Monday, 7 May 2007

Akinola replies to Williams

Archbishop Peter Akinola has replied to Rowan Williams’ letter to him concerning his US visit.

The full letter is contained in a press release on the Nigerian provincial website. (The full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter has not been released so far.)

The reply letter is reproduced here below the fold.

Episcopal News Service reports on the weekend at Nigerian Primate proceeds with CANA installation.

Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace, London

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

My dear Rowan,

Grace and Peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus the Christ.

I have received your note expressing your reservations regarding my plans to install Bishop Martyn Minns as the first Missionary Bishop of CANA. Even though your spokesmen have publicized the letter and its general content I did not actually receive it until after the ceremony. I do, however, want to respond to your concerns and clarify the situation with regard to CANA. I am also enclosing a copy of my most recent letter to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori.

We are a deeply divided Communion. As leaders of the Communion we have all spent enormous amounts of time, travelled huge distances - sometimes at great risk, and expended much needed financial resources in endless meetings, communiqués and reports – Lambeth Palace 2003, Dromantine 2005, Nottingham 2006 and Dar es Salaam 2007. We have developed numerous proposals, established various task forces and yet the division has only deepened. The decisions, actions, defiance and continuing intransigence of The Episcopal Church are at the heart of our crisis.

We have all sought ways to respond to the situation. As you well know the Church of Nigeria established CANA as a way for Nigerian congregations and other alienated Anglicans in North America to stay in the Communion. This is not something that brings any advantage to us – neither financial nor political. We have actually found it to be a very costly initiative and yet we believe that we have no other choice if we are to remain faithful to the gospel mandate. As I stated to you, and all of the primates in Dar es Salaam, although CANA is an initiative of the Church of Nigeria – and therefore a bonafide branch of the Communion - we have no desire to cling to it. CANA is for the Communion and we are more than happy to surrender it to the Communion once the conditions that prompted our division have been overturned.

We have sought to respond in a measured way. We delayed the election of our first CANA bishop until after General Convention 2006 to give The Episcopal Church every opportunity to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor report – to no avail. At the last meeting of the Church of Nigeria House of Bishops we deferred a decision regarding the election of additional suffragans for CANA out of respect for the Dar es Salaam process.

Sadly we have seen no such respect from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. Their most recent statement was both insulting and condescending and makes very clear that they have no intention of listening to the voice of the rest of the Communion. They are determined to pursue their own unbiblical agenda and exacerbate our current divisions.

In the middle of all of this the Lord’s name has been dishonoured. If we fail to act, many will be lost to the church and thousands of souls will be imperilled. This we cannot and will not allow to happen. It is imperative that we continue to protect those at most risk while we seek a way forward that will offer hope for the future of our beleaguered Communion. It is to this vision that we in the Church of Nigeria and CANA remain committed.

Be assured of my prayers.
Sincerely,
Signed,

The Most Revd. Peter J Akinola, CON, DD
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria.

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Comments

I think that one problem we have in communicating with Bishop Akinola is that we have not set moral standards for gay behavior. We keep saying, "Gay is OK, Gay is God-given, etc." but we never say "The only God-given way of expressing homosexuality is within a lifelong, sexually exclusive relationship." When have we ever offered a word of discipline to the gay community? When have we ever condemned promiscuity and drug use in the gay community? (Yes, yes, oh golly yes, straights do these, too.) When have we pointed out that gay couples coming to our community for blessing are going to be asked to vow "forsaking all others, 'til death do us part?" And how many gays really want to give up the freedom of their subculture in order to enter into a lifelong, sexually exclusive relationship? Maybe Bishop Akinola needs to see that our acceptance of gays is tempered with accountability.

Posted by: James on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 12:13am BST

Whenever someone starts talking about imperiled souls my skin crawls. Maybe it's the suggestion that we can somehow horde up souls or that saving them is up to us to begin with. It conveys the sense that SuperAkinola needs to swoop down and save imperiled Episcopalians, with Martyn Minns as Lois Lane. (There's a comic book for you...++Akinola in blue tights, +VGR as Lex Luthor. Kryptonite wouldn't kill SuperAkinola, it would just make him liberal.) Or maybe it's just that people who talk about imperiled souls rarely seem genuinely concerned with anyone's soul at all.

Posted by: Aaron on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 12:26am BST

What I still cannot quite figure out is just how quickly we get, in so few sentences, from straight conservative believers being already superior and sanctified by God because they alone are fulfilling God's wonderful idealized plans for all of humanity - to having to come rescue the conservative Virginia straight believers, to them all being in horrible peril, to the USA believers all being in such horrible peril, to the whole Anglican Communion being in such great peril.

Can this sense of terrible peril be a secret stand-in, substituting for the secret titillations which traditional views presume are especially innate to not being straight?

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 12:47am BST

May the Lord have mercy on Peter Abuja (and upon us all). :-(

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 2:46am BST

If thousands of souls will be imperilled, then it's no good setting up a tiny add-on sect in some corner of the USA. He wants to get on with going after the whole institution. So he is offering a way forward, full of arrogance, deciding what is and is not unbiblical for anyone and everyone else.

So the Williams project has now completely failed. These actions are hardly the Archbishop's view of bringing everyone around the table, to keep talking, so that change can happen together through some regulative process - not that this was the way that Anglicans have managed change in any case. But no one has to accept what Akinola interprets, and should not. Nearly two hundred years of biblical scholarship as a part of Anglican reasoning can never be overturned by this man and his attempted impositions.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 3:25am BST

"Sadly we have seen no such respect from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. Their most recent statement was both insulting and condescending and makes very clear that they have no intention of listening to the voice of the rest of the Communion. They are determined to pursue their own unbiblical agenda and exacerbate our current divisions."

Akinola is not easy to argue with. The alleged "unbiblical agenda" is a sticking-point on which he will not yield, and with Lambeth, Windsor and Tanzania under his belt he feels he is fully warranted in his dramatic mission -- a mission necessitated only by present exceptional circumstances.

The Anglican Communion, as its views are expressed in Lambeth 1.10, agrees with Akinola that homosexual activity is incompatible with fidelity to Scripture. This undercuts all the pleas for dialogue and reasoning issued by Rowan Williams. It is Akinola's trump card.


Posted by: Joseph O'Leary on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 5:05am BST

It is my feeling that CANA and its foreign-born leaders (leaders obviously quite unfamiliar with American ecclesiastical culture and values) are engaging in a breathtaking act of hubris to attempt to write off as total reprobates over two million souls (in The Episcopal Church), to attempt to take possession/ownership of church properties (some properties having been established by TEC over two centuries ago), and (in a bizarre act of 21st century reverse colonization) to unilaterally claim to be the rightful and sole spiritual heirs of Anglicanism in the USA. All of this is based on a negative and deepy pathological hatred of homosexual persons as opposed to a positive missionary affirmation that Jesus is Lord. I don't, for one minute, believe this fanatical and corrupt religious movement is divinely inspired. This is probably the most divisive and damaging crisis I've ever seen in the Church. I look forward to the time when these uncharitable and mischievous actions come to nought. It seems as though members of TEC have tolerated significant acting out by CANA leaders. The time has come to confront these sick persons, to use unrestrained civil and canonical remedies, and to insist that these so-called bishops (with their behavioral characteristics of the Taliban) return to their own neglected national churches (and cease from their egregious violation of diocesan and national boundaries). We need not act out of malice or revenge. Because we love these misguided individuals, we will hold them accountable.

Posted by: Mark on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 7:35am BST

++Akinola seems very reasonable - there is little point pretending that TEC has not given a clear answer already to the Tanzania Communique....is there?

(Unless, like the ABC, people still hope that TEC can be brought into line with Tanzania?)

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 8:19am BST

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s letter to her Nigerian counterpart starts:

“My dear Archbishop Akinola”

ending: “Your servant in Christ”.

Archbishop Akinola’s letter to their primus starts:

“My dear Rowan,

Grace and Peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus the Christ.

I have received your note…“

ending: “Be assured of my prayers”.

Rather telling, don’t you think?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 8:27am BST

Mark speaks for me above.
"Pathological hatred for homosexual persons" is the driving force behind that whole movement, and the glue that holds them together. They need us as enemies. Without us, they'd devour each other.

I would agree with James above about the ideal for homosexual relationships based on fidelity and foresaking all others. But, those exhortations to a good and holy life don't mean much when LGBTs are shut out from the sacramental life of the Church and its pastoral care for themselves and for their relationships. I would suggest that the pathologies of drug and alchohol abuse that we see in the gay community are a consequence, more than a cause, of that alienation.

Posted by: counterlight on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 12:47pm BST

James asks: "When have we ever offered a word of discipline to the gay community? When have we ever condemned promiscuity and drug use in the gay community?"

We've heard nothing but condemnation of gays from the church so I don't really know where you're coming from with this. Is condemnation the correct pastoral response to promiscuity and drug use? Unsafe activities in the gay community often arise because of a self-hatred brought on by homophobia, whether from the church or society as a whole. It's a vicious circle.

"When have we pointed out that gay couples coming to our community for blessing are going to be asked to vow "forsaking all others, 'til death do us part?"

Some may wish to commit to this. But aren't we being a little hypocritical to impose this when half of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce?

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 12:58pm BST

James- If the rabid parts within Church were to offer something other than repeated selective scriptural passages for total condemnation, you might see less of my bretheren frequenting bars, baths and the bushes. And an admittance of the straight community's failure to achieve these "moral standards" as you call them might give religion a more humane and credible face.

But as long as the Church is percieved by those outside of it as a thin veneer of hatred and fear, most of us will continue to spend our Sunday mornings sipping latte', reading the Times and going occasionally to the local art museum/orchestra to get our dose of the arts.

And remember, some of us in the LGBT have asked to participate in these "moral standards", only to get a leader in the AC to come over here to the U. S. and give birth to a sect of it out of despisal, abhorance and persecution of God's given children in reaction of us asking for this.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 1:20pm BST

Well, see, souls ARE in danger of being "lost" and, since the whole purpose of Christianity is to get as many people as possible into the Heavenly Playground after they die, which is done by making sure they follow the rules, then what else can my Lord of Abuja do? All these poor white people are in danger of Hell, just like their ancestors believed of HIS ancestors. He's merely returning the colonial favour and bringing darkest America to Christ.

We do need to insist on the same rules for gay relationships as for striaght ones, but that won't be sufficient since a gay relationship can NEVER be a good thing, regardless of the mutual Christlike love and self sacrifice shown, according to ++Akinola. The continuation of the fiction that it is TEC only that is to blame is not helping. Perhaps if any on +Akinola's side had bothered to try to understand gay people as they had been asked to do by several Lambeth conferences, they would be kinder in how they preach their message, and would not be so impervious to the hurt they are causing. But that would have put them at risk of seeing gay people as human and deserving of compassion, some might even have feared changing their minds. Can't be led astray by human weaknesses like compassion and empathy, God knows! See, if you admit gay people are human, and thus your neighbour, you then have to deal with that unpleasant commandment to love them, and that's just asking too much! NO, it's all TEC's fault! I'm waiting for the justification of jailing gay people as an expression of Christian love.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 1:27pm BST

The Episcopal Church has spoken on the matter of moral standards for sexual behavior for people in committed relationships both inside and outside of marriage.

At the General Convention in Denver in 2000, the following statements were part of a larger resolution:

Resolved, We acknowledge that while the issues of human sexuality are not yet resolved, there are currently couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in marriage and couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in other life-long committed relationships; and be it further

Resolved, We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God; and be it further

Resolved, We denounce promiscuity, exploitation, and abusiveness in the relationships of any of our members, etc.

The descriptive phrases about fidelity, etc. were repeated in another resolution passed at GC 2003.

Posted by: John N Wall on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 1:41pm BST

NP - Considering that Tanzania was written to keep ++Akinola happy, and really only reports that "some" and "many" of the Primates have issues it fails to move me.
That ++Akinola's in violation of Lambeth 1-10 as well as the '78 and '88 calls for pastoral care and listening is far more important, in that it shows just how little he really cares about the process.

My question is why don't we start lobbying against his entry visas?

Posted by: John Robison on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 1:46pm BST

Goran, thanks for pointing the addresses and closings on the letter. It is very telling.

I have to fully agree with Aaron. Do we save ourselves?

Loved the superakinola story.

to James. Holding gays accountable can only be established when they are fully integrated into society, without prejudice. The gay subculture isn't always pretty, but it's a tad more excepting than people like Akinola's groupies.
Many people live in the closet for fear of rejection, loss of friends and family etc...
When someone can be who they are and accepted, then maybe we can talk what's acceptable and what's not (personally my values may not be yours so I have issues with imposing them on others).

Posted by: BobinWashPA on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 2:35pm BST

James -

I think that these points have been made. I have never heard a representative of those arguing for the full inclusion of gay people in the church or the blessing of same-sex couples to define the relationships by anything other than monogamy, fidelity, mutual love, and with the intent for the relationship to be life long.

I will agree and have witnessed that in some of our churches this point is not well made or emphasized. In come churches there is not an overt call for a certain moral code to be honored among gay people, but in those same churches I haven't heard such a call to heterosexuals, either.

Archbishop Akinola will not believe that such fidelity and commitment were possible among gay couples, just like many in our own country do not. It doesn't make a difference to them - all same-sex relationships no matter how faithful, mutual, loving, life-long, etc., are evil and forbidden.

Posted by: Bob G+ on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 3:58pm BST

It is and would be a trump card if it were not for even Rowan Williams admitting the possibility of change through some sort of rule of process, or by coming around the table some other way for as long as possible. None of these declarations are set in stone. OK, spades are trumps and Akinola is playing some spades - but they are low cards.

He is playing his cards. TEC has said what cards it can play according to its qualified episcopacy, in other words some of its cards are held by other players who cannot arrive until after 30 September, and that they have their choices according to their game play. Rowan Williams, of course, plays very slowly. A deadline was set for 30 September, but given the cards TEC is likely to play he is himself likely to slow the game down beyond any such deadline. Akinola may find he has played plenty of cards and, subsequently, runs out, to find a few higher ones being put down.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 4:29pm BST

Refering to a so-called "conservative" belief that "homosexuality" is unbiblical as being "...based upon a negative and deeply pathological hatred of homosexual persons..." and the implication that it is "...oppossed to the missionary affirmation that Jesus is Lord." is inflamatory and untrue. Personally I see the argument for same-sex orientation from scripture as difficult and precarious... some of the arguments undermines the place of scripture in our tradition. If scripture is nothing more than a redaction based on any number of predisposed predjudices it becomes nothing but sand through our fingers... and if the creeds can't be trusted because the concepts embodied in them are based on the superstitions and fears of an earlier generation then exactly what do we believe?
I believe in standing firm for the civil rights for same-sex orientation persons, I believe in maintaining the dignity of all persons. I believe the poor must be protected, the least must be championed, the degraded must be lifted to honor but... I stop short at the construct for "full-inclusion". I think it's a specious argument to say that "full-inclusion" is in line with the call and paradigm of the Gospel. I tremble at the reading of the Gospel at it's exclusivity as much as I thrill at it's inclusivity.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 8:39pm BST

It is important to note that many gay spokesmen, such as Michael Signorile, Dan Savage, and others do not see lifelong, sexually exclusive relationships as the gay ideal. Many gays interpret "monogamy" as a type of open relationship.

I think that Bishop Akinola might be worried that a redefinition of traditional sexual standards for both straights and gays is being brought into the church under the banner of gay acceptance. We need to be clear that while being gay is not sinful, sex outside of a lifelong, sexually exclusive relationship is sinful--for everyone.

I support gay marriage, but I am not in favor of "special rules for special people." I would say that most of the world misinterprets our acceptance of gays as an acceptance of all types of gay behavior, and we need to change that misinterpretation by holding gays (and straights) accountable for sinful behavior.

Posted by: James on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 9:03pm BST

Why waste so much time on the psychopath of Abuja?

Back in the early sixties, after J.A.T. Robinson published Honest to God, which caused an outrage among evagelicals and fundamentalists, my professor of Philosophy (at a Theological Union, which included an off-shoot of the Gregorian University), Max Horkheimer, a Torah-observant Jew, declared himself an "atheist". He invited Bishop Robinson to lecture at the University of Frankfurt and gave him a "hero's welcome". Why?

As fundamentalists reacted to the "death of God theology" (i.e., "our image of God must go"!), atheism seemed to be the only option to a practising Jew who took seriously the prohibition to image God, inasmuch as we always create God in our own image.

That is certainly true today. Peter Jasper Akinola and the Martyn Minns of this world create God in their own image, a hateful God who has singled out gays and lesbians for "special treatment" and exclusion. The love of the Triune God is not in Akinola and his ilk, inasmuch as their theology is one of excluding God's own children, who happen innately to be of a different sexual orientation. I personally find myself more comfortable in the company of atheists, who may be true seekers, like Max Horkheimer, than in the company of the "know-it-all" (even the mind of God!), Bible-thumping Akinolas and Minns idolaters.

Posted by: John Henry on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 10:12pm BST

James - clearly monogamy is NOT an open relationship, and frankly, I think its a bit tiresome to hear those of a libertarian opinion presented as the only gay voice. Why do you think we worked so hard to achieve civil partnerships? Because many of us want committed relationships and want them to be recognised so that we too can partake in the rights and responsibilities of mainstream society

I agree that we need to be promoting positive values for gay relationships, but to be honest, the church doesn't regard these as any more acceptable than us sleeping around - this is the problem.

But I am against special rules as well. I think that committed relationships is the ideal and should be promoted. Being realistic, I think that just about everyone irrespective of sexuality is likely to have some sexual experience before marriage and that doesn't worry me unduly. For a gay person who is exploring their sexuality, its likely to be part of the exploration procedure, but I think we need to be a bit more realistic about its place in anyone's emerging sexual awareness.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 10:36pm BST

James, just STOP: you are only betraying your complete *ignorance* LGBT ***Anglicans*** (i.e., this is not about some "gay subculture" somewhere.)

This is about Real Live ***Christians***, who look to their ***Anglican priests&bishops*** (and lay leaders), NOT "Michael Signorile, Dan Savage" (Moreover, your phrase "not in favor of 'special rules for special people'" is straight {ahem} out of the "No Special Rights"---conservative euphemism for "no EQUAL rights"---campaigns of the 1980s and 90s)

Get to know *real* LGBT Anglicans, and quit knocking over the "promiscuous gay" Boogey (Straw) Man, would you? LGBT Anglicans want the ONE AND ONLY form of ***Christian marriage***: "forsaking all others" clause intact!

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 10:53pm BST

Counterlight suggested that "...the pathologies of drug and alchohol abuse that we see in the gay community are a consequence, more than a cause, of that alienation." My research into bullying within faith communities found a lot of evidence to support this postulation.

It is fair to state that GLBTs have a higher risk of abuse or distress. What is ignored by some souls are the causes versus the effects.

It is made blurrier because some souls are more prone to addictive or sabotaging behaviours than others. Some souls glibly associate the problems with a particular group e.g. females, GLBTs, Muslims/Jews/Christians, liberals, the poor. Better to acknowledge that behaviours are on a continuum and smattered throughout different communities. Thus the problems of abuse and distress are also found in all the communities and classifications.

Certain situations increase the propensity for dysfunctionality to occur e.g. poverty, unfair power structures (e.g. pimp-prostitute, abusive spouse/parent, intimidating teacher/priest/carer over orphans/students).

There is a realisation that safety requires that no soul is disempowered by repressive structures; there are safe means of getting refuge from abusive souls, there exists a vocabulary in the public sphere of what some souls are capable of doing behind closed doors, the mechanisms to identify and rescue souls who are being abused are in place and regularly oiled.

There needs to be a minimum standard of justice that is available to all souls. In turn, each soul needs to be accountable for not bringing harm to others and only entering into acts with genuine mutual consent.

For those souls who worry about the persecution of GLBTs. They might be the front line in this particular debate. However, take a step back and you will see other groups are also targetted for spiritual slavery by these camps e.g. women.

There is an element whose theology is premised on a rejection of everything of this earth - first starting with Eve but then rippling out to everything else.

They challenge that souls do not understand how seriously God takes sin. Jesus is proof of that.

God despises priestly castes who deny Jesus' grace to others, put a price on redemption, and refuse to wipe the slate clean. It is not just GLBTs. They desire slaves and sycophants. They do not desire the cohabitated peace promised in the scriptures.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 11:26pm BST

The continued attempts of the ABC other primates to continue dialog with Archbishop Peter Akinola are admirable. However, when does prayerful, passive engagement become a cover for a cowardly avoidance of necessary confrontation?

Is it acceptable to for a religious leader, from an oil rich country with a corrupt government and 87,000,000 living in abject poverty, to fly all over the world in the effort to dismantle a sister church over a single issue? Is it acceptable to consort with a religious leader who publicly supports legislation that represents a gross violation of human rights?

If the ABC and other Primates continue efforts to pacify someone like Akinola, at the expense of those who too often are the targets of abuse, and at the expense of the Church’s efforts to address the many global challenges facing us, then why wouldn’t reasonable people seek to serve God outside of the Church, through worthwhile secular charitable institutions?

It seems that direct confrontation may be the only way forward. To do otherwise is to display a moral lack of courage which may, over time, encourage reasonable people to seek God in the better parts of the secular world.

Posted by: Michael P on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 1:25am BST

"But aren't we being a little hypocritical to impose this when half of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce?" - Hugh of Lincoln

There is a huge difference between a divorce, ending a committed relationship or marriage, and the partners or spouses having adulterous relationships during the course of their committed relationship or marriage.

I hope that Hugh appreciates that.

That would be the key to forcing fundamentalists to recognize that we are not talking about one-night stands (heterosexual or homosexual), or trysts of the months (for either), or anything like that. We are talking about people who love each other, and whose only difference is that one group is oriented towards male/female relationships, and the other is oriented towards same sex relationships.

If that cannot be made clear, and reinforced, then we would give the fundamentalist radicals in the Anglican Communion all the excuse to pick off the middle of the road Anglicans.

Let's not make it easy for them to do that by denying that there is a certain issue of Christian morality, which transcends sexual orientation, that we all need to accept and promote in order to buttress the just cause of equal treatment for homosexual persons in the Church.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 2:30am BST

Where has the Episcopal church made it clear that its acceptance of gays is underscored by a clear call to gays that homosexuality is to be expressed within a lifelong, sexually exclusive relationship? Bishop Akinola, as well as many Christians in other denominations, get their picture of the gay community from pictures of Pride parades. OK, OK, that's not fair, but that's what they see. How do we tell them, no, that's not what we mean--we are talking about "forsaking all others, 'til death do us part."

When has Bishop Akinola or anyone else seen a gay couple say those vows publicly, supported by their community? It's not illegal--so why not do it? Why don't gays make those vows visible so that those lifelong, sexually exclusive couples become the norm instead of the flamboyant Pride movement?

Society didn't let women vote--Susan B. Anthony voted anyway. Society didn't let slaves go to school--Frederick Douglass learned anyway. Society wouldn't let blacks sit at the front of the bus--Rosa Parks sat down anyway. Society won't give gays legal recognition for vows of lifelong, sexually exclusive relationships--do it anyway. Get it started.

Posted by: James on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 3:52am BST

James,
have you only recently joined this conversation?
You may not know that Bishop Akinola actively supports a law currently going through parliament in Nigeria, that would make it illegal for celibate homosexuals to meet in public. They and their supporters (i.e. their families meeting them for a coffee) could then be jailed for up to 5 years. In a Nigerian jail that is likely to be a death sentence for a gay person.

If you would like to know more about what it means to be gay in Nigeria you should listen to what my brother Davis Mac-Iyalla has to say. The only "out" gay in Nigeria he has been subject to a defamation campaign by his own church and is now living in exile. Davis is actively campaigning for the acceptance of lifelong stable and faithful same sex relationships. In the process, he is risking his life very day.

You can find many threads involving Davis in the archives of this forum.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 8:19am BST

Jerry

I'm not quite sure of your slant. I agree that adultery is terrible (there are multiple forms of adultery) - ask any spouse who has "lost" their partner to their business or career.

Adultery is disgusting whenever any two souls have committed to monogamy. To find that their partner has decided to spread their juices with someone or something else; at the expense of their partner and/or children is a fundamental betrayal of trust.

The difficulty with not allowing GLBTs to have acknowledged commitments to life long monogamous relationships is that we deprive them of the stability and lessons that come from such attempts.

I can not criciticise GLBTs for having unstable itinerate relationships when they are the only forms that are possible in a repressive society. If a society enables them to choose lifelong monogamy, but then they refuse the attempt, then I have a right to comment on the wisdom of their morality. But if society denies them the possibility of legal lifelong relationships, then who am I to criticise them for making the most of what is possible?

That is the same as denouncing beggars, but if there are no jobs available, who are we to criticise their bringing in sustenance for themselves and their dependents?

An excellent article has gone up on Ekklesia http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5246 I recommend it for any serious theological thinker, in part because it succinctly puts together a postulation that God is able to recognise souls, irregardless to whom or whether tithes are received.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 10:41am BST

Goran noted the endings

The letter opens with

"Grace and Peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus the Christ"

So much for the idea of the Holy Trinity. Spirit isn't even mentioned.

Whose in touch with scripture and who has digressed?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 10:43am BST

James, I appreciate your sentiments but I must ask: what planet are you on?

Firstly, here in the UK society does 'give gays legal recognition for vows of lifelong, sexually exclusive relationships': they are called Civil Partnerships and quite a few people have made use of them.

Secondly, before CPs came into existence many. many Gay people were living in exclusive and committed relationships.

Now, I think the examples of faithful, stable and committed gay relationships HAVE changed the perceptions of many people in the UK. The views of many in the churches have also been changed. But I fear that ++Akinola is not open to such change. Gays living in stable realtionships are not going to alter his fundamental view that homosexuality is an evil. In fact, such stable relationships are seen as a mockery of straight marriage and as such are an affront on the Almighty himself

Posted by: northen_soul on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 10:56am BST

"It's not illegal--so why not do it?"
I asume from this that you are either Canadian, Dutch, or Danish. You see, in other countries, it IS illegal, well, not recognized. I have always had the suspicion that many gay people are asking for validation from the Church and society for our relationships, and I don't think that's what marriage is about. This made me think, however. If gay people DON'T do it anyway, it obviously isn't about societal validation. Your assumption is infuriating, all the same. Repeat after me: "gay people don't get married because straight people won't let them!" And as to +Akinola, where would he actually see a gay person? I doubt very much he would visit us in the jails he wants to throw us into. My God, he has only ever acknowledged meeting one gay person, and then proudly announced that he jumped back at the man's touch! Normal up.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 11:24am BST

The Church of England can just about live with gay clergy, provided relationships are conducted discreetly and there is no public expression of love or commitment. Don't ask, don't tell. This is how Mother Church does things.

The AC heirarchy's real issue is with taboo-breaking openly acknowledged relationships: ie. a bishop in a publicly acknowledged committed same-gender union and public Rites of Blessing. This is ironic, as you might expect it to endorse love, faithfulness and commitment.

The problem for the Communion, at least in developed countries, is that public consensus is shifting towards greater toleration, as in the UK's new legal protections for gays in employment, the provision of goods and services, and of course, civil partnerships. Canada and a few progressive states in the USA have introduced gay marriages.

The Windsor Process bends over backwards to accommodate hardliners upset by these developments. It proposes a regulatory regime entirely at odds with recent legislative developments in favour of human rights for gays, which it ignores completely. It pays no heed to bonds of affection with its LGBT and broad minded members, strained by the church's institutionalised homophobia, which it appeases and upholds.

CANA feels it has the weight of Lambeth 1:10 and Windsor behind it in this latest incursion. But to do so in a country with a strong history of civil rights is doomed to failure sooner or later.


Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 12:10pm BST

James: "Society didn't let women vote--Susan B. Anthony voted anyway. Society didn't let slaves go to school--Frederick Douglass learned anyway. Society wouldn't let blacks sit at the front of the bus--Rosa Parks sat down anyway. Society won't give gays legal recognition for vows of lifelong, sexually exclusive relationships--do it anyway. Get it started."

This is precisely what has been happening in TEC.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 12:10pm BST

Oh, BTW, James, gay people have been having commitment ceremonies for at least the past two decades. That you didn't know this should cause you to question what else it is that you don't know about 'gay culture' (a term I have great issue with, though it serves in this instance) and what other incorrect assumptions you might have.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 12:43pm BST

It is good that the prevailing orthodoxy (that endless meetings and conferences are the way to sort things out) is being questioned, since in actual fact this strategy does not always lead to greater consensus and has not done so in this instance.

However, what alternative is there? What is preferable to open debate? How many have honestly engaged in open debate rather than sticking by their own presuppositions? How many have changed their initial position?

Open debate may indeed be best. But if people are not prepared to be honest and nuanced, then that too is a waste of time and especially money.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 1:04pm BST

"When has Bishop Akinola or anyone else seen a gay couple say those vows publicly, supported by their community? It's not illegal--so why not do it? Why don't gays make those vows visible so that those lifelong, sexually exclusive couples become the norm instead of the flamboyant Pride movement?"

James, what planet do you live on? There are lots of same sex couples out there in loving, lifelong, committed relationships; like mine. Public committment ceremonies that include mutual vows of fidelity supported by family and communtiy happen all the time. I've attended several over the years. Some were religious and some not. The New York Times now publishes the wedding announcements of gay couples complete with photos.
There are lots of same sex couples out there doing what married heteros do, raising children, paying taxes, and paying mortgages, only with a lot less legal protection and no religious support.

So why all this bitterness and malice directed at the gay community? Did the tranny girl float run over your foot on Pride Day?

Like I said above, those pathologies at the gay bar that you are so exclusively focused on are a CONSEQUENCE of alienation, and not a cause.

Until the Church welcomes gay couples into its sacramental life and ceases advocating their legal disenfranchisement and seeking to have them pathologized, they will continue to vote with their feet and avoid Christianity like the plague.

Posted by: counterlight on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 1:51pm BST

James, I think you don't understand Akinola. He is against same-sex marriage. Doing same-sex marriage publicly is what he is against. Obviously he opposes same-sex marriage because he opposes all same-sex relationships, whether in a gay pride parade or not. He thinks that same-sex sexuality is wrong. The resolutions that caused such trouble in the US (GC 2000 and 2003) and Canada (New Westminster) refer to life-long relationships. These are the things Akinola and others oppose. What he opposes is having homosexuality affirmed in any way by the church. He is opposed to same-sex marriage, not just same-sex sexuality.

Many same-sex couples have taken advantage of the possibilities for public affirmation of their vows in those places it is already legal, and others in places where it is not yet legal. In England, this is what the Evangelical groups oppose. They are against same-sex sexuality in any form, particularly granting recognition equal to or resembling marriage.

This movement has started. And they want to stop it.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 3:33pm BST

I don't know your location, James, but gay lifelong partnerships are pretty common in England. They're not even very recent: the composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears are just one example.

More recently, large numbers of gay couples have made formal public commitments to each other in Civil Partnership ceremonies authorised by the state. These are widely publicised in the case of famous people: Elton John and David Furnish for example.

The church is so desperate to have nothing to do with these that it is actually written into the legislation that religion can play no part in the ceremony.

So, if outspoken clerics don't know what a committed gay relationship looks like, I'm afraid it's because they're not looking. Not because they're not right there in front of them already.

Posted by: badman on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 4:03pm BST

James, are you ignoring what's been posted here on purpose? Why do you continue to make the same argument over and over again - when it's already been refuted more than once?

I'll quote (again!) what John Wall wrote above:

"At the General Convention in Denver in 2000, the following statements were part of a larger resolution:

Resolved, We acknowledge that while the issues of human sexuality are not yet resolved, there are currently couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in marriage and couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in other life-long committed relationships; and be it further

Resolved, We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God; and be it further

Resolved, We denounce promiscuity, exploitation, and abusiveness in the relationships of any of our members, etc.

The descriptive phrases about fidelity, etc. were repeated in another resolution passed at GC 2003. "

Please at least acknowledge that the Episcopal Church has already done, multiple times, what you say you're waiting for it to do.

I doubt, anyway, that this is the source of Big Pete's anti-gay bigotry. Nice try, though.

Posted by: bls on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 5:06pm BST

Mark: 'leaders obviously quite unfamiliar with American ecclesiastical culture and values'

Not sure who you are talking about here, Martyn has lived in the US for decades and went to seminary at VTS. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I'm fairly confident that he would say that the Gospel is more important than 'American ecclesiastical culture and values'. Although doubtless that will get much ridicule on this site.

Further, to James (the other james) on accountability and morals in homosexual relationships, I'm not sure what the point is. As far as I understand the arguments for full acceptance of homosexual behavior in the church (notice I do not say full inclusion of people with homosexual affections - that isn't in doubt, at least not in the conservative church), they centre on peoples finding their fulfillment in relationships in accord with their desires, in being honest about sexuality, in being 'called' to such action (sexuality as vocation?), the fact that a bedroom is a private place and other such things. I'm fairly confident that these arguments can be easily adapted to include polygamy (so long as it's consensual), promiscuity, open marriage, and pretty much any other things you might happen to find sexual fulfillment in (so long as it's consensual and thus not treating the other as object).

I'm sure this will arouse lots of outrage, but I don't fundamentally see why this should be a problem given the typical arguments of the 'progressive' sections of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by: James Crocker on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 5:18pm BST

Badman:
"The church is so desperate to have nothing to do with these that it is actually written into the legislation that religion can play no part in the ceremony."

I'd assumed it was just an extension of existing civil marriage law, in which there can be no religious element, rather than a church-placating anti-gay manoeuvre.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 5:56pm BST

"the Gospel is more important than 'American ecclesiastical culture and values'. Although doubtless that will get much ridicule on this site."

How dare you! I am getting sick and tired of Conservatives, especially conservative Evangelicals, trotting out the old Evangelical bigotry that if we do not toe the literalist line, we have no faith and no respect for Scripture. It is a slanderous lie. You owe us an apology, and more importantly, you need to ask God's forgiveness for this willful slander of your fellow Christians.

"full inclusion of people with homosexual affections - that isn't in doubt"

Bull! Full inclusion of those poor people afflicted with homosexual attractions is no inclusion at all, but grudging, pitying tolerance. You'd let me sit in the back if I am suitably self loathing, while the usurers and war mongers get the place of honour? Gee, thanks! I don't want the place of honour, I don't want to get married, and I don't want to be told that what I get up to in bed is somehow holy. I just want you to be equally uncompromising on all sins, and stop ignoring the ones you put food on your tables by committing. If you insist on seeing me as some sort of pariah, afflicted with some spiritual leprosy that God in His infinite mercy is gracious enough to allow into the back of the Church as long as I am suitably self loathing, I want no part of it. You do this to no other sinners, despite your pious statements to the contrary. I will continue receiving the Sacrament in my middle of the road, somewhat hidebound parish where my sexuality isn't even talked about, thank you very much. I meet God there every Sunday.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 6:21pm BST

"I'm fairly confident that these arguments can be easily adapted to include polygamy (so long as it's consensual), promiscuity, open marriage, and pretty much any other things you might happen to find sexual fulfillment in (so long as it's consensual and thus not treating the other as object)."

How do these things you mention fit under the above rubrics of "monogamy and fidelity," please?

Are you guys going to simply shrug your shoulders and ignore the reality of things that don't fit your particular worldview?

Posted by: bls on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 6:30pm BST

"Bishop Akinola, as well as many Christians in other denominations, get their picture of the gay community from pictures of Pride parades. OK, OK, that's not fair, but that's what they see. How do we tell them, no, that's not what we mean -- we are talking about "forsaking all others, 'til death do us part."

I am sorry, but that is their own responsibility, entirely.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 7:04pm BST

James Crocker,

Thank you for bringing into high contrast the gulf between us. I'm tired of the discussion because there seems no hope of finding any common ground. But because I can't quite let it go, here's my two cents worth:
I am a heterosexual married 36 years. The context of everything in my life, including sex, is this core RELATIONSHIP. Sex (behavior) is a part of marriage (relationship), but marriage (relationship) is not solely about sex (behavior). Then we come to sexuality; not behavior, not relationship, but a constituent part of my makeup. The fact of my orientation toward attraction to the opposite sex in involuntary and morally neutral. Same for gays, same for heterosexuals.

This discussion is about relationships that exist in the context of a given (not chosen) orientation, not behavior. The unwillingness or inability of the conservative side of this discussion to speak in this context makes the ongoing conversation worse than useless.

Posted by: Lou Poulain on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 7:29pm BST

In my obviously limited experience, a "monogamous, faithful" gay couple is not necessarily "sexually exclusive." Nor is it "lifelong." A word like, say, "resurrection" means something different to John Spong and N. T. Wright. In the same way, just because a gay couple is faithful and monogamous doesn't mean it's not an open relationship. That's why "forsaking all others, 'til death do us part," is a clear statement of what a Christian relationship is and needs to be part of any vows I would support for gay marriage.

While it is certainly true that there are many lifelong gay couples which could serve as examples to all of us, it is also true that the largest and most visible faction of the gay community makes itself known through the flamboyant behavior of Pride parades. Is this faction only a minority of the gay community? If so, why does the gay community let this faction be its face to the world? Why aren't there more gay voices condemning this faction the way that many African-Americans are now condemning hip-hop culture as a misrepresentation of black culture? Where are the gay versions of Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, Maya Angelou? If the gay community had those sorts of leaders, we'd be able to speak out more clearly against Bishop Akinola's clouded view of homosexuality.

Posted by: james on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 8:08pm BST

"I'd assumed it was just an extension of existing civil marriage law, in which there can be no religious element, rather than a church-placating anti-gay manoeuvre."

I too believe this to be the case. I was once told by a registrar that it would not be acceptable for me to say grace at the reception following a civil marriage ceremony, unless it were in a different room at the hotel. I think that many of the non-UK contributors to TA don't realise just how aggressively secular the state's marriage law is.

Posted by: cryptogram on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 8:24pm BST

I find the description of civil unions in the UK to be very interesting. Apparently such civil union services are not allowed to have any religious aspect atll.

Of course, that is a blatant violation of religious freedom, for it says that there is no means whereby a religious body which approves of same sex unions (and there are some) can publicly bless such a union since, in the UK, marriage is legal only between a man and a woman and civil unions prohibit religious expression.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 8:51pm BST

James Crocker: don't be silly, the insinuation that TA is opposed to 'Gospel' is worthy only of the mud-slinger. If you've been paying attention at the back, you'll be aware that the nature of the discussion centres on precisely what is meant by the weasel term 'Gospel Values'. There have been too many appeals over the centuries to 'Gospel Values' which have proved in the fullness of time to have been little more than affirmations of the status quo dressed up in biblical language for anyone simply to shout 'Gospel Values' and expect everyone else to roll over and agree.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 9:19pm BST

"I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I'm fairly confident that he would say that the Gospel is more important than 'American ecclesiastical culture and values'. Although doubtless that will get much ridicule on this site."

Not at all. We're all for Gospel values on this site. Does Martyn intend to start sometime soon, then?

Posted by: ruidh on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 9:52pm BST

From UK Civil Partnerships Act 2004:

"No religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document."

and

"The place at which two people may register as civil partners of each other...must not be in religious premises"

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 11:43pm BST

Malcolm ; not exactly. There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone having a service of blessing for a civil partnership - but that would not be the actual legal partnership ceremony or signing of the partnership register.

Civil marriage and civil partnership are both non-religious events. But there is nothing to prevent any religious group holding services of blessing.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 12:28am BST

'How dare you! I am getting sick and tired of Conservatives'

See, told you it would get outrage.

'the insinuation that TA is opposed to 'Gospel' is worthy only of the mud-slinger'

You are right, but I don't think I was quite insinuating that. My point was that this would probably by Martyn's response, but that this hypothetical response would not be met well. Which it hasn't been. One reason is the supposed ambiguity in the term 'Gospel'.

The Gospel is Christ's resurrection from the dead, and the assurance in that for our future resurrection from the dead. This is unambiguously the case in the tradition of the church and in the Bible. (cf. Jesus 'the God of the living, not the dead' and pretty much everyone else in the New Testament, interpreting the Old).

All the other stuff is context to this proclamation and other assorted stuff, not to say that all the 'stuff' isn't important. It is.

While we're on the subject of mud-slinging, I personally object to all that against Akinola and Martyn. I have only met Akinola once, but Martyn is a good friend, and all the negative comments made about him are simply untrue.

He commented to me that he is 60, and eligible for retirement, it would have been much easier for him to simply retire and not worry about what's going on (for instance, he wouldn't have people on this website and others questioning his integrity and insulting him as standard TA ortheopraxy). Instead of that he does his job proclaiming the gospel (I've heard him do it) into a context where as far as he (and many others I know) feel it is not welcome, The Episcopal Church.

Now you might question his judgment in this matter, but personal attacks are a bad reflection on the ones making them, and say nothing accurate about the man himself.

Posted by: James Crocker on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 12:32am BST

Christopher Shell asks, "How many have honestly engaged in open debate rather than sticking by their own presuppositions? How many have changed their initial position?"

I cannot speak for all, for for myself & many that I know who have prayerfully reconsidered our "default" positions, we have changed our minds (as also happened for many people in the question of the ordination of women).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 1:57am BST

James-So it would seem you are making a judgement call on all LGBT people based on the TV/newspaper clips of the local gay pride parade.

I guess I should forsake any relationship with Christianity after seeing news clips of Fred Phelps's little claque picketting burials of U. S. Servicemen. If I were to judge the Church of what I've seen lately in the media, I would go a long way to avoid any building with a spire or yard cross on it's roof.

I'm sorry, before you judge what we LGBT people are worthy (as if it is in your place to do so), I think you'd better get a better idea of the the people you are trying to make a judgement call upon. And although it is the "idiots" in any subculture that tend to make the headlines, if you are going to be involved in the decision making and discernment process of what rites God intended His church to be borne upon them, then I think it to be incumbent upon you to be better informed. That's your responsibility.

I agree perception is a form of reality. But concluding from a untrue premise is a sweeping fallacy that is denying people who truly, and dearly love one another the acknowledgement of the blessing that God has already bestowed upon them, whether we like it and acknowledge it.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 2:25am BST

lots of ganging up on James - but everyone agress that high (biblical) standards of fidelity should be demanded of all?

(it seems not - why be constrained by a bronze age book, right?)

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 7:12am BST

James wrote: “In my obviously limited experience…”

Obviously. A "monogamous, faithful" gay couple necessarily is "sexually exclusive."

“… I would support for gay marriage.”

What you would “support” or not is entirely beside the point.

“… the largest and most visible faction of the gay community…”

Sorry, but “most visible” is not necessarily “largest”.

“… makes itself known through the flamboyant behavior of Pride parades.”

Especially at Abuja Pride on the 5th of May (this year outsourced to a rented place in Virginia ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 7:59am BST

Cryptogram wrote: “I think that many of the non-UK contributors to TA don't realise just how aggressively secular the state's marriage law is.”

Sorry, but didn’t we learn from the Prince of Wales’ second marriage that the English “civil” marriage law dates from the 1830ies? And that it was crafted to make civil registration illegal to Princes (this didn’t really change in the 1940ies) and to deny a religious element to those who chose this?

… just as 19th century Calvinist/Pietist pastors denied the Eucharist to Parishioners who were not Calvinist/Pietist “Christian” enough…

… and just as 21st century anti Moderns want to deny the protection of the law to women, gays, Muslims and others, who are not Calvinist/Pietist “Christian” enough…

So isn’t aggressively anti humans the word to use?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 8:00am BST

I see the TA people are ecstatic about Benedict XVI's hardline anti-abortion speech in Brazil and call on Rowan Williams to come up with the same; some of them call the TEC an abortion-facilitating organization, as others say that the TEC is just the MCC with more smells and bells. On both fronts answer is not to reply with slogans and ideology, but with Christian realism, bringing the Gospel to bear on the real-life situation of people. See: http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 8:52am BST

I don't see that putting words into Martyn Minns' mouth is a particularly good defence: if he genuinely believes that TEC has no interest in the Gospel, his hubris is awe-inspiring! And I do wonder whether your definition of the Gospel is orthodox - for starters, what happened to 'we preach Christ crucified'?

I know many people happily causing mayhem who are eligible for retirement (not to mention a few in retirement who cause non-stipendiary mayhem ). Without insinuating anything about anyone, it's insufficient to say 'X doesn't have to do this, he could retire, so he must be a good thing.' Non consEvs are constantly being reminded of our mixed motives and self-favouring world-view: are Neocons somehow exempt from this particular manifestation of original sin?

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 9:39am BST

NP: I think your vinyl has a repeating groove in it....

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 10:40am BST

BTW, James C, 'getting outrage' isn't a particularly advanced branch of rhetoric. 'Post an insult and wait for people to protest' is primary-school playground stuff.

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 10:42am BST

Fr Joseph, I think you might mean T19 not TA

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 10:46am BST

"...the largest and most visible faction of the gay community makes itself known through the flamboyant behavior of Pride parades"

Post-Stonewall, annual carnival-like Pride events are certainly some the most visible signs of gay solidarity. They have been a very necessary force for change. But in the UK at least, openly gay people have become establishment figures in many sectors, particularly the arts, media and politics and business, to the extent that some question whether there is any need for Pride events any more.

There is a risk of complacency though. Clearly there are still parts of society which could do with diversity awareness.

It is quite shocking how organised religion got very explicit exemptions from the recent Equality Act due to the successful campaigns of faith groups, with the sympathetic ear of Christians in the Cabinet.

It seems that pro-gay Christians and their supporters need to be more assertive and learn from the techniques of Pride.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 10:53am BST

"In my obviously limited experience, a "monogamous, faithful" gay couple is not necessarily "sexually exclusive." "

In my not so limited experience, a "monogamous, faithful" straight couple is not necessarily "sexually exclusive". What's your point, that if some members of a group behave in ways contrary to the Gospel, all members of that group are unworthy of grace? We should stop marrying heterosexuals because some commit adultery? Or do you think heterosexual infidelity is a rare thing? Or perhaps somehow less heinous than gay infidelity? Given that over half of heterosexual marriages end in divorce, we should stop marrying them since they obviously think "till death us do part" actually means they can end the relationship when they want to?

"the same way, just because a gay couple is faithful and monogamous doesn't mean it's not an open relationship."

Right, so by that logic,in my limited experience, just because something is black doesn't mean it's not white.


"a clear statement of what a Christian relationship is and needs to be part of any vows I would support for gay marriage."

So you have no trouble with marrying gay people in Church, then, this being precisely what is being asked for. Odd, I'm a gay man, and I wouldseem to have more misgivings over gay marriage than you do, if this is all that's stopping you.

"If so, why does the gay community let this faction be its face to the world? "

So, this IS what you think, because some members of a group behave in ways that are contrary to the Gospel, at least on some occasions, then no member of that group is worthy of grace. We must make sinners prove their worthiness before we approach them. So, given that some Republicans allow the Bush administration to be their face to the world, we should have nothing to do with Republicans, until they, as a group, denounce Bush's evil, unjust, self-serving war in Iraq. I mean,they chose their political lifestyle, right?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 12:01pm BST

Cheryl writes: 'I cannot criticise GLBTs for having itinerant relationships when these are the only ones possible in a repressive society.'

That is what I don't understand. Because, on the contrary, so-called 'monogamous' relationships ahve been going on for years. How can this be, if they were not 'possible'? What is it that makes them not 'possible'?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 12:58pm BST

Hi Ford-
I don;'t understand what you mean by taking (or not taking) 'the literalist line'. There are all sorts of problems with this phrase:
(1) Are you saying that the entire bible (which comes in many genres of literature) is to be interpreted either literally or metaphorically?
(2) If not, how does one decide which bits are to be taken literally and which metaphorically? I have always taken parables and Song of Songs, the Galatians 4 allegory etc metaphorically. So has everybody else. Likewise, I have always taken letters and non-fictional narratives literally, since that is, naturally, how (as genres of literature) they demand to be taken. What is your own list of what you think should be taken literally and what metaphorically?
(3) Don't you think that a simplistic and generalised non-literal view will end up in people so-called 'taking literally' the bits they agree with, and 'not taking literally' (how convenient...) the bits they disagree with?

I'm searching for your overall theory of literality and metaphor here.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 1:05pm BST

Christopher Shell:
I suppose one of the (non-partisan) difficulties with genre is that the genre of Gospel seems almost to be a genre of its own, and how to produce a satisfactory means of reading it is not an easy task - true parallells are hard to come by. Anyone with a strong literary theory background any suggestions? Clearly genres like (post enlightenment) 'History' are as likely to mislead as to enlighten.

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 1:51pm BST

Christopher,
It is not a choice between "everything literal or everything metaphoric". This a modern fallacy. I don't care if the Biblical stories are literally true as told. Many of them patently are not. Yet all of them are True. They tell through myth, allegory, factual reportage, poetry, etc. the things that God wishes to reveal about Himself in words. Thus it is true that God made all that is, we fell from Grace through disobedience. Genesis is still not literally true. There is considerable archaeological evidence that the Exodus it did not happen as the Bible says it did. It is still true, and is still a type of the Resurrection for all that. The stories of David are the same, true, but not on their face, it appears. So too with the flood.
I do not read the Bible as history, it is not, even in its historical books, intended to be history as we understand it. I come at it from the point of view that, if, as the Gospels say, there were so many stories of Jesus "all the books in the world couldn't hold them" then why did the Evangelists choose these particular stories?
And I don't even think that a non-literal view is simplistic. I think that our modern loss of the ability to understand what myth really is, something not suffered by the ancients, is the simplistic view. It is a product of our modern infatuation with the scientific as the only way to 'know' things. But then I came back to faith in part because I, an Emergency room doctor for 11 years, grew disillusioned with the ability of science to understand the inner side of the human experience. Our emotional and spiritual sides are not at all well dealt with by science. Thus, I am disinclined to apply the standards of scientific and historical inquiry to a collection of writings that not only weren't intended to be read that way, but were written long before anyone had systematized this particular method of inquiry.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 2:32pm BST

Letters cannot be taken literally, not because of their form of literature, but because they are written in a different cultural setting. So something that is built into the text as assumed-making-sense does not now make simple sense.

Someone who lives in a supernaturalist end-of-the-world setting, where death, ill health and your position in life is caused by sin, where healing consists of removing such sin in the form of demons, where there is an understood mechanism that dying can be done in a salvation manner, where bodies will rise on the last day... Built in assumptions like these to those of us who have entirely different assumptions means that letters also have to become metaphors of meaning in order to translate at all. Even some aspects of letters that seem univeral - e.g. "the greatest of these is love" - need care in what is being expressed.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 3:21pm BST

Mynster - you are right - I do have to repeat things which are true because there is so much repetition of things which are not......but I am hoping that Sept 30th will be a clear watershed and we can stop the interminable chat, agree that holding two contradictory views at the same time is not credible as a position for the AC and move on....without a small numbe of people in every province (remember, for the AC, losing TEC means gaining back lots of Anglicans who have had to leave TEC so it is not such a bad prospect for the AC)

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 3:35pm BST

James Crocker,

I am really pleased to hear that Martyn Minns is a personal friend of yours and that he is firmly rooted in Gospel values.

Maybe you could remind him that he has yet to reply to Colin Coward of Changing Attitude who wrote on 2nd March: (http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/002262.html)

“Changing Attitude England and Nigeria challenge the Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, and the CANA bishop in the USA, the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, to issue a statement denouncing those church members who are threatening violence. We ask both the Archbishop and Bishop to unreservedly demand protection for Mr Mac-Iyalla and confirm the sanctity of all human life, whatever a person’s sexual orientation, in conformity with the Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10 and paragraph 146 of the Windsor report which states that ‘any demonising of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care....

...“In Dar Es Salaam, in front of Canon David Anderson and Canon Chris Sugden, I asked Bishop Minns to contact Canon Akintunde Popoola and tell him to cease issuing lies and false statements about Davis. These statements have encouraged Nigerian church members to visit Mr Mac-Iyalla and threaten him with death. I have not yet received confirmation from Bishop Minns that he has done this, nor that such assurances have been given.... “

I am sure he will wish to uphold these basic Christian values. The conversation with Colin and the subsequent press release must just have slipped his mind in the run up to his consecration.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 3:46pm BST

This thread is getting long, but I'm still not clear on a couple of things:

Does everyone agree that Christian gay marriage needs to have the same vows as traditional marriage, i.e. "forsaking all others, 'til death do us part"? Does our acceptance of gays within the church also hold them accountable to that standard?

What percentage of gays actually want relationships which are "forsaking all others, 'til death do us part"? Some, certainly, but how many, really? Is a Christian standard for marriage going to alienate a large portion of the gay community? And if gays don't want to adopt Christian marriage standards for their relationships, then why are we bothering with all this discussion?

It seems to me that most gays are happy to build their relationships outside the Church. Even if we offered blessings for lifelong, sexually exclusive relationships, it doesn't seem that lines would form outside the narthex. We should work to keep the invitation open, but if gays are happier without the accountability a church wedding requires, why don't we just let each other alone?

Posted by: James on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 3:50pm BST

James,
It seems to me that most straight people are also happy to build their lives outside the Church.

I have no answer to your statistical questions, and I find them quite irrelevant. The only issue is: How do we treat those Christian gay couples who clearly are asking for proper gay marriages or formal blessings of their exclusive, faithful, monogamous relationships that are entered into with the sincere hope of being life long.

Same sex couples have never asked for any other terms, and I think you really ought to read some of the replies you have received earlier to find this confirmed.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 4:37pm BST

Yon James seems unaware that there are any number of heterosexuals flaunting their unchaste sexuality all over the place in the secular culture. Perhaps he's never watched popular television, with its serial sexual liaisons and cetera.

To suggest that it is only gays who flaunt a defiantly promiscuous sexuality is simply, what's that technical term, a lie.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 5:06pm BST

James,
Your questions all come down to the idea that gay people are asking for blessing of promiscuity. I am intrigued as to why you think this, since it has never been anything anyone has asked for. I suggest someone has misled you. Did this not come out when your parish engaged in the listening process Lambeth '98, '88, and '78 requested we carry out? Gay people are only asking for their relationships to be treated in the same way straight relationships are treated, no more, no less. I don't think I'm the first person on this thread to tell you this, so why the confusion? To clear things up: The debate is over whether or not it is consistent with the Gospel to bless gay relationships, holding them to the same standards as straight relationships.

As to your last paragraph, gays have HAD to build relationships outside the Church. That some are now arguing for inclusion indicates that they at least are NOT happy with this situation. You do realize we are talking about people who are already Church members, right? These are people who are actively involved in their parishes not faceless outsiders. The semi-naked exhibitionists riding floats in the summer consider us utterly irrelevant to their lives, and couldn't give a cobbler's cuss if we marry gay people or not. They have far worse stereotypes of you than you have of them. Or have you bought in to the idea that this is really all about trying to attract people by seeking the approval of society and going along with whatever society thinks is right just to be popular? If so, you have again been misled, I suspect by the same people who misled you as to what gay people are actually looking for.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 5:34pm BST

"It seems to me that most gay people are happy to build their relationships outside the Church."

James, it's the sheer impossibility of being recognised as acceptable that has forced gay people out of the Church for millenia. Psychologically this is such a drain that it is nearly impossible for many to accept themselves as having any value. No, they're not lining up in narthexes and won't be for a long time, but this shameful treatment of gay people as less than human is what is to blame.

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 6:27pm BST

"Does everyone agree that Christian gay marriage needs to have the same vows as traditional marriage, i.e. "forsaking all others, 'til death do us part"?"

Yes.

"What percentage of gays actually want relationships which are "forsaking all others, 'til death do us part"?"

Does it matter? Hopefully, when shown the example of monogamous, faithful relationships, others will give up promiscuity.

"Is a Christian standard for marriage going to alienate a large portion of the gay community?"

Again, does it matter? There is clearly a portion of the gay community (and probably a clear minority) who are interested in participating in the life of the church. Our primary concern should be with those who want to grow closer to God and not so much toward those who reject God.

"And if gays don't want to adopt Christian marriage standards for their relationships, then why are we bothering with all this discussion?"

You are treating "the gays" as some kind of a monolithic community in which everyone thinks the same things. Like any other group of people, they have some opinions in common but many different.

"It seems to me that most gays are happy to build their relationships outside the Church. Even if we offered blessings for lifelong, sexually exclusive relationships, it doesn't seem that lines would form outside the narthex. We should work to keep the invitation open, but if gays are happier without the accountability a church wedding requires, why don't we just let each other alone?"

Many gay Christians I know just are not happy without God and the church in their life. I'm not going to reject the faithful few because of the sins of the others. It's as simple as that.

I've known Gay Christians who have exhibited all of the qualities St. Paul attributes to married couples in 2nd Corinthians. I've known Gay Christians who have given their lives for their beloved as Christ gave his life for the Church. Why would we not want to encourage this kind of example?

Posted by: ruidh on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 7:10pm BST

NP said
'I do have to repeat things which are true'

Ah, well, it will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah on that day than for the likes of us TA types who so wilfully refuse to see the truth when it is placed repeatedly before us. Non sum dignus, non sum dignus....

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 9:11pm BST

It might be interesting for you to know that I am gay. I am even an out gay--I have spent the last few years going through the difficult process of coming out to my friends, family, and church. Always, I have to distinguish myself from a stereoptype I did not create and do not live by.

I simply am not a fan of the visible gay community, and I choose not to be a part of that subculture. I find myself in strong disagreement with such Christian gays as Mel White, Louie Crew, and Gene Robinson, who I really find fuzzy in their theology. Bishop Akinola is right to take them to task on their Christology and view of Scripture. I don't particularly admire Bishop Schori in terms of her theology, though I fully support women bishops--if only Dorothy Sayers could be resurrected and ordained.

I like Andrew Sullivan and Bruce Bawer and most of the guys on the Independent Gay Forum. It's interesting that because I criticize the gay community, you assume I must be straight and uninformed. Why would you not think that I am a gay man who wants the gay community to be represented in society by men in lifelong, sexually exclusive relationships?

Posted by: James on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 11:21pm BST

I think the AIDS pandemic has made the point that many supposedly "monogamous and faithful" couples are not necessarily "sexually exclusive."

Are some souls in hiding and/or denying their orientations due to death threats or other forms of intidimation? Did Jews hide in attics and basements in Nazi Germany? Do some GLBTs enter into "acceptable" heterosexual relationships because of how they would be persecuted if they came out of the closet?

If a soul has to hide what it is due to fears of persecution and/or death, then one can not charge that soul with failing to completely fulfill their potential.

Give souls reasonable access to air, water, food and shelter. Provide legal and political frameworks that protect the vulnerable and reward good works, whilst restraining excessive greed and tyranny. Make that framework consistently available to all members of the community in exchange for the obligations of citizenship.

Where the possibilty of living safely is reasonably available to all, then we can look at who is still unsafe and why. But apartheid restrictions on dignity and rights to particular groupings leads to ghettos with the dysfunctionality that comes with that. Sure, there will always be "bad" pockets in any city - but make it that people choose to be there, rather than having it autocraticaly imposed upon them.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 11:47pm BST

You ask some shrewd questions about the nature of same-sex unions, James.

A quick Google search uncovered this liturgy in the Diocese of Los Angeles. It resembles a conventional Nuptial Mass - the type of ceremony which upsets the antis.

http://www.mindspring.com/~bcglm1/samesexblessing.html

Look at how the Preface to the Marriage ceremony evolved from 1662 Book of Common Prayer: "First, it was ordained for the procreation of children" to the C of E's Alternative Service Book 1980: "It is given, that they may have children".

BCP - "It was ordained for a remedy against sin", whereas ASB makes no mention of sin.

BCP: "Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocence"
The ASB, with a more modern perspective of marriage, leaves this out.

There is no reason in my view why ceremonies for same-sex couples shouldn't adapt existing liturgies or write new ones.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 12:51am BST

James, you are uninformed. You didn't know what the Episcopal Church's position on this topic is, and even after being told, multiple times by several people, you refuse to acknowledge it. Why? What's the problem you seem to have with accepting a plain, bald fact? And why are you so shocked that people are getting tired of talking with you, when you continue to ignore what everybody is saying?

Here's my question, for you and in fact for everybody here: what sorts of things do you think you might get up to if you weren't religious - if you didn't have the church?

Do you think you might drink too much, or perhaps gamble? Do you think you might lie or cheat - or even steal? Would you possibly cut corners in business? Do you think you might possibly be interested in promiscuous sex? What is it that keeps you from doing these things today?

Do you understand what I'm asking here, and why?

Posted by: bls on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 2:57am BST

James
"Why would you not think that I am a gay man who wants the gay community to be represented in society by men in lifelong, sexually exclusive relationships"

I must admit, you did surprise me.
If you are gay then you should already know that there is no "gay community", but there are individual gay people who all live different lives, as different as straight people.

You should have known that many of us are not highly visible exactly because our lives are so utterly normal.

And you should not have sounded as though you had ignored every posting from every gay person here who told you that we do want out relationships to be accepted as Christian.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 7:36am BST

James wrote: “It might be interesting for you to know that I am gay.”

Not really.

James wrote: “I have spent the last few years going through the difficult process of coming out to my friends, family, and church. Always, I have to distinguish myself from a stereotype I did not create and do not live by.”

Ah, I see now. That’s your trouble. You feel personally attacked when others make themselves open to criticism, right or wrong.

James wrote: “I find myself in strong disagreement with such Christian gays as…”

No idea what you are talking of here, I’m afraid

James wrote: “… view of Scripture.”

Ah.

James wrote: “I don't particularly admire Bishop Schori in terms of her theology..”

Been listening to propaganda?

James wrote: “… if only Dorothy Sayers could be resurrected and ordained.”

Wasn’t she rather extreme?

James wrote: “… you assume I must be straight and uninformed.”

Uninformed, yes. “Straight”, not necessarily. We’ve seen not so few self-oppressed howlers around here, you know.

James wrote: “… a gay man who wants the gay community to be represented in society by men in lifelong, sexually exclusive relationships?”

To the extent that there really be such a thing, it is so - both women and men. You would have known, if you had been looking instead of trumpeting the social prejudices of a sectarian environment.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 7:52am BST

Very interested to see what response James gets now.....bet that some of those who have attacked him above would not have done so if they knew what they now know.....

James' position is much more honest and acceptable in the light of scripture than that of VGR et al.....he is not asking everyone to sacrifice scripture so some very selective rights-based agenda

Posted by: NP on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 8:15am BST

Sorry James,
I misread what you said. I thought you had been criticising Gene Robinson's sexual morals, not his theology.
Apologies!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 8:22am BST

"James' position is much more honest and acceptable in the light of scripture than that of VGR et al.....he is not asking everyone to sacrifice scripture so some very selective rights-based agenda" - NP

Well, NP, I'm quite astounded!

I don't know if you've read all of James' posts on this thread, but he appears to advocate gay marriage from a conservative interpretation of Scripture; and you defend him.

I hope I don't misrepresent either of you, but I can begin to see how an alliance between "liberals" and "conservatives" could be formed, with agreement on the presenting issue but argued from different approaches to scripture, reason, tradition and experience.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 10:19am BST

"I simply am not a fan of the visible gay community, and I choose not to be a part of that subculture."

My world as well! Welcome! I'm not even officially out to most in my parish, though given my openness here, I am probably kidding myself! I am in general agreement with what you say in this post, though I am an admirer of +KJS. I have great difficulty with those who bend over backward to explain away 6 or 7 passages of Scripture because they think I'm somehow oppressed if they do not. I am unable to find oppression in the Church's refusal to marry me to my partner. I sometimes think the move for this is far more about people seeking validation for their relationships, and by extension, themselves, than about any sense that God wants us to bless gay unions. I sometimes assert that marriage is not about validating relationships, regardless of how society has used it for centuries, and besides, if Redemption isn't validation enough, what could possibly be?

I am still baffled as to why you came out swinging against gay people wanting the Church to bless anything other than lifelong monogamy. You had to have known this was not the case. Why imply, pretty baldly, that those who are seeking gay inclusion are putting American cultural values over the Gospel? If you are gay, you must know that your assertion that gay people have not been "getting on with it" in terms of having some form of marriage within the community is also untrue. Why be so deceptive and, in the case of your assertion about Gospel versus culture, insulting? Unless you were just trying to get everyone all fussed up, in which case it worked!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 1:14pm BST

Hi Ford-
I think we have isolated one main point of disagreement, namely your insistence that all Bible stories are 'true'. This raises all sorts of questions:

(1) Why are you not using one word for 'spiritually true' and another for 'historically true'. Isn't it obviously confusing to use the same word for both? I have met people who I am quite sure are using the same word for both for a very dodgy reason: namely, that it is a means of claiming that they hold the Bible to be true whereas in fact they clearly do not.
(2) How does one judge whether or not something is spiritually true? The fact that you have assigned spiritual truth across the board to tyhe entire diverse range of the biblical material suggests that you have not gone into the criteria for this very deeply.
(3) If everything is spiritually true, 'spiritually true' comes to have no meaning.
(4) From which it follows that the said material may or may not in fact be spiritually true. The only way of demonstrating that would be to cite examples of things which are clearly spiritually false, such that nothing in this 'false' category is to be found in the Bible.
(5) The historical question is bypassed. There are all degrees of history in the biblical narratives, and in my naivete I had supposed that the question of their truth and the question of their historicity were somehow related.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 1:52pm BST

Göran, regarding “if only Dorothy Sayers could be resurrected and ordained”, her having given birth to an out-of-wedlock child might be looked upon with disfavour in some circles, perhaps even the same circles that have recently been getting 'em in a twist about bishop Robinson.

Posted by: lapinbizarre on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 2:17pm BST

But, James, I am one of those men you talk about, but I'm afraid that conservative theology views my situation and my relationship as exactly on a moral equal with a one-night stand with a prostitute. All they can think about is 'Gay Sex'. Nothing else matters.

I came to the conclusion that conservative theology itself is problematic. You can still be conservative and gay, politically, as are many who contribute to the IGF. But to try and blend conservative theology and being gay is more problematic simply because of the parameters that theology sets for itself.

I tend to think that the gay community (which does exist but it multifaceted - you associate with one part of it, very clearly! Its not all about scene queens!) is in a growing up stage, and that things like civil partnerships are the way forward to achieving that greater maturity.

Even though many would regard me as very radical, in fact I share many of your ideals. I am all for promoting and championing committed, faithful and lifelong relationships.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 2:58pm BST

I've had experience with both the gay community and fundamentalist Christianity. I began my life in Christ in Campus Crusdade. Frankly, the gay community is just as monolithic as fundamentalism. It's just as difficult to leave fundamentalism as it is to leave the gay community--there are same taunts of backsliding, threats of "hell," accusations of betrayal, etc.

Coming out, for me, has be a rejection of what the gay community has to offer. I want to express my homosexuality based on clear Biblical values. I want to share the same moral standards as everyone else--I see many gay theologians as twisting words to mean what they want, and asking for special rules.

I admire Jeffrey Johns. I think he is doing the best job of articulating a gay Christian morality. Read about him and read about who attacks him and why and you'll see what I'm writing about. I'd like to see him sit with Bishop Akinola--there might be some real chance for agreement there.

Posted by: James on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 4:16pm BST

Christopher,
1) because I do not know a word meaning "spiritually true" as opposed to 'historically true'.
2) Nonsense. The entirety of the Bible is spiritually true because it is God's revelation to us. Besides, the criteria, and the Truth, are not mine to decide. The Church, not the individual, interprets Scripture. I'm sure the Fathers worked out long ago how to define 'spiritual truth'. Why second guess the experts in a field in which I am not trained?
3) Everything in the Bible. If this generalization of spiritual truth to the entire Scripture renders the term meaningless, this must mean some things in Scripture are NOT spiritually true. I do not claim the same kind of spiritual truth for any other religious writing, regardless of the esteem I have for it.
4)Given #3, I clearly disagree with #4.
5)Indeed! Historicity is of value, of course, but seen from our end, how would you prove it? The archaeological evidence for many of the OT stories is simply not there.

In fact, I think the issue is to do with our comfort level with doubt and mystery. Western Christianity inherits from Rome a desire to define and codify, to have 'right' and 'wrong' and 'fact' clearly defined. I am far more comfortable to stand awestruck before God experiencing the mystery rather than explaining it. I was amazed the first time I read anything about the Orthodox Church that this is how they see things. It still attracts me.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 8:06pm BST

Christopher Shell

I think you would find it helpful to read a little about how scripture (and largely this in context means the OT in the LXX version) was interpreted in the first couple of centuries after the apostolic age. The method was very similar to that of Philo, and certainly Origen writes of there being three senses to scripture, of which he rates the literal sense as the lowest and least important. You are right to raise the issue of subjectivity - though the role of the Holy Spirit as interpreter, especially in the preaching of the word, must never be overlooked!

Whilst modern readers would not respond very warmly to Origen's allegorical interpretation of the story of the daughters of Lot, it represents a way of understanding even the most difficult and apparently unenlightening passages which ruled in Christian circles for centuries. It still does, even in some evangelical circles. I find it rather odd, for example, that allegorical interpretation is abjured by many evangelicals EXCEPT in the case of the Song of Songs - which surely is a book which demands to be read literally!

Posted by: cryptogram on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 8:29pm BST

James,
Having read your last post I do feel so very sorry for you. Clearly, you have experienced a kind of gay community you felt safe in and they have somehow disappointed you. Just as you have experienced a kind of church that feels safe to you. But it's not the whole picture.

Do read the threads on TA carefully. Do take seriously what people here say: We do come from all walks of life and it is very much our experience that you can be Christian and gay at the same time.

I am not accepted and loved by a "gay community", I am loved and accepted by individuals. Some are gay, most are straight. Some are Christians, most are not.

James, it's really important that you do see yourself and others as individuals, not as representatives of a community or other firm grouping of people. "Communities" are stereotypes and they will ultimately disappoint.
Just as in earlier times I used to think there was a group called "Christians". Now I'm supposed to think there are "liberals" and "conservatives", or worse, "reasserters" and "reappraisers".
Don't fall into the trap of giving in to that. To categorise is to dehumanise. Always has been, alwasy will be.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 8:50pm BST

James-ditto on what Ford Elms said at 1314 BST.

Like you, I'm not the most "out" person and too am fairly conservative or more precisely, traditionalist, at least in terms of liturgy and music. I have found the changes in TEC for the past forty years have most likely generated the foment and backlash of recent times.

My Grandmother had a saying that used to anger me immensely, the respect has to be earned (but she was right!). And I can say that this needs to be heard in the LGBT community. But buying into a subculture of Christianity that really would like to see us stoned and burned at the stake (and don't kid yourself, there are many who would, under the guise of whatever it is that they believe in), isn't healthy.

I applaud your effort (and the pain of coming out, never easy) at reconciliation at this site.
And I hope that you have a supportive parish family and minister, and pray that you can meet somebody to cherish until death do you apart.

+JJ and ++Akinola meeting together seriously, that would be wonderful. We can always dream.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Friday, 11 May 2007 at 10:28pm BST

Finally, a hope of compromise. James, what you have said is exactly what I believe--that unless the homosexual community can convincingly show a clear and consistent pattern of faithful, lifetime relationships and not be serial monogamists, I cannot accept the possibility that their relationships as such could be blessed.
I also think that liberal fundamentalism on this, and other issues, is as dangerous as its conservative counterpart. Sometimes, its tendencies show on this site.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 1:13am BST

The original American 20th century error is the mixing of “facts” with “truth”. Thus inventing “Inerrantism” and “Fundamentalism” as a rejection of modern Democracy, and “Creationism” as a rejection of Dr Darwin and Natural Science, and pre-, post- and what-not Rapture as a new Götterdämmerung.

Ages into Apocalyptics are always ages into dogmatic Novelties – new “facts” claimed to be reassertions of ancient Truths. They are also ages into Moralism without Morals; witness the American 20th century fascination with Spin, Lies and Propaganda – the belief that it is possible (indeed desirable) to change “Truth” inventing false “facts”.

Ages into Apocalyptics are ages into social Separation, Exclusion and De-humanization – Katrina. They are ages into Distrust and Absolutism – Patriot Act.

They are also – unsurprisingly – ages into apocalyptic Foreign polices and Wars – Iraq.

The misplaced political language of “Libruls” and “Conservatives” shows that the present crisis in Anglicanism is not about right or wrong Theology nor about a (failed) World Power versus a post colonial pretended “Global” South, but about white middle-aged men and a North American power grab; part of the political power grab we have been witnessing for a half century, trying to fight back Earl Warren, Rosa Parks, Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights laws and the ensuing emancipations – the ever-present N-word.

The original American 20th century error is the mixing of “facts” with “truth”.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 7:54am BST

Ren,
"that unless the homosexual community can convincingly show a clear and consistent pattern of faithful, lifetime relationships and not be serial monogamists, I cannot accept the possibility that their relationships as such could be blessed."

Please explain what you mean by the homosexual community.
All lgbts all over the world?
All lgbts in some countries?
Church going lgbts?
Anglican lgbts?

I can only ever make promises for myself, and I expect to be judged by my own life, not by reference to that of other people.

Christian LGBT people on TA have repeatedly talked of their own stable, faithful and permanent relationships. Do we not count because gay pride parades and gay subcultures still exist everywhere in the world?


Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 10:32am BST

Ren Aguila,

You sound like something from past centuries, when Jews and Roman catholics and Baptists and atheists, and so on, were not allowed to contract fully legally binding marriages or get an exam or a state job, because they hadn't been baptised in the State church (The Church of Sweden suffered a hostile State Absolutis/Calvinist take over in 1687).

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 11:26am BST

"Peter Jasper Akinola and the Martyn Minns of this world create God in their own image, a hateful God who has singled out gays and lesbians for "special treatment" and exclusion" - John

If, as Spong has said recently, atheists have an important role to play by providing a necessary check on idolatry, I'd like to see Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris in conversation with Akinola and Minns. That should set some sparks flying!

"I'd like to see him [JJ] sit with Bishop Akinola--there might be some real chance for agreement there." - James

I wish I could share your optimism, James. The Nigerian Church's resposnse to the Listening Process on the Angican Communion's official website is one of the most hafeful diatribes against gays and homosexuality that I have ever read.

http://www.aco.org/listening/reports/nigeria.cfm

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 12:17pm BST

Hi Cryptogram-
I already know something about that. But...
(1) What is so infallible about the first three centuries?
(2) Aren't the author's original intentions (insofar as we can recover them, which we often can to a certain degree) of primary importance?
(3) The same narrative can be allegorised in numerous different ways. Are they all valid? Hence the need to use (2) as a criterion.
(4) You are wrong on the Song of Songs. Although it both purports to be and actually is about sexual love (nothing metaphorical there) it is nevertheless full of non-literal imagery.
(5) Numerous people appeal to 'the Holy Spirit' in numerous contradictory causes, often those which most appealed to them in the first place.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 12:35pm BST

Hi Ford-
Yes - but you see the point. We need clearly to distinguish between the *very* different positions of (a) those who think events truly happened as described and (b) those who find that the descriptions resonate with the human condition - or something. These positions are not remotely similar. To lump both responses under the category 'true' is something that would not be done by anyone honest, concerned for clarity, accuracy and indeed truth (!). There are plenty of other words available. Authentic. Inspiring/Inspirational. Meaningful. Archetypal. Blurring of categories is gratuitous and prevents proper understanding.
(2) It's meaningless to call something 'true' when one has already ruled out, in advance of any investigation, the possibility of its *not* being true.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 12:43pm BST

Ren,
I think this is basically nonsensical:

"unless the homosexual community can convincingly show a clear and consistent pattern of faithful, lifetime relationships and not be serial monogamists, I cannot accept the possibility that their relationships as such could be blessed."

This only works if you apply exactly the same criteria to the whole community, regardless of sexual leanings, and even then it is a breathtakingly naive statement. I've lost count of how many straight people I know whose behaviour would easily fit the definition of *serial monogamist*. It could scarcely be claimed that they experience the sharp end of disapproval from society or the Church as a result. Indeed, they would probably resent public discussion of the details of their sexual behaviour as a gross invasion of privacy. This behaviour in straights is not taken as necessarily precluding their participation in marriage, and certainly doesn't meet with anything like the degree of blind prejudice that is exhibited towards gay people in certain quarters.

You assume that the gay community is a monolithic entity capable of *choosing* a common, even monochrome, lifestyle. This is as false for the gay community as it is for the diocese of Sydney. Communities, by definition, are a bond of common unity shared by the individuals who participate in them. The only thing that binds the gay community AS a community is sexuality; all sub-groupings within the community are premised on shared sexuality – “gay football”. To be honest, I’d be surprised if church-going Episcopalians were the majority of people on the floats in a pride parade. I doubt whether the rest are even interested in the Church, or the current spat about CANA, so I would question the intellectual honesty of those who invoke pride parades as somehow representative of the whole gay community. So the question about the blessing of relationships is: why can't gay people just have their committed relationships blessed by the Church - just like, and on the same pre-commitment terms as, the straights - without all the other dissembling about the *behaviour* exhibited by certain people in the gay community?

Why don't all the gays stop going to church until the conservatives accept that they are (also) children of the same Heavenly Father, and an inheritor with them of the Kingdom of God?

I'd like to see that...

Posted by: kieran crichton on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 2:24pm BST

Ren : And what about the many heterosexuals who are also 'serial monogamists', not to mention the divorce rate and the existence of adultery!

Does this mean that heterosexual realtionships are not 'blessed'?

And if you wish gay people to have solid and stable relationships - well, that requires legal equality and some sort of civil partnership, not to mention removal of the social pressures which make gay relationships harder to sustain - such as the homophobic stance of the church!

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 3:56pm BST

Christopher

There's nothing infallible about the first three centuries (and I didn't suggest there was). However, both your first two points are answered by the fact that it was a church which thought in this way which accepted the LXX as the Canon of OT books, and also began the process of selecting the books which form the NT.

Second, if allegory and appeal to the Holy Spirit are ruled out, doesn't that rather undermine the whole theological foundation of preaching?

Of course the Song of Songs is full of non-literal imagery. It's poetry. But does that make it "really" about Christ and the Church? It really won't do to say that every other part of the Bible must be understood literally "as the author intended", but in the case of SofS it must be understood as allegory. You may not think that, but there are evangelicals who do.

Posted by: cryptogram on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 7:39pm BST

As a point of observation, I don't like the term "serial monogamist" as though it implied a casual approach to relationships.

Relationships come to an end for many reasons, people simply not caring and casting partners aside is rarely one of them.

A serial monogamist could be someone who has genuinely believed in every relationship and has truly tried to make it work.

Incidentally - someone whose partner has died and who starts another relationship could technically also come under the heading of "serial monogamy".

If only we could start to look at individuals instead of spouting slogans and buzz words!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 10:34pm BST

"We are a deeply divided Communion."

Yeah, right. I wonder why that is, then? Someone refuse to accept that other people do things differently? Sheesh.

Posted by: Tim on Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 1:23pm BST

Hi Erika-
A serial monogamist could be someone who genuinely cared about each successive relationship and tried to make it work?
Yes, I agree. And how much harder it is for a person like that to live in a society where their partner always has the get-out clause 'I'm not married to you' enabling them to get out as soon as the grass seems greener on the other side rather than challenging them to invest in the relationship. There are certain societal structures calculated to bring the best out of people, others to being the worst out of people. I am talking averages here, albeit averages which give a pretty unambiguously clear-cut message.

A person who embarks on a 'living-together' relationship expecting it to be lifelong is either naive, or extremely fortunate, or lacking in cultural awareness beyond their own circles. Anyone who truly loves wants to maximise commitment, and loves anything to do with commitment. That is why they love, and gravitate to, marriage. The true reasons why people defer marriage are plain: they are in most cases keeping their options open.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 14 May 2007 at 12:06pm BST

Hi Cryptogram-
A few points here:
(1) No-one is ruling out allegory. But first we have to identify that allegory is actually present in a given case. Because people whose fondness for allegory and mystery exceeds their literary analysis skills (and they are plenty) sometimes 'see' allegory under every bush.
(2) No-one is ruling out appeal to the Holy Spirit. But what counts as a *valid* appeal to the Holy Spirit? Personal whim is clearly not sufficient. There are proper criteria here that need to be stated before any such appeal is made.
(3) Any other age would have come to a very similar decision about which books to include in the NT. Through accident or design or more probably a bit of both (mostly design) they seem to have hit on just about the 27 earliest surviving Christian documents.
(4) If you are selecting a Greek NT you will doubtless also select a Greek OT - but there is nothing sacrosanct about Greek. Modern scholars will not primarily look to the LXX (though it is an enormous help) when seeking to establish the original text.
In fact, as you'll know, the modern Protestant Bible's OT is based on the *Hebrew* canon in explicit contradistinction to the Greek canon.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 14 May 2007 at 12:17pm BST

Christopher - I'm not quite sure you're right in that the Church's choice of a Greek OT was a consequence of choosing a Greek NT (perhaps I misunderstand you). Surely it's evident that the earliest Xns, other than Palestinian Jews, and perhaps the Edessan Church, are using the LXX as default (and inspired) scripture (and its oddities then cause the Jewish translations of Symmachus, Theodotion and Aquila).

It is logical that those who use the LXX should also write in Greek , and in that Xty is an E Mediterranean phenomenon initially, how could we expect otherwise? (Had the Persian empire not fallen, I guess we'd have been using the Targums instead in the first few centuries.)

There is a problem for some Christians in this inescapable fact, I know - that once one realises that the 2Tim 'every inspired scripture' refers to the LXX not the MT, it opens a can of worms which some would rather did not know existed. Tricky. 2Tim presumably saw Sirach and the like as being potentially as inspired as Genesis....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 14 May 2007 at 4:13pm BST

Will someone please stop me before I commit monogamy again!

Posted by: ruidh on Monday, 14 May 2007 at 5:29pm BST

ruidh
as we say round here when a comment made us snort with laughter while sipping a glass of wine:-
You owe me a new keyboard!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 14 May 2007 at 11:21pm BST

Christopher Shell wrote:
"The true reasons why people defer marriage are plain: they are in most cases keeping their options open."

It used to be that marriage was something one committed to when one could afford it - the old saw about keeping one's spouse in the manner to which he/she is accustomed.

To say, as you do, that one defers marriage solely to keep one's options open, seems to imply that many people lack the emotional maturity to be able to make commitments. Is this true of the other half of marriages that don't end in divorce, even when they come (comparatively) late in the partners' lives?

We would all agree that the reasons in most cases are more complex than simply keeping one's options open. People marry late because of education (one spends longer in college these days - all those graduate qualifications necessary to get a decent professional position), or because of travel, or simply because the financial commitment that underpins the relationship (home ownership, being able to afford to have children) takes much longer to meet. I would suggest that the time it takes to get an education and broaden one's horizons through travel actually builds emotional maturity in the persons concerned, which in many cases leads to stronger relationships.

My view is much simpler than many here. Marriage is overused and over-rated, and the amount of knicker-twisting that goes on here and elsewhere is plain proof that people recognize this. The brazen vulgarity and excessive glamor factor that goes into these events is sinful, and speaks to me of what the Church is really about being gutted. If the current situation has to continue, then it would be better if fewer people were married in churches, and that those that did would proceed with a fuller appreciation of what the Church believes them to be doing. However, I think the better approach is to take all marriage out of the hands of churchmen and let all weddings be civil events. All couples must be equal before the law, otherwise we end up in a social mess. Therefore, let all couples (gay or otherwise) seek a blessing of the Church after they have signed the civil paperwork elsewhere. Would Akinola have to start a new church that dissented from this?

Posted by: kieran crichton on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 1:15am BST

Christopher:
I would not demur from most of what you have written (though I think David R makes excellent points which you need to take on board). You do however neatly avoid facing the basic question: if people who believed that a sacred text has a body, a soul and a spirit decided collectively (and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) that the books which had from the first generation been accepted as scripture (viz. the LXX) together with those books which we now call the New Testament, should form the canon of scripture in the church universal, are we not missing something vital if (a) we say that the accepted books are fewer, and (b) we say that there is no soul or spirit understanding of scripture, but only a body?

With respect to (a) I have to say that I have more difficulty in saying "This is the word of the Lord" after certain readings from Ezra/Nehemiah than ever I do from Sirach or the Wisdom of Solomon (or indeed Tobit or Judith). That, however isn't the issue. The church rejected the approach of Marcion. It rejects the book of Mormon, and has never elevated the ramblings of Emanuel Swedenborg or Soren Kierkegaard to the canon of sacred scripture. To cut out, modify or add to books universally accepted as scripture from the earliest times is a serious issue and there is historical justification for it, as I'm sure you will agree.

(b) is far more serious. To say that scripture only speaks in a particular way goes against the experience and tradition of the Christian centuries. Of course the role of the Spirit must be tested (which is a major reason why you can't chuck tradition overboard) but if you don't allow that God has fresh things to break forth from his word, or constrain the way in which they might break forth, you actually diminish scripture itself. I love Augustine's allegorisation of the Good Samaritan. I don't imagine it's what Jesus meant by the parable, but it is a wonderful encapsulation of the Gospel. That Jesus didn't mean that doesn't invalidate it, however, any more than the interpretations of some other parables which are in the Gospels are invalidated by the unlikelihood of their being the ipsissima verba of the Lord himself.

So, Christopher, we have the unlikely scenario of a slightly liberal catholic telling an evangelical to allow the scripture to BE God's word, Be ready to be surprised by it, and don't limit the ways in which it can authentically speak.

And the rest is silence.

Posted by: cryptogram on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 10:20am BST

"If the current situation has to continue, then it would be better if fewer people were married in churches, and that those that did would proceed with a fuller appreciation of what the Church believes them to be doing."

Is there any evidence that marriages of Christians last longer than marriages of non-Christians?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 10:39am BST

Erica, sorry about the electrical damage. I do hope it was a fine vintage. But, if it wasn't a fine vintage, I hope it was, at least, a cheap keyboard.

Posted by: ruidh on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 4:07pm BST

cryptogram,

Interesting points and I agree the Scripture, with the guidance of the Spirit, does speak new messages to each generation.

However, that doesn't mean the messages at issue today are from the Spirit.

Posted by: Chris on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 6:22pm BST

What's the relevance of stats describing how long marriages last and how many life partners one can have over a lifetime? Does that help settle the morality of these issues?

If we're going to be driven by quantifiable data, should Christians advocate for drug use if it turns out heroine addicts' relationships last longer than sober people?

I have the same uneasiness with claiming rising or falling ASA numbers are a sure indicator of a church's doctrine.

Posted by: Chris on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 7:43pm BST

Chris,
I had read Christopher Shell to imply that non-Christians are afraid of committment and therefore entering immoral relationships, which are not as long lasting as Christian marriages.

I just wondered whether his view was based on personal assumptions that Christians would be more moral and therefore more successful in their relationships, or whether there was a touch of wishful thinking.

I apologise if I misunderstood what Christopher meant to say.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 9:20pm BST

Chris' comment above about the numbers game rings true - Timothy Radcliffe warns against attempts to promote religion on grounds like 'it's good for your health' since God then becomes another consumerist aspiration. The point of discipleship is God, not numbers, and Church History suggests God can work through both majorities and minorities.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 10:05pm BST

Mynster, I couldn't agree with you more!

I suppose my personal gripe is that a faith in God is too often equated with living an impeccable life, whereby we also pay lip-services to the fact that we're all sinners. Just a bit more righteous and somehow a bit better than the other sinners out there.

True, an awareness of God makes you automatically want to live a more self giving life, but the direct moralistic link just isn't there.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 8:35am BST

The 'exclusive relationships' of Christians clearly last longer than those of nonChristians since far fewer Christians partake in that generally transient practice known as living together.
The divorce rates of Christians and of nonChristians are similar in the States. Not yet in the UK, so far as I know.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 1:22pm BST

>> far fewer Christians partake in that generally transient practice known as living together. <<

I don't believe that is at all true for the US. The vast majority of marriages my wife presides at are between couples who have lived together -- sometimes with children.

Posted by: ruidh on Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 4:40pm BST

And didn't someone quote a letter from the Times in the UK not long ago in which a priest said he could not remember the last time he married a couple that wasn't already living together?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 7:37pm BST

Ruidh-
Is your wife episcopalian? If so, what you say is predictable. But episcopalians are only a minority of USA Christians, so how can one derive a statistic from them?
In any case, getting married in church does not mean you are a christian.


Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 17 May 2007 at 1:04pm BST

Christopher,
So episcopalians are the wrong Christians and therefore not included in your assertion that Christians don't live together before marriage.

And others who marry in church may also be excluded because they're not necessarily Christians. I agree with you there.

But it does leave the question of which kind of Christians you will allow to be included in your statistics, and how you would compile reliable statistics to show that far fewer of them cohabit than the rest of the population.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 17 May 2007 at 2:38pm BST

On July 7th I shall be conducting the marriage of my eldest son to a divorced lady, attended by their eight-month-old. My son is a strongly agnostic Anglican, my prospective daughter in law is even more strongly agnostic with gothic leanings, and little Eric is not baptised.

How many anti-Brownie points does that get me?:-))

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 17 May 2007 at 2:58pm BST

Mynster,
I can just hear them in Abuja: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 - Coming, ready or not!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 17 May 2007 at 4:01pm BST

Thanks Erika: I should have added that he currently (but not for much longer) works for the Guardian, which increases his 'predestinated to the third circle of hell' quotient!

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 17 May 2007 at 10:43pm BST

Mynsterpreost,
I think your son (and you) might just get away with all that, if he can faithfully promise that he has no gay friends.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 18 May 2007 at 8:31am BST

Erika reassured:
I think your son (and you) might just get away with all that, if he can faithfully promise that he has no gay friends.

There will be a gay priest at the wedding, plus several others of 'grey area' sexuality, so I'd better go and make sure the Instruments are ready for Showing. Last time I looked they were in a cupboard in the vestry.

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Saturday, 19 May 2007 at 10:32am BST

Mynsterpreost,
Instruments or not, this sounds severe. I think you might have to have a sign at the church door: "abandon hope, all ye who enter here".

With a heavey heart I shall pray for your souls.

Unless....if they were celibate....?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 19 May 2007 at 3:15pm BST

Erika offered a beacon of hope and respectability by suggesting (of gay wedding guests - not to be confused with guests at a gay wedding)
"Unless....if they were celibate....?"

I'm sure they were, once upon a time. Does that count?

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Saturday, 19 May 2007 at 4:32pm BST

Mynsterpreost:
"I'm sure they were, once upon a time. Does that count?"

Hm.... maybe if you promise not to shake hands with them? A bit of recoiling might help.

I sense that I'm now clutching at straws....

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 19 May 2007 at 6:44pm BST

Mynster,
Just to round off this conversation, because it will surely drop off the active list tomorrow.

I doubt that you will repent properly, and that this immoral wedding will go ahead without change and without any Christian recoiling.

The Guardian could possibly have been forgiven, the child out of wedlock definitely, the living "in sin" is about to be redeemed. The gay guests are the one true scriptural sticking point and, I'm afraid, there is no hope for you.

Although...? Trust that the Lord is loving, merciful and forgiving, which is more than can be said for many of his followers on earth.

I enjoyed this thread, thank you:-))
Enjoy the wedding!!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 19 May 2007 at 10:34pm BST
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