Monday, 27 July 2009

Canterbury reflects on General Convention

From Lambeth Palace comes Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future.

Reflections on the Episcopal Church’s 2009 General Convention from the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 1:11pm BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion | ECUSA
Comments

"no Anglican has any business reinforcing prejudice against LGBT people" and yet let me proceed to do so...

It seems to me that the ABC is strongly opposed to responding to local opinion and pressure - and instead responding to international opinion and pressure... as if that will somehow be more "Christian" or less prejudiced.

"In the light of the way in which the Church has consistently read the Bible for the last two thousand years, it is clear that ..." Slavery is morally acceptable, women are property, marriage between people of different races is reprehensible... Oh I'm sorry, he is only using the tradition to support prejudice against LGBT - its OK to revise our tradition in these other areas, even if that revision came at the hands of a few over the objections of many.

He can wrap up his message as nicely as he wants... "if society changes its attitudes, that change does not of itself count as a reason for the Church to change its discipline..." because scripture is soooooo clear on the topic.

He seems to me to be saying "we'd like to like LGBT, but God won't let us. And we're not being prejudiced... we're just being faithful." Which is only a semantic step away from Fred Phelps.

SW

Posted by: SW on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 1:49pm BST

Paras 8-9 of the Archbishop's statement: "...a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond; whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church's teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires....So long as the Church Catholic, or even the Communion as a whole does not bless same-sex unions, a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle..."

As a partnered gay priest brought up in a Church of England which has all my life surrounded me with partnered gay priests and laypeople, I find this really horribly and personally offensive in its degree of failure to recognise the lived reality of members of the Church of England.

According to this statement, then, no-one living in a same-sex relationship can "have a representative function" in the Church. That means farewell to partnered gay singers, organists, teachers in church schools, as well as clergy in civil partnerships... Or rather, farewell to those whom the legal opt-outs will allow us to carry on discriminating against.

Oh, and, by the way, says the Archbishop, nothing can ever change until every Christian in the world (in "the Church Catholic", not even just the Anglican Church") agrees to change it! So, how on earth did women ever get to be ordained priest on that logic, and how could the Archbishop support the idea of them becoming bishops in the C of E?

This document stinks with the reek of those who side with the wielding of ecclesiastical power against the Gospel of the poor outsider from Nazareth.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 2:09pm BST

'And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond . . . and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.'

Given what Rowan has said, any sexually-active LGBT relationship is a sexual relationship outside of marriage, which pretty well rules out all sexually-active LGBT folks from ordained ministry anywhere. If that's what Rowan wants to say, then let's say it and be honest about whether we in the CofE are living according to that principle. If that's not what he wants to say, or if our practice is different, then we should honestly admit that we're pretty much in the same boat as ECUSA and stop vilifying them for their 'descriptive' honesty....

At least Rowan appreciates that this is not just about episcopacy; and the more we stress this point (that the issue concerns at least all ministry under canon if not wider forms of ministry), then the issue can be framed with more theological precision (and punch), which may lead to more honesty.

I am getting tired about the exclusion of human rights from theology. Rowan is careful to use the word 'simply' most of the time, suggesing the question includes but is wider than human rights, but if our rights language is not grounded fundamentally in theology, then something has to give. Otherwise respecting differences really means only respecting another's right to be wrong. I hope we're saying more than that....

Posted by: Joe on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 2:30pm BST

That's interesting. The right is appalled and furious at his statement as well and reads the document as typical liberal-speak (see Stand Firm's comments to the statement).

Posted by: Charles on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 2:40pm BST

This crap belongs in the pasture whence it came.

Posted by: Jeff Allison on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 2:51pm BST

Two thoughts:

1. ++Rowan simply must stop referring to gay and lesbian people inside the rhetoric of "choice of a lifestyle." Anyone alive in the 21st century who is not a member of the flat earth society or similar anti-scientific groups simply must acknowledge that being gay is not a choice. If the "choice" involved here is to be sexually active or not, then the ABC should be reminded that the Anglican tradition is to regard celibacy as a gift or a vocation. Otherwise, he could not be married and also ABC.

2. The ABC is clearly still trying to keep the Right in the Communion, to accommodate them with the promise of some future disciplining of the Episcopal Church if we can ever get a structure in place that can do that. The alternative for him is to see them turn GAFCON into an alternative Communion. That seems, to him, a worse alternative than to force the Episcopal Church to continue to undergo the current rhetoric of slander and abuse, not to mention the ongoing incursions by the African and Global South Provinces into our institutional life.

Posted by: jnwall on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 3:58pm BST

An interesting summary of the present position.

I am sorry Rowan Williams believes that in the context he has laid out that the Covenant as presently conceived offers ANY sort of way forward.

The last few decades have indeed seen developments in how Anglicans have spun the web that connects them, and the Covenant seeks to give legitimacy to most of these changes.

But it is the ecumenical dialogues and their chance of any future that have put an edge to the present dilemma. It is clear that both the RC's and the various Orthodox groups will walk away from the table if gay people make any further headway.

So here we are. Rowan decided a long time ago that the aspirations of gay people to see their vocations and familes recognised and blessed by the Church had to be put aside for the benefit of the scheme to unite the Anglican Communion into a Church and the future relations of that Church on the ecumenical scene.

While I share a hope for a deeper fellowship within the Anglican family of churches and have a passion for the unity of the Church I cannot see the present plan offers much in the achievement of either.

My view is that the Covenant is something like a century premature - and then, I would hope it would not be drafted in this way.

The Anglican project itself is just at the start of understanding its place in the broader family of Churches. The bishop who confirmed me saw the birth of the Church in Wales. The bishop who ordained me left his diocese in Africa to allow a local priest to be elected for the first time. We have, most of us, a long way to go before we have shugged off the colonial conditioning and find our level.

Just look at how few Anglican Churches take any real interest in the outpourings of the Anglican Communion Office's ecumenical efforts - so few respond to any of the documents that are solemnly produced - they have, in effect no real authority and are never ratified by the member churches - we have a long way to go!

Yet while ecumenical relations are at one level claimed to seen as a driving force - it's important to note that the CofE is about to unpick an intimate relationship with Sweden .... Rowan says nothing of this.

This is all quite apart from the offensive stuff about us gay people and our families .....

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 4:31pm BST

Quite appalling stuff from the ABC and I hope English bishops round on him courageously. He simply is not in tune with the broad mass of the CofE and this statement yet again has the stench of tired and busted Fulcrum-speak. The tone is not reflective of the reality of what the CofE HAS been, CONTINUES to be, and SHALL be re gay clergy and bishops!

Posted by: Neil on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 4:41pm BST

The level of institutional dishonesty of this document renders it beneath contempt and not worthy of discussion. When will he go?

Posted by: toby forward on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 4:44pm BST

He did not say being gay is a choice but that living as a sexually active couple is a choice. He remains respectful of freedom of conscience and even open to a change in church determination of objective norms:

"7. In the light of the way in which the Church has consistently read the Bible for the last two thousand years, it is clear that a positive answer to this question would have to be based on the most painstaking biblical exegesis and on a wide acceptance of the results within the Communion, with due account taken of the teachings of ecumenical partners also. A major change naturally needs a strong level of consensus and solid theological grounding."

Someone at Stand Firm answers: "We Orthodox already have done this painstaking analysis and know that it cannot lead to same sex blessings—the left claims is can be done by dropping our antiquated methods of reading the Bible—i.e. the way in which the church has consistently read the Bible for the last two thousand years".

But the church has indeed changed its teaching on many issues in clear opposition to the literal words of Scripture -- slavery, equality of men and women, etc. Not even a particularly new hermeneutics would be required for the recognition that the good of faithful relationships between two persons of the same sex (a good that for most gays is the most moral alternative to destructive loneliness and promiscuity) could override qualms about a sexual dimension to the same, especially if it were established that this dimension often has a crucial unitive role within the relationship.

I search in vain for any recognition in Stand Firm that faithful relationships between two people of the same sex can be regarded as a good. They could do their cause some good by holding up Ruth and Naomi or David and Jonathan as their ideals of godly Christian same-sex friendship.

It looks as if society is determining morality here, as in the cases of usury, slavery, religious freedom. The churches will probably have to humbly submit to learning a new interpretation of the Gospel from the loving wisdom of human beings dealing honestly with life issues.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 4:50pm BST

I was infuriated by the first half. It's simply dishonest about the way scripture and tradition have been used with remarkable consistency to marginalize the most vulnerable among us.

"The doctrine that 'what affects the communion of all should be decided by all' is a venerable principle." Ideally, I suppose I agree. But historically, that never happened. Nicaea affected the communion of all, but it most certainly was not decided by all. Unless "all" really means "all," we should stop using such an ideological ploy. What happened at Nicaea can be critically retrieved, but let's be honest about the politics.

On the other hand, I'm intrigued by the shift from "two-tier" language to "two-track" language when speaking of the Anglican Communion. I'm just about ready to live with that. We can call the tracks "covenantal" and "affectional." Or something else that doesn't sound defamatory to either track. It's not clear any of us would gain clear political advantages.

In any case, I'm not surprised that Stand Firm is disappointed.

Charles

Posted by: Charles Allen on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 5:08pm BST

Jnwall
I agree with your analysis of the situation facing ++Rowan. However, I think that he realizes its more serious than that. He now recognizes that the Gafcon movement has the ear of many in the Church of England. So its not just the splitting of the AC but the possibily of the same line being drawn in the Church of England itself.
Pax,
Edward

Posted by: Edward Craig on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 5:12pm BST

As much as I try to, I cannot find much that I like in the ecclesiology or moral theology of Rowan Williams.

As a beginning, RW does not seem, in this statement, as well as many others, to understand the Reformation's gift of restoring the primacy of Baptism to the life of the Church. Neither does he seem to understand the role that the primacy of Baptism and Baptismal theology have in the life and ecclesiology of The Episcopal Church, from its inception. These elements include a bicameral legislature that fully represents the lay baptized; the election of bishops; the vowing of bishops to the doctrine and discipline of TEC, placing bishops in submission to General Convention;the limited primatial role of Presiding Bishops; the calling of clergy by elected bodies representing the parish; and the flowering of Baptismal theology in the Baptismal Rite of the 1979 BCP of TEC.

From the ABC's statement:"The first is to do with the arguments most often used against the moratoria relating to same-sex unions. Appeal is made to the fundamental human rights dimension of attitudes to LGBT people, and to the impossibility of betraying their proper expectations of a Christian body which has courageously supported them."

Where has RW been for the last thirty years? Has he simply dismissed the serious theological work of many contributors to the dialogue on the issue of the relationship between Baptism, access to the other sacraments, and LGBT persons in the Church, not least the recent work of the Chicago Consulation?

The actual appeal in TEC is made to the power and effect of Baptism in imparting the fullness of the Holy Spirit to each baptized person, and in incorporating the baptized person into the fullness of the life of the Church. Additionally, the Baptismal Rite in the 1979 Prayerbook (TEC)ask each person receiving the sacrament to vow to "respect for the dignity of every human being" as a specifically baptismal obligation. For Episcopalians, our respect for LGBT persons and our advocacy for their human rights is not a cultural accomodation or a political stance. Rather, it is a baptismal obligation: part of what it means to live out our lives as Christians, following the way of Jesus, who reconciles all of us to one another and to the One who created us; who makes peace among us, who would, without grace, scapegoat one another, as the people of Jesus' time, demonstrating the horrors we are capable of, murdered the One who is the embodiment of the compassion of God and of God's passion for justice and mercy.

I have no idea how RW, a theogian of significant stature can get this so wrong.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 5:24pm BST

I cannot believe ++Williams has not heard the sensible theology from which folks argue LGBT rights. (It's not even a matter of "permitting" LGBT relationships; it's a matter of leading society and culture, not lagging 2000yrs behind them!)

So, rather than standing up and saying "the US is a different country; they do things differently there" to justify TEC's right to independent polity, he is also sliding increasingly towards the right. When do we get a new ABoC?

Posted by: Tim on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 5:25pm BST

I was told (confidentially, alas) by someone working for the ABC that he has (knowingly) ordained partnered gay men to the episcopate. Also told by an American bishop who asked him flat out, why, since there were more blessings of same sex unions in the Diocese of London than the rest of the WWAC put together, TEC was singled out & was told, "Because you are open about it."

How very sad.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 5:27pm BST

Here is a very clear example of the stark difference between the "theology" of Rowan Williams as it pertains to LGBT persons and their committed relationships, when compared to that of TEC, as expressed by General Conventions 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009.

From RW's statement on GC2009: "Thus a blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole. And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond;"

This from a leader of his Church who refuses such blessings and refuses marriage to sincere couples asking this from the Church he leads.

From GC 2009, Resolution C056, repeating the formula used by our Church to understand committed and vowed relationships of love between all members of our Church: "Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of "listening to the experience of homosexual persons," as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God" (2000-D039)"

RW is not listening! If I were a member of the CofE, I would ask for and expect an apology from Rowan Williams for his statement about the moral value of committed and vowed realtionships of love between LGBT persons. If I were a priest in the CofE, which undoubtedly will not happen, I would be asking for this in writing and from the pulpit. No teacher in the Church, least of all a bishop, has the right to insult the loving and vowed relationships of members of his Church, and most especially of our Church (TEC) by comparing them to fornication and adultery. He should be ashamed!

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 5:46pm BST

"So long as the Church Catholic, or even the Communion as a whole does not bless same-sex unions, a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle..."

If this is really what Rowan "thinks then he must call for mass resignations across the Church of England and beyond. He must call on all the partnered Gay Priests he has ordained and supported with spiritual direction and theological foundation to quit. Myself included.

He must call upon us all to resign our orders. He must call upon all those Christians he has inspired over the past 30 years, to abandon that which he taught them in favor of an ecclesiastical fedaralism which would have prevented Divorcees ever being married in Church; the ordination of women to the Priesthood and certainly to the Episcopate.

Rowan should demand we carry out the consequences of his words. Call for our resignations. Whole Dioceses would cease to function. The sheer inconsistency and cruelty of his statements would be exposed as priests across England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are robbed of their livlihoods, homes, dignity and self respect.

Why is justice such a bad driver of theological decision making? Rowan never taught me that was true. Quite the opposite. Why cannot the experience of human beings be authentic in the communities they inhabit without being sanctioned by Communities far away? Communities who themselves practice so many things in the name of culture that would never be acceptable to the Western church and world view.

None of this helps Gay people.

Archbishop 'you have sold us for a penny' You have betrayed the very people you once loved and nurtured and asked us to continue to pay a high price for your expedient transaction without recourse or representation. It is like being beaten to death with pillows.

I don't think I want to be in your church anymore. Will there be a way for those of us who feel called to the Episcopal church in the US to be given pastoral provision in the UK?

Perhaps we all need to pray for you Rowan Williams. It must be hard for you to live with the shame of what you know in your heart you do not really believe.

Posted by: Fr Chris on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 5:47pm BST

What track of Anglicanism is Rowan going to choose?
The suggestion that the church shouldn't try to at least keep up with, if not lead on, progress towards social equality is simply embarrassing. We're not talking whether or not shops should open on Sundays here, this is about exclusion and inclusion in the church.
How do we show him that people actually don't agree with him on this? I feel like I'm standing watching TEC being bullied by the rest of the communion, and Rowan is trying to sit on the fence and avoid attracting attention, in case it is realised that the CofE does most of the same things TEC does, just less openly, and the bullies turn on him.

Posted by: Tom on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 6:01pm BST

I think Rowan Williams has painted himself into a corner by now, with no exit in sight.

How can he summarize the case for correcting our mistaken views of queer folks, then proceed to dismiss change so easily? So why does he mention a careful and painstaking exegesis (which in fact has actually happened on a fairly massive scale of the openly published studies over the past fifty to sixty years in academia), then go on to reach conclusions which pretend that this exegesis has not at all occurred. And if it has occurred, it has failed to persuade church leaders who pride themselves on their stubborn ignorance of all of it?

A clever flat earth business it is, to acknowledge scholarship, then say that since you have just acknowledged scholarship, you have no further reasons to actually and effectively change by applying it. Indeed, the real effective sin is to read scholarship while applying it.

Those who read and ignore are godly and spotless in Jesus' sight?

Rowan's mild encouragement - “... respect the basic human dignity and human rights of queer folks around the world”, ... reads as being more about him (saying how much he is just the right sort, obviously?). Otherwise he'd be hinting that we might assign the violent-prejudiced provinces (Nigeria? Uganda? Sydney? Others?) to second-tier status, instead of disconnecting from the provinces who actually try to practice what Rowan says he is preaching.

Get real, Rowan. People face prejudice and violence, often backed by both local state and church force, using just the negative believer consensus you preach still holds closed, final sway. Odd, to inveigh against prejudice-violence which is more or less our received negative tradition about queer folks, theology and ethics in action; and then leave unquestioned and uninvestigated, the entire status quo apparatus which historically explained, guided, and directed that prejudice and violence – all summarized as nothing but godliness.

What Canterbury gives with one hand via dignity or human rights narratives, he erases and diminishes in an appeal to flat earth prejudices in the other. He cannot make a theological or ethical case for dignity or human rights, inside church life? He defines all that as a sin, once we stand inside our local church? Society must be fair, and churches can keep lying about queer folks, loud enough to beat the band? Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 6:02pm BST

The "chosen lifestyle" of celibacy in the service of injustice.

From RW's statement on GC 2009, "In other words, the question is not a simple one of human rights or human dignity. It is that a certain choice of lifestyle has certain consequences."

Here, Rowan Williams points out that LGBT persons can choose a lifestyle of lovelessness, refusing to act on your love for another person of your own gender; refusing to form lifelong committed relationships; refusing the support and companionship of a person that you love. This pertains especially to anyone who would hold authority and teach in the name of the Church.

RW commends this "for a time" in the service of the unity of the Anglican Communion. Nevermind that the Anglican Communion refuses to honor your loving relationship with a Christian blessing. Nevermind that this unity is with persons and Churches that officially support the silencing, arrest, jailing, deportation, and, in some cases, the executing of people like you.

This is Rowan William's moral theology. LGBT persons should sacrifice their lives in the service of injustice. For him, justice may be a civic virtue, a political stance, a cultural value, but it is not a demand of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who gave the thematic sermon at the opening of his ministry by proclaiming God's passion for justice, to which other things must be submitted; and who died in the supreme act of human injustice, since it was "fitting that one man die for the sake of the people".

The choice between justice and inclusion on the one hand, and unity among the Churches on the other hand is a false choice, which any serious moral theologian should reject. So should the Archbishop of Canterbury!

A unity based on injustice is not Christian unity. It is false. It will not hold

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 6:17pm BST

Prior Aelred: "I was told (confidentially, alas) by someone working for the ABC that he has (knowingly) ordained partnered gay men to the episcopate. Also told by an American bishop who asked him flat out, why, since there were more blessings of same sex unions in the Diocese of London than the rest of the WWAC put together, TEC was singled out & was told, '"Because you are open about it."'

One of the greatest sins that affects us Yanks, Aelred, I'm afraid, is that we in the U.S. are terribly 'earnest', and that is really looked down upon by most over there.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 7:05pm BST

"Will there be a way for those of us who feel called to the Episcopal church in the US to be given pastoral provision in the UK?"

Many of us in TEC hope so, and believe the time is long overdue. Without boundary-crossing a` la the Bishops Intruder, we pray for a building-up of ties with progressive Anglicans around the world, whether at the provincial level -- e.g., Canada, Scotland, Brazil, Mexico, Southern Africa -- or at the diocesan and parish level in such "mixed" provinces as Ireland, Wales, England, Australia, Aoteoroa New Zealand, etc. Not to mention building stronger ties with non-Anglican progressive churches holding the historic episcopate, such as the Church of Sweden (now being rudely pushed away by the CofE) and the Old Catholic churches of the Utrecht Union.

If the ABC is unsettled by the prospect of Gafcon secessionism in the UK, he should also consider that he is pushing together an alternative worldwide "Progressive Episcopal Communion," comprised of Anglican and non-Anglican bodies such as those listed above, and which could provide resources and pastoral encouragement to kindred souls stranded within churches like the CofE.

No need to leave the WWAC to join this parallel Communion, either; most Gafconites go about their business while also staying within the WWAC.

And in the absence of Canterbury's archbishop, the archbishops of Utrecht and Uppsala will make excellent primi inter pares to co-chair this new parallel/overlay Communion.

Posted by: Viriato da Silva on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 7:09pm BST

I saw the words "chosen lifestyle" and shut down.

I am incapable of saying anything "fit for print" at the moment, so I'll leave others to do so.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 7:20pm BST

What is "the Church" and who can represent it?

From Rowan Williams' letter: "a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle. (There is also an unavoidable difficulty over whether someone belonging to a local church in which practice has been changed in respect of same-sex unions is able to represent the Communion's voice and perspective in, for example, international ecumenical encounters.)"

In this short paragraph are represented two of the serious defects in RW's ecclesiology, and his moral theology, from my perspective.

1. Rowan Williams here distinguishes between a "Church" and the "local church". Either RW is referring to the Anglican Communion as "the Church", once again imagining an international Church of which he is the president; or he is referring to the role of a bishop in the entire Anglican Communion; or, even more of a stretch, he refers to what he calls "the Church Catholic".

This is to be contrasted to TEC as an example of "the local church." As we already know, RW regards national Churches as somehow less than "the Church" or "the Church Catholic", rather than as expressions of the Church Catholic in their particular places and contexts. To be part of "the Church Catholic", RW implies, it is not sufficient any longer to adhere to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. Each "local church" must sign uo to a Covenant committing themselves to an ecclesiology of "the least common denominator", i.e. no "local church" can go any further than is accepted by "the Church", the Anglican Communion or "the Church Catholic," or risk rejection by the Anglican Communion and "our ecumenical partners".

RW seems not to see how fraudulent this is an an ecclesiology. According to the teaching of "our ecumenical partners",especially the Romans and the Orthodox, Rowan himself is not a bishop. His orders are considered fraudulent. According to them, he is not in apostolic succession, and he is married (to a female), besides. RW has no standing at all to speak for "the Church Catholic" as a bishop, acording the very same authority that he invokes against married LGBT persons.

According to Rowan, married LGBT bishops (married authetically and honestly to persons of their own gender) cannot speak to or on behalf of the Anglican Communion because their very identity contradicts the unity of the Anglican Communion. He holds to this in spite of the fact that the presiding Bishop of TEC is a female, while his own Church still cannot decide to ordain women as bishops, and most Anglican Churches also do not do so. Althogh some provinces ordain as bishops men who have been divorced and remarried, the majority do not. Yet, RW does not exclude these persons as being able to seak to and for the Anglican Communion. It is only LGBT persons who are selected out for such exclusion.

No amount of theological sounding "smoke and mirrors" can hide the contradictory and dishonest nature of this "teaching".

RW may be able to do better. Certainly, a two-tiered Communion which rewards those who cross provincial boundaries, who excomunicate their sisters and brothers, and who attempt to take with them the property of the Church they have left in disdain, is no answer. Rw's dogged persistence in this line of thinking and action can only result in his going down in history as the schismatic Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 7:23pm BST

"8. This is not our situation in the Communion. Thus a blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole. And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond; whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church's teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires"

This is an astoundingly backward and bizarre statement. First, gay people in a relationship cannot be considered analogous to straight people having sex outside of marriage, given that straight people at least have the option of "the marriage bond" and the Church's blessing. Secondly, being gay is not a choice and living in a loving relationship is not a "lifestyle". It is the reality of one's life. So he is saying that gay people must have no loving relationships and no sexual expression of love. They have just made the wrong choice. They must remain celibate and alone and only straight people can have the Church's blessing. And, of course, only single celbate gay people can be ordained unless they have a "cover" marriage or make themselves liars. What a good basis for being a leader in the Church. Has Rowan moved back to the 19th Century or is he just looking for support from churches that are still there?

Posted by: Adam Armstrong on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 7:29pm BST

This statement is (I believe) a very exciting development. It's one of the few things ++Rowan has ever written - cause for rejoicing in its own terms.

Others have pointed out some of the silliness of ++R's views about so-called lifestyle choices. Such daftness is evident on the page and scarcely even needs pointing out (we are though living in strange times).

The conclusion I reach is that there is a profound layer of discrimination that cannot be addressed or healed until same sex marriage is allowed in both Church and State. That is the clear and inescapable conclusion I come to on reading this. That much must be evident to the author.

Let the 'listening' continue!

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 7:57pm BST

Given the ABC is not speaking for the broad mass of the CofE there is at least some hope that in the new two tier communion, people in the pews will opt for the TEC take of the gospel. It is up to parish priests to invite who they wish at the altar...and the ABC's pronouncements about inner and outer tracks will be rendered meaningless as bishops and priests from TEC are made welcome in England. If the choice is between conscience and what God's love demands, and the ABC trying to improvise a new Church...then he must dream on I suppose. There will not be many troops following.

Posted by: Neil on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 8:05pm BST

The only explanation for his use of the offensive phrase "a certain choice of lifestyle has certain consequences" is the one that I have previously advanced in this forum. He is now a closet evangelical. His wife is an evangelical theologian, a friend of N.T. Wright. He retained the evangelical Secretariat appointed by the evangelical George Carey, which advised him in the Jeffrey John affair. The old saying 'You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses' fits theologians too. Too many people thought that his behaviour in the Jeffrey John case was an anomaly. It very clearly was not.
Under Williams's rule the evangelicals have strengthened their control at the centre, and their representation in the Synod. The longer Williams remains in position - and that could be at least another 10 years - the stronger the evangelicals will get, and they will ensure that the next ABC is one of their own.
Williams's behaviour can be explained in one of two ways. Either he never believed the liberal opinions he expressed before he became ABC, which would make him a consummate Machiavellian in the pay of the evangelicals, or he got 'born again' after becoming ABC. Given that he was a Welsh Presbyterian for at least the first eleven years of his life, I suspect he has reverted to his childhood certainties under the stress of the job.

Posted by: Paul R on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 8:11pm BST

Several flaws in this latest letter from ++Rowan.

Affirming our gay and lesbian members is simply not analogous to theological discussions surrounding CWOB or Lay Presidency. Both of those involve dominical sacraments and the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, whereas moving forward with our GLBT members does not.

This is not a question of "lifestyle choice" as many have noted.

Consensus on ethical questions has never been a requirement for Christian unity--quite the opposite actually!

The structures of the Anglican Communion are important, but they do not safeguard our unity.

Posted by: Jared Cramer on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 8:12pm BST

It seems to me a perfectly decent statement, with RW trying to balance a range of competitive/conflicting imperatives. That, basically, is his job. And it's clearly written.

To say it is 'decent' doesn't mean one has to agree with it. We - most people here - don't. That's fine. It's good. It is the inevitable result of a 'liberal' perspective. I have no doubt at all that we are right. (And, personally, I am very glad to learn of people who are faithfully and happily partnered.)

I understand, if not fully at least to some degree, the anger and indignation of gay Anglicans, especially Anglican priests, at the contortions of such a statement. But I truly believe that this battle is essentially won. We should all take heart. I don't think there is much point in vilifying RW over this. I still think he's basically 'on side'. In any case, realities and ever-increasing societal recognition of them won't be affected one jot.

Posted by: john on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 8:34pm BST

Dear, poor Prufrockian Rowan:

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use, 115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool

Posted by: J. Michael Povey on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 8:40pm BST

Karen McQueen speaks my mind.

Williams has really lost it. And to think he signed the Letter after Lambeth 1.10 was forned through.

He is a far cry from that. Shameless.

To think how excited so many of us were, when the possibility of his appointment to Canterbury was first mooted. And over-joyed when Labour government did appoint hime, in the teeth of fundamentalist oppostion to him.

It is 'simply' an issue of human rights.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 9:01pm BST

My argument against his Reflections is here:

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/07/real-archbishop-of-anglicanism.html

The 'more or less' unified structure of Anglicanism worked because it was also diverse, and he will go on about this difference between his ecumenical Global Communion (read Church) and 'local Churches'. No - the local Churches are the actual Churches.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 9:07pm BST

Here Rowan Williams hardens his line that consensus trumps justice.

His bottom line is that it is more important not to offend the Pharisees than (for example) to love your neighbour.

I don't think that can be right. And, the more often Rowan Williams says it, and the more clearly he expresses it, the less likely it is that I or many other people in England will want to continue to be part of his institutionally homophobic church.

Posted by: badman on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 9:27pm BST

'The longer Williams remains in position - and that could be at least another 10 years' Paul R

He won't be there another ten years. The policy is coming to an end and he must be burnt out from it already. I look forward to the measure of his writing after he has given up this burden.

Though I didn't focus on it, I agree with others here about the offensiveness of his words regarding gay clergy and their apparent inability to represent the Church.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 9:30pm BST

Prufrockian indeed.

'Lifestyle' trivializes our lives.

'Sexual preference ' indeed reflects a flat-earth mentality in the field of geology.

Not ONE WORD about vagrant bishops, or as I like to think of them, hobo bishops.

He deplores anti-gay violence while using some of the language [see above] that allows it.

As I wrote on another forum, substitute the words "chatel slavery" for every mention of glbt reference. Or try "remarriage after divorce."

For that matter, being fully representative as a deacon priest or bishop ... that argument could preclude persons of color from ministering to us persons of paleness.

Prufrockian and willfully ignornat, it seems. Codswallop.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 9:58pm BST

RIW would like to add this to RW's letter...

Of course a divorced and re-married man and woman may hold representative roles in the Communion.We have become more open and understanding of adultery and we repent of our unloving attitude to divorcees. Of course my future Supreme Governor, who I will probablly crown is marrried to a woman whose former husband is still alive.

Furthermore in direct contradiction of St Paul women are allowed to have pastoral oversight and exercise the episcopate.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 10:26pm BST

Jared's quadrilateral is spot on - succint and brilliant. Thank you.

Posted by: Neil on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 10:36pm BST

I'm interested in Craig's assessment, and wish it were true. The problem remains though, that decent as he tries to be...intelligent (except in the serious matter of judgement) as he undoubtedly is...and loyal as we would all like to be...the ABC has got it wrong, wrong and wrong again. It saddens me to say he is simply not up to the job...and perhaps would have been a better bishop if he had had parochial experience.

Posted by: Neil on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 10:51pm BST

It is not "incongruity." It is a "mystery" as marvelous as that of the Incarnation itself.

In the meantime, I find the document on the whole to be helpful. Read with care, you will see it is all about process and development of doctrine. While some are reading it as a "No" to same-sex marriage or ordination of bishops, it is rather a very well framed "Not Yet." There is a huge difference, and I think we all know the way the Wind is blowing -- where it wills, and not as we choose.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 11:07pm BST

Tobias -- I should like to think so -- in the heady days after the Council, with the vision of men like Paul VI & Ramsey & Athenagoras, I thought reunion was just around the corner -- now I suspect that Anglicanism will come very close to schism, but probably not step off the cliff -- but remain uncertain for the rest of my life before some true reconciliation is achieved -- alas!

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 11:28pm BST

The words "chosen lifestyle" end the last shred of credibility the Archbishop of Canterbury might have with me.

Posted by: Counterlight on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 11:44pm BST

I suppose he does not fully realize the horrendous connotations that the phrase "chosen lifestyle" has acquired in this debate.

However, he did not use the loaded and obscurantist phrase "sexual preference" at all.

Martin Reynolds highlighted his references to ecumenism. But as far as I can see ecumenism is a forgotten fad dating from the "old interpretation" of Vatican II (the Vatican is not pushing what conservative bishops are calling the "new interpretation"). Churches that have reduced ecumenism to a carrot-and-stick for shoring up their own stale attitudes to women and gays are churches whose leaders are not in dialogue with their own flock, much less with other churches (whom they would not deign to call "churches" in any case).

"a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond; whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church's teaching sanctions"

Only a very small number of gays live in "such a union" -- they are usually people privileged to be living in a civilized and humane society, and the fact that they have established such a union is a sound moral achievement -- in some cases a heroic gospel achievement, over against the prejudice of family and neighbors.

In practice "the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given" will mean that they have pastors who encourage them to treasure and be faithful to the relationship they have achieved. In the C of E and the RCC that would be a very discreet and sotto voce encouragement -- not loud enough to help confused gays find the way to such a high moral achievement (or to give any guidance to young people who are still committing suicide in droves because of Christian attitudes to homosexuality). The approach of Jefferts-Schori, Tutu, etc. is not only more humane and enlightened, but more evangelical and Pauline, even more Catholic, if one considers the baptism argument referred to by a poster above. Gays have a vocation from God to love another of the same sex just as heterosexuals have a vocation from God to live another of the other sex -- such a principle of that must drive a coach and four through the thickets of anxious scruple that beset the best, and even the violent hatred that possesses the worst cannot hold out against it.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 11:58pm BST

"with due account taken of the teachings of ecumenical partners also"

Why so? Were they taken into account before moving on the ordination of women or divorce and remarriage? Someone may correct me but I don't think so. Therefore, one must ask why is he raising he the bar on this issue?

Posted by: Andrew Innes on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 2:08am BST

If the Covenant moves with 'glacial speed' and a twin-track Communion emerges, there will be few, if any, women bishops at Lambeth 2018.

But if this proves unpalatable for Fulcrum and others, the Covenant will be less effective and resemble a receding glacier.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 2:56am BST

. . a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle...

Here is the real crux of the problem - it is simply not true, in fact an outright lie, that this is happening, except in the case of a single worldwide "church" under his authority. He is attempting to form reality by presenting his chosen reality.

For the last time, both "sides" have been used and are being used to advance one man's power-play. He has chosen one side over the other because it has a more forceful, even violent, approach to ecclesial uniformity.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 4:34am BST

Prior Aelred: With all due respect, I am a "Vatican II Catholic" and the imperial Roman model of top down, centralized hierarchy, without inclusion of the lay people in decision making is, in my opinion, in its' final days of decay. It doesn't work. It is without charity. Some of our greatest theologians have been marginalized and punished for their different thinking because it doesn't fit a "one size fits all" approach as promulgated by the Bishop of Rome and his minions. The institutional church, no matter what branch of the tree of catholicism, is undergoing a radical transformation, mainly from the root system, most likely guided by the Holy Spirit. I think the real focus should be on generous and inclusive love as we try to follow and practice Christ's teachings and example. I wouldn't worry too much about Anglicanism coming "very close to schism" as much as I would worry about the damage and violence that has already been visited upon women, LGBT people and the disenfranchised and marginalized, all in the name of ecumenical "unity". You may want to come down to Earth and stop stressing yourself about such abstract concepts as "reunion" between the various branches of the universal tree.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 4:57am BST

One imagines the ABC drinks cases upon cases of Scotch!!

Posted by: David G on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 6:51am BST

Question: "[S]ince there were more blessings of same sex unions in the Diocese of London than the rest of the WWAC put together, [why is it that] TEC was singled out."

Answer: Because this eye of this hurricane is composed of American conservatives ... who have the rest of the world's conservatives spinning about them with great force.

If the ECUSA is pushed aside ... the conservatives will force their way to into power and the Anglican Communion will become one great Hell of a pathetic nothing,

Posted by: R Hopper on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 8:18am BST

It's Pathetic already in some areas, mainly most of Florida, most of Texas, parts of California, and a coal vein in Pennsylvania. Virginia is a horse of a different color.

Posted by: David G on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 9:43am BST

"my future Supreme Governor, who I will probablly crown"

2 1/2!


Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 1:16pm BST

Hi Karen-
I would have thought that if anything is characteristic of baptism in its essence it is to be found in Acts 2, at Pentecost: baptism is preceded by repentance. The Day of Pentecost is so central that it can hardly be written out of the equation, can it?

Would be enormously grateful to get your thoughts on my remarks on the relative importance of genetics and environment (let alone volition) in the genesis of self-identified homosexuals, e.g. in today's postings 28 July - as your comments seem to come from the point of view that genetics are all. It does seem to me that so much research points to the view that genetics are the minor factor. Thanks.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 1:29pm BST

Just to help keep things in a healthier perspective, the Prufrock reference is, of course, to Polonius, who came to an untimely end by being stabbed in the arras.

And continuing in a literary vein, when I saw the itemized list, I immediately thought of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" [apt title that], and the chapter where Cash Bundren describes the making of a coffin for his dead/dying mother. It starts.
"1. I made it on the bevel..."
Then 2. through 13.

Might I suggest, as mere diversionary relief, a re-reading of, at least, the above chapter.

Posted by: Cal McMillan on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 1:34pm BST

While my personal sympathies are with the homosexual community, I can't help but shake my head at the disconnect from reality on the ground. Rowan Williams came to General Convention 2009, all but begged TEC not to take any further actions that might provoke the rest of the Anglican Communion, and then essentially got thrown under the bus by D025 and C056.

It doesn't matter what +KJS and Bonnie Anderson say it is or isn't, it only matters how it is perceived. TEC has all but dared Rowan Williams to recognize the Duncan swamp (ACNA) as an additional province in North America. Did anyone at GC 2009 think it might be otherwise? That after having said, "Please don't..." and getting rebuffed, that Williams would then turn around and say, "Yes, I commend you for your prophetic stance, thank you for your boldness?"

If TEC didn't recognize the possibility that they may have to "go it alone" after D025 and C056, then they were living in an alternative reality. If TEC believes they have done the right and just thing, then move on and don't whine (e.g., Susan Russell) when Rowan Williams and others don't get on board. Count the casualties later, but move on!

Posted by: Pete on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 3:06pm BST

Chris Smith -- I am not despairing -- I see how in this country the people regard themselves in the church & pretty much ignore the leadership -- not sure how this will play out (but I was told that all of the TEC parishes in Miami have received inquiries from 5 to 7 Cuban families since Fr. Cutie was received into TEC).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 3:16pm BST

Pete: "While my personal sympathies are with the homosexual community, I can't help but shake my head at the disconnect from reality on the ground..."

But the huge disconnection at the root of all this is the ever-widening gulf between what Church of England bishops spout about homosexuality and what the rest of British society knows to be good and true. I think the real difference between TEC and the C of E's handling of this issue at the moment is that, in TEC, it is possible for the voices of gay people to be heard. That is why a realistic policy is being hammered out. In the C of E, this hasn't happened yet, because every time anyone stands up, for example at a gathering of clergy, and says "I'm a partnered gay priest," there is a sound of the thuds of bodies fainting on the floor in horror, or a general screaming of "Evil! Take him out of our sight and burn him!" (or slightly more modern language to the same effect). I know: I've been there and tried it.

The disconnection is due to the Church's leadership refusing to listen to what it really needs to hear: that faithful partnered gay Anglicans exist, and may, in fact, be modelling something good and holy for the whole Church. Execration and ostracism are not adequate responses to this lived reality.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 3:40pm BST

"I think the real difference between TEC and the C of E's handling of this issue at the moment is that, in TEC, it is possible for the voices of gay people to be heard."

Precisely. The ABC has experience with - apparently - a large number of C of E partnered clergy, many of whom are closeted. He can invite 'his' gay clergy to a secret Mass. He is used to dealing in hypocrisy. Given his treachery to Jeffrey John, I am loathe to take gay/lesbian C of E clergy who cooperate with his hypocrisy to task.

I think Williams is as much a bully as any school-yard kid bullying a classmate presumed to be gay.

As far as I am concerned, he has no moral standing to lecture anyone else about their ethics.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 5:32pm BST

Rowan has lost all credibility as far as I am concerned. I suppose we should be grateful really, at least it’s better than being described as lower than pigs and dogs!But not much.

Posted by: Paul David on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 5:36pm BST

Fr Mark said: "According to this statement, then, no-one living in a same-sex relationship can "have a representative function" in the Church. That means farewell to partnered gay singers, organists, teachers in church schools, as well as clergy in civil partnerships..."

OMG!!!! Does this mean that things could get... well.... UGLY???? (oh my!)

Posted by: bookguy on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 6:40pm BST

We all represent the Church, so he has said, quite clearly, that gays are not welcome . . . at all.

And, Pete, some of us are desperately trying to get TEC to "go it alone" in the clear recognition we will not be going it alone.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 5:25am BST

Hi Paul R-
It is stretching things to call Jane Williams an evangelical without qualification (ok she lectures at HTB but she is also enthusiastic for such as Timothy Radcliffe). OK she and Tom Wright identify with the 'evangelical centre', but when will the false identification of the church with the political system of right- and left-wingers cease? As Tom Wright wrote to The Times: 'birds need bodies as well as wings' - in fact, their bodies are the most central part of them.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 11:56am BST

"While my personal sympathies are with the homosexual community, I can't help but shake my head at the disconnect from reality on the ground. Rowan Williams came to General Convention 2009, all but begged TEC not to take any further actions that might provoke the rest of the Anglican Communion, and then essentially got thrown under the bus by D025 and C056."

This is something that strikes me too, and makes me wonder, actually, how much of this is about justice for gay people and how much is about being "prophetic", with all the self satisfied frissons that accompany that word. And if I, a gay man who more or less sympathizes with the Left can think that way, how much easier is it for the Right to do the same and worse? It also links in with my uncertainty about the whole business. I mean, clearly, given their behaviour, the Right is far from God, and their pronouncements on homosexuality cannot be trusted. That's obvious to all, really doesn't warrent being mentioned any more. If people think lying, plotting, dissembling, and scorn are consistent with the Gospel, how can they be trusted to rightly interpret that Gospel? But if others also seem pretty clearly to be actively persuing their own self aggrandizement (which is essentially the sin of the Right as well, BTW), what makes them any more reliable? This is borne out when you try to suggest that perhaps gay people in North America are a trifle less oppressed than some of the members of the churches now opposing gay inclusion. The reaction often suggests that those so challenged feel more of a threat to their own self declared "champion" status than any concern for the poor, the outcast, and the downtrodden. So I am left in a place where I know the Right is wrong to keep me out, but I'm not sure the Left is any better by trying to bring me in. Well, after 47 years, I have found the margins to be quite comfortable, thank you. I'll just sit here with my bread and wine and watch the show. There's lots to be said for being still and knowing that He is God.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 2:59pm BST

“So I am left in a place where I know the Right is wrong to keep me out, but I'm not sure the Left is any better by trying to bring me in. Well, after 47 years, I have found the margins to be quite comfortable, thank you. I'll just sit here with my bread and wine and watch the show. There's lots to be said for being still and knowing that He is God.”

Even if I didn’t know you, I’d know that this had been written by someone living in a country where civil legislation ensures that he is safe from any kind of official church or other persecution.
Leaving “The Church” aside for a moment and focusing on Jesus’ example – do you really think an uncommitted “I’m alright, Jack” attitude is what we’re here for?

If it was, I would give up the battle there and then, because, as it happens, I live in a country that protects me perfectly and my local church is wonderfully supportive, and I know a lot of priests who would bless my relationship if I asked them....

But how smugly may I allow myself to simply sit with God, knowing that others like me are still driven to suicide, beaten up, murdered, and that few in the conservative sections of the church think much of it?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 7:36pm BST

"others like me are still driven to suicide, beaten up, murdered, and that few in the conservative sections of the church think much of it?"

And what about two North American or Western European gay people getting married will fix that? How many gay Nigerians have NOT been jailed because of the actions of TEC? How many homeless gay kids in North America or Europe have been gotten off the streets and back into the bosom of families that disowned them because of TEC marrying gay people? It's laudable that we want to protect the rights of gay people in countries where they still face the kinds of oppression that we used to face here,and worse, but how does blessing a gay marriage in New York or London accomplish that? It seems to me that if we really are concerned about the lives and safety of gay people in countries like Nigeria, Iran, Pakistan, the Sudan, or where-ever else, we ought to be fighting for THEIR safety and freedom, not fighting for benefits for ourselves that might trickle down to them one day. That's just a Reaganomics of social justice. Sorry, but I can't congratulate myself that because I have won some victory from a Church that has traditionally oppressed people like me, I have somehow won a victory for oppressed gay people elsewhere in the world. The right to marriage may be something worth fighting for, but let's at least be honest enough to admit that it is abot OUR rights, not those who will face beheading or hanging in front of the local mosque on Friday with a crowd of Christians and Muslioms cheering wildly. If anything it has made their lives worse, though we can hope and pray that that's temporary.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 10:42pm BST

"How many gay Nigerians have NOT been jailed because of the actions of TEC? How many homeless gay kids in North America or Europe have been gotten off the streets and back into the bosom of families that disowned them because of TEC marrying gay people? It's laudable that we want to protect the rights of gay people in countries where they still face the kinds of oppression that we used to face here,and worse, but how does blessing a gay marriage in New York or London accomplish that? It seems to me that if we really are concerned about the lives and safety of gay people in countries like Nigeria, Iran, Pakistan, the Sudan, or where-ever else, we ought to be fighting for THEIR safety and freedom, not fighting for benefits for ourselves that might trickle down to them one day."

How has all that worked for them, so far?

How are YOU doing that?

Humans are savage by nature. We must deal with ourselves before we can hope to help others. Mote, beam.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 4:34am BST

Ford
"And what about two North American or Western European gay people getting married will fix that?"

Nothing any individual can do is likely to change the world, far less over night. But we are all given our small part to do in that huge body of Christ, overwhelming and futile though it can often seem.

It isn't about two people getting married. It is about battling so that everyone recognises that we are fully equal, no more intrinsically sinful or fallen or disadvantaged than any of the normative majority, and that our relationships are as valid or as corrupted as everyone else's.

I only have my life and my experience to contribute to this debate, but that does not mean it's all about me. As I said, if it was, I wouldn't need to bother, because others have done their part in the past decades so I am already protected and safe.

But we haven't completely won the battle yet, there are still many even in our safe countries who see us a a sinful second class kind of immoral sub-group of humans by people who believe that gives them the right to treat us badly. There is still a lot of work to do to help our younger generation to live differently.

And all along, we're creating the kind of safe space that allows people like Davis Mac-Iyalla to seek asyum here and to continue his work for his country from a safe place.
He has often called for TEC to stay its course and not to split from the AC, because he believes that what we do in the West helps his cause in Africa. He may be wrong, I don't known enough about it.
But I do know that simply sitting back and doing nothing is not what Christ is asking of us.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 8:47am BST

"How are YOU doing that?"

Very very poorly. But I'm also not pretending that because I can get married to my partner in Canada, it matters a row of beans to that guy who's getting executed tomorrow in Teheran. I'm just asking that we stop dressing up our fight for our rights in the selfrighteous clothing of being a boon to the entire world. It's right up there with that song a few years ago, meant to help starving Ethiopans "We Are The World". Was it only here that people laughed uproariously at the idea of a bunch of wealthy American musicians declaring themselves, and by extension their entire country, to be the world? The usual response to that song here was "In your own selfabsorbed little dreams." That's all. There's nothing wrong with fighting for our own rights, and we're still not equal, but let's stop pretending to ourselves that this is about people in Africa or elsewhere.

"we're creating the kind of safe space that allows people like Davis Mac-Iyalla to seek asyum here .....because he believes that what we do in the West helps his cause in Africa."

Never having been to Africa and never having met Davis, other than on this site, I am in no position to question his perception. And if someone is doing something that might one day bring relief to his people, that can't be a bad thing, and of course he's going to appreciate it, who wouldn't? And the relative safety of the West is important for him to carry on his fight for justice in Nigeria. But, in the end, our fight is about US, and our creation of a safe space in which he can work for the freedom of his own people is a byproduct of that fight, not a goal, and it's pretty self aggrandizing of us to pretend otherwise. Like I said, fighting for our rights is fighting for our rights, not someone else's, and I think there's more concrete things we can do, and some even are doing, to bring about the liberation of those who are in far more danger than we are. It doesn't denegrate our fight for our rights to admit that it's really about us, and not all that directed to helping people in other countries. Pretending that it is does give the whole movement a certain self imnportance, though.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 3:07pm BST

No, Ford, I don't agree.
I have been given a local role, because that's the only sphere of even marginal influence I have. But that doesn't mean that it's just about me.
In another post, you asked me to just relax and trust God. Well, that's what I'm doing. I have been given my own local task, and I trust him to use it in the way that he sees fit. Maybe local is enough. Maybe there are repercussions all over the world I don't know about.

But, and I do mean this very very seriously - what I do is done because I perceive it, rightly or wrongly, as what God is asking of me, right now and where I am. It is not for myself, at least, I hope and pray that it is not. It is my part, the only one I have been given to play in a very large scheme of things.

I do know Davis, he is my Nigerian brother, we are his English family. And parts of what I do is done for him and those like him. Of course, I may get it completely wrong and I know I'm laying myself open to accusations of elevating self-focus to an intolerable degree. Should I be guilty of that, God will judge me.

I can only ever do the local and hope that God will use it for whatever may be his purpose.
How else can any of us live?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 11:13pm BST

Well, Ford, it's good to realize how little you contribute, it shows self-awareness.

Does that then mean that you are doing anything worthwhile by slapping the faces of those who see their struggle differently. Now, I've seen enough of you to know you'll say that's not what you're doing - it may not be your intention - but given the response, what do you think you are DOING?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 31 July 2009 at 7:57am BST

I should point out that my use of "you" was meant as a general "you." By fighting for our rights - well, not mine; I consider marriage and partnering to be distractions - but by fighting for those rights, we all contribute little in any material sense.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 31 July 2009 at 8:01am BST

"what do you think you are DOING?"

Pointing out that some of the people involved in this debate, both pro and con, seem to be far more interested in being the great hero defending either the downtrodden or God's Conservative Truth than they are about other things. Sure, there might one day be trickle down effects in other parts of the world from our actions in North America, but it is primarily about us. Why behave as though the trickle down things are bigger than they are? There are people, you are likely one of them, who are doing far more direct things to help the plight of suffering gay people in places like Nigeria, Iran, and Sudan. Good on ya. But when I suggest that gay people in North America are not as oppressed as, say, your average poor straight person in Nigeria, let alone the gay people there, I have rarely been met with any acknowledgement of that from the Left. Instead, I am told that I am minimizing my own oppression, or internalizing the self hatred of the homosexual, or abetting the oppressors, or God know what all. And then there's the fact that what we do just gets thrown into the general hatred for the West that is common elsewhere and is used a fodder for violence against Christians. That is usually met with absolute denial, followed by accusations that I am suggesting we ought not do anything for fear of people in, say, Nigeria, being attacked, and that's craven. But there's a great difference between not doing anything and acting in ways that WON'T be used as an excuse for violence. But an acknowledgement that North American gay people are far more free than even straight people in some countries? It's true, but in some circles it seems to be fightin' words. It's a denial of reality that makes me wonder, just as much as the Right's denial of reality makes me wonder. To be honest I see both sides in this as pretty much the same. Large numbers of sincere rank and file members whose fears and beliefs as to what is good lead them to follow people who are as much about standing up for some glorious cause as they are about the high principles they proclaim. Scattered amongst those leaders are people for whom this really IS about what they say it is about.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 31 July 2009 at 5:15pm BST

I guess my only response to you Ford is that you live in a country (not just a town, or metropolitan area) that allows full-fledged legalization of of an intimate long-term relationship of ether sex, and, thanks to your Church's Diocese in far-away Niagara, progress towards such in your own faith organization. Perhaps it was the brave efforts of some people in Quebec City and Toronto that you can now reap in Newfoundland.

And that's what the rest of us are trying to do, change the world one person's heart at a time.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 1 August 2009 at 12:41am BST

Ford
"Pointing out that some of the people involved in this debate, both pro and con, seem to be far more interested in being the great hero defending either the downtrodden or God's Conservative Truth than they are about other things. "

I don't think you're pointing that out as though it was a self evident truth that just needed stating.
I think you're claiming that, but without providing any evidence for it whatsoever.

This is beginning to sound a little like the consevo tactic of refusing to believe what we tell them about ourselves and claiming that we're all self-seeking non-Christians after all.

This is THE theological issue the church has chosen to tear itself apart over.
Anyone who perceives it to be God's will that this church be inclusive and accepting of gay people contributes to the discussion in their own, God-given and local way.

Because a large number of us are directly affected, it is easy to claim that it's just all about us, as though we were incapable of going a little deeper, as though we were naturally all just shallow. As though the fact that it's about lives and faith we can truly judge disqualifies us from being taken seriously. As though having a personal stake in the debate automatically makes us selfish and unreliable.

If you plan to repeat more often that "Large numbers of sincere rank and file members whose fears and beliefs as to what is good lead them to follow people who are as much about standing up for some glorious cause as they are about the high principles they proclaim", I would like you to provide some actual evidence for this first.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 1 August 2009 at 7:06am BST

"Pointing out that some of the people involved in this debate, both pro and con, seem to be far more interested in being the great hero defending either the downtrodden or God's Conservative Truth than they are about other things."

In other words, you are involved in being the Great Heroic Sage, pointing out everyone else's flaws? The prophet?

How is this different from what others are doing?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Monday, 3 August 2009 at 7:08am BST

Having dipped my toes in the ferocity of this debate here and on other blogs, I'm left with a few, and quite possibly mutually contradictory, conclusions both about the substance and the mode of this struggle for supremacy. In no particular order:

1) That faithfulness and honour in private sexual relationships, and their public expression through marriage or other formal arrangement, are very much more significant than the gender of the participants.

2) That the personal vilification (fortunately less strident here than in other places) of Rowan Williams is distasteful, unnecessary, and unhelpful.

3) That rich white people from the north should be circumspect in their condemnation of the cultural milieu of poor black people from the south.

4) That communion with the see of Canterbury should not be determined by alignment or otherwise on this one issue, significant though it undoubtedly is.

5) That the, shall we say robust, terms of the debate seem to be long on self-affirmation and short on charity on both sides.

6) That in this as in so much else, it is better not to dress personal opinion up as God's will since to do so necessarily leads to a sterile stand-off, and makes any chance of God's will actually being discerned slim indeed.

7) That there is still value, no matter how unfashionable it may be, in being willing to elevate collective understanding (difficult) over personal certainty (easy).

8) That this paroxysm of self-destruction cannot possibly be conducive to the Church's mission in the world.

I recognise that nothing I've said helps in the slightest to resolve the issues, but pursuing this fight to the death will most certainly be the definitive idolatry - the raising of something that is not ultimately significant (and how could the relative positions of similar or different genitalia ever be so?) above those things that are.

Posted by: Stephen Brown on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 7:52pm BST

Stephen
In principle, of course you're right, sort of.
In practice, I don't know where this is getting us.
That some people might dress us personal opinion as God's will is easily said. I'd like to believe that they at least all genuinely believe their views reflect God's wishes - and I would say that even of those I strongly disagree with. I believe Tom Wright, for example, is massively misguided and blind to the truth and that his Christianity is actively harmful, but I would not for a minute claim that he doesn’t think he is following where God leads him.

But even assuming that some might not truly seek God's will - are we then to say that their arguments are automatically wrong?

And why should it not be permissible to show despair with the Archbishop’s view, when what he says isn’t a nice theological game but the core of our lives for some of us?

And what if rich white people from the north join the African lgbt movement and help those people there to engage with the anti lgbt thinking there? Was it wrong to help Davis Mac-Iyalla to survive in exile and to support him when he lobbied against an attempt by the Nigerian government to criminalise lgbt people and their supporters even more? Why?

As for the value of elevating collective understanding, I know that is often said, but I have yet to hear a single credible reason why I should value the uneducated majority views about me more than what I know to be true about my own life.

I agree if you say “play nicely, children”. I’m not sure how I cannot pursue this fight “to the death”. After all, it’s about me and I can’t change who I am, I’m not going to lose my faith, so like it or not, unless people can accept me as part of their church, I shall be a constant thorn in their sides. I just can’t be anything else.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 10:11pm BST

Erika, thanks for your response. I acknowledged myself that my comments do not provide a "resolution" to these issues, largely because no resolution exists other than victory of one view and defeat of the other. That resolution is possible, of course, but not within one communion, or even within one religion. The defeated side of the argument will simply take their bat and ball away and begin a different game - and of course that has already happened historically. I personally am simply unable to recognise the more rabid elements of conservative evangelicalism as being in any useful sense Christian at all.

Be that as it may, I want to pursue some of my points a little further, and doubtless into territory that you will dislike; but I hope you'll bear with me even though I'm sure you won't agree with me.

On the issue of the will of God. I think that all we are vouchsafed to know of God's will is that He created the universe and "wants" us and it to come to a final consummation in Him. All interim steps he leaves us to struggle with, not without the support of each other and the Holy Spirit, but without a prescription. As we struggle, we will come to personal convictions about the next steps, but these convictions are not the "will of God", and none of us should be so arrogant as to so describe them. And I venture to think that if we all took this more modest perspective on our convictions we might have more success in talking to each other.

On the north-south divide. The irony here is that the virulent anti-gay prejudices, that you and I both profoundly regret, that are expressed in Nigeria and other southern nations have their roots not in African culture but in the Judaeo-Christian culture imposed through colonialism. All I'm saying here is that from a historical perspective the strident condemnations from the white north sound something like, "I know we imposed, often by violence, a culture and religion on you which included all kinds of fearsome prohibitions on same-sex relations, but we've had a change of heart recently and you must now forget all that and let us impose this new set of ideas on you." I think that should make us "circumspect", which does not mean silent.

(I need to do this in 2 posts!)

Posted by: Stephen Brown on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 10:02am BST

Hi again Erika - part 2!

On the collective versus the personal. You misunderstand my point. I am not saying that you "should value the uneducated majority views about [you] more than what [you] know to be true about [your] own life", although I find the implied disdain for the "uneducated" a little disconcerting. My point is only that notwithstanding your own necessarily more informed self-knowledge it does not follow that you must successfully impose that view on others who do not share it, nor defeat them institutionally. This debate is not actually about what's good for you, but what is good for the Church. Simply to insist that the former is the same as the latter applies no more to you (although I agree with you on the issue of sexuality) than it does to the other side (although I disagree profoundly with them on this issue.)

On Rowan Williams. Despair is one thing. Disagreement another. Both may be legitimately felt and expressed. Neither require the kind of name-calling and personal vitriol that have been showered upon the Archbishop from both sides, the calling into question of his intellectual and spiritual honesty, even his decency and humanity. I do not ascribe these things to you, but I have seen only too much evidence of them in blogs and articles on this issue.

And finally, on idolatry. Not to put too fine a point on it, I believe that both sides in this war are sinful. On the "traditional" (I put this in inverted commas because it's not a tradition I've ever been party to!) side the sin is to raise one issue above all others and make it the mark of salvation. Salvation is in Christ alone, and not in the commission or omission of particular genital acts. On your side of the debate, the sin is to allow your sexuality to become the touchstone of your humanity. All our humanity includes our sexuality, but is not defined by it alone. I think this is what the Church's teaching, much distorted to be sure, about all sexuality is: that although in nature life is for and about sex, in humanity, created in God's image, sex is put in its place and is no longer the purpose of our existence.

Posted by: Stephen Brown on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 10:57am BST

Stephen
"This debate is not actually about what's good for you, but what is good for the Church."

Ah!!
This is the core of our disagreement.
The debate is neither about what's good for me nor what's good for the church, but what God's will might be and where the Holy Spirit is leading his followers.

I suppose by "the church" you are speaking of the organisation behind the Anglican Communion or the individual national churches?

The only church that has value in my eyes is that which is made up of the body of Christ, the community of all believers. That is a fluid church, constantly seeking God's will, not enshrining it, but discerning, arguing, praying, slowly evolving.

The Church as an institution is absolutely meaningless when it doesn't follow Christ.
The part of the church that clung on to supporting slavery when social and theological awareness had already changed was uneducated and wrong.
The church that burnt witches was absolutely and objectively wrong and not following Christ.
The part of the German church that did not oppose Hitler was wrong.
The church that supported and upheld Apartheid was absolutely wrong.

And I am saying that the part of the church that clings to an outmoded unscientific understanding of homosexuality and shores this up with the flattest possible reading of Scripture is uneducated at the very least.

The church as expressed in the structures and hierarchies of the organisation has no intrinsic value and focusing on its unity is idolatry.

The church is important only when and where it points to God, where it is a true part of the body of Christ.

And I dare say that where an increasing group of Christians all over the world is doing its best to make the church see where it's going wrong, that group is actually working towards the healing and the good of the church and towards turning it towards God's will.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 6 August 2009 at 8:42am BST

Stephen
"As we struggle, we will come to personal convictions about the next steps, but these convictions are not the "will of God", and none of us should be so arrogant as to so describe them."

What makes you so sure?
The bible is full of people who have successfully perceived God's will in their own lives, and our Christian history is full of individuals who have done the same.
I'm not saying that every personal conviction is a discernment of God's will, but I do believe that many people discern God's will every in their lives and follow it. To say categorically that it isn't possible is odd.

"On your side of the debate, the sin is to allow your sexuality to become the touchstone of your humanity."

This is interesting, because much of what I hear our side saying is that we would like NOT to be defined by our sexuality as though it was the only thing about us, but that we'd like to be seen in the context of our whole lives.
It's actually the other side who can only see the sexuality of Gene Robinson, who only saw the sexuality of Jeffrey John.

I used to be married, and the most shocking experience for me when I started to live with my same sex partner was how suddenly, the church stopped seeing me as the complex woman I had been before, but insisted on seeing and defining me as a lesbian. Talk about going from 3D to 2D in under 10 seconds!
I have spent many hours responding to posts on TA by talking about my own life in order to make people see that we're individuals with normal lives just like they are. I have been consistently rebuffed by the conservatives here who cannot get beyond talking about my sex life, defining me and my role in the church only based on my sexuality, splitting the church because of their insistence that unity in condemning lgbt people is the one criterion for our whole faith!

If you can tell me how to stop that and how to get people off that particular train, I’d be eternally grateful!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 6 August 2009 at 8:55am BST

Thanks again Erika for your generous response, both in taking the time to respond, and in its content.

It's interesting to see where the focus of our different perspectives on this is crystallising, and thank God, literally, that it's not on sex or sexuality! Rather, it's on discernment of the will of God, and the nature of the Church. Just to be clear that I do not mean the institution primarily, but the community of all believers as you yourself put it. I do however believe that that community has to be embodied in the world, and in that sense the community of believers and the institution of the Church are one and the same. And of course I also agree that historically, just as now, the Church has frequently been more sinful than faithful, and I would not demur from any of the examples you cited. However I could not go as far as you in saying that the "church as expressed in the structures and hierarchies of the organisation has no intrinsic value and focusing on its unity is idolatry", if for no other reason than that Jesus specifically prayed for our unity, and striving for it, and to prevent further disunity, is surely an obligation laid on us all.

My take on the discernment of the will of God I recognise to be very much more timid than most of my fellow Christians would find comfortable. Of course both the Bible and the saints witness strongly about individuals who have indeed discerned the will of God, and acted accordingly. But there will doubtless have been others (many for obvious reasons unrecorded) whose claim to have discerned the will of God has proven illusory, or deluded. And as history is always written from the perspective of the winners, so I suspect that our perspective on the history of discerning God's will is similarly skewed in favour of those who did so in ways that the Church later determined were authentic. So I do not think that it is safe to rely on individuals' claims to know the will of God, and in any case when the claims are mutually hostile and contradictory (as in the lgbt debate) then the will of God argument does nothing other than intensify and legitimise an "unholy fight".

Posted by: Stephen Brown on Thursday, 6 August 2009 at 4:29pm BST

Erika (contd.)

Just to finish off the will of God point, I do not quarrel with the idea that an individual can prayerfully and thoughtfully try to discern what God is willing for their own life, and try to live in the light of it. Indeed, what kind of Christian would not be so striving? That is, I think, very different from trying to bolster one's opinions by claiming divine agreement!

I truly see how in this current time lgbt Christians are in a catch-22 about the prominence that their sexuality should have in their church lives. On the one hand it does sometimes seem from the outside of that community that lgbt Christians think and argue about nothing else. On the other, if that is the ground on which you are continually vilified and attacked, how can you avoid it?

I can well imagine the relentless pressure that you describe, and the frustration of being constantly reduced to a kind of freak-show participant by the ignorance and the prurience of other people. I wish I knew how to stop that train, but I'm hardly in a position to offer useful speculation! I hope you won't take this amiss, but I wonder sometimes if there isn't an awful kind of symmetry between the obsession with gay sexuality which oozes unstoppably from the fundamentalists, and the equal and opposite obsession with the parading (sometimes literally, but I mean mostly metaphorically!) of sexuality that straight people sometimes perceive in the gay community. Is there not a way to de-escalate this process to everyone's advantage? And for the avoidance of doubt, I do NOT mean the dusting off of closets, or a return to living a double life!

Posted by: Stephen Brown on Thursday, 6 August 2009 at 5:17pm BST

Stephen,
I wonder what kind of unity Jesus prayed for!
And we could speculate endlessly whether he really meant that as long as all believers agree on something, or pretend to for the sake of institutional unity, the matter they agree on is by definition just.

Or whether he might have prayed for the recognition that we are all one in Christ, that we do not need to draw little circles around our own groupings to shore them up, that we can agree to differ in humility without casting our brothers out.

I have often said that I find the whole conversation about schism faintly ridiculous. Because our relationship is determined by all of us being children of God. Brothers and sisters can stomp their feet and go into their own bedrooms to play and lock the door, but they cannot actually stop being children of the same parents and they will remain brothers and sisters.

It's when they take the relationship they have with each other more seriously than the relationship they have with their parent, that the focus slips. And once the focus slips away from God and his name is only used to get your brother to agree with you so you can share the big playroom, then all of you have lost.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 9:24am BST

(2)
As for the parading of gay sexuality - could I please ask you to search your heart carefully and to tell me whether you truly believe that this is what gay Christians are doing?

Yes, some of us go to gay pride parades to make a political point.
But are you at some level using the images of the gay subculture to paint all of us?

I'm asking because one of the most astonishing things I discovered when I started living in my old village with my 2 children and my new partner was the number of people who said to me later that they had been absolutely surprised to discover that gay could be just like straight. That I wasn't going to turn the village common into a knocking shop, that I wouldn't have different partners every night and that my children would still be brought up with the same firm boundaries we've always set.
There seems to be in people's mind one particular image of what gay stands for. And of course, historically, only the independent colourful could risk to be visible.

The wonderful journalist Libby Purves put it beautifully when she said that parents are terrified of their children coming out as gay largely because they fear it means they will drift into a self destructive section of society. They usually come round and find acceptance when they realise that their son and his partner are striving for a mortgage and a cat, just like everyone else.

Just as I am not using clear heterosexual excesses as proof that all straight people are morally incontinent, so I'd be grateful if gay people were no longer seen as a generic group, but each one of us as the individual we are.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 7 August 2009 at 9:25am BST

Hi Erika

I hope you haven't construed my silence as a flight from the fair and well-made points that you challenged me with. Actually I've been thankfully away from computer keyboards whilst sunning myself in France!

On the point about unity, I doubt anyone could express proper unity better than you when you say "that we can agree to differ in humility without casting our brothers out". Whilst some degree of shared understanding is essential if we are to be one body at all, I've always believed that its formulation should not go much beyond the historic creeds. For sure we can argue long and hard about their interpretation, but we can't throw them out without losing the baby as well. Almost everything else is up for grabs, and I firmly believe should never be the basis for crying heresy and attempting to burn or expel the heretic. Of one thing there's certainly no doubt in my mind, and that is that sexuality is not a matter of equal import to, say, the Trinity, and it can never legitimately be the touchstone that determines whether someone is a Christian or not.

I regret using the word "parading" as on reflection it was bound to be provocative, and I had no intention to provoke. What I was trying to express is the sense that I have from time to time that for some gay people (and of course some means some and not all) their sexuality is an aspect of their lives that seems all-encompassing and ever-present in a way that my straight sexuality is not for me. Of course sexuality is also pervasive for some heterosexuals, but then I'd feel moved to question whether that was entirely healthy. In the context of the lgbt debate within the Church, all I'm really saying is that on both sides sexuality is being raised up to an all-consuming and pre-eminent status that I personally do not believe it "deserves", and the whole debate is creating a lot more heat than light. I recognise that it's much easier for a straight person to say that given the history of oppression, but I still believe it to be true. And whilst of course we are all indeed the individuals that we are, none of us can at the same time proudly proclaim our sub-cultural identity AND complain that we are then thus identified.

Posted by: Stephen Brown on Monday, 24 August 2009 at 8:59pm BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.