Friday, 9 November 2007

more on the action of the Southern Cone

Updated again Sunday evening

The Living Church has a report by George Conger: Southern Cone Offers ‘Safe Haven’ for American Dioceses.

The Bishop of Lewes is happy about it.

Reuters carried a report: Traditionalist pressure mounts on Anglican Communion.

Update Friday evening

Ruth Gledhill has a report ‘Realignment’ of Anglican Communion underway at Times Online in which she says that:

…According to well-informed insiders, Dr Rowan Williams, while opposed to separatist solutions to the Anglican crisis, has described the plan of Bishop Venables as a “sensible way forward…”

and

…Four US diocesan bishops met Bishop Venables and his bishops at his episcopal headquarters in Buenos Aires in August to discuss the plan. Bishop Venables met Dr Williams in London in September where they discussed the proposal.

In an interview with The Times, Bishop Venables said: “We have talked with a number of US dioceses and bishops. They think the could remain within the Anglican Communion if they are no longer part of The Episcopal Church. So we took an overwhelming decision in our provincial synod this week to receive into our province any diocese that wishes to come.”

The diocese must first go through the necessary synodical procedures to separate from The Episcopal Church. The San Joaquin diocese is furthest down this road. Bishop Venables said: “It is a bit like a refugee situation. If next door’s children come running out in the middle of the night, the first response must be to give them a safe place before you find out what is going on and sort it out…”

Ruth has written further about this on her blog at Anglican ‘realignment’ begins:

…I have it on impeccable authority that Rowan’s response to Bishop Greg, while not exactly falling over himself with joy, was that this was a ‘sensible way forward’. Bishop Greg discussed it briefly with the Archbishop in London in September, I understand, but Greg himself declined to tell me what the Archbishop said…

Update Sunday evening

Over on titusonenine Gregory Venables blogged a comment in which he announced his own re-election as primate of the Southern Cone (H/T GK). This must be some kind of first in ecclesiastical history:

4. Gregory wrote:

Greg Venables has just been relected unanimously as Primate.
November 8, 9:12 am

Ruth Gledhill has another version of her report in tomorrow’s Times, see US dioceses offered safe haven to secede in gay clergy row.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 8:57am GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

+Duncan, +Iker, and +Schofield will all be deposed and out of TEC by this time next year. It's time for this lunacy to be over with.

Posted by: Richard III on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 11:12am GMT

Can I enquire of +Venables and the Church of the Southern Cone - why are you still in communion with +Rowan Williams and, therefore, still members of the Anglican Communion? In 2004 your House of Bishops declared, in response to the consecration of +Robinson:

"As a consequence, this Province now shares only a profoundly impaired communion with ECUSA and, in faithfulness to the Word of God, we cannot accept this consecration as a valid one. Impaired communion means that we cannot share fellowship, ministry, Eucharist or gifts with those who have affirmed or participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson, nor with those who perform or permit blessings of same-sex unions outside historic Christian marriage, nor with any clergy who are sexually active outside marriage."

http://iglesiaboliviana.org/archives/2004/01/08/from-the-bishops-of-the-southern-cone/

The curious thing is, you define 'impaired communion' as being with those who have:

1. Affirmed or participated in the consecration of a 'practicing' homosexual as a bishop.
2. Those who perform or permit SSBs
3. Clergy sexually active outside marriage.

Yet you DO NOT regard yourself as being in 'impaired communion' with those who have knowingly ordained a practicing homosexual as a PRIEST.

Why is that, I wonder? Is it because you don't regard this as necessitating 'impaired communion'? Somehow I doubt it. Or is it perhaps because +Williams has admitted doing so and not 'repented', and if you were to include this you would have automatically declared yourselves unable to 'share fellowship, ministry, Eucharist or gifts' with him, i.e. nothing less than out of full Communion? Because, as a Lambeth Conference made quite clear, being in the Anglican Communion requires being in Communion with the ABC.

So which is it? Is it OK to ordain a practicing homosexual as a priest? Or did you just quietly forget about this in order to remain in communion with the ABC and thus a member of the Anglican Communion?

Posted by: MJ on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 1:44pm GMT

I trust that Bishop Benn's Diocesan Bishop will take steps to censure his suffragan for such actions.

Posted by: Commentator on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 5:30pm GMT

No surprise here then. Makes no difference.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 6:02pm GMT

Yes, even one Geo Carey has 'admitted' to ordaining a 'practising' gay....

I just love the same gender unions are always vilified -- whereas one nite stands pass without commment. While I have no problem with the latter, I would have thought the conseratives would have felt they should be more of a priority than 'stable' relationships, that is those that continue over (longer) time.

I suppose **the unions can't be hidden from view, whereas the non-unions are invisible --unless the conservative bishops are going to institute Clinton-Lewinky style DNA testing of clothing etc ?!

** Their superficiality, shallowness and dishonesty never fails to surprise me. I am not a bit surprised that 'at least one' of the General Synod ( minority) informal letter signatories, is a partnered gay person, according to Colin Coward, who knows the Church rather well.
I have found all my life that sexually active ( & sometimes abusive) clergy regularly speak out against "homosexuals". As a teen, apart from trying to fight one or two off, I was *staggered by their dishonesty.

* No special meaning to be read into this term !

Posted by: L Roberts on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 6:56pm GMT

L Roberts

I don't think that is correct.

Abp Carey did consecrate two bishops who, he was informed, were of homosexual orientation but celibate. And I have no reason to believe he was misinformed.

If I have misremembered this, no doubt Andrew C will correct me.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 7:48pm GMT

Commentator: Bp Benn's diocesan has himself been busy letter-writing (Don't be nasty to Duncan). He is his Lordship of Chichester.

Posted by: cryptogram on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 7:53pm GMT

Well, thats a good thing, because it opens the way for liberal churches in , say, Rochester, to be overseen by a Bishop in the USA!

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 8:20pm GMT

Goodness, how many Bishops of the Southern Cone are there? For a Province with a congregation of only 20,000, there seem to be an awful lot of chiefs.

MJ's questions deserve an answer: the inconsistencies are glaring.

Posted by: John Omani on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 8:32pm GMT

"The diocese must first go through the necessary synodical procedures to separate from The Episcopal Church. The San Joaquin diocese is furthest down this road."

This statement is simply inaccurate. There are "synodical procedures to separate from the Episcopal Church," but they are not within the jurisdiction of a diocesan convention. They are procedures of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Having placed their trust only in their own diocesan convention, the bishop and the majority of delegates in San Joaquin haven't taken the road of "synodical procedures."

There is an American saying: "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig." The Diocesan Convention in San Joaquin has led in making separatist steps; but calling their actions "synodical procedures" doesn't make it so.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 8:58pm GMT

Simon you are correct. Thankyou.

Posted by: Andrew Carey on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 9:03pm GMT

At least there has been a restoration of honesty.

They completely bemused us for a while when they pretended to be concerned about the well-being of GLBTs and those who would advocate on their behalf.

At least now they are being honest and declaring they would prefer to be in a separate communion than "tainted" by our love.

Who can you trust in interfaith dialogue? Those who would advocate for citizenship rights and decent boundaries for all peoples within one's borders or communion, or those who like to cherry pick the best and gloat that the rest are outcaste in poverty and the wilderness?

"When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him." (Proverbs 16:7)

"A bruised reed he will not break,and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” (Isaiah 42:3-4)

Those who refuse to be in communion with those who advocate tolerance and inclusion can hardly claim credibility or be trusted in their liaisons with other denominations, faiths or philosophies. Watch what they are prepared to do to their own families and contemplate that they would treat their neighbours no better. They are the kind who create dissension and can not be trusted to manifest the covenant of peace as they prefer tyranny and intimidation.

"There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

"Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs." (Proverbs 10:12)

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 9:47pm GMT

"They think the could remain within the Anglican Communion if they are no longer part of The Episcopal Church."

What!? So suddenly you don't mind TEC being in the AC, as long as you're in another province? What happened to the calls for TEC expulsion; the 'they go, or we go' demands from the GS?

Posted by: MJ on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 9:49pm GMT

If Dr. Rowan Williams gave the green light to the Lord Bishop of the Southern Cone to commit further acts of piracy on U.S. soil, the incumbent of Lambeth Palace ought to be dismissed by H.M's Government, for he brings shame and disgrace upon the Established Church as well as upon the United Kingdom, which would never countenance such shameful acts of piracy.

Posted by: John Henry on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 10:29pm GMT

One can only sincerely hope that Ruth Gledhill has got the story wrong this time, as it applies to the comments of RW. There are no "synodical procedures" by which a bishop and his diocese can disaffiliate from TEC and place themselves under the jurisdiction of another Church, incidentally taking the property and funds of TEC with them. Such an action constitutes abandoning the Communion of the Episcopal Church according to our canons. It does not matter that this abandonment and attempt to illegally transfer assets takes place to the benefit of another Church in the Anglican Communion. There are also civil laws thast govern these matters in the U.S. and the Presiding Bishop is bound by the canons of this Church to employ those laws. It is no surprise that Bishop Venables does not get this. If, however, RW thinks that this uncanonical abandonment of our Church and illegal transfer of our assets to another province of the AC is a "sensible way forward", then his reaction is more than surprising. We know that RW is on record as believing that the AC is some form of super-Church, made so by his belief and fiat, and that the Churches of the AC are merely administrative instruments, not full Churches. By exercise of his pen he seeks to redfine the AC into an international Church where the relationship of a bishop to his august office is constitutive of the ecclesial realtionship. Nevermind that there is in reality no such thing as the international Anglican Church. Nevermind that the ABC has absolutely no jurisdiction outside England. If RW's comments are his real view of the subject and he continues to act on this view, his relationship, and that of his historic office to TEC will be profoundly damaged. Does he not understand that many of the faithful in TEC will not put up with any meddling by foreign prelates and the ABC in our Church? We have always been ready to talk, as well as to go as far as the decisions of our General Convention will allow us to go in trying to forge a deeper unity among the provinces of the communion. But we won't stand still for Bishop Venables, any other primate, or the ABC becoming an active party to the dismemberment of our Church in the name of their holy opinions about the Bible. Can RW really be so naive as to allow himself to be manipulated by the religious neo-cons in this way into actions that will discredit for generations the historic see of Canterbury?

Posted by: revkarenm on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 11:18pm GMT

Oh, come now: "Abuja Ruth" (see re "Tokyo Rose") is spinning again.

If the ABC thought Southern Cone's move a "sensible way forward", then why didn't he see CANA a sensible way forward (resulting in ?Minns' Lambeth invitation)? Or the AMIA bishops a sensible way forward, w/ *their* Lambeth invites?

This "shop for a province/primate to match my biases" approach guarantees only CHAOS---the furthest thing from Anglican unity!

...and it's no wonder that Rowan Cantuar, like his policy on CANA & AMIA, will have nothing to do w/ it.

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 12:09am GMT

Yet these so called "conservatives" are all liberal on divorce and re-marriage and contraception! Condemned by Lambeth 1920.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 12:25am GMT

Even assuming the story has legs, it would contradict Rowan Williams's own limited qualification that the national Church delivers a unity of canon law.

The point of this is that if Duncan, Iker etc. run off to the Southern Cone, with whoever wants to follow, TEC will replace them. They can go where they like, as anyone can. If the Southern Cone sets up dioceses in the US, then there will be an issue of who is legitimately part of the Anglican Communion, and who isn't, if there can only be one in one place, or if there is going to be two Anglican dioceses in one place.

I'd say why not to two or more, so long as they set up their own organisation and assets in either their own continuing Anglicanism or under such as the Southern Cone. It is consistent with a loose communion - it may not be with Rowan Williams's own view of course.

One again the Archbishop has got to get it out of his head that there is something like an International Anglican (Catholic) Church. There isn't and it simply won't be recognised where it wants to impose itself. The Anglican Communion consists of Churches and they are the ones, as he said in his limited qualification, that deliver a "unity of canon law".

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 12:46am GMT

If Rowan Williams does not publish an explicit refutation to the Gledhill story, he is likely to be in deep political difficulties. I have no difficulty believing that he would be inclined to think that he could muddle his way through it while talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 12:57am GMT

Ruth Gledhill has not been a reliable source for information. Am I the only one to notice that?

Posted by: Curtis on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 1:01am GMT

Isn't it possible that what ++Rowan thought he was agreeing to was a form of Alternative Primatial Oversight? That would of course have to be granted with the consent of the Episcopal Church, so it's not what ++Venables is offering, and not we are talking about here. But I don't think they tell ++Rowan everything, and I don't think he's always aware of the uses to which his remarks are put, especially when they are privately given. Cf. Martyn Minn's stories about the formation of the Network.

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 4:24am GMT

L Roberts, thanks for the reference to me.

I deliberately didn't say whether the one or more partnered gay priests who had signed the letter were members of General Synod or in the additional signatories who are not Synod members. I deliberately do not wish to draw attention to the person(s) concerned. There is at least one person among the General Synod signatories who was in the past, if not not now, actively sexual with other men.

I wanted to raise awareness of two things.

1. Those seeking realignment in the Anglican Communion will have among them lesbian, gay and bisexual people (and possibly people who are transgendered) and some of them will be, if not partnered, then sexually active. I relate this to concerns expressed above - a faithfully partnered gay priest or bishop is totally unacceptable to this group, but they are disinterested in those among their own number who are unfaithful not ony to themselves in terms of sexual identity and promiscuity, but to their wives and, in some cases, husbands.

2. Some of those aligned with the secessionists are indeed gay, ordained, and partnered, and by implication sexually active, and by further implication, dishonest about themselves and to those with whom they are joining in this attempt to create a church cleansed of sexually active gay people.

Posted by: Colin Coward on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 8:32am GMT

"Nevermind that the ABC has absolutely no jurisdiction outside England". Not true. Archbishop Rowan has jurisdiction across the 44 countries of the (C of E) Diocese in Europe.

Posted by: FCH on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 9:02am GMT

I am a little perplexed by some of the reactions to all this.

As I understand it the PB of TEC is about to begin a process to depose the bishops of Pittsburgh etc. Each of these former TEC bishops will continue to have a following of (deposed) priests and former Lay members of TEC at their present locale.

While it is true the Southern Cone appears to be making a paper offer that differs from that enjoyed by the people who were once part of the diocese of Recife (Brazil), this will make no material difference as to how it will be perceived elsewhere. There is a new bishop in Recife and there will be new bishops in Pittsburgh etc.

The former bishop of Recife is not invited to Lambeth.

I can see no possible reason why this Southern Cone intervention will have any more appeal to Lambeth or be given any more legitimacy than the personal prelature of bishop Venables or that inspired by Minns and his allies.

Personally, I do not want these people to leave, I do not want anyone disfellowshipped or unchurched. So perhaps the pastoral heart of Dr Williams will agree with mine and welcome the fact that (politics aside) someone is caring for these people. I think Ruth Gledhill might find this more likely to be Rowan’s view than any implicit acceptance of legitimacy.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 10:49am GMT

Robert Ian Williams wrote: "Yet these so called "conservatives" are all liberal on divorce and re-marriage and contraception! Condemned by Lambeth 1920."

Which makes it all the more necessary for them to find another hill to die on...

(only, I don't actually think they realize they will...)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 3:54pm GMT

"Isn't it possible that what ++Rowan thought he was agreeing to was a form of Alternative Primatial Oversight? That would of course have to be granted with the consent of the Episcopal Church, so it's not what ++Venables is offering, and not we are talking about here. But I don't think they tell ++Rowan everything, and I don't think he's always aware of the uses to which his remarks are put, especially when they are privately given. Cf. Martyn Minn's stories about the formation of the Network."

Many things are possible, but what is not possible is to please both sides in a nasty argument. That is what Rowan Williams typically tries to do. He seems to think that if he uses his cloudy Oxbridge oracle speak that nobody will really know what he means. If people are in fact misquoting him in public then he needs to correct that. Of course then those people would probably be mad at him and he wouldn't know what to do about that.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 4:59pm GMT

"But I do have to ask, if doctrine can be changed unilaterally, why not structure?"

Said Ruth Gledhill, whereas some of us would ask what doctrine has been changed unilaterally. Assumptions made are poor starters of an argument for comparison.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 5:38pm GMT

A sure way to tell whether someone is interested in uinderstanding those with whom they disagree is to see whether or not they tar them all with the same brush.

It is fairly clear to me that divorce is a worse, not a better, thing than homosexual practice, according to some criteria. For example, divorce is saying yes to division and no to reconciliation, whereas homosexual practice may in some circumstances simply be down to weakness of will. Firm resolve to sin is obviously worse than succumbing to weakness of will.

The pattern of following societal trends is correctly identified. Some do so more than others: ie the less educated; those less able to think internationally and/or outside their own culture or subculture; those who are terrified of holding unpopular opinions and losing status in their peer-group, as opposed to wrestling with the questions and following their provisional convictions.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 6:27pm GMT

Hi Colin

Your remarks reminded me of that significant anti-homosexual Christian leader in the US who was busted last year for being homosexually active for quite some time, and had kept it a secret until it was exposed.

I owe God an apology but I was really happy that it happened, because it demonstrated the hypocrisy of the leaders, and that they have set the bar so high that not even their own can keep the standard.

You might like Ephesians 2:13-22 "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Saturday, 10 November 2007 at 8:42pm GMT

Christopher: the strange thing about your remarks is that it is gay people who have such experience of being counter-cultural, and the Conservative Evangelicals who are trying to enforce unthinking acceptance of social norms - it's just that their norms are those of the 1950s rather than the 21st c. Any gay person knows well what it is like to have to stand apart from the crowd and all its values, because they have had no choice but to grow up differently from everyone else around them.
All the whole debate comes down to is that the Con Evos are very old-fashioned. They aren't comfortable with sex at all, and they have written anyone other than the Victorian values happy family out of the script for a long time. Now they are perhaps reluctantly beginning to accept the fact that straight people will not be told by judgmental churchpeople how to manage their love-lives. They are screaming blue murder like stroppy adolescents, doing anything to avoid the reality that all churches, all communities, in fact contain these weird gay people who do not conform to their norms. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to learn from the gay community what it is truly like to be counter-cultural, they would rather do anything to avoid allowing gay people to talk honestly and openly in church. How twisted a form of Christian values is that?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 11 November 2007 at 9:40am GMT

Watch this brief video and tell me who is pandering to the popular culture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X6th4pQTq8

Posted by: JPM on Sunday, 11 November 2007 at 3:16pm GMT

By far the worst part, as far as I got, was the whole "lifting up of the hands" thing. Sorry, it's my own sinful judgementalism, but every time I see people waving their arms about, as though trying to get God's attention or maybe everybody else's, all I can think is "When ye pray, be not like the Pharisees." Oh, and a drum kit in Church? ICK!!!!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 11 November 2007 at 8:47pm GMT

Ford....

http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Psalm+134

Posted by: NP on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 9:55am GMT

Ford,
Sitting in quiet contemplation is not the only way to experience God. Music, Dance and Art are very valid and often joyful pathways too. I don't much like the routine armwaving either, but I would not want to believe that it stops God from speaking to those who do it. I have equal difficulties with some of the high church rituals.

However you may personally recoil at some of the rituals because they are not your pathway to God, Rowan William's wife is an evangelical, and I don't think he would have married someone shallow and stupid.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 10:01am GMT

Erika:

While I agree that music, dance and art are excellent forms of worship, I still cringe at most of the modern evangelical practices...they don't feel like worship, they feel like performance.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 11:51am GMT

Hi Fr Mark

Don't you think that a society's presuppositions about whether gay is an option at all affect the number of people who style themselves gay? For example: I am a member of an absolutely massive Hindu family, all of whom get married as a matter of course. The question of anyone being gay has never even remotely been raised, nor does any one member display gay characteristics or sympathies. They are nevertheless pretty uniformly successful, good humoured and well-balanced. The west has a mental block on refusing to admit that increased choice is not by definition a good thing, despite any evidence to the contrary.

What I can't work out is why you view family values as a bad thing. If an era (such as the 1950s - though citing the 1950s and Victorian age is worryingly cliched) happens to display quite overwhelmingly better stats than our own on matters such as abortion, divorce, obscenity in public publications and media, promiscuity and extramarital sex, then it is obvious which era a Christian (or normal caring person) would prefer. An era that has worse stats will obviously aspire to become like an era with better stats - unless there is a hidden, irrational/mindless ideology inexorably driving it. Is it true that you think 'family values' are something 'positively negative' - and if so, why? Do you also think that love and care for children is something negative? Or intergenerational fun and sharing - is that negative? I am trying to disentangle your thoughts.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 1:13pm GMT

Pat,
I feel the same about the manic arm waving.
But whenever I worship in a Cathedral the processions, the kissing of the Bible etc feel like performance to me.
I know they are worship for those who regularly attend.

My point really was that we ought to differentiate between valid criticism of evangelical theology and invalid judgement simply because of different personal preference and external impressions.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 2:20pm GMT

"Don't you think that a society's presuppositions about whether gay is an option at all affect the number of people who style themselves gay?"

Could you give me one single reason why anyone would choose to live a life condemned by his society? Why a gay Muslim would risk being stoned to death? Why Nigerians like Davis would risk beatings and imprisonment, separation from their families and having to live in Exile, always afraid, always looking over their shoulder?

Have you not read on TA that many gay people even in the free West spent years praying to be "healed" before accepting themselves as who they are?

Give me just one reason why anyone would put themselves through this if they genuinely had a choice!

You may be right about bisexuals in the West who would, in the past, not have followed their same sex orientation because of reprisals, but who did not necessarily need to do that in order to live a fulfilled life. But that's about it.

Your family story is interesting but only shows that people will do everything to remain in the closet if they're afraid of their environment. It probably also shows that you are not very observant.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 3:03pm GMT

Christopher,
we do accept genuine family values. We don't accept the Victorian kind that kept women under the rule of their husbands, tolerated violence against women and children, and put gay people in prison.

The real Christian values are rightly prized.
My partner and I try very hard to provide just the loving and stable environment for my girls that you so desire and believe to be so lacking in our society. We also want a world in which fewer relationships fail and in which genuine values thrive.

Why don't you lay your prejudices aside and help us by supporting what we do rather than condemning us because we are not a traditional family unit?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 4:02pm GMT

"By far the worst part, as far as I got, was the whole "lifting up of the hands" thing. Sorry, it's my own sinful judgementalism, but every time I see people waving their arms about, as though trying to get God's attention or maybe everybody else's, all I can think is "When ye pray, be not like the Pharisees." Oh, and a drum kit in Church? ICK!!!!"-Ford Elms

PICK ME JESUS!!! I"VE GOT ALL THE ANSWERS!!!!!

Well put Ford. As I said earlier, it's demonstrative, attention seeking and all about "me".

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 4:09pm GMT

Christopher: yours is an interesting comment. On the question of choice, I don't think any gay person would say they chose to be gay. In cultures where using the word "gay" is taboo, men just get married and then have illicit sexual relations with other men without ever talking about it. That would be the case right across the Muslim world - already in the 19th c, there were plenty of what we would now call "sex tourists" from Europe travelling to North Africa and the Middle East to pick up the local men. I'm not familiar with Hindu culture so much, but British Asian men are just as much in evidence on the "gay scene" of London as any other group, so they obviously have the same needs as anyone else.
On Victorian values - read the novels of George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, etc. They are almost without exception concerned with women trapped in horrid marriage relationships/ being treated as property by the rest of society - not much of a recommendation of the Victorian way of marriage. The 1950s saw gay people in Britain sent to prison, blackmailed, commit suicid from fear of exposure - it was a really horrible time. (It was also a very racist time in the UK.) Anyone different was treated badly. You don't think that was good, do you?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 5:36pm GMT

"What I can't work out is why you view family values as a bad thing. If an era (such as the 1950s - though citing the 1950s and Victorian age is worryingly cliched) happens to display quite overwhelmingly better stats than our own on matters such as abortion, divorce, obscenity in public publications and media, promiscuity and extramarital sex, then it is obvious which era a Christian (or normal caring person) would prefer."

Most of those things were no less prevalent in 1950s society than today...they were just better hidden. What's preferable, Christopher, for a couple to live on and on in an unhappy marriage, making themselves and their kids miserable...or for them to seek an amicable divorce?

Which is preferable? For a girl who makes a mistake and gets pregnant to bear a child she can't manage, or to abort the pregnancy? Is it preferable to have a growing population of unwanted children?

And, of course, obscenity--as a Supreme Court Justice once famously noted--is in the eye of the beholder. What's more obscene--a few four-letter words for parts of the human anatomy? Or an entire human body being blasted apart by a land mine?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 7:06pm GMT

"a society's presuppositions about whether gay is an option at all "

I'm both offended and intrigued by this. Offended that someone who has shown himself willing to believe any pseudoscience as long as it paints me out to be somehow damaged goods would dismiss TEN YEARS of wrestling with God, pleading with God, hiding, self-loathing, and trying to be "normal" as a mere rebellious choice. How much have you listened to anyone who DIDN'T confirm your stereotypes about gay people?

Intrigued because, if you believe sexuality to be somehow a choice, then either everybody gets a choice, or only gays get a choice and some of them make the wrong one. When and how did you make your choice, Christopher? What were the consequences? And where do you get off saying that we don't respect family values? In case you hadn't noticed, the Anglican Church is about to split because gay people have so much respect for family values, we want to have our families recognized. It is your crowd who don't respect OUR families. And how many of your Hindu family are actually gay people living lives of quiet desparation in hiding because of the stigma of NOT entering into a marriage based on perceived social necessity rather than honesty? Hiding away in a marriage is an easy thing to do when your culture expects it and the consequences of coming out are so severe. Or are you saying it is a good thing to lie? Finally, I grew up in the bosom of an extended family, not unlike that of your Hindu relatives, I imagine. It is a model that is being destroyed by the "nuclear family" that America based EVos foist on everyone as God given when in reality it is a product of our highly mobile industrialized Consumerist society. So don't give me that crap about 'family values' that's just another mindless Evo catch phrase meant to herd the sheep amd when Eos, at least in America, block every single move to give government support to families.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 9:27pm GMT

In the subsection of the Hindu culture of which I speak, the vast majority of time is spent with family as opposed to with friends - let alone in unknown locations. No-one shows any aversion to bearing children with the opposite gender.

That said, British Asians are bound to be more active on the gay scene than Asians in various other cultures, because the British culture seeps into them step by step till they become virtually British. Thus various beautiful cultures with their own integrity get mcdonaldised, uniformised and americanised. I hope I am not around long enough to see the completion of this process.

Believing or not believing something to be an option at all is absolutely the key. Speak to anyone: those who received the impression that drugtaking was an option are much more likely to undulge in it than those who either had never heard of it or had seen it stigmatised as the sort of thing that other types of people (not our type) do. Sounds snobbish, but that is a small sacrifice to make for the longterm gains. Nowadays even 11 and 12 year olds are being officially told that they can choose whether or not to take drugs. Same with gay behaviour. No-one can seriously say that this type of presentation has no effect on either perceptions of normality or actual take-up rate.

Pat, is it good to have unwanted children? No - it is a blasphemy that any parent should feel that way about their child. You present a false dichotomy as though there were only two options, both negative. Don't you like the sound of the positive options? Do you prefer negative things to positive? That is the definition of being contrary. Being killed is better than being unwanted? Why isn't it better to say that being wanted is better than being unwanted? There are any number of cultures where every child is treasured. Are you refusing to stand up for the child's right to be wanted, or for the perception to be taught that every child is precious and special? These things are about as fundamental as one can get.

Once again you present a false dichotomy in your final para. It is perfectly possible to have obscenity in the arenas both of sex and of violence. Where is the logic in implying that only one of these two can ever be obscene?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 1:07pm GMT

Hi Erika-

I would be intrigued by your answer to this point:

Why do you think that Jewish, Asian etc families are so successful at school and in later life?

Are they more or less than averagely stable/trad families?

Is there any connection between these two things?

Two women may do a great job - but universalising the two-women option and teh two-man option will mean an overall fall in standards - because there is a strong correlation between healthy families and traditional marriage. So let us look beyond our own single families as though they are determinative for the world at large, and start caring for the health of that world. If it ain't broke don't fix it. The alternatives all do less well than the original model. By all means if you find an alternative that does better, adopt and universalise that. But don't sing the praises of a model which on average does *less* well than the very one it abandoned and is trying to replace.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 1:20pm GMT

"this type of presentation"

Christopher, how many gay people have to tell you they did not "choose" in some fashion their sexuality before you will believe it? You didn't choose your sexuality. (Or perhaps you did, which opens a whole other can of worms, though that would explain some of your attitudes). How many of us must describe in painful detail the hours spent praying to be "normal", the shame with which we hid, the fear of being found out, the experimenting with members of the opposite sex trying desparately to find the one person who would somehow make it work? In your Hindu extended family, there is likely one person who is dealing with this. A gay person in that environment can either hide, which is all s/he feels deserving of anyway, or suffer the extreme social punishment of coming out. Which would you choose, dishonest conformity, or loss of family, social support, and perhaps even life in the interest of honesty? This subtle "you're really just a selfish rebel choosing this to rub our good Christian morals in our faces" is deeply offensive, untrue, and reveals your ignorance and bigotry. For the last time, I did not choose this, I wasted ten years of my life praying that God would deliver me from it, and the only thing He ever sent me was someone who tried to talk me into coming out. There is s significant negative social cost for being gay, and we still pay it, in some instances with our lives, and despite all this, despite being told it over and over, you insist on trying to make it look like I am somehow choosing this? Why? It's not about deciding to be something, it's about coming to terms with something you have hidden from in shame for years. Who are you going to listen to, us who live the life, or your own bigotted need to see us as somehow deserving of condemnation?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 4:56pm GMT

Christopher Shell-

"Two women may do a great job-..." so why do you work so hard to forbidding others to follow them?

And how is it that we are "abandoning" and "replacing" the existing model? Some of these models within their own categories work and some don't. Your generalizations nothing but sloppy exclusive bigotry, period.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 5:00pm GMT

Christopher Shell-

"Two women may do a great job-..." so why do you work so hard to forbidding others to follow them?

And how is it that we are "abandoning" and "replacing" the existing model? Some of these models within their own categories work and some don't. Your generalizations nothing but sloppy exclusive bigotry, period.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 5:09pm GMT

Hi Christopher,
People who prize education are successful at it. What's the point of the question?

I'm not actually interested in "stable" families per se, but I am interested in the quality of life within those families. If stable means hiding Dad's alcoholism because of what the neighbours might say, then I don't care one bit for it. You have to look past the external and to what is actually happening within those families. That alone determines whether they are stable or not.

I'm not sure I said anywhere that I want to universalise 2 women bringing up children. You did not comment on Ford's main point on the other thread - did you have to choose your sexuality and was it a struggle for you? I somehow don't think it was. So we can safely say that gay people don't choose theirs either, which means that the absolute percentage of same gender parents is never going to increase beyond a certain point. There is no danger that "universalising" will bring with it a sudden domination of same sex parenting in the world.
Of course, it's like the "stable" families we discussed above. I am not interested in the externals of any family relationship, and if gay parents have got what it takes to bring up children in a stable relationship we can only applaud and encourage that.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 5:24pm GMT

"Nowadays even 11 and 12 year olds are being officially told that they can choose whether or not to take drugs. Same with gay behaviour. No-one can seriously say that this type of presentation has no effect on either perceptions of normality or actual take-up rate."

Fact is, they CAN chose whether to take drugs or not, and it's no good us pretending that they can't. We'd do better to acknowledge it and give them the maturity to say no.

I agree with you that gay behaviour is being seen as more normal. Thank God! The "take up rate" as you call it, will increase because fewer people hide in shame and self loathing, but claim their right to the same loving relationships that straights have always claimed as their birthright.
I see nothing wrong with that.

We will naturally get to a saturation point where all those who wish to acknowledge their homosexuality openly can do so in safety, and beyond that the numbers simply cannot increase.

As Ford pointed out earlier - gays choose to be gay just in the same way you chose to be straight, i.e. not at all.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 5:31pm GMT

Christopher: I don't think the success of the British Asian community is particularly to do with family values. British Asians of Hindu, Sikh, or ethnic Chinese backgrounds have in general been astonishingly successful in terms of educational and economic achievement since they moved to the UK, whereas the British Muslim community has been less so. But don't Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities in the UK all come from what was pre-1947 the same country, and from a similar family ethic? I may be completely wrong: please correct me if so. You don't seem very happy at the prospect of British Asians losing their distinctive cultural values, but surely that will be an indicator of being fully at home in British society? The Asian community in Britain has brought a huge amount with it, and parts of its ethical, aesthetic, gastronomic and religious culture have become available to, and taken up enthusiastically by, the wider society. All British kids learn about Hinduism and Sikhism in RS lessons in school, for example (unimaginable 50 years ago); and Indian restaurants do a roaring trade among the whole population. However, if you move to another country/ continent, you cannot expect your descendants to avoid falling in love with people outside your family background, or to try to live as if they were in the country of the family's origin. The experience of emigration will change the emigrant more than the land emigrated to, surely. Why would that be unpleasant? I think it's great that we have European Hindus now, and they are and should be fully European once they have chosen to settle here.
British culture is not "seeping" into them: it is now their culture. Sorry to ramble on, but I've worked a lot with immigrants in the UK, and am interested in the psychology of immigration, and, not least, why Christian immigrants from developing countries tend to be very against the liberal side of the Church (NP seems also to be a case in point here). The people that are most welcoming to immigrants are the social liberals in Britain, yet we regularly have to hear how awful our society is because it accepts gay people. I find that odd.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 7:05pm GMT

And Christopher, you didn't answer my question about the 1950s. What do you think about the morality of that period? Was it really any more Christian to make life difficult for the non-whites; the Irish; the gays; the unmarried mothers; the divorced; etc, etc?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 8:01pm GMT

Colin Coward wrote:
"I deliberately didn't say whether the one or more partnered gay priests who had signed the letter were members of General Synod or in the additional signatories who are not Synod members. I deliberately do not wish to draw attention to the person(s) concerned. There is at least one person among the General Synod signatories who was in the past, if not not now, actively sexual with other men." Trouble is, Fr Coward, that you've drawn attention to the "person(s) concerned" and several other priests, setting off a potential guessing game about who it was.

I must admit that I'm rather taken aback by the vitriolic attitude towards the anonymous priest exhibited in many posts. A possible heterosexual analogy - the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, a genuinely devout Roman Catholic who nevertheless kept a mistress, Frau Schratt, for many years. A matter for him, Frau Schratt, God and their respective confessors...

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 8:41pm GMT

"I must admit that I'm rather taken aback by the vitriolic attitude towards the anonymous priest exhibited in many posts. A possible heterosexual analogy - the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, a genuinely devout Roman Catholic who nevertheless kept a mistress, Frau Schratt, for many years. A matter for him, Frau Schratt, God and their respective confessors..."

As long as he keeps his life private and doesn't use his position to denounce others like him that's fine. But are you genuinely saying it's ok for him to lobby against me in public while living the same life as me in private? And that's Christian?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 9:00pm GMT

Hi Fr Mark-

I don't get your point. Clearly the 1950s were *both* better on quantities of abortions, divorces, obscenity, extramarital sex, family breakdown... *and* better on racial attitudes. It would make no sense at all to have a universally good or universally bad view of any period of history. If there were ways in which the 1950s were better (and there were) let's learn from the 1950s - and from any other decade in which some things were better. How did they do it? Let's learn and copy. If there were ways in which they were worse (and there were) then let's also learn from those how to avoid returning to such a state.

If a former decade or period achieves certain levels of X or Y, that shows that those levels are certainly achievable: otherwise, they would neve have been achieved.

It is such a cliche to say that people are advocating a wholesale return to the 1950s or Victorian period. Any sane person would advocate a return to those aspects which were better than today, and not to those which were worse. It is only the most unscholarly and unthinking who would consider that our own age was better - or worse - in *every* possible way. Come off it - how could it be?

Hi Erika-
It is not true that people that age can choose about drugs, in every instance. For example, those who have never heard about drugs, or have only a dim perception of what they are, cannot choose, because they don't have the relevant concepts. And in fact in most generations they have not been so aware. Therefore media and teachers by broadcasting about drugs are helping create the problem. This is not ostrichery. It is merely the truth: that millions of people of that age never had any knowledge of anything about drugs whatsoever. That is demonstrably the best recipe for ensuring they don't take them, since (as with sex education) information has increased precisely hand-in-hand with the take-up rate. Which is entirely unsurprising.

You don't wish to universalise woman-woman-led families!! You wish to universalise the *option* of them. They automatically involve broken relationships (who fatherered the children, after all?) and are therefore intrinsically liable to be unhealthy.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 1:11pm GMT

How were the 50s better on racial attitudes? Have you never heard of the "No blacks, no Irish" notices that used to go up in Liverpool boarding houses then? It was a terribly racist time, a terribly xenophobic time, a terribly homophobic time, and a terribly sexist time - the three attitudes often go together - but it was also a time when churchgoing was high. The moral strictness of the 1950s largely explains why the 1960s "happened", after all: the "permissive society" didn't just appear from a vacuum - there were reasons.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 5:24pm GMT

"Clearly the 1950s were *both* better on quantities of abortions, divorces, obscenity, extramarital sex, family breakdown... *and* better on racial attitudes."
The 1950s: better on abortion rates, worse on the rate of young women dying horrible deaths from botched illegal abortions. Better on divorce, worse on the misery suffered by people in bad marriages who cannot divorce. "Obscenity"? Define please. Some would consider lynching an obscenity. "extramarital sex? Oh, come on. Just because people pretend they are virgins doesn't mean they are! A recent survey published in Canada that surveyed people of all ages reveals that going as far back as the 1930s, I believe, certainly before the 50s, only around 60% of people were virgins on their wedding nights, and most of the the other 40% had had more than one partner! This generation didn't invent promiscuity nor extramarital sex for that matter. Better on racial attitudes? I hope I'm reading this wrong, but are you actually saying that race relations were better in the 50s? You seem to value appearances very highly. No odds what's going on behind closed doors as long as things look respectable.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 5:47pm GMT

"(as with sex education) information has increased precisely hand-in-hand with the take-up rate."

http://www.statcan.ca/english/kits/preg/preg3.htm

This would seem to deal a blow to your idea that a) teen pregnancy is increasing and that b) availability of sex education is the cause. Now sexual activity is another matter, of course, but that being the case, how fortunate that sexually active kids are more likely to know about safer sex practices now than they were in my generation. All the same, I have to agree that all this openness has taken all the fun out of it compared to when I was a teenager! If it ain't forbidden or naughty, why do it? And are you seriously trying to say that, if we commit the horrible act of telling kids that gay people are actually human beings and not sick or depraved or worthy of scorn, or even death, that more kids might turn gay? This can only be supported if you believe that sexuality is a choice, so I guess I can understand why it is that you won't admit your error.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 6:28pm GMT

In the 1950s in Australia we were still living under the "White Australia Policy", where only people who looked anglicised could emigrate to Australia and any hint of negro or asian was grounds for rejection. It was the time of the "Stolen Generation" where Aboriginal children were confiscated from their "unsuitable" native families and placed into "suitable" families to be integrated into "proper" Australian society, a missive that opening acknowledged it was an attempt at cultural genocide - so complacent that they were oblivious to the fundamental immorality of what they were doing.

It was the time where a woman was more likely to be killed if she left a violent husband than if she remained to allow herself and her children to be beaten whenever her husband was taken by rages.

The statistics looked better because the violence of the times was not being reported, and much of that violence wasn't even seen to be a problem at that time.

A bit like the article I read about Kenya last year where a husband beheaded his wife for being troublesome and the male villagers saw no problem with him getting rid of the equivalent of an unruly piece of cattle. I'm sure she didn't show up in Kenya's crime statistics, nor the female children who a left to the hyenas when their wombs are torn open by births before their bodies had suitably matured.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 7:48pm GMT

Oops, FOUR attitudes, I think (too much claret)!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 8:54pm GMT

"The statistics looked better because the violence of the times was not being reported, and much of that violence wasn't even seen to be a problem at that time."

Which is a GOOD THING, Cheryl. We must pretend that our public morals actually DO lead to a better society, so we can't possibly admit that the sneaking and shame and guilt and secrecy that this public display of morality must necessarily cause actually ARE happening!

See, I thought the 60s were all about exposing that kind of hypocrisy. I can't believe there is anyone who looks back on those days as anything other than a prime example of hypocrisy and societal self-delusion.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 12:00pm GMT

Robert Ian Williams,

There are a couple of important points if you go beyond the surface. You said, "Yet these so called "conservatives" are all liberal on divorce and re-marriage and contraception! Condemned by Lambeth 1920."
1. To take the last and most "outrageous" point for this generation first, contraception has not itself proved an unmixed blessing. The position that it is important to think about this in the context of who we are as whole human beings and the larger coherent purpose of sexual union (that includes openness to the birth of children)I respect. What is quetionable is the unthinking mechanical view of humans (i.e. they are "sex machines"), that sex is simply for pleasure and so "do what feels good."

2. You are right there is great confusion across the spectrum on divorce and re-marriage. I do hear a concern in general among people you label "conservatives" for the unity of man and woman in marriage for life. And the rcognition that in this confused and distorted age people often fail in this area. It does not become a place to "re-interpret" the Bible to justify this and call it good! Further, you are right there are deeper issues in the appointment of Gene Robinson as bishop than the on-going bruha-ha. If a bishop is to serve specifically as an example of marital faithfulness (1 Tim 3:2-7; Titus 1:5-9) the prior issue of his divorce is the salient matter at issue (if the response is to douse the light we have how can we then find our way out of this darkness?). Sweeping generalizations do not serve the purpose of truth or understanding one another.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 4:41pm GMT

Ford,

Who says there were no moral bindspots in the sixties? It was very much part of the mentality that "we live in this enlightened/modern time." Made it all the more difficult to come to grips with real evils. But if this was arrogance what you express is little short of blind arrogance, "I can't believe there is anyone who looks back on those days as anything other than a prime example of hypocrisy and societal self-delusion."

Apparently now it is a little group of enlightened ones that have attained a state far above "hypocrisy and societal self-delusion." Those who can finally enlighten the rest of the lowly earth-bound clods. To be able in one sweep to dismiss this whole period and this whole generation (of M L King, Trevor Huddleston, Mother Teresa, many ordinary decent people caring for families and the good of all etc)?! Amazing!

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 5:47pm GMT

What is "amazing" is your dialectics, methinks, Ben W.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 11:31pm GMT

Ben: a propos your comments on the remarriage of divorcees, are you aware that the current Bishop of Winchester and the former Abp of Canterbury, Geo Carey, have been the two bishops arguing most eloquently for the C of E to loosen up its policy on this? Yet they are both also two bishops who regularly stick their oar into the gay debate on the conservative side. So, the question, which I keep asking people from the conservative side and never get an answer to, is why should we be liberal on divorce, but not on gay people?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 8:52am GMT

Ben W,
I got all righteously indignant, a signature fault of mine, and went too far. Of course every era has its blind spots, and I do believe that society is neither progressing nor regressing, in actuality, that overall benefits in certain areas are ablanced out by regressions in others. Seriously, though, do you really support Christopher's claim that any of the things he mentioned were actually better in the 50s? Race relations alone was such a ridiculous comment that, after the fact of course, I began to think that he was saying things like this just to get the knee jerk liberals all worked up, in which case I fell for it an embarrassingly public fashion. The 60s were a reaction against that kind of hypocrisy, and that was a good thing. Do you really think it's worse for a 16 year old to be having sex than it is for a 23 year old to die a horrible death from sepsis brought about by a botched abortion? Or for couples to stay together and ruin the lives of both themselves and their children so as to give the public impression of a happy marriage? And 'obscenity' has to do with a lot more than whether or not you are publically confronted with sexual things you find distasteful. Religious leaders supporting the bombing of innocents so that billionairres can get even richer comes to mind.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 11:22am GMT

Hi all-
Whoops! I meant to write: 'clearly the 1950s were *both* better on abortion, divorce etc *and* worse on racial attitudes. Sorry about the slip.

Divorce stats are not possible to fake. Obscenity - we all know perfectly well about the proliferation first in newsagents from c1970 and then on the internet. Abortion - there were only a projected 35000 in 1968 (23,000 since end of April) and 54000 in 1969 - now 193,000 in Britain. Promiscuity - come off it, you know the stats about how many or few virgins at marriage there now are compared to the 1950s. These are differences of stratospheric proportions, and all serve to confuse, confound and mix up a structured and happy family life.

So, anyone who says that the stats would have been just as bad on all these things if they had been properly collected in the 1950s - that cannot even remotely be true, can it? Not by hundreds of percent.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 2:08pm GMT

"Promiscuity - come off it, you know the stats about how many or few virgins at marriage there now are compared to the 1950s."

Given the standards of the era, do you honestly believe that anyone--particularly a woman--asked in 1955 about her virginity at marriage would have answered anything other than "Yes, I was a virgin"? (And, as I noted, the standard was entirely different for men.)

You want a real indication of whether "promiscuity" was higher or lower then? Check marriage and birth records (particularly of first-borns). I suspect you'll find a very high percentage of what look like premature births...but really aren't.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 7:49pm GMT

Christopher Shell,

We have seen you "quote" statistics before, you know...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 8:11pm GMT

"Promiscuity - come off it, you know the stats about how many or few virgins at marriage there now are compared to the 1950s"

Indeed I do, far better than you, it appears.

"Obscenity - we all know perfectly well about the proliferation first in newsagents from c1970 and then on the internet."

As I said, what you are talking about is only one kind of obscenity. Now why aren't you bothered by those kinds that aren't sexual? And again, why is it better for a woman to die of sepsis than for a teenager to have sex?

"all serve to confuse, confound and mix up a structured and happy family life."

And maintaining the fiction of a happy marriage while you and your spouse hate each other and ruin your children's lives doesn't?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 8:22pm GMT

Christopher: have you seen the film "Vera Drake", then?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 9:26pm GMT

Chuckles, love the tongue in cheek postings.

One thing I've been contemplating in the last few days is that many souls have forgotten the imperative to create a desirable vision.

There are too many cynical religious teachers who have forgotten that church communities and sermons can be inspirational.

There is the possibility of painting "utopian" visions of what the world/families/communities would be like if God's will was being made fully manifest without the hindrances of rebellion, aggression and accusations. They have forgotten that children, adolescents and their (grand)parents come to sermons and go home and talk about what is preached.

They have forgotten that great reformations happen because souls are INSPIRED to undertake great reformations - to end slavery, usury, discrimination, corruption and abuse. Martin Luther King "I have a dream" or secular leaders such as John F. Kennedy. Look at some of his famous quotes http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_f_kennedy.html

Try and tell me this is a man that wasn't influenced by the church and the bible when you read this one "Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder."

Read the visions from the bible that promise an end to tyranny, covenants of everlasting peace, promises that God would never again flood the whole earth.

Some have forgotten that church communities in and of themselves can be inspiring. It is inspirational to enter into a community that accepts you and treats you gently, irregardless of your genitals or past history. It is inspirational to be part of a community where no one insults any one else and where people rejoice in your successes and comfort you in your failures.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 7:24am GMT

"Promiscuity - come off it, you know the stats about how many or few virgins at marriage there now are compared to the 1950s"

I had a very religious friend who as a teenager (many many years ago!) was caught by her mother in a non penetrative sexual act. She had thought that was perfectly ok because it wasn't sex before marriage.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 7:39am GMT

"mix up a structured and happy family life."

Have you ever wondered why it would be that all these happy people leave their families?

Wouldn't you agree that it's totally irrational to want to get out of a happy situation?
In fact, it's so irrational that we'd have to concede that it isn't happening like that at all.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 8:33am GMT

Hi Fr Mark-
Your quoting of Vera Drake as an authority confirms what I have long felt: that moving films are felt to be more true than actual fact. Naturally, because they move us so much. They(not the factual reality) are what stays in our minds. Thus people will see 'Anything Goes' as evidence for what Aimee Semple MacPherson was really like; and will understand CS Lewis to have temporarily lost his faith on the basis of the semi-factual play Shadowlands, which all who knew CS Lewis confirm is far from the reality.

I don't get the point about so-called premature births. The point was only that (because of societal expectations) premarital sex is way, way more common than it used to be. That is a very different point from the one you seem to think I was making: namely, that premarital sex never happened in the 1950s. Er - duh - I am sure it never did!! :o)

For those who think all these things are only slightly higher (or even lower) than in the 1950s - chapter and verse please.

Happiness levels too are no higher according to the most recent surveys. Pity!

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 2:15pm GMT

Hi Ford-
You ask: 'Do you really think it is worse for a 16-year-old to have sex than for a 23 to suffer post-abortion sepsis?'
Regarding the sepsis, that is precisely my point: Abortion is bad news for everyone concerned.

But in general this point is logically flawed. Of the two things both may be bad. The fact that one can name worse things does not make the less bad thing any better, does it? (Anyway, what on earth is wrong with a 16 year old having sex if they are married?)

The same logical flaw appears when you speak about there being other kinds of obscenity. Well, of course there are other kinds - and none of us likes any of them. But how does the existence of other kinds (which we were not presently talking about) make the sexual kind (which we were presently talking about) any better? You'll agree that this is a non sequitur; and it is also an instance of changing the subject because one does not want to address the question that has actually been asked. That is a politician's game.

Hi Pat-
You spoke about children being 'unwanted'. In that small word there reside about 4 mistakes:

(1) You are confusing a child's actual worth with one quite distinct person's perception of their worth. That is a bit like saying that a fish has no existence other than as perceived by the fisherman.
A child can't be intrinsically unwanted, since the children you label thus are of no less value than those you might label 'wanted'.

(2) What right has anyone lucky enough to have been born themselves to stick the unwanted label on another? None: you'll agree. This would put the causes of human rights and liberation back X number of years.

(3) Not only do you take as gospel someone else's judgment on the child (as opposed to the child's intrinsic worth), but you specially choose a judgment that is both negative and shallow over one that is positive and profound. Why? Do you prefer negative and/or shallow things, or consider them of more worth?

(4) Every child is wanted by someone. That is a massive underestimate. Every child is wanted by millions of people. There is probably not a nun in existence, for example, who would not try to find some way in which the child could eb bornm and nurtured.

You're an intelligent person. How could you swallow the 'unwanted' soundbite/lie? We're not zombies - we have feelings, adn words like that hurt like billyo. You were once as that child was, and in my mind's eye I see you crying out 'I am wanted - or I hope I am. Please let me be wanted.'

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 6:25pm GMT

Fr. Mark,

Without getting into the details of the views of the two bishops on marriage and divorce, the concern in loosening up the policy does not seek to evade the teching on marriage but to deal with compassion with those who have fallen from it. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul keep the intention of God in marriage, expressed from the beginning in creation, but also recognize that humans fall from this good purpose (e g Matt 19:1 Cor 7:12-14).

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 6:30pm GMT

Ford,

Thanks for your reply and rethink.

On your questions, "Do you really think it's worse for a 16 year old to be having sex than it is for a 23 year old to die a horrible death from sepsis brought about by a botched abortion? Or for couples to stay together and ruin the lives of both themselves and their children so as to give the public impression of a happy marriage?" The simple answer is "no." But then life is hardly ever confined in this way.

To the first question, neither action is good or to be justified. The second question, is any marriage always happy? That is an "Alice in wonderland world." The real question is when we meet some trials and tests with what commitment and direction will we meet them? The children themselves need the example of parents living in the real world and working through conflicts as part of being committed to each other. There are many people now widely recognizing that "easy divorce" has been devastating for the partners and for the children.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 6:50pm GMT

Ben
"There are many people now widely recognizing that "easy divorce" has been devastating for the partners and for the children."

The problem is that you cannot legislate for emotional maturity. Those people who divorce too easily would not, should they not be allowed a divorce, suddenly become less self focused and more child oriented. That takes education and real effort, not a change in the law.

And those who are emotionally literate and feel that divorce is the only option for them will do their best to make it as easy for their children as possible. The alternative for them and their families is not a happy marriage but a tense living in the same house that isn't good for the children either.

My problem with all this "back to the past" legislating people advocate is that their wish for a happier world is entirely appropriate. But I don't see them looking properly at the consequences of both available alternatives. And because with divorce the problems are more openly visible, the quick judgement is that the divorce causes the problems.

It would be much more profitable to look at what makes relationships unhappy in the first place and to tackle the roots of the problems.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 10:09pm GMT

Christopher:

My experience is that the people most opposed to abortion are the ones least likely to support unwed mothers or their offspring. These children are indeed "unwanted". And, yes, that's a tragedy...to my mind, it's a greater tragedy to give birth to a child who will grow up as a stunted human being through lack of love and nurturing than to end the pregnancy that would result in that birth.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 3:21am GMT

'...If a bishop is to serve specifically as an example of marital faithfulness (1 Tim 3:2-7; Titus 1:5-9) the prior issue of his divorce is the salient matter at issue (if the response is to douse the light we have how can we then find our way out of this darkness?). ' (Ben W)
Posted by: Ben W on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 4:41pm GMT

And there I was thinking this was to do with Robinson's 'open' gayness & loving relationship with another man !

I had no idea the bruhhha has been over his divorce, years ago now, but based on mutual marital consent & prayer at the time, and a commitment to creative continuing co-parenting !

I can hardly think of a better model of how to end a marital relationship responsibly, with care for each other and children.

Posted by: L Roberts on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 5:04pm GMT

Ben: a propos your comments on the remarriage of divorcees, are you aware that the current Bishop of Winchester and the former Abp of Canterbury, Geo Carey, have been the two bishops arguing most eloquently for the C of E to loosen up its policy on this? Yet they are both also two bishops who regularly stick their oar into the gay debate on the conservative side. So, the question, which I keep asking people from the conservative side and never get an answer to, is why should we be liberal on divorce, but not on gay people?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 8:52am GMT

I keep asking this too, Mark but answer get I none. And I have started to breath again (i.e. not holding my breath!)

Posted by: L Roberts on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 5:09pm GMT

My experience is that the people most opposed to abortion are the ones least likely to support unwed mothers or their offspring. These children are indeed "unwanted". And, yes, that's a tragedy...to my mind, it's a greater tragedy to give birth to a child who will grow up as a stunted human being through lack of love and nurturing than to end the pregnancy that would result in that birth.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 3:21am GMT

This is true. This I think, would be / is a fate worse than death in many ways.

( I do fel great concern about -and find it hard to write it-- fetal distress or pain.I think this points to early abortions and to powerful analgesics etc to numb pain.)


Posted by: L Roberts on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 5:15pm GMT

"We're not zombies - we have feelings, adn words like that hurt like billyo"

I can empathise with your pain and I'm sorry for you. I feel like that every time you direct one of your anti-gay soundbites at me.

But although it is very painful, it is nevertheless true that many children aren't wanted.

If it weren't true there would be no care homes and you could pension off all foster parents, because every single child would quickly find a loving home.

Wanting to reduce the number of abortions is laudable, but vilifying mothers who abort and pretending that there is a pink fluffy loving world out there for every child is not helping.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 7:58pm GMT

Erika,

You make some important points about the priority of maturity in marriage and so on. I can see your point in saying, "And those who are emotionally literate and feel that divorce is the only option for them will do their best to make it as easy for their children as possible."

The thing is it takes some maturity to enter into marriage and maturity to know divorce is the only option! (That is part of the chaos today - some think the main thing is being able to be sexual). You go on to say, "My problem with all this "back to the past" legislating people advocate is that their wish for a happier world is entirely appropriate. But I don't see them looking properly at the consequences of both available alternatives." Actually it may be the reverse - more than one of the states in the US have realized the serious consquences of unconsidered divorce and put in legislation that includes preparartion for marriage and or waiting for a year and getting some counselling before divorce. So this is more legislation "back to the future!"

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 10:08pm GMT

L Roberts,

I think I answered the question as much as it can be answered. Have you thought about the possibility that the problem is the form of the question? Like the question, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

About Gene Robinson's divorce, he may have had a fine divorce. The post was not about that but the prior issue of whether he can be represented as one who has sustained a good marriage and can serve as an example of it. I said: "If a bishop is to serve specifically as an example of marital faithfulness (1 Tim 3:2-7; Titus 1:5-9)."

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 10:21pm GMT

Ben
I agree, proper marriage preparation and divorce counselling would be a very good step forward.

I suppose I am making the mistake of lumping a few commentators here together in one bunch. Someone said a few days ago there is nothing wrong with 16 year olds having sex as long as they're married. And to me that is just the kind of thinking that is most likely to result in the unhappy and divorced families the poster also deplores.

Ultimately, it all comes down teaching emotional maturity, something more and more countries are beginning to recognise and attempt. It's a far cry from moralistic posturing and legislating behaviour and it may just be successful in the long run.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 7:43am GMT

Ben,
"If a bishop is to serve specifically as an example of marital faithfulness".

Can I ask how your understanding of the forgiveness of sins comes into this?

I am always fascinated that so many Christians will only accept as their leaders those who have committed no big sins. And yet, isn't the whole point of Christianity that you can get it badly badly wrong, but that God forgives you completely and forever as soon as you repent?

How can we accept that St Paul was one of the most influential founders of Christianity, yet baulk at divorced bishops?

Do we actually truly believe in the forgiveness of sins?
It sometimes strikes me that we don't really trust God enough to take him at his word.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 7:47am GMT

Not divorced bishops, Erica - it is Anglicanism that since the Oxford movement has a hang-up on Western mutual divorce (but Mark 10 with paralells addresses Mediterranean one-sided Repudium) - but Polygamy; the one issue which the Church has treated with some consistency over the last 1200 years (although there are remnants in European law), but which seems to be OK by Lambeth 1988.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 9:41am GMT

Hi Erika-
Why express sympathy for me? I am not the damaged party. The child is. In any other area of life, the fact that children were (at one point in time, and by one person, not by others) unwanted would encourage strategy to ensure that they became wanted: a positive solution. In many cultures, the whole idea of not wanting one's own flesh and blood would be difficult to comprehend. You want to keep our own culture backward in this way (ie the negative solution) or you want to educate it (the positive solution)? You can't be saying that a negative course of action is actually better than a positive one? That would be self-contradictory.

A further point. You call such viewas 'back to the past'. Why is it, then , that their proponents couldn't care less whether they are old-fashioned, new-fashioned or a mixture? Why not? Because, simply, fashion is not where it is at. Surely you agree that not everything that is old is bad? and that not everything old is good? And that not everything new is bad? and that not everything new is good? Oldness and newness are totally irrelevant - what matters is whether something is beneficial or harmful So why are you speaking as though fashion/fashionability was a relevant factor?

Hi Pat-
The four flaws I enumerated were merely flaws in labelling a child 'unwanted'. If there are four flaws in that, then how many more than four in thinking one has the right to harm said child?
How many more again in killing them?
How many more again in killing them without having reasoned things through first?
You see my point. All it takes for people to do completely irrational and cruel things is for enough influential peopel to encourage those things often enough and loud enough. As though verbal repetition made anything more true or justifiable.

I have never met any Christians who stigmatise the innocent children of illegitimate relationships. That is definitely a recent advance. Any stigmatisation of their parents' behaviour (not the parents themselves) would be out of a desire not ot see it spread any further with the resultant misery and confusion.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 1:33pm GMT

Erika,

First, what is the point of texts like 1 Tim 3:2-7; Titus 1:5-9? Do justice to that and in some ways you have the answer.

Yes forgive completely but recognize it is not a question of whether one can be forgiven or not but whether one can sheperd the community in faithfulness (by being an example of it). Not a question of forgiveness - what is called for is background and being able to lead from a record of experience and example (do you ask a person who has been the columnist for the church paper to be the foreman for the new church building project?). A rough parrallel here might be, a person who has been an embezzler of funds for years comes to faith in Christ one day, do you install him as the church treasurer to manage the church funds the next?

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 2:31pm GMT

Ben

First of all, the bible verses you cite are from Paul, not the words of Jesus. And it was Jesus who taught us about God's forgiveness, so I shall certainly take his word as the overriding principle against which all Paul's teachings must be measured.

Can an embezzler of funds be church treasurer? Can a murderer of Christians become the leading Evangelist?

If you genuinely believe in the forgiveness of sins for those who repent, then yes, you have no option but to accept the embezzler as treasurer because it's what Jesus would do.

But we don't really believe in forgiveness, do we. We believe in conditional forgiveness, the kind that says, well, we won't mention it any longer although of course we'll never forget it and we'll never quite trust you again.

That's the human version. It is not God's version.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 2:59pm GMT

Christopher,

I think you have made some good points here. Your contributions show this is not a matter of only or of narrow "Christian interests."

In particular on caring for the life of the child (and other issues here) you make a strong point: "All it takes for people to do completely irrational and cruel things is for enough influential people to encourage those things often enough and loud enough. As though verbal repetition made anything more true or justifiable."

We have gone through the ravages of a century of ideology from communism to Naziism to Stalinism to Pol Pot to Bosnia etc. In our own socities many of the "elites" climbed on board these bandwagons and some refused to get off until all the wheels fell off. Ideolgy has its terrible consequences, there is a better way.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 4:19pm GMT

Erika,

The weakness of the case becomes evident when you have to pit Paul against Jesus. Paul is in line with Jesus on forgiveness as in other things (see 1 Cor 6:9-11; Eph 4:32). I will try again, can it be that if a person comes to your church from a life in one form of evil or another forgiveness qualifies him - apart from any record of faith or faithfulness - the next day to be the pastor of your church?

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 4:36pm GMT

Ben
" I will try again, can it be that if a person comes to your church from a life in one form of evil or another forgiveness qualifies him - apart from any record of faith or faithfulness - the next day to be the pastor of your church? "

In reality, no.
But if we took Christ at his word then that should be possible without any hesitation.
Ask Paul - it happenend to him!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 9:05am GMT

Erika,

Good that we agree on the"reality" of the situation. Also important, as you emphasize, that we know real forgiveness (not the same as "cheap or easy" forgiveness).

You refer to Paul, yes there was a dramatic turn around. But even he did not expect to just walk in and take over. He showed his true character by taking clear risks for the faith, and he spoke mainly to fellow Jews who had been with him in opposing the Jesus followers (i.e. he did not have an immediate "appointed" place of leadership in the church), he also had Barnabas later to vouch for him with the apostles. More, there were some years of quiet reflection and waiting before he began the great work with Barnabas at Antioch (Acts 11:25-27; Gal 1:13-24).

The point I made earlier fits: "Yes forgive completely but recognize it is not a question of whether one can be forgiven or not but whether one can sheperd the community in faithfulness (by being an example of it)."

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 1:33pm GMT

Ben
I can’t remember how this conversation started, but there was an assertion that divorced priests cannot be bishops.
I don’t think I’d expect someone to divorce and be a bishop tomorrow. Of course you’re right, the church has to be sure that the repentance is genuine.

But if the church is sure that the person has truly regretted the end of his marriage, and therefore has clearly been forgiven by God, then I believe it to be arrogant denial of God’s grace if the church still insists that person can never be a bishop.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 4:07pm GMT

"Regarding the sepsis....Abortion is bad news for everyone concerned."

But sepsis is no more a risk in legal clinical abortion than in any other surgery. It was only a problem when abortion was illegal!

"But how does the existence of other kinds....make the sexual kind... any better?"

It doesn't, and that isn't what I said. The curious focus on sexual obscenity and the ignoring of things like I mentioned deprives such arguments of credibility. It is neither a nonsequitor nor a "politician's game" to point out that your moral indignation seems to be limited to areas where modern sexual mores differ from the public face of the sexual practices of the 50s. In, seemingly, equating morality with a conservatively defined sexual morality, you, to my mind, deprive your arguments of any credibility. When I make these points, whether to you or NP, I am indicating what looks to me like lack of moral credibility, not, as I keep repeating, claiming that one sin justifies another.

"Anyway, what on earth is wrong with a 16 year old having sex if they are married?"

In a traditional society that hasn't adopted the recently invented "teenager", nothing. Here in Newfoundland, as in most traditional cultures, many of our grandparents were married with children at that age or even younger. My point was:

We know that making abortion illegal means that abortions will be carried out illegally, in back rooms, frequently with no anesthetic or antisepsis. Young women will thus die horrible deaths from sepsis. I have never seen it. I was trained by obstetricians who had, and who were quite glad they didn't have to witness it any more. I don't see how a return to those days represents an improvement over our current situation.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 7:30pm GMT

Erika,

I think we are getting closer to understanding if not agreement! I see this in the context of the sexual abuse we have gone through recently in various churches. There was much about "they regret or they have repented" (the two are not simply to be equated - sorrow may lead to repentance, cf. 2 Cor 7:8-12), so they moved on to the next parish only to repeat the abuse. The question is are they an example of faithfulness? What is needed is the directive I highlight: "It is not a question of whether one can be forgiven or not but whether one can sheperd the community in faithfulness (by being an example of it)."

If a persons's action and life represents brokeness he or she can certainly be forgiven but that is not the basis to be a bishop or leader in the church. With a record of divorce and the children out in various forms of self-centered living, what shows that he can guide and help people in the church to grow in faith and faithfulness? If this does not show or has not been shown in the place where he has lived most closely and been tested? There is depth of wisdom for leaders and for the well-being of the church in this directive from the apostle.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 9:30pm GMT

Ben
"With a record of divorce and the children out in various forms of self-centered living, what shows that he can guide and help people in the church to grow in faith and faithfulness?"

I suppose that depends on what we mean by faithfulness.

If you mean can he get back to what consevos often claim is the letter of God's law, then no, he can't. His past is his past, and your sentence above even makes him responsible for his children.

But if you mean truly realising where he has gone wrong in life, regretting it deeply and changing, learning, growing and following God every day anew, then to me he is the best possible leader.

The fallen who have struggled with the depth of the human condition but have found God calling them, helping them and bringing them back to life, have much more to say to me than those who have never put a foot wrong.

Just remember St Paul. According to your standards he would have been forgiven but he would never have been allowed to lead a congregation.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 21 November 2007 at 7:50am GMT

Erika,

I do not wish to engage in conversation in which the object becomes missing the point so perhaps we should conclude this. The point in the texts on what qualifies a person to be bishop matter to me (do we simply overlook or forget about the cost in lives shattered by abuse because of blindness to this teaching?). According to your logic Paul is saying stuff here that would have kept him from being an apostle!(There are more ways to miss the point than to get it I suppose). Do you not believe that parents have responsibility for children? And if you can not look to how a person has been with his family for being able to guide or to nurture where can you look? And there are particular qualifications for being with and nuturing women and men, children and adults etc. It is important to keep in mind the specific function of bishop.

Interesting what you now say about a person who who can be a leader, a person who has turned from wrong "regretting it deeply and changing, learning, growing and following God every day anew." You said earlier this record is evident overnight or in one day! That only becomes clear in terms of how a person has been and what the record is now (of course that takes account of repentance - but you only know about real repentance by where that person is now. If a person has not been able to sustain a marriage and there is no record of life to exemplify faithfulness where is the basis or readiness for leadership? We may ignore this to our loss).

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Wednesday, 21 November 2007 at 2:18pm GMT

Abortion will always happen??

Just like child exposure, presumably. Every day I wake up and say 'Oh, theres another hapless baby deposited outside my door.'

We have all heard this argument before. Drugs and prostitution will always happen so let's 'tolerate' them. Oh - why are they increasing. We can't work it out.

'Will always happen' is such a dumb phrase. It pays no attention to the all important factor which is rate of occurrence. Such things do *not* always happen at the same rate. They may increase or decrease quite markedly.

It is true that sepsis happens only in illegal abortions - but that is the point: no-one is ever made to have an abortion whether illegal or legal. It is entirely their own choice, and not a clever choice since it is bad for all concerned, most notably the one who dies.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 21 November 2007 at 2:26pm GMT

Ben,
I agree, we always seem to start getting our teeth into a topic just as the thread is disappearing! And my feed is a bit unreliable so I sometimes miss comments that have been published earlier.

But I want to make one last reply. Paul is not saying stuff that would have stopped him from being an apostle. Paul is taking the forgiveness of sins absolutely literally and seriously and he takes God at his word. Once his sins were repented of and forgiven he became the person who could then become an apostle, unencumbered by his past. What he says about teachers applies to him now, as it applies to everyone now, regardless of their past.

This HAS to be the core of what the forgiveness of sins means, otherwise it is only ever a conditional “I won’t mention it right now but it’s still in the back of my mind”. That is not the good news Jesus came to tell us about.

Maybe I expressed myself badly earlier. Once a person has been forgiven they are that new person and could, in theory, become leaders over night. But we’d have to be God to know this, so in human terms, although the forgiveness was instant and complete, we will need to wait a little to make sure that the person really has changed.

I can see that you find it difficult to trust someone who has been divorced. But all those who followed St Paul trusted someone who had been a murderer.
To follow Christ and to accept his message truly, we really have no choice by to do the same.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 21 November 2007 at 4:16pm GMT

"It is entirely their own choice, and not a clever choice since it is bad for all concerned, most notably the one who dies."

Do you seriously think that banning abortions will mean no more abortions will be done? Or are you saying that if someone chooses to have an abortion it is only right that she should run the very real risk of death or infertility? That ending her baby's life means she ought to suffer here, in this life? I've detected this "They deserve the wages of their sin" argument in you before Christopher, and it isn't very Christian of you. If this is not what you mean, then say so, but you can't just pretend that women won't have abortions just because the State bans them, so you have to deal with the consequences in a Christian fashion. There's going to be deaths either way, Christopher, it just seems that you think some people deserve to die.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 21 November 2007 at 5:30pm GMT

Erika,

One last word from me on this. Where we have not been able to communicate clearly it seems is on
forgiveness. Somehow we both affirm repentance and forgiveness (you want to make it about
that, I am concerned about the seriousness of divorce and the record of faithfulness as basis for the service of bishop in accord with Paul and the relevant texts on this point).

I come from a large family, two brothers who have gone through divorce (deep life altering effects for both of them and for children involved), so you should probably not presume anything about how I feel or think about someone who has gone through divorce - you could not be more wrong! Both are part of the church, one was away for a while. One reflecting over his life acknowledged serious failings of being too involved in work to be there for his family and took the intiative to get counselling. I have been with both of them through this and continue to learn from both. They have grown though this and I have in many ways more confidence in them because of this experience, they have much to bring in service in the church, but they themselves say "not as bishop" because they recognize the wisdom of the teaching from the apostle in Timothy and Titus.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Thursday, 22 November 2007 at 12:51am GMT

Ben
A final question, please.
You have told me why you disagree with me.

Could you please tell me your own views of why it was possible for St Paul to ever get into the position where he could authoritatively write of what makes a teacher, and how his views came to be accepted as gospel? Bearing in mind his past as Saul?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 22 November 2007 at 10:17am GMT

Erika,

Because Christ directly called him to be an apostle, with some time this was recognized and affirmed in the church. Why not let Paul's statements on the character of a bishop stand? For the rest,I answered this an earlierr e-mail.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Thursday, 22 November 2007 at 1:22pm GMT

Ben

"Because Christ directly called him to be an apostle, with some time this was recognized and affirmed in the church"

This is exactly what happens to people who are called to the priesthood today.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 22 November 2007 at 4:49pm GMT

Hi Ford-
Two points:
(1) I have never said 'they *deserve* the wages of their sin', though be it said that the bible often says such things. What I have said is that by the law of nature they (or we, or I) will probably *receive* the said wages. I eat cream buns too often, ergo I am unhealthily overweight. I am not of the 'there's no connection' school. The law of sowing and reaping makes good sense. It is similar to Newton's 'every action has an equal and opposite reaction'.

(2) Do I think that banning abortions will mean that no more will be done. As in *zero*? To speak of zero is rather extreme, surely? No - we both believe that banning them means a lot fewer will be done, and a lot more unborn babies will be saved. Conversely, legalising it meant that a lot more got and get killed. Or don't we (you) want them to be saved? (Estimated annual UK abortions pre 1967: maximum of 35,000 - based on figures after legalisation. Persent figures: 6 times that. A 500 percent increase. Does anybody care, or have a beating heart? - because the babies certainly don't any more.)

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 23 November 2007 at 12:58pm GMT

"What I have said is that by the law of nature they (or we, or I) will probably *receive* the said wages."

And, if the "natural law" says that an illegal backroom abortion means that the woman having the abortion is at great risk of painful premature death, perhaps leaving orphaned children, that's OK because well, what can you expect, abortions are risky. So we decrease the number of dead babies and increase the number of dead women. How many women's lives will even out the score? How much tangible human misery is acceptable? The interesting fact that Western crime rates started to fall at just the time children aborted under Rowe v Wade would have been coming to maturity says what possible benefit there may be for society as a whole if we decrease the number of unplanned children born into unstable homes where they aren't wanted, loved, or supported. I am not a supporter of abortion, Christopher, but it seems to me that those who oppose it are very selective in what they see as tragic, aren't at all concerned as to what happens to these women or their children once the kids are born, and generally tend to support social policies on the part of government that practically ensure abortion is the best route for some women. What a tragedy that governments can actually put forward social policies that make abortion the best option! What a hypocrisy that Christians could actually support such governments! I would rather see efforts to make abortion unnecessary, but most anti-abortionists seem adamantly opposed to any such measures.

"The law of sowing and reaping makes good sense."

But it makes for poor Christian practice.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 23 November 2007 at 6:05pm GMT

I largely agree with you re government policy. Not re backroom abortions: you are, like many, portraying these as inevitable. We are not automata. If anyone goes for a backroom abortion (and indeed if anyone has sex in the first place) that is in normal circumstances entirely their own choice and their own risk. No-one asked them to (or even if they did, they did not have to 'obey').

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 26 November 2007 at 1:15pm GMT

"If anyone goes for a backroom abortion (and indeed if anyone has sex in the first place) that is in normal circumstances entirely their own choice and their own risk. No-one asked them to (or even if they did, they did not have to 'obey')."

So they deserve what they get? How very Fishtian! Women deserve to die if they choose to have an abortion? Jews believe life begins at birth. Do you think a Jewish woman should have to put her life on the line because your religious beliefs are different from hers?
I don't think you really appreciate how repugnant and unChristian I find that statement to be.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 5:02pm GMT
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