Sunday, 20 February 2011

Civil Partnerships & Marriage: more comment

The Economist has published I thee bless.

BRITAIN took a small step this week towards eroding the legal distinction between gays and straights in the matter of matrimony. The civil partnerships that came into force in 2005 grant same-sex couples essentially the same legal rights (over property, pensions, inheritance and parenting) as opposite-sex marrieds; but the law stipulates that the ceremonies must be secular. Last year, after fierce opposition, Parliament voted to remove the prohibition on civil partners tying the knot in churches, synagogues and other religious settings. On February 17th the government said it would begin consultations on implementing that decision—with a view to changing the regulations this year…

Fulcrum has published a statement: On the Use of Religious Buildings for Registration of Civil Partnerships.

The Evangelical Alliance has this statement: Religious liberty must be guaranteed - Alliance responds to proposals to enact section 202 of Equality Act 2010 and also Government proposes allowing civil partnerships in religious settings.

The Tablet has this editorial: Marriage a La Mode.

Throughout the West, the issue of gay marriage has been used as the spearhead of a secularising agenda, propelled by those who want to rid modern civilisation of all traces of its Christian roots. Paradoxically, within the gay community itself the most vociferous supporters of gay marriage have been gay Christians, who want to be given an equal place in the life of Christian institutions rather than to overthrow them. Both these views are reflected in church reactions to government proposals in response to gay pressure, for instance for allowing a religious element in civil partnership ceremonies – at present forbidden by law – and even allowing a partnership or marriage ceremony in a church or synagogue. The Quakers, some liberal synagogues and the Unitarian Church would welcome that permission…

Austen Ivereigh has written in America The Church will have to fight this attempt to redefine marriage.

It’s hard so far to see the tempest behind the first clouds and hastening winds. But an announcement yesterday by the UK government that it intends to lift the ban on civil partnerships being celebrated in places of worship is set to unleash a storm which could well redefine the relationship between Church and state; and have profound long-term consequences — especially for Anglicanism…

The Plymouth Herald printed Will gay church marriages end up in the courtroom?

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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

The Fulcrum bland statement easily turned on its head:

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/02/turning-fulcrum-statement-around.html

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 1:49am GMT

The Tablet editorial seems to think Catholic attitudes to gay marriage are set in stone. I argue the opposite in a French article: http://www.cairn.info/revue-cites-2010-4-p-27.htm

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 1:55am GMT

Let the critics who claim that their religious freedom is "threatened" point to a single example of a religious body being forced to solemnize a marriage which would be legal under the civil statutes but uncanonical according to the doctrines and canons of that religious body.

There are plenty of areas where secular and canon law diverge. The most obvious example is the Roman prohibition of remarriage after divorce while the former party or parties still live.

Let the critics point to a single example in the past 50 years of the state compelling a Roman Catholic priest to solemnize a marriage where one or both of the parties are divorced from a partner or partners still living.

One actual example is all I ask.

And when they are unable to point to a single example, let them admit that they have been nowt but rogues and liars.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 3:16am GMT

What gets me is the conservatives not seeing how their desire for a blanket ban on same sex marriage seriously impinges on the the religious liberty of those who want to offer same sex marriage in a religious context.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 8:27am GMT

It seems ridiculous to discuss the amendment of a previous civil restriction to now include religious venues and then assume that the current Equality Act exemption for religious or belief organisations will never be lifted.

Yes, Malcolm, you're right. There are no examples of the church being forced against canon law to solemnize a marriage. However, there are examples of the church being sued for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1557748/Gay-man-wins-Church-discrimination-case.html

Prospective civil partners who want a church ceremony will expect equal treatment (i.e. the full marriage rite) from any Anglican minister (registrar). It would also be considered painful and humiliating for a homosexual couple if the officiating minister questions them on why they are insisting on the complete marriage rite.

But let's all breathe a sigh of relief that common sense will prevail and that a Stonewall-supported test case that seeks legal redress on this basis is a rank impossibility.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 9:43am GMT

Although not directly pertinent to this post I thought the following was worth sharing:-

With "heterosexual people we talk about relationships. Homosexual people, we talk about sex. Heterosexual people have lives. Homosexual people have lifestyles. Heterosexual people have a moral vision. Homosexual people have an agenda."

Read more: http://www.queerty.com/why-im-loving-dr-john-corvinos-complete-annihilation-of-nearly-every-anti-gay-argument-ever-20110217/#ixzz1EUUIRZU5

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 9:47am GMT

Richard Ashby thank you for this

With "heterosexual people we talk about relationships. Homosexual people, we talk about sex. Heterosexual people have lives. Homosexual people have lifestyles. Heterosexual people have a moral vision. Homosexual people have an agenda."

It is spot on.

I write from the agenda of my sex-fuelled
life-style -even pensioners are not excempt from such objectifying terminology.

You have nailed it !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 6:33pm GMT

"Throughout the West, the issue of gay marriage has been used as the spearhead of a secularising agenda, propelled by those who want to rid modern civilisation of all traces of its Christian roots."

How odd, that excluding the full participation gay people in the life of the church is seen as a way to combat secularism! Just as in America, the way to preserve marriage is to exclude people from it, who wish to commit to it.

And how terrible that Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, or that James baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch. Bringing the outsider in, is the worst way to build...

Or something.

Posted by: Nat on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 6:39pm GMT

" Canon Law declared marriage's primary purpose to be "the procreation and nurture of children?" That would suggest that the case for same sex-unions aspiring to be marriages falls at the first fence, theologically at least."

- Article from 'The Plymouth Herald' -

Then one might suggest that this 'Canon Law' is no longer de rigeur - in view of the fact that there are marriages legally contracted within the church that have no prospect of the production of children - old people, or the physically unable, for instance, are not barred from marrying in the Church because of their inability to procreate.

To say that procreation is the 'primary purpose' of Christian Marriage is not, in all perceived circumstances, true. Therefore, why outlaw the 'marriage Blessing' of same-sex relationships on the basis of out-dated 'canon law'?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 10:00pm GMT

I think this is all rather silly and verging on the mendacious or at the very least ill-informed (and refusing to allow oneself to be informed).

It is quite clear that churches will not be sued for declining to carry out a rite that is against the position they have taken according to thier own beliefs or their own internal discipline.

There is no power to do so anywhere in the world and there never will be because religions are autonomous in such matters and that is assured under human rights law.

Some people like playing the martyr even when there isn't any persecution - a real insult to those who really do face persecution.

Not content with already generous exemptions from the law the church believes its own freedom can only be butressed by discriminating against others and restricting others' religious freedom by use of state power where they have decided they do want to offer a certain ceremony.

Enough of the lies already.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 10:13pm GMT

David Shepherd writes, "However, there are examples of the church being sued for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation."

Well, yes. (1) People can and do sue each other for all kinds of things. Much of the time, the courts have the good sense to say, "Oh, don't be silly, just go away." Occasionally, alas, the courts demonstrate that Mr. Bumble was right.

And (2) The case that Mr. Shepherd cites was not about marriage, but about employment discrimination. If a church wants to set particular moral prerequisites for employment, I think they can do so, as long as they are clear and consistent. Did the Diocese of Hereford, in the cited case, specifically demonstrate that they had consistently refused to employ, or dismissed from employment, any and all persons who were known to be in premarital, extramarital, or nonmarital sexual relationships (of whatever orientation), including being guilty of adultery, shacking up, hooking up, prostitution (as either client or "vendor"), watching dirty movies, or any other of the various forms of sexual naughtiness? Or do they just pick on gay men?

Just asking.

Posted by: Bill Moorhead on Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 11:33pm GMT

Are these editorialists all breathing the same "vapors" (as in "a case of the...")?

The *hysteria* here, that because SOME people of faith (LGBT and allied) want to have CPs in a religious context, that means EVERY faith group ("The Church") will have to host 2 men or 2 women, is completely Over-The-Top!

Yes, the situation of the CofE, "by law established", has some unique challenges---which only begs the question of why these two *RC* publications think the issue has the slightest thing to do w/ themselves (much less, "America", in the USA). [And blaming the state for UK RC adoption agencies *putting themselves out of business* is TOO MUCH!]

***

"What gets me is the conservatives not seeing how their desire for a blanket ban on same sex marriage seriously impinges on the the religious liberty of those who want to offer same sex marriage in a religious context."

It's really quite simple, Rosemary. Quakers, or liberal Jews, Unitarians or---Heavens to Murgatroyd!---LGBT-affirming Anglicans, aren't really "religious", anymore. We're only (in the anti-LGBT view) "quasi-religious". Who is REALLY threatening religious freedom again?! O_o

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 12:38am GMT

There are almost 7 billion people in the world now, and "Current projections show a continued increase of population (but a steady decline in the population growth rate) with the population expected to reach between 7.5 and 10.5 billion in the year 2050". (Wikipedia)

And yet "" Canon Law declared marriage's primary purpose to be "the procreation and nurture of children?"?

The numbers speak for themselves - even though something much more basic is being ignored: the mirror that marriage provides of unconditional love and growth. To say that marriage is about nothing but producing more children is in itself childish.

Posted by: Nat on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 2:08am GMT

Are "conservative" Christian commentators devoid of intellectual honesty? Surely "religious freedom" is all about *freedom* - enabling denominations which are ready, willing and able to marry same sex couples to get on with the job?

If "conservative" Christians are incapable of intellectual honesty on these topics, how "honest" are they being about other things:

If "they" assert the resurrection, do they not make it a dubious claim? If "they" assert the virgin birth, are we entitled to question it?

How can your faith - how can mine? - remain unruffled in the face of such dishonesty? I am beginning to suffer post traumatic stress brought on by these "conservatives," who are so ball-achingly disputatious, mean and dishonest.

If that's how you are when you become a Cristian, then Christianity sucks ...

Posted by: William on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 4:08am GMT

Having seen articles about ministers in both Canada and England being arrested for hate speech when saying homosexuality is a sin, are conservatives who expect lawsuits etc. for refusing to solemnize gay marriage really playing the martyr?
As an American I admit I may be way off base in my understanding that since it is the state church, CoE priests can't really refuse to marry people for any reason like American priests do, or can they? If the Church of England as a whole or the government allows same sex marriage, won't individual conservative priests be expected to perform marriages for anyone in their parish? Wouldn't descrimination lawsuits be flying fast and furious if they refuse?

Posted by: Chris H. on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 4:43am GMT

" If the Church of England as a whole or the government allows same sex marriage, won't individual conservative priests be expected to perform marriages for anyone in their parish? Wouldn't descrimination lawsuits be flying fast and furious if they refuse?" --

- Chris H, on Monday -

Chris, you obviously have not been reading many of the comments on this thread, or you would already have guessed that there is no intention of legislating against any church body that finds itself unable to offer same-sex blessings.

The short answer to your question is NO, NO, NO!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 9:33am GMT

re Chris H's question:
At the moment the C of E permits the re-marriage of divorcees in church. However, it is also quite clear that no minister is obliged to do so if it is against his/her conscience. There are ambiguities as ever when dealing with people, but no great difficulty of principle about two approaches co-existing. But the current proposed legislation is one step further back than this - it would be like the 1950s and 1960s when sympathetic Anglican clergy sent divorcees down the road to the Methodist church. The pressure will come from clergy within the church over time.

Posted by: Rosalind on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 10:45am GMT

As I understand it, in the UK you are allowed to say homosexuality is a sin. You are not allowed to advocate acts of violence against LGBT people, that is you are not allowed to advocate their being put to death. (You can advocate any kind of sexual act being made illegal, but it is totally clear there is no public will for this). If the law is that no church or individual representative of a church will be compelled to marry same sex couples, that should stand. A similar exclusion relates to abortion, which is legal and provided by the state, but where individuals with conscientious objections are not compelled to assist even where employed by the NHS.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 11:48am GMT

On a different, somewhat off-topic issue, Rosemary's excellent post, above, brings to mind a subject that bothers me, and which I believe is fundamental.

Nowhere does the Bible say that homosexuality is a sin. It says that certain acts were regarded as sinful (something not limited to sexual acts, but including many things we no longer regard as in any way sinful), but never does it say that homosexuality itself - that is, *being* homosexual - is in itself a sin. If that were the case, there would be no hope of salvation, and no point in changing orientation (as if that were possible). By extension, there would be no reason for restraint in any area: a simple inclination would be a sin. Period. A minor point, perhaps, but one that is almost always ignored.

Conservatives have two options: simple *being* is sinful. If this is the case, then there is no reason or room for dialogue, or hope of salvation. Or homosexuality is not real, a choice, something that can be changed or "cured". But this case ignores the great majority of modern science, as well as the witness of those who find themselves to be homosexual.

A difficult dilemma for absolutists.

Posted by: Nat on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 4:50pm GMT

"Having seen articles about ministers in both Canada and England being arrested for hate speech when saying homosexuality is a sin, are conservatives who expect lawsuits etc. for refusing to solemnize gay marriage really playing the martyr?"

I do not know where you saw such articles, but they would not have been in any reputable news source, as there is simply no history of such arrests in the Dominion of Canada. The Criminal Code prohibits propaganda that "advocates or promotes genocide" against an identifiable group - one would have to be going well far afield of one's ministerial or homiletical role to fall afoul of the law in the line of duty - so far, indeed, that by the time a cleric got anywhere near hate speech as defined in criminal law I would expect her to have been removed by her denomination's own discipline, regardless of its theology or polity on whatever the issue at hand happens to be.

Posted by: Geoff on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 6:57pm GMT

Nat,

In order to be more objective towards all sexual orientations, can you say why infidelity is any different from any other propensity from scientific standpoint?

Yes, I know the arguments for a moral distinction, but scientists have discovered that there is a correlation between a variant of the gene DRD4 and the propensity to cheat. The gene affects levels of dopamine and as a result 'it is possible to feel committed to a partner, but still feel the need to cheat on them'.

So if a spouse's eye begins to wander, I think they should immediately get tested for this gene. There are committed homosexual and heterosexual partners who are settled and obviously do not have the gene variant. They've probably found a life partner to whom they will stay faithful. It's easy to be smug and forget those poor souls who, we now know fall short of the Christian ideal of permanent monogamy through no fault of their own.

Okay, the truth is that genetics is only part of the story. The researchers insist that 'not everyone with this ­genotype (genetic make-up) will have one-night stands or commit infidelity.' A propensity is not deterministic.

Even if we accept that seventh commandment given through Moses only forbids actual behaviour, Christ goes further to denounce forbidden desire, saying: 'You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart' (Matt. 5:27, 28).

Of course, He said that before this exonerating discovery of genetic science. (Unless it's alluded to as part of Paul's reference to 'the flesh' at war with the Spirit).

So what's your advice? Try to be good? Get gene therapy? Are these parts of scripture rendered obsolete by modern science? In which case, we may as well accept all genetic pre-dispositions and be damned.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 9:22pm GMT

"In order to be more objective towards all sexual orientations, can you say why infidelity is any different from any other propensity from scientific standpoint?"

Well, for beginners, infidelity is not a sexual orientation. You are attempting to compare apples and bowling balls.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 10:37pm GMT

"So what's your advice? Try to be good? Get gene therapy? Are these parts of scripture rendered obsolete by modern science? In which case, we may as well accept all genetic pre-dispositions and be damned." - David Sepherd -

"Try to be good?" - Yes. Certainly! But as we all know, 'The spirit is willing but trhe flesh is weak!' Our pilgrim life on earth is full of fallings and risings - this is why the General Confession is so important at every act of receiving Holy Communion - Confession and Absolution is a regular ritual within the Church Catholic - and long may it continue.

But to say - " we may as well accept all genetic pre-dispositions and be damned" - is to defeat the whole redemptive exercise. This may be the
*Sin Against the Holy Spirit* that we are warned about in the New Testament - to think that there is any sin that God cannot (will not) forgive.

THere is a problem when Christians are deluded into thinking that they can, by an act of their own will, ever become perfect in this life.
We can only ask God to help us avoid the 'sin that is ever before us'. This requires humility. the opposite of this is hubris - not a good thing.

The admonition of Jesus in last Sunday's Gospel: "Be ye perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect" is, I am sure, the target towards which Jesus asks us all to look. And as we all know, any occasion of sin is 'falling short' of that target. I am then mindful of Jesus' warning to the Pharisees hell-bent on stoning the woman caught in the act of adultery: "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone". I'll bet that made those perfectionists think!.

Damnation is never in God's mind for his children.
Salvation, to my mind, is Christ's redemption of ALL who look to Him for grace and mercy. They will not be disappointed. Deo Gratias!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 10:54pm GMT

The difference David is simple.

Same sex marriage=growth, maturity, love, giving and steps towards life in all its fullness.
Cheating = selfishness, harm, misery for others and a slow death.

By their fruits you shall know them.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Monday, 21 February 2011 at 11:03pm GMT

Does anyone who (in your terms, David) "cheats" ASK that their cheating be *blessed*?

Until I see evidence that they do, I see your questions, David, as nothing more than Slippery-Slope Concern-Trolling.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 1:42am GMT

David, with all respect, I simply do not understand your question. I was not speaking for one moment of infidelity or adultery. I was speaking of the natural attraction that some people feel toward persons of their own gender. We may certainly condemn infidelity, cheating, harming the other person, and we all are set about, all through life, with a propensity to sin. But this is not parallel in the slightest. I believe even heterosexuals have been tempted to cheat?

Sexual orientation is not a propensity to cheat – it is a God-given opportunity to love, to grow in joy, to learn unconditional acceptance of the other. Persons of either orientation can sin, but you seem to be saying that if tall people can more easily steal apples, we should try to make them short. There is no correlation. Apples and bowling balls. Being tall does not make you likely to steal.

So I repeat: the Bible does not say that simply being homosexuality is wrong. If it did, there would be no hope of salvation, unless you believe that orientation is somehow not real, and can be changed.

Posted by: Nat on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 2:03am GMT

@Bill: I'm clearly comparing what many claim are both genetic propensities, not sexual orientations. On that basis, the comparison stands.

@Ron and Rosemary:
I did stress that 'I know the arguments for a moral distinction' and yet you proceed to repeat them to me. Your references to scripture fail to address the scientific discovery of the DRD4 variant in any way.

Once the roles are switched and we look at any other claimed genetic pre-disposition, you answer like any 'dyed-in-the-wool conservative': brusquely quoting scriptures that ignore the science that many homosexuals cherish as proof that certain parts of the Bible must be re-interpreted. In Nat's words, your approach 'ignores the great majority of modern science'.

Really not that different after all.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 5:12am GMT

Re: the moment the C of E permits the re-marriage of divorcees in church. However, it is also quite clear that no minister is obliged to do so if it is against his/her conscience

Rosalind,

How common would you say it was for Anglican priests to refuse to marry divorcees in church?

Personally, I'd be happy if it was common for priests to refuse (and even happier if our church returned to the 'tell them to go to the Methodists' option).

I believe that we need to tolerate and accept the presence of remarried couples in church, but I don't think the church should actually be in the business of actually conducting remarriages when one previous spouse is still living. Jesus was fairly unambiguous about the matter, and Anglicans are supposed to believe that marriage is a sacrament.

Posted by: Hector_St_Clare on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 6:28am GMT

Geoff,
I went back and checked; you're half right. The Canadian minister was not arrested, only fined and ordered never to speak,write, etc. against homosexuality again. I'm not enough of a technophile to place the link, but search "Darren Lund" or "Stephen Boissoin" at the website for Alberta's Human Rights Commission for the pdf. As for arrests in England, try searching "Dale Mcalpine" or "Harry Hammond" on the Telegraph site and The BBC news site. The Telegraph article from May 2,2010 includes mention of other preachers' arrests.

Yesterday I was working off memory of the Telegraph story and I hadn't kept up with the follow-up stories, but McAlpine's charges were dropped and he won a lawsuit for wrongful arrest several months later--after a pro-homosexual activist promised to testify that the police had gone too far. So conservatives can speak if they're ready for the lawsuits.
I guess I don't see why Catholic adoption agencies sending gay parents to another agency was discriminatory, but a conservative priest refusing and sending a gay couple to another priest isn't? Wiser heads than mine, I guess...

Posted by: Chris H. on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 6:43am GMT

JCF:
My argument was not that the blessing of same-sex unions is an automatic concomitant of infidelity. It was a challenge to consider how should we interpret or embrace scientific evidence that contradicts our biblical tradition. Evidently, the majority have simply favoured conservative biblical tradition, once it doesn't apply to their specific situation.

There are whole societies, e.g. Nigeria, where many, for a myriad of reasons, consider the idea of life-long monogamy impossible to accept, based on a Western interpretation of scripture and indeed would want their current polygamous unions 'blessed', rather than rejected as a form of *being* unfaithful by the Anglican church of Nigeria.

I'm happy to take this off-line and let others have their say.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 9:49am GMT

"@Bill: I'm clearly comparing what many claim are both genetic propensities, not sexual orientations. On that basis, the comparison stands."

The problem is that you phrase the question in terms of treating all sexual orientations equally, and then proceed under the assumption that the two (homosexual behavior and infidelity) are comparable. It's question begging, it seems to me.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 11:24am GMT

Nat

I do not understand why you as a Christian wish to be defined by your desires, however they may arise. What is defined as a sexual orientation is but a societal rather than biblical term to describe a set of desires experienced by people. We are exorted not to follow our natural desires but the Spirit. Surely your identity is In Christ rather than in your desires.

Posted by: David Wilson on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 1:56pm GMT

Chris, the Boisson case was not a criminal case, but a human rights tribunal ruling. The "pastor" in question (from some Baptist outfit IIRC) penned a letter to the editor likening gays to paedophiles and drug dealers, days before a gay teenager was assaulted in Calgary. The Canadian Human Rights Act bars speech that "is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination." I don't know what country you live in, but Canada does not have the rugged-individualist approach to absolute rights that the US does: my rights end where they begin to encroach on another person's. Thus well-meaning Americans get all tied up in knots about the Phelps sect, whom they cannot silence within the ambit of their Constitution, while here we would have no trouble determining it to be a "reasonable infringement" of the right to free expression, a turn of phrase that seems to be oxymoronic to Americans. Likewise, when Ann Coulter was driven from a U of Ottawa event, complaints in the media that her freedom of speech were violated tended to assume the existence of American-style laws to be violated in the first place.

In any event, HR laws are not secret, and pastors or other authors who wish to knowingly make statements that fall afoul of them know what the consequences are. The nobility of civil or ecclesial disobedience is rather dampened if one whines about accepting the penalties.

Posted by: Geoff on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 3:31pm GMT

"We are exorted not to follow our natural desires but the Spirit."

Such double-talk and false dichotomy! For a heterosexual, of course, the "natural desire" to form a pair-bond, share a household, and begin a family, and the "Spirit's movement" are one and the same. It turns out your pious exhortation to resist desire only applies to other people: families whose composition happens not to resemble your own, at least in one, superficial (genital) way. "I've got mine" indeed.

The suddenness with which we can shift our language from "mutual help, society, and comfort" to mere sexual outlet depending on the gender of the couple is enough to make one's head spin. Conservatives' professed respect and esteem for marriage would seem to be on pretty stony ground and without root if the whole house of cards tumbles as soon as you mess with the plumbing.

Posted by: Geoff on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 3:39pm GMT

David
So you are saying that straight people can be guided by their God-given desires and fall in love, get married, have children and lead fulfilling and normal lives.
But gay people have to deny their God-given desires and root their identity in Christ alone?

All this straight special pleading is really a bit sickening, don't you think? To demand a level of religious abandon from one group of people that you're not prepared to give yourself or to demand from anyone is supposed to be Christian?

I suggest every time you have an attack of specialness coming on you go and have a lie down for a few minutes.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 4:57pm GMT

David,

Thank you for your response, but again, I believe you have missed the point entirely.

If you reduce marriage to “desires”, you miss two of the three aspects that the Prayer Book used to define marriage: the procreation of children, monogamy, and the help and support “that the one ought to have of the other”. My partnership with Chris was not “about desire”. Yes, there was desire, as there is in any marriage, but it was more, much more, about two people who found in eachother a pathway to selflessness, who found deeper meanings in love, and who came back to the church after many years, in gratitude and in a wish to express the joy we had found and grown in.

To reduce all that to “desire” is to trivialize. It was not desire that had me out to help Chris when he needed me, or listen to his fears, or for him to support my aging mother. In fact, many of these things, as in all good marriages, were sometimes quite the contrary of “desire” – they were commitment to the hard work of sharing and growing, and in that respect, our marriage was like any Christian marriage, a ladder toward a better understanding of the love – and the hard work – that Christ has shown us and asks of us. And we were an example to others of devotion and growth.

To put all that down to “desire” is to ignore so much.

Sexual orientation in inherent; its manifestations may be affected by societal influences, but it is not caused by them; here you are in disagreement with a large and growing body of science, thought, and much personal testimony, as well as of much history and biology. Sexual orientation defines in large part where we turn for love, where we see beauty, where we look for sharing and support, and maps out much of the path that leads us to the love of God in Christ, and that is as true of heterosexual orientation as it is of homosexual.

Orientation so far exceeds “desire” as marriage exceeds promiscuity.

Posted by: Nat on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 6:06pm GMT

@ David.

We already know that humans have a propensity to sin. There are many biological factors which increase this or push it in one direction or the other. You quote one of them, but the XX chromosome would be another, as would genes indicating addictive personalities. The list goes on. What we see is, in one sense, the mechanics underlying the captive will.

However, some underlying desires are harmless or positive. Human altruism for one, or a gift for music, another.

So we cannot say that biology will always produce good or bad effects. We can say certain things about it, we can track its path (I have my mother's lack of musicality and not my father's ability with music) but we cannot say if it is inherently good or bad from the mere fact of its being biologically driven.

We CAN say that these propensities are not a matter of choice - and in the case of homosexuals it is important to point out they have not wilfully chosen to be attracted to their own sex, because even you some do not quite understand this. However, we cannot say, from biology, if it is good or bad for gay people to form loving permanent relationships.

(I have long argued that pointing out homosexuality is natural only takes us so far)

To evaluate the correct thing to do given out natural propensities, we have to turn to ethics, and evaluate which actions are and are not good and bad.

The argument is that forming a pair bond is a good and helpful thing for people to do, provided the couple carefully avoid the many traps waiting for all couples. In fact the argument is longer than TA has space for here. But the arguments rests on the ultimate benevolence of gay people forming marriages, for their good and that of society, and the coherence of this with the underlying themes of the Bible.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 6:45pm GMT

I so agree with Erika!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 7:57pm GMT

Erica @ 4:57pm GMT 22 February, your last sentence is spot on and delicious!
For the Davids of the world, if we argue that same-sex attraction is found in nature, they will respond that humans are above animals. If we argue that we seek stable formal relationships, they will argue we violate natural law. Short of us seeking celibacy, no matter what we argue, they will always be able to counter-argue.
Their problem is fundamentally with the very concept of homosexuality, in and of itself. The "ick" factor, as we say on the American side of the Pond. Religion, per se, has nothing to do with it.
No argument will satisfy the Davids of the world.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 9:22pm GMT

@David Wilson: 'however they may arise'. Rightly said, whatever our sexual orientation, we all have the challenge of overcoming our various natural tendencies, once we uncover them.

I interpreted this phrase to make the challenge applicable to all Christians, whether heterosexual or homosexual.

Strangely, it's been interpreted as a covert appeal for special treatment. At least, according to your most hostile critics on this comment thread. A pity really.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 12:03am GMT

"we all have the challenge of overcoming our various natural tendencies"

Just how are you coming along in overcoming your heterosexuality, David S.?

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 12:14am GMT

"Strangely, it's been interpreted as a covert appeal for special treatment. At least, according to your most hostile critics on this comment thread. A pity really." - David Shepherd -

No, No, David! All we want is level playing field - not 'special treatment' - just equality for every God-given sexual-expression.

Some are so used (obviously) to seeing everything from an exclusively heterosexual viewpoint (most common position) that they seem congenitally incapable of seeing these matters from the very oppisite stand point - that of a homosexual or trans-gendered person.

There are heterosexuals who are capable of seeing issues of sexuality from other viewpoints along the continuum of human sexuality, but they usually have a son, daughter, brother, sister or spouse who is inherently gay, bi or trans-sexual. All that is required to properly understand the situation is to open both ears (we have two of these and only one speech orifice) to hear of the experience of the LGBT community who happen to be spiritual persons in their own right - knowing that God made them as they are and loves and respects them - as they are.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 2:56am GMT

Perhaps the two Davids could overcome their "desires" to insist they understand God's will for each of us better than we?

Or the "desires" they have to dictate what is and is not Christian?

Or the "desires" to insinuate themselves into others emotional and spiritual lives?

Or the "desires" to place their own understanding of marriage as licensed animal husbandry?

I find their "desires" as offensive as they find my orientation, and would be glad if they'd step down from the judgment seat, thank you very much.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 6:15am GMT

David Shepherd
if gay and straight had exactly the same rights and responsibilities in the church, David Wilson's statement would indeed have been interpreted as a challenge to all Christians.

But when the appeal to overcome our desires is used by straight people to stop gay people from having what they already claim as their natural right, then it is indeed special pleading. Of the most appallingly selfish sort and actually completely inexplicable because granting gay people the same rights costs straight absolutely nothing and doesn't affect their lives one bit.

I look forward to you commenting on what Nat said.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 8:01am GMT

First, a warm welcome back to Mark. You hardly arouse offense. I'd have to know more about you for that to happen. Pretty unlikely in the comment threads.

If the gold standard is Christ's love for the church, I'm probably not doing too well, but thanks for your prayers, bro!

There seems to so little agreement among you. If matrimony is an exclusive lifelong commitment to one person, let's move forward from there...Sorry, permanent doesn't work, since that's not particularly inclusive of bisexuality. Can somebody explain how lifelong bisexual monogamy works. Okay, let's write a new blessing for that too.

I really look forward the rapier-sharp wit on the upcoming Changing Attitudes campaign trail. It will win hearts and minds to the cause.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 9:55am GMT

David, David, David
It's time you did some proper reading. Really, you cannot keep pontificating about things you plainly have not the slightest comprehension.

Being bisexual means being physically and emotionally capable of loving people from both sexes.
The idea that it means threesomes is exclusive to the porn industry.

I am bisexual and I was married to a man with the full expectation that I would be married for the rest of my life.
When that marriage ended I fell in love again, this time with a woman, and I am now happily married to her.

Should she die and should I find myself looking for another partner, I could as easily fall in love with another man as with another woman.
Their sex won't matter one bit. Whether there is true love would be the only factor.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 11:18am GMT

David Shepherd:

"Bisexual" denotes an ABILITY to love a member of either sex; it does not denote a NECESSITY to love members of both sexes simultaneously.

Analogy: I have a preference for women with red hair and women with brown hair, equally. It does not mean I need to have one of each.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 11:35am GMT

David Shepherd,

I fail to see in what we are in such disagreement about amongst ourselves. I don't know how lifelong monogamy works with bisexuals from a personal stance - nor hetero- or homosexuals, for that matter, as I have no interest in either sexual entanglements nor allowing another human to take the entirety of my focus - but, I would imagine they would do it the same way, finding one person whom they wish to spend their life and committing to that - unless, of course, you're trying to imply that they just *have* to rut like wild animals with everything they see and that the entirety of marriage for them is merely satisfying an itch. Now, that would be something that speaks very poorly for you.

But let's return to how *you* define marriage - the only possible substantive difference is in the arena of reproduction. To reduce marriage to the ability to reproduce is to lower marriage to rutting with legal consequences. Your side constantly draws the slippery-slope analogies to incest, pedophilia, polygamy (a perfectly biblical understanding of marriage, btw), bestiality and their legalization - yet, you don't seem to see the difference that is obvious to us, which is a difference absolutely lacking in the difference between homosexual and heterosexual marriages. Do you realize what that says about *you* and the anti-gay-marriage crowd? It says that it's *you* guys who lack the ability to discern what sexual relationships are appropriate and have to have marriage limited to opposite sex partners or you might just go off in heat after the nearest thing available! I'm certain this is not the case for you, but it is the constantly-reinforced concept that comes through your arguments; e.g. - "I have to be shackled to my wife by legal consequences or I'd sleep with anything that moves."

I take no offense to *you*, as I am unable to see, hear, touch or smell you, but your views and expression I find intensely offensive for their lack of examination, if nothing else. We understand what you believe, and you *believe* it, nothing more. You have no substantive, objective proof, and that's still fine to live *your* life by. Other than that, your view of marriage is not one that should have any impact on anyone else's relationships. It's not love you are failing in, it's humility. You are presuming to speak for God to us. We don't need that, thanks. God speaks quite well to us.

I think that there is little to be gained in this conversation, honestly. Besides the fact that you have nothing invested in seeing our point of view, no reason to be compelled to do so, and little interest in our well-being, the fact is, we have to completely different points of reference.

I think it was you who said something to the effect of "So scientific discovery and reason trumps Scripture and Tradition?" You ask it as if the answer is obviously "no" and any other ludicrous. However, the answer for me and many others regardless of age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, is "Yes!" - it is obvious that scientific discovery and reason would trump Scripture. The answer "no" would be ludicrous to us.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 11:38am GMT

But no where in the bible does it affirm same-sex acts. So how can I therefore say I am following God's ways. Likewise with anger - which comes with from what I read an even greater heriditary component. I can no more say that exposive expressions of anger are God given desires or emotions than same sex desires. I have been celibate for 10 years and know other people in this position. After the first six months it was not a struggle, thanks to the grace of the Holy Spirit. I know it is not always this easy. It has brought me much closer to Jesus. However the walk of Holiness applies in all aspects of life. These continue to be an area of fight. It is not however a question of suppressing your desires but the Spirit influencing your desires.

Posted by: David Wilson on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 12:52pm GMT

"Can somebody explain how lifelong bisexual monogamy works. "

I'm not bisexual, but I've always assumed bisexuals might make a commitment to a person of either sex, but that once that commitment was made the relationship was like any other monogamous one. I'm sure if I'm wrong someone will correct me.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 2:43pm GMT

"Can somebody explain how lifelong bisexual monogamy works."

Bisexuality is a sexual orientation: it describes people, not relationships. I have no idea what "bisexual monogamy" might mean, but there is certainly no reason why a bisexual person cannot enter a monogamous, lifelong union - they simply have more options in terms of with whom they do so. No need for a new liturgy: if it is a hetero relationship it is covered by the existing marriage rite, and if same-gender there is likewise no need to reinvent the wheel at this point. I don't think a rite with specifically "bisexual" features (what would those even be?) is necessary or desirable. And I'm sure you're not just parroting the crude locker room joke that bisexuality means needing sexual release on a constant "alternating current"!

Posted by: Geoff on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 3:24pm GMT

Geoff

But what is God's intention for the "bi-sexual". My prevaling desires are heterosexual but the strongest desires have been homosexual. I can accept this is the result of the fall. I cant see how this is God's good plan. In my case it has not meant that I can have relationships with either sex at my choosing. What directs my life is the leading of the Spirit and what it means to lead the New Life. I can certainly say that I am very concious of Jesus love for me. He is more concerned about me loving God - i.e. Godly obedience to his ways. I woke one morning and felt the Lord revealed why I had these desires: a twist in my subconcious.

Posted by: DAvid Wilson on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 5:46pm GMT

Erika,
While you theorise about lifelong monogamy, you have failed at it once. Credibility?

Yet, we should believe that an orientation towards both sexes is never expressed concurrently. This change in orientation remains without any awareness of desire until after divorce. You know, that superior desire-free orientation...'which so far exceeds desire as marriage exceeds promiscuity'. Almost poetic.

The Changing Attitudes roadshow only gets better and better.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 5:56pm GMT

"But no where in the bible does it affirm same-sex acts. So how can I therefore say I am following God's ways. Likewise with anger - which comes with from what I read an even greater heriditary component. "

Nowhere in the Bible does it affirm flying in airplanes (it does forbid Sunday travel), or banking (it does forbid lending at interest). The point is, you have to use your head, and as Anglicans we try to follow scripture, tradition and reason - that is, taking in new ideas as they come along.

But that you equate anger, which is destructive and selfish, with love, which is constructive and takes out of self, shows great confusion - the same fundamental, destructive confusion and refusal to listen, that these nasty, discredited "ex-gay ministries" display.

That you have been celibate for ten years is your decision. That it may represent shutting off God-given opportunities for growth is your affair. But the Bible does speak about binding burdens on the backs of others, and about the dangers of spiritual pride, and much of what you have written seems confused and to ignore what others say - and for my part, that is the end of this conversation.

Posted by: Nat on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 5:58pm GMT

For some, not all, heterosexual males, as they operate in a heterosexual male-dominated world, everything around them conforms to their view. They fit in, the way hands fit in custom-made gloves. To use an analogy I learned in a leadership seminar, they are equipped by society with a tool box that has all the tools they need to operate in the world they have created. They are so attuned to their social surroundings that they move and breathe in it as effortlessly as fish move and breathe in water. They are no more aware of their situation than fish are aware of water. They have no concept of any other form of existence.
To be a “not [heterosexual male]” in such a world is to be given a toolbox which is different. It is to be using a spanner when a screwdriver would be more efficient. To be a “not [heterosexual male]” in such an environment is to work twice as hard to get half as far. It is to have others declare that your desire to have the same set of tools is unnatural or is special or is beyond definition or is morally, biblically, or divinely deficient. Such desires by the “not [heterosexual males]” are completely beyond some heterosexual males' ability to comprehend.
For those heterosexual males who do comprehend and who ally yourselves with the rest of us, this “not heterosexual male” says “Thank you” and “God bless!”

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 8:27pm GMT

"But no where in the bible does it affirm same-sex acts. "

It also never affirms mixed-gender dancing (all the dancing portrayed in the bible is either a solo performance or gender-divided). Is the waltz therefore verboten?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 3:05am GMT

"My prevaling desires are heterosexual but the strongest desires have been homosexual. I can accept this is the result of the fall. I cant see how this is God's good plan."

Well, for some people, their only functional orientation is homogenderal, and they do not have the wiggle room you apparently do. In that case, a lot depends on what you mean by "result of the fall." I'm not sure why God's will for the goods of marriage should be thought to be bound to a particular combination of chromosomes, but even if we accept for the sake of argument that the existence of people for whom the instinct to those goods is directed toward members of the same gender is a deviation from God's original design, that no more means that people who happen to be in that position should not try to form permanent and monogamous relationships based on Christian family values any more than dishonesty being a result of the fall means (with apologies to Kant) that I have to give up the Jews in my attic to the commandant at the door. It's the *situation* (if anything) that is "fallen" and gays and lesbians who are (at worst) making the best go of it available to them. Penalizing them, or locating their families as the point at which The Plan goes off the rails, seems both misplaced and cruel.

Posted by: Geoff on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 4:33am GMT

David Shepherd,

"While you theorise about lifelong monogamy, you have failed at it once. Credibility?"

One might ask the same of someone who so *piously* notes his own failings as a follower of Christ, mightn't we, David?

Your bitterness and sarcasm hardly help your own "roadshow," you know.

But, again, you have no investment in our well-being, so it is to be expected.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 5:26am GMT

David Wilson,

All you've said is fine for *you* - but, there are others who do not accept the bible as final arbiter of what is, or is not, God's Will.

I am happy that you have found happiness, but, you must accept that others can be happy and still do what, for you, would be *against* God's Will. If you are happy and content, by-and-large, then you have found God's Will for *you*.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 5:34am GMT

"But no where in the bible does it affirm same-sex acts."

Nor does it "affirm" heterosex. It reports - and often disapprovingly (King David, & c...).

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 7:12am GMT

God saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth' to the first heterosexual couple might be interpreted as an endorsement, affirming heterosex, in spite of the failings of sinful mankind.

@Mark: if you had rebuked Erika's stinging use of sarcasm towards David Wilson (your approach towards him was a lot gentler), then I'd take your comment about sarcasm seriously. Since it's just blind contempt, I can ignore it.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 8:45am GMT

David

From where I stand there is an awful lot about theorising about monogamous straight marriages and how superior and unique they are, and that despite the fact that so far all failed marriages have been straight and not a single one has been gay.
So how can that the fact that I have been married before say anything at all about bisexuality?

I never said that “Yet, we should believe that an orientation towards both sexes is never expressed concurrently.”
There are more straight men and women having affairs, serious and casual ones, than gay people. I don’t think in the morality stakes straights can hold their heads up higher, do you?

You still confuse orientation with desire. And even worse, you confuse desire with giving in to that temptation and cheating on your partner.

The fact that some people are morally incontinent doesn’t mean that their orientation is to blame. It simply means that they are morally incontinent.

And I certainly didn’t say “This change in orientation remains without any awareness of desire until after divorce”. I have known from about 14 years of age that I could love women as easily as men. There was no later change of orientation.
I just happened to fall in love with a man the first time and, when it was time to look for another partner, I happened to fall in love with a woman. It could have been the other way round, it could have been men both times, it could have been women both times. It’s not about sex, it’s about love.

I had hoped to explain to you how the two have nothing to do with each other. Instead, you chose to read into my story some kind of admission of moral failure.

Maybe you could enlighten us all with your extensive knowledge of how I came to be married for a second time?
If you can’t, then I expect a public apology for the slur on my character.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 9:04am GMT

"My prevaling desires are heterosexual but the strongest desires have been homosexual. I can accept this is the result of the fall. I cant see how this is God's good plan"

- David Wilson -

In questioning your innate bi-sexuality, David, you are also effectivly saying that your sexuality has always to be expressed in terms of sexual activity - which is plainly, as the song says "not necessarily so". AS you have already (together with others on this topic) said, one's desires do not necessarily have to be acted upon.

This means that your bi-sexuality enables you to 'LOVE' both men and women in an affective (not necessarily sexual) way, but in a way that can be intimately caring and helpful for that person's own self-worth. Is that not a wonderful way in which God can choose to use one's bi-sexual nature to LOVE everyone??

Sexual identity, of itself, does not have always to be expressed in genital ways. It can (as is the case with many Religious of both genders) be expressed in loving caring ways with the people God gives us to nurture in the Faith. I think you would agres that many Religious (monks and nuns) may sublimate their inner sexuality in this way, by intimate care for others with no tendency to have a phyiscal relationship to them.

Sadly, the Church will not admit of this possibility - except in terms of its own tendency towards extolling the virtue of sexual abstinence. This has inhibited many ministries where the God-given sense of intimate touch (non-genital) may be part and parcel of the healing of another person from a sense of 'otherness' that has inhibited their emotional life.

Sadly, the word SEX dominates in the hearts and minds of many religious hierarchs, who deny to others the intimacy they have chosen to forsake for themselves, and are determined that no-one else under their authority will get any pleasure out of human intimacy. I love the picture of the Beloved Disciple John 'leaning on the breast of Jesus' at Supper. That says much to me of the willingness of the Son of God to be 'in touch' with his fellow human beings.

Agape (covers many a loving) Fr. Ron

Sadly, the typical macho male ego will not admit of this - except perhaps the front row forward who embraces his buddy after a stunning goalkick.

I once learned from a beloved Religious mentor:
"Every act of loving contains something of God".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 9:50am GMT

"Since it's just blind contempt, I can ignore it."

Showing your own contempt.

Do you still not see your double standard? Do you still not understand what you are saying about your own beliefs and their source? I am biased toward Erika, as she is one of my own, and you are not. I am, however, aware of that bias, and that seems to be the only difference between the two of us. Given that you are speakin to those who disagree, my comments on your sarcasm should be taken very seriously. You need to know what your participation here tells us about your motivations toward us.

Of course I was gentler to David Wilson - he is largely simply seeking someone to validate the choices he's made.

I wasn't particularly unkind to you - merely straightforward. There's no sarcasm in the point I made that you have no investment in our well-being . . . it's simply a fact. Your investment, what serves you, is to see that what profits you individually and protects your own self-image is what is perpetuated as the truth. This is a normal human response. You have no impetus to understand our arguments, to see our point of view, and, so, I simply wonder what brings you here, again and again?

Certainly it isn't that your point of view lacks a public platform - it has been the societal status quo for some time.

So, I still have to wonder. It isn't to save our souls - we've told you we're just fine without your intervention. If it's to convince us, then you've had ample opportunity to see that that is entirely unlikely. To convince yourself? To take out your frustrations on us, when you can't in real life? I see the first as unlikely. The second . . . so, a source of my own impatience for your posts.

I would also note:

" . .I can ignore it."

Apparently, you can't.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 10:07am GMT

David Shepherd
I did not employ stinging sarcasm.
I am genuinely shocked at how you and the other David talk so firmly about things you clearly don't understand. And as you’re talking about me with dripping moral superiority, I actually do take it personally and get quite upset.

You see, I can accept that some people struggle with homosexuality and with bisexuality. If you really believe that these are against God's will, you do have a hard time accepting them.

But that doesn't mean that you have to say false things about them.
And to believe that bisexuality means having relationships with people from 2 sexes at the same time is false.
It is not the scientific definition of bisexuality. It is not the lived experience of it.
Now, people who claim that bisexual support would derail the Changing Attitude roadshow clearly don't understand the facts.
This means they are either liars or they are ignorant.

I have erred on the side of caution and assumed ignorance, which can be remedied by reading about the subject.

That I am by now very exasperated with you both is obvious. You come here, you lecture me, yet you clearly do not know what you're talking about.

And I will also conclude this conversation here. I used to spend months on this site talking to people who insulted me while remaining deliberately ignorant about sexuality. I am no longer doing it, it is very very bad for my soul and it does not accomplish anything.
As always, I am just glad that I live in a country where your ignorance doesn’t have a genuine effect on my life, although I cry for people in countries where these ill informed opinions really do keep people in actual danger.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 11:51am GMT

Peter

To borrow your analogy of tools. God in His wisdom has given me a spanner, which is designed to fit a nut. It may not always fit the nut but it is still a spanner. It is not a nut (nor indeed a screwdriver). As I see it I am living a godly life when I use the spanner in accordance with the makers instructions.

As for personality types - Jesus was a meek man (not weak) rather than an Alpha male

Erika

I hope you pray for me. You consider it ignorance only because my opinion differs to you. The Lord has led me a different path, but He has made it very clear to me. For me He says My word is clear I hate it. I do not lecture you but witness to you. I am familiar with many of the scientific explanations - I have a degree in biochemistry. But the apparent hypothesised biological mechanism - and there is no clarity -(but what is happening in the Spirit?) is not really relevant to me as doesnt testify to His intention.

Posted by: David Wilson on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 8:16pm GMT

I say, Good for you Erika.

You have given and given here. But you must think of your soul - self, also.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 9:28pm GMT

I say, Good for you Erika.

You have given and given here. But you must think of your soul - self, also.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 9:33pm GMT

I too am shocked- shocked that David Shepherd has been permitted to abuse Erika here, with impunity. I think the editors could and should act (somewhat post eventu now).

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 9:37pm GMT

Mark & Erika,

Mr heart goes out to you both. I truly understand your problem with David shepherd's constant nagging and seeming self-justification - that is his problem. We can leave him in ignorance of the facts if that is what he is determined to secure.

However, you and I know - as do many people on this site - that God has made us in in the divine Image and Likeness, and whatever our supposed 'shortcomings' in biological perfection, we are aware of our special place within the heart of a Loving God and Creator. We have been given speciual gifts of perception about the complexity of human sexuality - a gift that demands explication, and we must 'tell our story' as best we can - with as little aggravation as may be necessary.

In the midst of our earthquake trauma in Christchurch, N.Z., my wife and I have come to even better understand our loving dependence on one another. Through the grace of God we were married, and that grace enables both of us to care for one another - despite 'differences' that might otherwise hinder the closeness we have for each other. Need I say more?

May God richly bless you both. Fr.Ron

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 10:27pm GMT

Laurence, the Editors take your point.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 10:40pm GMT
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