Saturday, 25 September 2010

Rowan Williams interviewed in The Times

Updated again Monday evening

The Times has published a major interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Because this interview and several related articles are all behind a paywall, it makes no sense to link to them directly here.

However, there are other reports. The most useful so far comes from Episcopal Café which has summarised the material in Rowan Williams: “No problem” with celibate gay bishops.

Other British media reports:

BBC Archbishop Rowan Williams backs gay, celibate bishops

Guardian Rowan Williams backs gay bishops [this headline is obviously inaccurate]

Press Association Williams backs celibate gay bishops

Independent Archbishop supports celibate gay bishops

Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury: Anglican Church has ‘no problem’ with gay bishops

Damian Thompson at the Telegraph Rowan Williams’s authority goes up in smoke as he replies ‘Pass’ to a question about future gay bishops

Updates

Ekklesia reports Archbishop of Canterbury fails to bridge gay row gap

Church Mouse has written about Rowan’s little communication problem.

…Mouse’s view is that Rowan has two possible reactions to this kind of question. The first is simply to stonewall. That would be Mouse’s advice. Simply respond, “the Church’s approach to this is well known and widely documented” then refuse to go further. This is rather boring for interviewers but doesn’t give them room to make up juicy headlines.

The other option is rather more high risk. That would be to say, “the Church’s line on this is well known and widely documented, but we all know that it is a dreadful fudge concocted to try to avoid total civil war in the Church. I hope to be able to move forward on that in due course.”

The benefit of this is that it avoids you sounding like you’re defending a pretty indefensible position, as the Church’s current line really is. It is inconsistent and illogical, but its what we’ve got. The second is that it puts Rowan on the front foot leading the debate. Of course, it is more high risk, as many within the Church would respond with their usual venom. However, the ultimate virtue of this position for Rowan Williams is that it is actually what he believes…

Update Monday

There is now an ENS report, ENGLAND: Archbishop says there’s ‘no problem’ with celibate gay bishops.

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Comments

Abp Rowan's bizarre statement that gay bishops are "no problem" for him per se is given the lie by the fact that there is not one single gay bishop in England who feels able to be "out" about their sexuality.

Evidently, in the fantasy world that increasingly seems to be that which C of E bishops inhabit, everything is morally hunky dory however patently false their statements may be.

Another, more distressing line from Abp Rowan, is that reported on the BBC website today, that he has long been aware of "the wound of homosexuality" in the Church. It is hard to think of a less pastorally-sensitive way to speak than to describe gay people solely in terms of being a "wound" or a problem. Would that be considered appropriate when speaking of any other group, I wonder?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 7:35pm BST

When Christ had to take a stand for justice, it doesn't seem to me he worried about playing politics. When will the ABofC realize that his post is about justice; it is NOT about politics as he appears to wrongly assume. Is he suggesting of Truth: "that's not my job now"?

Posted by: Richard Falk on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 7:49pm BST

I like best the part where he answers "Pass."

That just about epitomizes his time as ABC.

Perhaps in the afterlife he will be room-mates with Neville Chamberlain.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 8:30pm BST

The Anglican hypocrites known as Primates and Bishops from the Global South and their American/English masters will soon start to cry a river over this statement. God help her church.

Posted by: Davis Mac-Iyalla on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 8:31pm BST

Damian Thompson says: "Now, you may regard Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality as wrong, amounting to a declaration that it’s OK to be left-handed but not to write with your left hand, but it is at least clear. It’s inconceivable that Benedict XVI would produce the game-show reply “Pass” to a question about sexual morality."

Actually, doesn't the Pope declare it to be "intrinsically disordered" to be - er - left-handed? Seems the Catholic position is not quite so straightforward after all. And while RW's reply could be seen as frivolous, it might also be viewed as an example of characteristic humility. It isn't very often you hear the pontiff admitting that he might not know the answer to a thorny moral question.

Every time I feel a nagging temptation to leave the soggy moral morass of the C of E to enjoy the flintier - if more hostile - popish terrain, the shrill, sarcastic caterwauling of Mr Thompson in the Telegraph is quite enough to drive me back to the church of my baptism. Perhaps he should be compulsory reading for any Anglo-Catholic tempted to take up the Bishop of Rome's generous offer.

Posted by: rjb on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 8:41pm BST

"If you want a miter, throw away (the possibility of) your spouse."

You can give THAT back to the Father-of-Lies, Rowan!" >:-(

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 9:12pm BST

I am very struck by the Times's own position. Their leader-writer is impatient with Dr. Williams and wants him to move more quickly toward full inclusion. Is this what we in the US call a "Cronkite moment"? (President Johnson, on learning that the respected CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite had said the Vietnam War was unwinnable, is supposed to have said "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost the nation."

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 9:25pm BST

Funny how he believes in women bishops, divorced and re-married bishops and and bishops who indulge in sex which is contracepted.

All of which were anathema to Anglicanism at one time.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 10:45pm BST

Davis, actually we on the side of the "Anglican Hypocrites" don't mind this statement at all. We actually believe the cross is the sign that we are all "intrinsically disordered" in various ways. But forgiveness by Christ's blood and grace by his Holy Spirit enables us to live godly, righteous and sober lives. Of course, same-sex attracted people can serve God -- in any role God calls them to -- just as every other sinner is called and encouraged to serve God. Celibacy or chastity are the terms of that service for same-sex attracted, (as it is for all God's servants) in addition to not teaching otherwise -- according to us "Anglican Hypocrites" that is.

The "pass" statement is a problem and an indicator of a deeper one, but certainly not a surprise nor a cause for tears on our side.

Not weeping or gnashing our teeth...

Posted by: Rob+ on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 11:11pm BST

Bizarre is the word!

I know he'd like to "pass" on the this particular issue - but really. Did he think he was on a game show? Mastermind or just The Weakest Link?

Posted by: Suem on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 11:48pm BST

"To put it very simply, there's no problem about a gay person who's a bishop. It's about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe. So there's always a question about the personal life of the clergy."

- Archbishop Rowan Willaims (Guardian) -

Like the moon landing, for the Church of England this is at least a mighty step forward - for the ABC to at least admit that 'There's no problem about a gay person who's a bishop'. Would thast he had admitted this to the world at large before turning back Jeffrey John from the Reading bishopric.

The second step will be for the ABC to admit that, by his own personal statement in 'The Body's Grace', he has no personal objection to same-sex physical relationship. His statement here, regarding episcopal abstention from such is just a matter for further theological reflection, which may reveal the fact that bishops are fellow human beings, who, in the light of enlightened understanding of human development processes, may have need of a life partner in order to allow them to share in the joy of relationship with another person - which is the right of hetero-sexual bishops in the Church of England.

We are not bound by the rigours of the Roman Catholic Church in the matter of married bishops, so why should we strive to mimic their philosophy on same sex-relationships. To do so is to demean what ought to be God's gift of free-chice in the matter of celibacy among the clergy.

After all, for Roman Catholics, Anglican clergy are already 'out of court' by being allowed to marry - not to mention their not being in receipt of Roman Catholic 'Orders'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 12:55am BST

So why is Jeffrey John not a bishop???

Posted by: bobinswpa on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 2:57am BST

So how can a bishop be a re-married divorcee..especially as Scripture is specific on this issue. "Let the Bishop be once married."

From the earliest time, when clergy could be married ..it was always understood that on the death of their spouse, they had to remain single.

Indeed convert clergy who are dispensed from celibacy have to promise never to re-marry if widowed.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 8:52am BST

Fr Ron: "Like the moon landing, for the Church of England this is at least a mighty step forward - for the ABC to at least admit that 'There's no problem about a gay person who's a bishop'"

I am afraid I disagree with you here. Rowan's statement is simply false. He (or the institution of the C of E, which he seems to regard as much the same thing) evidently has a massive problem with gay people being bishops. Everyone can see this except him, I think. He has several gay bishops in the C of E - and there are plenty of retired ones - yet not a single serving bishop is able to be out, so obviously his statement is not true. If a bishop cannot even admit he's gay, then the Church clearly has nothing useful to say to anyone on the topic, and is evidently not a safe place for gay people. The basic message he gives is: "if you're gay, stay away, because you are too difficult for me to deal with ethically." This is not much good when the Abp wants to speak, ad infinitum, about every other area of ethics to British society, and expects to be listened to.

The closest we have come to episcopal honesty in recent years was David Hope's "grey area" - and how does that way of speaking help or inspire any young gay people who might be considering Anglicanism? Wow, come to our church and spend years being psychologically tortured and regarded as at best a "wound" - how attractive a way of life is that!

I think it's just feeble, morally and intellectually, and unworthy of someone of the Archbishop's intelligence (and I write as someone who sat at his feet as a student years ago). The Church cannot just pass on this issue - it is the issue society chooses to ask the Church about, and it needs to get a handle on it. Otherwise, why would anyone listen to the Church on any other issue, if all that the Archbishop can do is dodge the too-difficult ethical questions of our day?

The Archbishop is stuck in the thraldom of The Institution; whereas putting institutions above people is something Jesus repeatedly tells us not to do. He also fails to stand up to bullies, something which every good pastor and leader needs to be prepared to do.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 9:19am BST

"Pass" in response to that particular question speaks volumes; it can be translated "I do not rule out that possibility." It has enraged Damian Thompson and his fans, who think that Benedict XVI would have answered with a thundering, intransigent "Never!" I think that what Abp Rowan is saying is clear: "People have always been concerned about the sexual lives of their clergy, and the majority of Anglicans are ill at ease with even steady and faithful gay partnerships that involve sexual activity. I could push them to adopt a more liberal view, but that is not my job, and would even be counterproductive and divisive. But it may be that things are moving in the direction of the acceptance of gay partnerships as licit for clergy and even bishops -- unbiblical as this may sound -- and I pass the ultimate decision on this over to the discerning wisdom of the church as a whole."

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 10:51am BST

RIW:

Unlike the Roman Catholic church, Anglican doctrine and canons are evolving things that react to increasing scientific knowledge in the world, part of our three-legged stool of reason, tradition, and scripture.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 11:29am BST

Comparisons are being drawn between +Rowan's comments on homosexuality and those of +Vincent. The latter has been put on the spot a nunber of times over the past few weeks and has answered in ways with which many LGBT Catholics can comfortably live. VN has been asserting the 'nuanced' manner with which the RC Bishops of England & Wales have dealt with LGBT pastoral concerns. Perhaps RW might
take note, rather than characterise LGBT Christians or the issues as a 'wound'. It's more a creative possibility and challenge.

Posted by: martin on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 2:19pm BST

Did he think he was on a game show? Mastermind or just The Weakest Link?

Posted by: Suem on Saturday, 25 Septembr

The Weakest Link - for sure !!

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 2:52pm BST

Given that the new bishop of Southwark was to have been named mid-August and that this has still not been done, is there a possibility that the Archbishop's interview is damage control preceding an announcement of Jeffrey John's appointment?

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 2:52pm BST

'Standards'? what 'Standards' ?

Is he saying gay and lesbian relationships are sub-Standard then ? Better tread carefully. The wound is the way the Church has wounded us gays and still does.

Why do these Standards for ministers not affect his speech and its truthfulness ?

Time for the archbishop to see the Wizzard of Oz again. It might help us all.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 2:57pm BST

"So how can a bishop be a re-married divorcee..especially as Scripture is specific on this issue. "Let the Bishop be once married."

Robert, how can a bishop be a never-married celibate, especially as Scripture is specific on this issue...

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 5:21pm BST

Bishop Rob writes -'Of course, same-sex attracted people can serve God -- in any role God calls them to -- just as every other sinner is called and encouraged to serve God. Celibacy or chastity are the terms of that service for same-sex attracted...

I don't suppose that I am the only person here who regards this view as insulting as the Pope's definition of homosexuality as 'intrinsically disordered' and 'tending towards a moral evil'. What you are saying is that gay men and lesbians, having been made by God in His own image, including their sexual and emotional feelings, have been commanded by him not to act on them in any way and thus to be denied the physical love and comforts that are available to everyone else . Perhaps this is God's little joke on a section of humanity? I don't accuse Bishop Rob of being a hypocrite (a title he seems to enjoy). I believe that his view is un-generous, un-loving and un-Christian.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 5:46pm BST

I like Fr Mark's and Spirit of Vatican II's most recent comments.

But can't help thinking, why, other than 'The Times' needing to promote their interview, is this deemed to be news? All RW has done is to repeat the standard teaching of the C of E - it may be a mess, as Church Mouse says; gay Christians like me may disagree with it and fantasise that RW might one day take Church Mouse's second option above - but as Archbishop he's boxed in (especially on this) to repeating the current teaching.

Does anybody remember, late in 2007, RW gave an interview to a Kentish magazine for young people, called 'Oi!'? I think TA linked to it at the time. In it RW said:

"I have no problem with gay clergy who aren’t in relationships, although there are savage arguments about the issue you might have heard about. Our jobs mean we have to try and live by the bible, gay clergy who don’t act upon their sexual
preferences do, clergy in practicing homosexual relationships don’t. This major question doesn’t have a quick fix solution and I imagine will be debated for many years to come".

Seems to me that this is no different from that - he's stating the current C of E teaching, daft and messy etc as it is, each time. It may be very frustrating, to say the least - but not news, surely?

in friendship, Blair

Posted by: Blair on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 6:08pm BST

If Anglican doctrine is evolving..how does the Covenant fit into that paradigm?

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 8:41pm BST

Given that the new bishop of Southwark was to have been named mid-August and that this has still not been done, is there a possibility that the Archbishop's interview is damage control preceding an announcement of Jeffrey John's appointment?¨ Lapinbizarre

That´s what I thought immediately, but then, pause/squint/remember, the ABC never does anything that makes sense to me (heck, I can hardly understand what he´s yakking about anytime unless he´s being snide).

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 9:05pm BST

""Pass" in response to that particular question speaks volumes; it can be translated "I do not rule out that possibility." It has enraged Damian Thompson and his fans, who think that Benedict XVI would have answered with a thundering, intransigent "Never!" I think that what Abp Rowan is saying is clear: "People have always been concerned about the sexual lives of their clergy, and the majority of Anglicans are ill at ease with even steady and faithful gay partnerships that involve sexual activity. I could push them to adopt a more liberal view, but that is not my job, and would even be counterproductive and divisive. But it may be that things are moving in the direction of the acceptance of gay partnerships as licit for clergy and even bishops -- unbiblical as this may sound -- and I pass the ultimate decision on this over to the discerning wisdom of the church as a whole.""

Glad you have the inside track here. I thought all he said was "Pass." How about if the majority of Anglicans don't give a rat's ass about their clergy's sex lives? Do you think that's all people think about when they see a priest? How bizarre. Now, just-into-puberty kids in fact do think about sex, and other peoples' sex lives, all the time, but most of them grow out of this. Nice try. If the ABC had wanted to say that, why didn't he?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 9:07pm BST

Sorry to spoil your conspiracy theory, Lapinbizarre, but the name of the new bishop of Southwark was not expected in mid-August. Announcements are typically made three or more months after the second CNC meeting, which for Southwark was on 5&6 July.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 9:09pm BST

Rob+, I know I've asked you before, but have never seen an answer: just exactly in what Province of the Anglican Communion are you a priest?

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 10:26pm BST

[@RIW: "If Anglican doctrine is evolving..how does the Covenant fit into that paradigm?" Very well---in terms of "what not to do". Y'see, Robert Ian, the AC also values *learning from its mistakes*: I practice I can commend to Rome!]

"Bishop Rob writes -'Of course, same-sex attracted people can serve God -- in any role God calls them to -- just as every other sinner is called and encouraged to serve God. Celibacy or chastity are the terms of that service for same-sex attracted..."

First of all: FIE on the dehumanizing meme "same-sex attracted". An ideological creation of homophobes who want to dismiss/discriminate against gay people on the basis that they ought to be able to control "mere attractions."

But more importantly, what kind of *hypocrite* can rationalize the double-stardard of 1) "just as every other sinner" with 2) "Celibacy or chastity are the terms of that service for [gay people]"

Either we're the *SAME* (being made in the image and likeness of the same GOD), or we aren't. There are NO special (discriminatory) "terms of service" in the Kingdom of God!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 10:32pm BST

""Interpretation belongs to the tradition... in which Dr Williams takes an historic role. He should affirm as a Christian leader and a theologian that discrimination against homosexuals is wrong. In the Church, as in the nation, let justice be done — and the heavens will not fall," said the Times."

- art. in 'Ekklesia' -

The Times article reveals a more eirenic stand in the argument for inclusion of gays in the Church of England's ministry than that of the Telegraph correspondent, Damian Thompson. Thompson, who is a Roman Catholic, and has his own agenda to peddle, so one might discount what he has to say on this important issue within the Church of England.

If Archbsihop Rowan is seen to be double-minded on this issue, it is because he has Provinces of the so-called 'Global South' to contend with, which, although somewhat behind the times on issues of private morality, embrace the anti-Gay agenda as a popular means of gaining influence within the provinces of the Anglican Communion.

While stating clearly his own philosophy about the authenticity of committed gay relationships,
Archbishop Rowan is reluctant to commit the whole of the Communion to his own private views on this important, and ultimately (devolving upon) human rights, issue.

His hesitancy to commit the whole of the Anglican Communion family to what is obviously his own view on faithful monogamous gay relationships is obviously the result of his own personal reluctance to trespass upon the inalienable rights of human beings to make up their own minds about how they use the particular gift of sexuality that has been given to them as part of their unique human potential.

I diagnose Rowan's reluctance to declare the right of a bishop to engage in any relationship which might be construed to be 'irregular' - in the present political climate in the Church - as merely a holding pattern until the Universal Church has seen fit to come to some agreement on this important matter of human sexuality.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 1:03am BST

"From the earliest time, when clergy could be married ..it was always understood that on the death of their spouse, they had to remain single."

RIW, I'm going to call you on that statement. Kindly name two to three neutral, scholarly works on the history of Christianity that support this statement.

Remember, it is better to marry than to "burn"...

Posted by: Lynn on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 1:26am BST

Someone, somewhere, in the British press, quoted yet another anonymous someone, during this summer's J John to-do, as saying that the new appointment should be announced around mid-August. Inaccurate, obviously. The remainder is my imagination.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 1:56am BST

Richard, I certainly don’t desire to insult you. There is, however, something very insulting to all humanity in the message of the cross. We are all so sinful Jesus had to die for us so we could be given eternal life. It is a message of love -- and it means our emotions, desires and behaviors aren’t all good.

“What you are saying is.…I believe that his view is un-generous, un-loving and un-Christian." If that is all traditional understanding of the Gospel had to offer it certainly would be un-loving, and for that matter, legalistic, dry and anything but “Good News”. I think that is why churches have so failed the gay community. All too often the advice was simply “Don’t.” Not very helpful to a man that isn’t attracted to women or vice versa.

Homosexuals are not alone, all men and women have all kinds of “sexual and emotional feelings” that are a result of the fall and innate human sin, feelings that are not blessed by God nor directed by God, but which in fact lead to eternal death. “For the wages of sin is death.”(Romans 6:23) And yes, there is suffering involved in turning away from what feels so natural. There is a reason why Jesus described following him as carrying one’s cross. It is a kind of death (to the “old man”) that is part of being his disciple.

But there is good news. God doesn’t just leave us with “don’t” and the cross. He gives us his Holy Spirit to enable us to live in obedience and know joy, freedom and peace. “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” (Romans 6:23) And there is freedom in this life in Christ. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” But churches need to be able to minister the power of the cross and resurrection into Christian lives. If there is no power in your church, I can hardly blame you for wanting to have the “physical love and comforts that are available to everyone else.” That is a perfectly reasonable conclusion if you have never experienced the transforming power of the gospel.

A powerless emasculated church never says the words “And such were some as you.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

Rob+
(++Name – arch-bp.; +Name – bp.; Name+ - priest)

Posted by: Rob+ on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 5:50am BST

JCF -- of course we are all the *same*. We are all sinners called to believe, repent, recieve the Holy Spirit and live lives of holiness according to God's commands. The Church has always understood that means chastity (within marriage) and celibacy (without). Clearly this particular command is harder for some than others. But that doesn't mean it is wrong. "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried” – G. K. Chesterton

Posted by: Rob+ on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 6:02am BST

So if non practising homosexuals are ok for episcopal ordination, why didn't Rowan stand by Dean John?This shows a complete lack of integrity as Rowan Williams' theological reasoning.

The pope embraced him, but this man is more of a threat to Christianity than either Dawkins or Tatchell.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 6:34am BST

" How about if the majority of Anglicans don't give a rat's ass about their clergy's sex lives? "

The "wound" RW was talking about was specifically connected with "ministry" -- and there are certainly Anglican faithful who complain about the sexual activity of their ministers (e. g. re. adultery or promiscuous homosexuality).


"Do you think that's all people think about when they see a priest? How bizarre"

Now this imputation is itself bizarre. I merely point out the uncomfortable but realistic fact that clergy are generally expected in all denominations to be "godly" and that this is taken to apply to their intimate relationships. That a same-sex relationship can be a godly state is what the TEC advances (and I agree). But as far as I know they have never claimed that a minister's sexual life is or should be a matter of complete indifference.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 8:36am BST

There is nothing new here.

As I recall Fred Hiltz seemed to think that the "Anglican policy" would make the ordination of any self affirming lesbian or gay person an impossibility - no matter how empty the bedroom.

Rowan's position leaves us in a worse position than before.
He now represents a threat to my continued ministry and family. Words like "regrettable" and "wound" will come back to haunt him - as they haunt me!

He has convinced himself that he has done all he can to protect gay people from harm - yet the truth is he gives comfort to those who would harm us both by what he says here and by how he fails to protect the territory marked out at Dromantine.

It is a convenient trick to claim sustaining unity can best protect gay people - it is not what most of the gay people I know think.

Here, I agree with Fr Mark's well expressed post, and also think Fr Joe reads "pass" correctly.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 8:50am BST

Rob+ I obviously haven't experienced the 'transforming power' of your gospel. And I have no desire to so experience it. Your proof texts do nothing for me and neither will I be frightened into submission by the threats of death as the wages of sin, since I cannot and will not accept your definition of 'sin'.

It seems to me that what we have here is the usual dialogue of the deaf. You define your beliefs by what the Bible says and what you think the church teaches. I start from the experience of common humanity. I believe that sometimes both the Bible and the Church are wrong and that reason, intellect and conscience have to triumph over both scripture and tradition. Otherwise we make ourselves prisoners of a vengeful god.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 9:34am BST

""So how can a bishop be a re-married divorcee..especially as Scripture is specific on this issue. "Let the Bishop be once married."

- Robert Ian Williams -

Robert, while your devotion to the idea of the inerrancy of Scripture (expressed elsewhere on this blog) has a lovely ring about it, It simply doesn't hold water. Otherwise, you would have to insist that Roman Catholic bishops have been told by Saint Paul (in these words): "Let the Bishop be once married!"

Frankly, not many of them seem to have followed this scriptural injunction in your own Church!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 11:13am BST

The Southwark appointment is expected in October I think. The Queen is also a factor I believe... some things (bishops?) dont get announced when she is at Balmoral, Peter Owen can no doubt tell us why.The last three bishops of Southwark have been diocesans already... but I think that would limit it severely this time and I suspect one of the possibles may be a contender for Durham. It will be an interesting appointment though given what the diocese has asked for.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 12:04pm BST

Perry

I have been told that new English bishops can only pay homage to the Queen when she is in England. But this happens after the announcement and confirmation of the appointment. The new bishop of Ely was announced on 31 August, which was during the Queen's summer holiday in Scotland. So I don't think that her being at Balmoral will delay the Southwark announcement.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 2:51pm BST

Damian Thompson says: "Now, you may regard Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality as wrong, amounting to a declaration that it's OK to be left-handed but not to write with your left hand, but at least it's clear."

The problem that the Roman Catholic Church has isn't only the absurdity of its positions on issues such as homosexuality. Its real problem, in the wake of its never ending sex scandal, is its now complete loss of moral authority. The only debating point that Mr. Thompson really can make with any credibility is to point out that at least the RCC takes clear cut positions.

Mr. Thompson in his unending attacks on the Anglican Chuch is unwittingly implying that the RCC can no longer stand on its own moral authority. It needs an enemy to survive.

Posted by: Doug on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 3:19pm BST

Lynn - I suggest reading P Brown - Body and Society. I don't think we can or should follow early church standards on gender-sex-clergy-bishops - but it is VERY illuminating to see them in all their otherness.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 4:57pm BST

Richard

You say you start from the experience of common humanity. But the common experience of man is that we are fallen. I dont think the bible reveals a vengeful god, but rather a god who is rich in mercy and slow to become angry. Re-inventing god because we feel perhaps uncomfortable doesnt change his character. I say this as someone with a confused sexuality - who god intervened twice as he tried to commit suicide

Posted by: David Wilson on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 6:13pm BST

"The Church has always understood that means chastity (within marriage) and celibacy (without)."

This is disingenuous HOOEY, Rob+, and you KNOW it!

The standard you mention is NOT the problem.

The problem is that you disallow those human beings that God made w/ a LGBT ***orientation*** from the possibility of HAVING "chastity (within marriage)": that is, the marriage SUITABLE to their God-given orientation (to someone w/ whom they share *spousal love*).

Don't give me this "we're all fallen sinners" excuse, for your OWN (sinful!) discrimination, based upon willfully self-serving and woefully BAD Bible interpretation. We see THROUGH your bigotry, and we're not kowtowing to it anymore!

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 10:46pm BST

"You define your beliefs by what the Bible says and what you think the church teaches. I start from the experience of common humanity." This is a very helpful statement Richard. It is needless to point out scriptures when we have two different starting points.

So how are your decisions based on your experience of common humanity working for you? Do you have peace and contentment?

A gay friend of mine used to say there wasn't a gay man around who wouldn't take the pill that would make him straight. The activists can say that is because of homophobia, but my understanding is that the "freedom" promised by being "out and proud" after a none too long time turns out to be no freedom at all -- and yet there seems to be no alternative, so there they are, "making the best of the hand that God dealt them."

On the other hand, there are old gospel songs of the "power, power, wonder saving power in the blood of the lamb." Have you ever wondered why people would sing such odd songs? And full of joy? It couldn't be because of dry, fundamentalist teaching. That would not explain their joy. It could only be the experience they had of God and the release brought by the cross. This is a different experience of a very common humanity who believe they find wisdom and understanding, along with joy, love, peace and contentment in the God of the scriptures.

Posted by: Rob+ on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 4:55am BST

"Mr. Thompson in his unending attacks on the Anglican Church is unwittingly implying that the RCC can no longer stand on its own moral authority. It needs an enemy to survive."

One of the many great things about the papal visit was that this sort of sectarianism was nowhere in evidence. The royals, the archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury, David Cameron all surpassed themselves in projecting a wide vision of Christian faith, in which we strive together to build up the Kingdom. All sorts of negativity were discountenanced by this moment of grace, as Newman smiled down.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 5:20am BST

Rob,

Thanks, but most of us have outgrown fairy-tales.

However, Chesterton was right. Which is bad news for "traditionalists" - whether the Roman denomination or Protestant - as that tradition is what has been tried for more than a millenium and FAILED, FAILED, FAILED to improve humans or get us closer to God. Utterly FAILED. It's *replaced* the Gospel. It's a dead thing that rises to feed on living souls. Stake it. Cut its head off. Bury it with garlic in the mouth and a wild rose on the grave.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 5:53am BST

Okay, we also need to know about the bishop's children - are they Christian, I mean *really* Christian. The term specified in Scripture (the Devil's greatest trick against Christ) is "believers."

Does the bishop drink? I'm an alcoholic, so even one drink makes him a drunk if I'm to be unrelentingly, brutally, even scripturally judging of his suitability as a bishop.

Recent convert? What's recent - well, Episcopalians like you to have been around awhile (don't believe it? look at the chart showing avg ages at the Lead and ask any young person who's tried to get through discernment). I'm not sure that we could allow a bishop who's been an Episcopalian or Lutheran or Mennonite (any other communion - including say, Nigeria or Uganda -would be converting) for less than, oh, 25-30 years. You need time to absorb the church, see.

How is he with money? Does he live in the middle-class while allowing others to go without? Clearly, not a suitable candidate as he loves money.

And, wonderfully, all this can be applied - using the *same* scripture - to priests!

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 6:06am BST

“A gay friend of mine used to say there wasn't a gay man around who wouldn't take the pill that would make him straight.”

Ah, Rob, that I can understand. In a society in which people like you won’t allow gay people to live normal lives it goes without saying that they’d rather be straight.

But we’re no longer interested in the life-denying and love-denying theology you propose. This loveless rigidity is your problem not ours.
As for me, I am bisexual and therefore do have a choice. I chose true love and am happily married to another woman, fully integrated and accepted in my family, my village and my church.

As the saying goes: Some Christians are gay – get over it.
It really is time you moved on.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 8:46am BST

Creepy: "A gay friend of mine used to say there wasn't a gay man around who wouldn't take the pill that would make him straight."

I have never in 60 years heard a gay person express this sentiment, which sounds like quite pathological self-hatred.

"The activists can say that is because of homophobia, but my understanding is that the "freedom" promised by being "out and proud" after a none too long time turns out to be no freedom at all -- and yet there seems to be no alternative, so there they are, "making the best of the hand that God dealt them.""

No freedom at all? Well, there is the freedom to enjoy life, and the still more wonderful freedom to love another person from the heart. I have yet to meet a gay person who regards this freedom as "making the best of the hand that God dealt them." Your discourse seems calculated to support the idea that gayness is a serious mental or physical pathology or handicap. I fail to see that it connects with phenomenogical reality. Should you produce some self-hating gay person who backs up your dismal view, chances are that s/he will turn out to be under the influence of some variety of biblical fundamentalism.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 9:56am BST

Rob+ says 'A gay friend of mine used to say there wasn't a gay man around who wouldn't take the pill that would make him straight'.

Oh for heaven's sake. I suggest you get some more gay friends.

And the answer to your impertinent question? YES I do have peace and contentment, notwithstanding my 65 years of experience of life and much of what it and the church has thrown my way.

You might consider this:-

But we make his love too narrow
by false limits of our own
and we magnify his strictures
with a zeal he would not own

And I would consider the way the strictures of the Bible and the traditions of the Church are applied to be very much within the false limits not owned by God.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 10:40am BST

David
I get very uncomfortable with the notion that somehow humankind is 'fallen' with its echoes of the Adam and Eve myth. It seems to me to easily lead to a sort of Christian masochism or self abnegation - 'Lord I am not worthy' - words I will no longer say since they are so manifestly untrue, especially just before receiving the Eucharist. The whole point of the death and resurection story is to make us worthy. So you and I ARE saved (though no doubt Rob+ doesn't think so). I am not re-inventing God, no one can do that unless we invented him in the first place. Similarly no one can possibly know the mind of God, all we can do is to do our best and that is good enough.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 11:03am BST

I do not see where Bill Dillworth's inquiry of Rob+ "just exactly in what Province of the Anglican Communion are you a priest?" has been answered. Curious myself.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 1:31pm BST

Spirit of Vatican II,

"All sorts of negativity were discountenanced by this moment of grace, as Newman smiled down."

I honestly wish I could be as optimistic and ecumenically minded as you. And if the moderates and liberals within the Roman Catholic Church had more influence I would be. For now, I only see the charity going one way.

Posted by: Doug on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 2:56pm BST

Richard, you wrote:

"I get very uncomfortable with the notion that somehow humankind is 'fallen' with its echoes of the Adam and Eve myth. It seems to me to easily lead to a sort of Christian masochism or self abnegation - 'Lord I am not worthy' - words I will no longer say since they are so manifestly untrue, especially just before receiving the Eucharist. The whole point of the death and resurection story is to make us worthy. So you and I ARE saved (though no doubt Rob+ doesn't think so)."

So if humankind isn't fallen, why is the world such an awful mess? And if humankind isn't fallen, what are we saved from?

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 3:43pm BST

"A gay friend of mine used to say there wasn't a gay man around who wouldn't take the pill that would make him straight."

Absolute rubbish.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 3:44pm BST

Rob+, still waiting to hear what Anglican Province you're a priest in. If you're going to make a point of your priestly status by drawing attention to it in your signature, it seems only fair for those who read your stuff to know the context.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 3:50pm BST

Richard, of course you are right, the whole point of his death and resurrection is to make us worthy.

You write, "Similarly no one can possibly know the mind of God, all we can do is to do our best and that is good enough."

I know a lot of good people think that. Jesus said something very different. Not only did he claim to know God, and that he was God, but he said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Jesus also said he is the truth. So by inference we can know God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, his mind and his ways, as with all things in the basics at first, then increasing in knowledge from there, though never completely not even on the other side of glory. But he tells us we must hold to his teachings to do so. I believe that is part of Rowan's point on the acceptable behavior of clergy regarding celibacy and chastity. It is for the benefit of the same-sex attracted clergy.

Posted by: Rob+ on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 5:56pm BST

One of the dodgy bits in Rowan's pat traditionalistic formula is his unquestioned valorization of gay bishops who successfully avoid pairbonding for their entire adult lives, decade after decade after decade.

My everyday life sample of people I've observed is not strictly rigorous, so to that very extent, skewed; but simple observations do raise the question: Why would we categorically valorize a bishop who so consistently fails to connect with at least one other human being at the deepest levels of human communication and embodiment?

Odds are, the going church life rule about rigorous success in avoiding pairbonding will more likely yield gay bishops who are trending towards, if not outright vulnerable to, avoidant personality disorder or some such; not tilt us towards higher odds of getting really whole, fine fellows who overflow with generosity, heart to heart to heart?

Neither being sexually active, nor being sexually inactive tells us all that much, in and of itself, about the possibilities for discerning this or that or the other person as our bishop?

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 7:11pm BST

"So by inference we can know God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, his mind and his ways, as with all things in the basics at first, then increasing in knowledge from there"

THIS (and not the silly "non-gay pill" thang) is why I'm done w/ you, Rob+. [Don't want to be too close when that lightning bolt... :-0]

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 7:23pm BST

JCF, if you are an agnostic (God is unknowable) just say so. But for me to say one can know God is...worthy of a lightning bolt [of judgment] is perplexing? And how would you even know what is worthy of God's judgment -- when God is so unknowable? Or is it one of the few things we do know (be careful, that is moving into semi-agnosticism) is that God judges us when we say I believe God wants and enables me to know him is...prideful? Especially after I have said it is only through repentance, mercy, grace and obedience? That is pride???

I mean, isn't that also why Jesus came so we could know him, so we could know God? Jesus did have a conversation with Philip about this. "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9)

I am truly puzzled by your rational and aversion.

But you go your way, I'll go mine -- in the company of Peter and the other disciples. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18) Mercy, grace and peace.

Posted by: Rob+ on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 12:01am BST

I come back to this blog tonight having just returned from a New York City reception for non-U.S. officers in the Naval War College, and take notice of the tone (a generous word about the comments from some)of this discussion.

I spent the final twenty minutes of the evening in semi-heated conversation with a Korean War veteran U.S.Navy officer; I am a Vietnam War veteran Navy officer, and both of us are straight, married, fathers, and grandfathers.

My colleague was stridently arguing against liberalizing U.S. regulations concerning homosexual military officers.

As I said to him, the question of acceptance of homosexual persons seems clearly a generational shift. He is horrified by anything relating to non-heterosexual relations, and seems to fear "contamination" of straight members of the military by gay members of the military.

It seems strange how much the discussion on this website, and my discussion earlier in the evening, have such distressing parallels.

My children, ranging from a 36 year old mother to an unmarried 23 year old daughter, have no problems with people who are not straight. The quality of the individual is what matters, as it should.

Nobody, that I know, and nobody on this site (as far as I can determine), is arguing for licentious behavior by homosexual persons; licentiousness should be no more acceptable in heterosexual persons as it is in homosexual persons.

But to deny the inherent sexuality of a particular individual is simply wrong, and even stupid. My generation has gotten over some of that stupidity, and the next generation seems to be well clear of such stupidity.

My Korean War friend, and indeed the mysterious Rob (religious identity undefined), will become less and less of a factor as time passes. Deo Gratias.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 5:02am BST

Rob (who may or may not be a priest, having refused to answer),

Nonsense. Your whole spiel is nonsense.

The *fact* remains that the traditions you espouse are what found Christianity to difficult and failed - you've failed, Rob. You have not advanced the Kingdom by a single step, but have driven people away, brought people to despair and death, and pushed Jesus' self-giving farther and farther back behind a wall of doctrine and self-aggrandizement.

I have no doubt you care and are deeply committed - to the church structure you envision, not to God, nor to Truth. I assure you, no church, liberal, conservative, catholic or protestant, can be, hold, or represent God nor Truth in itself. You've fallen into several of the recognized theological weaknesses of the pastoral letters - institutionalism, unquestioning obedience, weak rationalizing.

You've failed.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 5:34am BST

Rob+ has been asked where he comes from, politely enough, a number of times, with no response.

So, let's speculate. The only Rob+ I've noticed in a lot of places online was an insider in the regime of John-David Schofield when Schofield's Diocese of San Joaquin was part of TEC. When Schofield left for the Southern Cone, Rob+ stayed behind. Pension issues? Trojan horse? I've never seen an explanation, but he certainly misses no occasion to bash TEC, even though he is still a priest in TEC.

Now I may be wrong - but if so, perhaps Rob+ will enlighten us.

Doug (not the same one as above)

Posted by: Doug on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 7:11am BST

"But he tells us we must hold to his teachings"

Interesting, then, that he never said a single word about homosexuality. All the clobber verses come from the Old Testament and from St Paul.

With a very very narrow interpretation you might just get away with saying that the Bible prohibits long term, stable, faithful, loving and equal relationships. But you certainly can't ever claim that this is Jesus' teaching.

This is really getting to be a silly conversation. If you want to continue to believe in something that is anti-science, anti-psychology, anti-intellectual and against the visible positive reality of actual people's lives and claim that it comes from God, be my guest.
Just don't expect too many others to listen to this nonsense.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 7:47am BST

Perhaps Rob+ ( I dislike that appendage!) might wish to reject the apophatic tradition?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 12:07pm BST

Thanks, Erica. You beat me to it.

This is also worth remembering:-

'This [homosexual practice and identity] is an issue of biblical authority. Despite much well-intentioned theological fancy footwork to the contrary, it is difficult to see the Bible as expressing anything else but disapproval of homosexual activity, let alone having any conception of a homosexual identity. The only alternatives are either to try to cleave to patterns of life and assumptions set out in the Bible, or to say that in this, as in much else, the Bible is simply wrong'.

Diarmaid MacCulloch - Reformation 2003

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 12:35pm BST

"This is really getting to be a silly conversation. If you want to continue to believe in something that is anti-science, anti-psychology, anti-intellectual and against the visible positive reality of actual people's lives and claim that it comes from God, be my guest."

Then come to the USA!!!! We're happily dumbing down!

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 1:42pm BST

"he never said a single word about homosexuality" Erica Baker

For the sake of accuracy, shouldn't this read "he is not recorded as ever having said a single word about homosexuality".

I feel like I'm teaching theologians to suck eggs here but - leaving aside the accuracy or otherwise of non-contemporaneously recorded texts - the Bible relies upon chance survival just as much as any other set of historical documents. It isn't Hansard. He might have said any number of things about homosexuality and it either wasn't written down or has been lost since. Nobody knows.

Posted by: Laurence C. on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 2:11pm BST

"But to deny the inherent sexuality of a particular individual is simply wrong, and even stupid. My generation has gotten over some of that stupidity, and the next generation seems to be well clear of such stupidity."

There are plenty of vocal young homophobes in America, not to speak of Africa, so to treat it as a generational thing may be too easy. The case against gay sexual relationships has huge weight behind it (still the dominant teaching of most Christian churches) and cannot be overthrown by emotive dismissal. I think we must argue patiently and respectfully for change (specifying what change exactly we think would be truer to the Gospel).

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 3:08pm BST

"he is not recorded as ever having said a single word about homosexuality".

Quite right. Makes one wonder what else wasn't recorded or has been suppressed, doesn't it? The area had been under Roman rule for a hundred years or more and it had been comprehensively Hellenized for a couple of hundred years before that so Greek and Roman culture was all around. It does seem very unlikely that Jesus never came across same sex attraction in that multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society. And then there is the rather interesting question about the Roman centurion and his servant...

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 9:51pm BST

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that homosexuality is treated as a particular sexual orientation anywhere in the Bible, only as a conscious choice, like lying or stealing. Since I believe that for the most part homosexuality is now acknowledged to be an orientation (I'm not saying genetic, though), how can we conclude that the Bible condemns the issue as we now understand it?

It's not a rhetorical question.

Posted by: Doug on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 12:41am BST

I was trying, however feebly, to give the traditional theological reasoning for Rowan's stance which we conservatives agree with, rather than speak about myself or where I came from. I suppose I suspect the motivation of others here for wanting to know. ('Shoot the messenger' seems to be a pastime on liberal and conservative religious blogs, so I don't care to give anyone ammo even when "politely asked" other than to use my first name and indicate that I am a priest.)

Besides, just ask Mark Brunson. He seems to know all about me and my ministry, in addition to being quite hostile to anyone that is not an avowed agnostic which is really, really odd, given that the church is called to proclaim the truth of the gospel. By the way, agnosticism is not a defensible truth proposition. You may believe it, but to defend it as a truth proposition is to contradict oneself.

You are quite welcome to believe that my statements on theology, celibacy and chastity, in relation to gay Christians are "stupid" (lovely tone with that), "weak rationalizing," "nonsense," etc. Is this the kind of Christian spirit you are all modeling for the "listening process?"

Erika, you may want to look at Mark 7:21-23 and Mark 10:7-9. Arguments from silence aren't really good arguments to base theology on. Especially when Jesus was not silent on marriage nor sexual sins. The Greek words Porneiai, Poneria, and Aselgeia cover every form of sexual sin and specifically include homosexuality.

I will let you all have the last word as I leave off the American convention "Name+" to indicate that I am priest -- Mercy, grace and peace.

Posted by: Rob on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 1:14am BST

"it is difficult to see the Bible as expressing anything else but disapproval of homosexual activity, let alone having any conception of a homosexual identity."

This (in D MacCulloch's "Reformation"?) makes NO sense to me.

How can a text(s) which has NO "conception of a homosexual identity" express "disapproval of homosexual activity"?

One Last Time: "homosexual activity" IS the activity of those w/ a *homosexual orientation* (activity which, needless to say, may or may not be sexual). Period. To say that the Bible condemns the former, w/o conceiving of the latter, is NONSENSE. This isn't "well-intentioned theological fancy footwork", it's BASIC logic.

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 1:35am BST

Rob
"Erika, you may want to look at Mark 7:21-23 and Mark 10:7-9. Arguments from silence aren't really good arguments to base theology on. Especially when Jesus was not silent on marriage nor sexual sins. The Greek words Porneiai, Poneria, and Aselgeia cover every form of sexual sin and specifically include homosexuality."

You might like to read some contemporary biblical exegisis on this. I suggest Tobias Haller's "Reasonable and Holy".
Then come back and we'll have a conversation.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 8:27am BST

It would be most interesting to know exactly how the practice of a priest putting a + after his Christian name came into being. Having worked in three Provinces of the Anglican Communion, I have never come across this tradition. Is it common to any particular Province? I am familiar with a + before the Christian name of a Bishop, but then, that separates them from the rest of us - as perhaps being more Christ-like.

I, personally, use the preface Father because, in the Royal Air Force, chaplains were called Padre which is an Italian form of the same title, and ex-servicement will often use this title in addressing a clergyman - even today.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 11:11am BST

"I will let you all have the last word as I leave off the American convention "Name+" to indicate that I am priest -- Mercy, grace and peace."

I truly am puzzled - what could possibly be objectionable to stating what Anglican body you're affiliated with? *Are* you an Anglican?

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 11:18am BST

Having been picky about the accuracy of one of your statements, I then misspelled your name, Erika! My apologies.

Laurence (with a 'u').

Posted by: Laurence C. on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 1:10pm BST

JCF says: "To say that the Bible condemns the former, w/o conceiving of the latter, is NONSENSE."

But if the Bible had conceived of the latter (homosexual orientation) how do we know that it would have condemned the former (homosexual activity) in all cases. If the authors of the Bible had a belief, as many do today, that homosexuality is an orientation, they may have written very differently about it.

I agree that the Bible gives a blanket condemnation of homosexuality, but they almost certainly believed that each individual was naturally heterosexual.

Posted by: Doug on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 2:51pm BST

I have no problem, as an out, gay, partnered man, accepting that the Bible condemns sex acts between men (actually, to be pedantic, anal intercourse is what it condemns). After all, I'm a shellfish- and blood sausage-eating man with very closely cropped hair who does physical labor on Saturdays (when I can't get out of it), and the Bible condemns all of that, too.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 4:28pm BST

Fine. If you believe Rob's little delicate psyche can't handle being told there are an increasing number of liberals and progressives who *don't* value keeping him "at the table" that's your choice.

But, I do believe I should have the chance to rebut the outrageous claims he's made about my "agnosticism" and support only for "avowed agnostics." That is a lie, and I deserve the right to publicly challenge it.

I cannot believe, cannot comprehend, that a group of people - these traditionalists - can puff themselves up in their own imaginations so far as to believe that they - who must have a visible church, who must believe that every word written by a human is absolutely true - they who must have solid structures or God can't exist dare to call us agnostics. I have never truly doubted God's existence. It was never an option! I experience Him as Living Presence. If the Bible were disproved in toto tomorrow and the ecclesial structures disappeared like mist, I would still believe in God. Likewise, I believe that His revelation and the development of our ability to understand it is ongoing. No written *anything* shuts down conversation. I believe. What do "traditionalists" really *believe* in? Where's there belief in things "unseen?" And we are the agnostics?

No authority was ever given to the Church to declare God's Revelation closed. That is true faithlessness.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 7:29am BST

Here, Rob(+), I'll show you mine, then you can show me yours...

I'm a member of the Episcopal Church in the USA.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 9:48am BST

"The Greek words Porneiai, Poneria, and Aselgeia cover every form of sexual sin and specifically include homosexuality."

Specific citation? All of the biblical uses refer either to prostitution, idolatry, and (perhaps) incest. No reference to non-commercial intercourse between adults of the same gender.

There is a widespread opinion that "porneia" in Acts 15 refers to all of the sexual sins of Leviticus 18, but that is by no means evident, the sources not referenced (but merely asserted) and there is significant evidence to the contrary.

It is true that by the time of Clement of Alexandria, "porneia" was applied by him to the relationship of Hadrian and Antinoous -- but that may also be because he regarded the relationship as a form of harlotry, as the boy was greatly advantaged by Hadrian's favors.

As Erika suggests, I've done a good deal of study on this particular issue.

And this seems wildly off-topic!

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 12:27am BST

Clarification: I meant all the biblical uses of "porneia." The other terms are even vaguer, but basically mean "licentious" and "unclean."

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 7:22pm BST
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