years back. He is on the faculty at Wycliffe in Toronto.

Since he took up this office he seems very busy. I do not have any even informal “surrogacy” vis-a-vis the Communion Secretary. As I said, that many people share a common view on the character of marriage ought not to be a surprise. Even Gay Christians like Wes Hill.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, … Abomination: to’evah. As I said, it is a wiser move to reject the Bible when it says things like this than to try to make Sodom about bad table manners and inhospitality.” Fairly feeble logic here, surely you can’t be proposing this? Leviticus says and lying with male is to’evah; Ezekiel says Sodom was to’evah therefore the sin of Sodom was male on male sex? If man lying with male is to’evah in one verse it doesn’t mean that every time to’evah occurs in the OT… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Fr Andrew

Read any commentary on Ezekiel written from time immemorial. The reference to to’evah in Ezekiel is taken to mean what it means in Leviticus and in a vast array of other places.

You seem to be saying it has some special exotic meaning in Ezekiel: they committed sex with angelic beings or had inhospitable halitosis.

As I say, better to just reject Leviticus and Ezekiel and say these texts are wrong.

Tobias Haller
Guest

While it is clearly possible to apply the use of to’ebah in Ezekiel 16:50 to sodomy via a selective transition from Leviticus, that seems unlikely to be the author’s intent for a number of reasons; most importantly the larger context of the chapter. The address is to the many abominations of Jerusalem, which have exceeded those of her sister Sodom. Note two things: Jerusalem and Sodom are portrayed as women throughout, so a suggestion of a link with males lying with males seems unlikely. Nor is there any suggestion in the text that Jerusalem is guilty of that particular activity… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@cseitz, “…that many people share a common view on the character of marriage ought not to be a surprise.” Correct; but I think there is more to the current tempest in a teapot. Again, I have no opinion on the existential situation of the Bishop of Grantham. What one takes note of is the response from officialdom, and those who share officialdom’s concerns via whatever relationship. There is no better summary of this than the opening paragraph of the ACNS article (linked above): This kind of thing, whether from the Secretary or from kindred spirits, is not so much about… Read more »

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

In 21st century Anglicanism, on whom does this verse impose the requirement to kill all gay men violating this verse? Archbishops? Bishops? Seminary professors? Archdeacons? Priests? Any person in the pew?

It seems to me you can’t require a literal reading of the first half of the verse without requiring a literal meaning of the second half as well.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

I think the main point is that if Ezekiel said

“they acted haughtily and engaged in same sex activity and even had marriage equality blogs”

surely it wouldn’t matter in this discussion. If one is in favor of LGBTI causes, he or she is not going to change their view no matter what Ezekiel or Leviticus says. “Sodomite” may be a term rooted in history, and it may be how Ezekiel 16 has been consistently read–of course to make the point that Jerusalem’s sins were greater–but in the face of today’s cause, these are irrelevancies.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

You gotta watch Ezekiel, with Ezekiel as with the institutional church, there are wheels within wheels.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Thank you, Fr. Tobias, for demonstrating your ability on this blog to exceed the qualification to get past Christian Ethics 101. Also, thank you for your knowledge of both Greek and Hebrew – as well as showing a lot of common sense and Biblical compassion and proficiency in interpreting.

The proper use of the Bible is surely to inform us on God’s relationship to us; not to ‘clobber’.