Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 4 February 2017

David Monteith, Dean of Leicester, On Not Taking Note and Dreaming Dreams

Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark, Why we should value the true treasures of the Church

Archdruid Eileen Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley The Church of St Julian and St Sandy

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 ‘Good news!’ ‘Andrew there is no good news.’
Dear Bishops (an open letter suggesting you withdraw your report)

Helen King So, what was the point of all that?

Jeremy Pemberton From the Choir Stalls Anglican Alternative Facts

Savi Hensman Ekklesia Sexuality, gender and disrespect for scripture

Letters to the Church Magazine: February 2017

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Susannah Clark
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Superb blog by the Dean of Leicester: “The gap between the publicly stated positions of the Church of England and the reality of life on the ground will grow. Conservative talk of exercising more discipline or legal sanction in the light of such freedoms against LGBT people will mostly not happen because of cost and because of the huge PR fallout caused by such actions – the majority of society would find such action incomprehensible.” Comparing the challenges to the Good Friday Agreement he writes: “A decision to move forward through a genuine coexistence of different views on sexuality could… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Over at Theoreo, Andrew Lightbown writes,”It is not clear why episcopal unity has become the altar on which distributive justice has been sacrificed.”

To the contrary, it is all too clear, although Andrew may be too polite to connect the dots explicitly.

The bishops of the Church of England are trying to preserve Canterbury’s Communion role. And they are doing so at the expense of thousands of English people who wish to be married in church.

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

Being extremely disappointed that the bishops have produced something so inadequate, I am deeply grateful for the intelligence and good sense of the blogger who wrote ‘So, what was the point of all that’. The bishops should read her and take note.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Jeremy is right on the button with his analysis of ‘Anglican Alternative Facts’. REAL FACT: At least half the members of the Church of England accept and affirm gay and lesbian sexuality, reflecting the acceptance that society at large has developed. ALTERNATIVE FACT: The Church of England believes such and such (as is often said, as if their is a uniform position on human sexuality – there isn’t – the attempt to impose uniformity was rejected when the Anglican Covenant was voted down. ALTERNATIVE FACT: The bishops believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Well, we all… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

The lived reality is that half the Church of England has no problem with lesbian and gay sexuality. The lived reality is that there is no uniform position on these issues. The lived reality is that lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, gender queer, and non-binary people are being marginalised in the Church, sanctioned, faced with consequences, for… living according to the law of the land, loving, serving, sharing with other Christians, and generally being as moral and decent as anyone else. Society increasingly ‘gets’ this. These are not ‘alternative facts’. These are lived realities, and our actual lives. Lives accepted by… Read more »

Helen King
Guest
Helen King

Thanks Flora (that’s my blog you commented on). I’m still somewhere unpleasant, between upset and angry, about the waste of time and money caused by diocesan SCs, but on balance I think the effort I put into preparing and attending and blogging about it all was helpful in that it made me engage rather than seeing all this as ‘not my problem’. And it made me think: a lot!

Pam
Guest
Pam

As an ardent letter-writer, Letters to the Church Magazine struck a chord. There was some fine grammar in there. I have in my possession a small tome called “the little green grammar book” by Mark Tredinnick. It’ll help a great deal, I think.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Rather remiss of TA not to mention that Helen King wrote the Shared Conversations reflections. It could easily have been mistaken for Andrew Lightbown’s work.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Ah, Archdruid Eileen. The Wee Worship Book. Is that related to the Book of Exodus?

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

Jeremy – think I was trying to mix politeness with a bit of irony!

Peter Owen
Guest

I’ve added Helen King’s name to her piece.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Andrew–Understood.

I tend to be more direct. (Especially if I have lost patience.)

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Andrew Lightbrown says “I understand that some (perhaps even many) bishops are not happy with the report” This is cowardice of the most abject sort. To stand alongside a document, but then leak out unattributably that you might not actually stand alongside it, is moral cowardice. It is the act of men who are frightened of the consequences of doing right, but are afraid of even appearing afraid, so attempt to be brave in secret in the hope of salving their conscience. My Dutch neighbour’s parents, who are of the wartime generation, had a mordant line: “everyone we know says… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Okay Interested Observer, Then let’s not stop at Bishops. What about priests who are strongly LGBT-affirming, including those who post here? Is it morally courageous to submit to the line the Church Establishment takes? If in all good conscience they believe that lesbian and gay people should have their marital relationships blessed in church, like any heterosexual marriage, then do they do that… before the whole church community? And to go one step further, if in all conscience they believe it is morally wrong to deny gay and lesbian people marriage in church (regardless of the law), are they willing… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“This is cowardice of the most abject sort. To stand alongside a document, but then leak out unattributably that you might not actually stand alongside it, is moral cowardice. It is the act of men who are frightened of the consequences of doing right, but are afraid of even appearing afraid, so attempt to be brave in secret in the hope of salving their conscience.” For Christians, it should not be about salving conscience it should be fear of judgement by the Lord and distress at causing Him distress. I think we all dread the question, “So you realised that… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Couldn’t agree more, Interested Observer.

If the bishops wholeheartedly swung behind the report out of a belief in collegiality and unity, then much as I’d disagree, I could at least respect their integrity, as I can respect the integrity of evangelicals who take a position against their own inclinations.

To instead swing behind it in order to get on, while simultaneously undermining it safe behind a cloak of anonymity, is contemptible.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“…in down-playing the terror of divine judgement and the agony of knowing our sinful nature causes Him distress, I think liberal Christianity can cause people to view moral ambiguity as something that we can get away with rather than considering how it all appears to God.”

A statement most catholic Christians will embrace as the Gospel, its threshold and its promise, under the Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Sunday blessings.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“And to go one step further, if in all conscience they believe it is morally wrong to deny gay and lesbian people marriage in church (regardless of the law), are they willing to go ahead and marry couples who, simply, love each other?” Susannah, the issue is not willingness per se, but ability. A marriage is a legal contract. If I conducted a marriage service for you and your girl in my church, it would be a celebration of your love, but in the eyes of the law it wouldn’t be a marriage. It’s not the case that we’d be… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Susannah,
affirming priests have their hands tied behind their backs, they cannot legally marry you in their churches. But if you are looking for a full service of blessing, yes, there are quite a few who have publicly stated that they have offered them and will continue to do so.
Most can be found via the Changing Attitude page on Facebook.
If you’re seriously looking into this, email me (Simon can give you my address) and I will try and help you find someone for you.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

True about the legal effect, Fr. Andrew, but is there anything stopping priests from conducting marriage services for same-sex couples? It wouldn’t have legal weight, but it’d be a powerful symbolic challenge to the church’s unjust and oppressive teaching. Susannah’s correct about strength in numbers. If there’s a network of rectors (with freehold, for added protection) marrying same-sex couples, deposing them all wouldn’t be practical, even if it’s legal. Equal ordination in TEC was driven by grassroots rebellion against the official teaching. With the last slender hope of change from above now closed off in the CoE, it’s clear that,… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Susannah, the issue is not willingness per se, but ability. A marriage is a legal contract. If I conducted a marriage service for you and your girl in my church, it would be a celebration of your love, but in the eyes of the law it wouldn’t be a marriage. It’s not the case that we’d be ‘breaking the law’ but you’d still be married: you would not be married.” Hindus cannot marry in temple either so what they do is have a quiet civil ceremony (to tick the law box) with a couple of witnesses, then a religious ceremony… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“If I conducted a marriage service for you and your girl in my church, it would be a celebration of your love, but in the eyes of the law it wouldn’t be a marriage.” And? There are many religious marriages that take place which do not result in a legal marriage, and people simply stop off at the registry office on the way to or from the temple/meeting hall/gurdwara/mosque/etc (or not, which is a whole other, and somewhat unrelated, issue). I suspect that for those couples, the ceremony in their place of worship, even if legally empty, is the spiritually… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

The protection of the freehold is, however, on the way out. No one who has taken up a post since 1 February 2011 has the freehold. That’s six years ago now, and means that a quite large percentage of clergy hold office under common tenure, not freehold. Inevitably that it is going to affect the recently-ordained more than those who were ordained a long time ago, and (in general) the younger more than the older.

That probably gives them significantly less protection.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Interested Observer. Nobody’s making excuses here, nor attempting to hide behind legalism. The time is very definitely for action, but accusing on-side clergy of cowardice will move us forward not one inch. I would suggest reading what was written rather than imputing motives which are not there. The suggestion of Susannah’s was about marriage not about a service after a civil marriage. They are two different things and what LGBT should have the right to is nothing less than the former. There are many clergy who would do the equivalent of ‘stopping off after the registry office’ or Kate’s Hindu… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“There are many religious marriages that take place which do not result in a legal marriage, and people simply stop off at the registry office on the way to or from the temple/meeting hall/gurdwara/mosque/etc” The comparison is good but not exact. The difference, of course, is that where everyone who wishes to be married in hall, gurdwaras etc. must go to the registry office first to contract a legal marriage, that isn’t the case in the Church of England. Opposite sex couples do not have to go to the registry office first. I don’t think LGBT couples should be satisfied… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“If it were the case that a SSM in a C of E church was legally valid, even if not approved of by the Church, even if the bishops had threatened discipline, excommunication or whatever, then go for it regardless of episcopal consequences. The action would have a tangible effect and real power. But that isn’t the case, and what you’re asking for is for LGBT couples to go for something less than heterosexual ones.” Not less. Jesus taught us to look at the fruit not doctrinal detail. Applying His teaching, the couple would have been married before God and… Read more »

Edward Prebble
Guest
Edward Prebble

I hesitate to come into a thread after some 30 comments, and interrupt an interesting debate, but I would like to draw attention to the outstanding (as usual) article by Savi Hensman.
It’s a bit long, but her first-class review and history of an Anglican approach to biblical interpretation deserves wide notice.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Having perused the common tenure/freehold situation, the new system appears to be functionally similar to the old freehold rules. While new rectors are employed under common tenure, provided the living hasn’t been suspended, they can still hold freehold positions. Bishops can’t fire them at-will, or run down the clock on a fixed contract: they have to prove misconduct before a tribunal.

It’s not risk-free, but if enough rectors sign on, may be viable. Something to explore further, at least.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Just to be clear, I have not yet taken time to read, “Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations.” I’m not likely to get to it anytime soon. Given the long list of things one wishes to read, there just isn’t motivation to read a report by bishops from elsewhere in The Communion, especially one that has been panned by folks in the know before the ink has even dried. However, I did read carefully the excellent article linked here by Savi Hensman, Sexuality, Gender and Disrespect for Scripture. The article in terms of its general applicability (and… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Rod,
I would read it because it is the position the Archbishop of Canterbury clearly intends to adopt not just in England, but as an Instrument of Communion.

James,

I just wish just one diocesan bishop would break ranks and then everyone in his/her see could rebel with impunity.

Pam
Guest
Pam

I’ve finally got around to reading Savi Hensman’s excellent article. I believe God speaks to each of us, individually, through the Scriptures. It’s not the only way God speaks to us but interaction with Scripture is central to my relationship with God. It’s intensely personal – to pray and to read Scripture, to think about my particular situation in relation to what God is saying to me. The words ‘authority’ and ‘obedience’ are important in a classroom. God’s Word is more than that. Obedience without love and authority without warmth: I don’t want or need to go there.

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

Yes, Savitri’s little compendium is excellent, but does it not invalidate the letter-writing campaign? If bishops and synod representatives do not take any note of such well presented criticism, what’s a letter going to achieve? Mine’s ready but I’m not sure I’ll send it.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Kate, “I would read it because it is the position the Archbishop of Canterbury clearly intends to adopt not just in England, but as an Instrument of Communion.” I suspect there is little chance of Archbishop Welby’s control politics fronted as “evangelical” theology becoming ascendant in Canada going forward. Notwithstanding, reading the report is not going to tell me anything new, not politically, not theologically. The spoiler alerts are everywhere. I’ve just recently dusted off an old classic, published in 1969, Naming the Whirlwind, by Langdon Gilkey. Reading it now, the book is in one sense a period piece.… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

Lorenzo, please do write – personal communication makes a difference.

Susannah Clark
Guest

If I wanted a civil marriage I could get one today. What I’m asking for is a Christian marriage, before God, in the presence of God’s people, in church. That, to me, is the really significant marriage ceremony. Not some civil paper signing in a registry office. Christianity is supposed to promote marriage as a blessing. I am not at all impressed by being encouraged to go and get a civil piece of paper, and then be grateful for a blessing afterwards. I don’t care, either, if the marriage in church isn’t viewed as ‘legal’ by the politicians. It would… Read more »