Monday, 6 February 2012

reports of Bishop of Salisbury interviews

There have been several recent reports of an interview in The Times given by the Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam. The original newspaper articles remain behind a paywall. The bishop also spoke on the BBC radio programme Sunday yesterday.

The BBC programme can be found here (available on iPlayer or as podcast).

The Diocese of Salisbury has these reports:
Briefing note following the interview published in The Times on Friday 3 February
Bishop urges open debate - Bishop Nicholas said on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme this week that there are more views on civil partnerships in the church than have been expressed officially.

Changing Attitude has The Bishop of Salisbury first to make public his support for gay marriage and Pete Broadbent predicts Synod will be talking about gay marriage in the tea room this week

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 7:55am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Excellent interview by Bishop Nicholas Holtham. He places clearly the case for Same-Sex partnership to receive the blessing of the Church - perhaps even in Marriage, if that's what the government decrees is a possibility for faithful monogamous Gay relationships.

Pete Broadbent's contribution rather predictable. Less encouraging for Gays and more careful for tradition than pastoral concern.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 10:12am GMT

The Bishop of Salisbury states: ‘Not all heterosexual marriages produce, or even have the potential for, children, so that can’t be the single defining criteria setting them apart from same-sex partnerships.’

This is a classic example of the converse accident fallacy: applying an exception (allowed for another reason, protecting privacy by not legislating over contraception or offspring) as a basis for varying the general rule.

Other examples include: If we allow people with glaucoma to use medical marijuana, then everyone should be allowed to use marijuana.

As Wikipedia states: ‘The two arguments imply there is no difference between the exception and the rule, and in fact fallacious slippery slope arguments often use the converse accident to the contrary as the basis for the argument’.

In other words, the Bishop’s statement is as bad as the conservative slippery slope argument that permitting gay marriage would precipitate the introduction of church blessings for polygamists.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 12:25pm GMT

A good point David Shepherd. It's great to hear +Nicholas' voice on this, but I think it important that "equality" need not be understood as "identity". Marriage and civil partnerships are not yet equal, but it is possible to make them equal without necessarily making them identical. ++York's recent contribution might have opened that conversation up had it come from another mouth.

Posted by: Ian Arch on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 6:42pm GMT

Oh poppycock, DavidS. You're the one going straight (!) for the Slippery Slope: Specific Variance -> Universal Chaos.

NO ONE is saying "everyone" should be permitted to marry. Simply two consenting adults w/o regards to their biological sex.

In a Christian context, we're told "In Christ, there is no male or female." We're NOT told "there is no difference in age of consent" or "there is no difference in species" or "there is no difference in marital status" (to quickly dispel the pedophilia, bestiality and polygamy/polyamory canards!)

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 8:12pm GMT

David S: if it's alright with you, I'd like those who seek to deny me the right to civil marriage on the mere basis of ancient Israelite religious prejudice not also to compare me with drug users.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 10:00pm GMT

The procreation argument against marriage equality is being used here in Washington by religious conservatives. No matter how limited and short-sighted the argument, it is a weapon that seems to come to hand far too often among the non-thinking. So it is good to hear the bishop eliminate it as a consideration.

Posted by: Nat on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 10:52pm GMT

David S. has once again misapplied the converse accident fallacy. In this case there is no "rule" that marriage must produce children. No "exception" is granted to those who do not, or cannot, produce children.

To say that "marriage requires procreation" is not a fallacy; it is false. The bishop is challenging those who employ this false premise to make the claim that because this is the "purpose" of marriage (asserting a rule where none exists) a same-sex couple, who cannot procreate, are forbidden to marry.

This well-worn conservative argument is not a case of logical fallacy, but reliance on a mistaken premise (the argument would hold if the premise were true). That is what the bishop is pointing out. It is not a fallacy to point out the falsehood of the initial assertion that underlies a nonexistant "rule."

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 11:36pm GMT

JCF:
I defined the fallacy as: 'applying an exception...as a basis for varying the general rule'

I never stated that the attempted variation was that "'everyone' would be permitted to marry". That inference was yours alone.

Your interpretation of Galatians 3:28 also forces a contradiction of Paul's injunctions elsewhere to slaves and slave-owners. The actual context Of Galatians 3 is in respect of the common requirement of justification by faith (not Christian marital requirements), as the preceding verses of that passage make clear.

Fr Mark: The example that I gave was quoted from Wikipedia entry, rather than my own. I'll alert them to the unintended offence.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 12:18am GMT

I have not stated that marriage requires procreation. Once again, Tobias Haller treats marriage like a substance, rather than a collective of substances.

As one writer put it: 'Collectives inherit some, but not all, of the ontological marks of substances. they may undergo other sorts of changes through time.'

A watch can be disassembled into its constituent parts. This does not mean that a watch should be reductively defined as a number of discrete unassembled mechanical and electrical parts that only could be assembled together to tell the time.

That a football team can have players sent off or retired through injury could indicate that 11 players are not required on each side to play a game of league soccer lawfully.

This does not mean that the laws of the sport should be changed to indicate that a football league manager can field a starting line-up of a lesser number, not exceeding 11 players at the outset of a game.

That marriage can be non-procreative does not mean that the laws of marriage should be re-defined in terms of organic union, what constitutes consummation and what is considered adultery as a current legal ground for divorce.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 12:52am GMT

Uh, David Shepherd, don't clerics in the CofE still interview prospective marriage candidates? Find out if they are truly meant for one another? So where does this sweeping fallacy apply?

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 3:10am GMT

It's a well-worn-*out* conservative argument.

Hardly surprising, though still, poignantly, disappointing. How in the world can they claim to see us as human beings when making such specious arguments?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 4:17am GMT

It is one thing to say that men and women can marry to procreate, and quite another to say that the ability to procreate is a necessary condition for marriage - when it not only is not, but never has been. Even in the Prayer Book, even in the most strict of traditions, procreation is only one of the possible MOTIVES for marriage, and never a condition of it.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 8:04am GMT

"That marriage can be non-procreative does not mean that the laws of marriage should be re-defined in terms of organic union, what constitutes consummation..."

Good googly-moogly. When you're in a hole, DavidS, stop digging!

We GET it, that you demand a TabA/SlotB lowest common-denominator for marriage. Prettying it up w/ terms like "organic union" (re what "constitutes consummation") really isn't going to help your argument though. It's transparent you're reaching to CYA due to your own Ick. Let it go!

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 8:16am GMT

"That marriage can be non-procreative does not mean that the laws of marriage should be re-defined"

This is absolutely true.
But neither does it mean that they cannot be re-defined.

All it comes down to is words:
If you define marriage as something between a man and a woman, then obviously, nothing else will ever make the grade.

But if you definte marriage as something between two people, then same sex couples fit in neatly, into exactly the same parameters.

Those who wish to deny same sex couples marriage have to do more than insist on their definition of marriage.

They will have to show, conclusively, why marriage cannot be called something between two people.
So far, the only argument I've heard is "because it can't".

As there is absolutely nothing in practice that distinguishes straight relationships from same sex ones, this assertion needs a bit more evidence to be taken seriously.

You'll have to do better than that.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 8:56am GMT

Nor can arguments be reversed. 'Marriage is traditionally seen as a condition for procreation' cannot be turned on its head to read 'Procreation is a necessary condition for marriage.' Otherwise 'It is necessary to use my car in order to get the dog to the beach' becomes 'It is necessary to take the dog to the beach if I use my car.'

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 2:59pm GMT

David, this has nothing to do with substance, and I’m not sure I even follow what you mean, and it seems a distraction from what is under discussion. I'm simply addressing your assertion that there is some "law of marriage" to which exceptions are being granted. You have the law wrong, that's all.

In fact the "law of marriage" is that fertility is not required for marriage; that marriages do not end with menopause; that the use of birth control is permitted -- natural or artificial depending on sect; that this is not a question of defect, discovered post facto; i.e., that infertility is not grounds for divorce (unless concealed); that couples who know themselves to be infertile can marry; etc., etc.

The "conservative" argument that the Bishop is critiquing assumes the premise you say you do not hold. It runs like this: “Only men and women can marry because only men and women can procreate.” When it is pointed out that procreation is not essential to marriage (as shown above), the "because" falls apart and the thesis fails, as it rests on the unstated premise, "Procreation is essential to marriage." If that premise were true, the syllogism would hold; but it isn't. That's why this is not a fallacy but a falsehood. Usually we just end up with a reassertion of "Only men and women can marry" -- but that is of course a fallacy of "begging the question." In my own studies of the subject, all of the "because" clauses eventually collapse back into this circular reasoning.

And as I noted, Holtam's argument isn't fallacious as it is not based on an exception to a rule, but the revelation that there is no such rule.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 3:21pm GMT

I honestly think there is an issue here that should be properly discussed, which I think David S was trying to get at.

Marriage could be redefined in law to grant full equality to same-sex relationships. Or, civil partnerships could be redefined in law (and perhaps renamed) to be equal, but slightly different to marriage as traditionally understood. Both options have merits. Is no one interested in the creative possibilities for interpreting the meaning and purposes of same sex relationships in our society?

Posted by: Ian Arch on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 5:13pm GMT

Mr. Shepherd, this has nothing to do with substances as far as I can see. I'm simply addressing your assertion that there is some "law of marriage" to which exceptions are being granted. You have the law wrong.

In fact the "law of marriage" states that it does not require fertility; that marriages do not end with menopause; that the use of birth control is permitted -- natural or artificial depending on sect; that this is not a question of defect, discovered post facto; i.e., that infertility is not grounds for divorce (unless concealed); that couples who know themselves to be infertile prior to marriage can marry; that in some situations (first cousins) infertility is required in some places; etc., etc.

The "conservative" argument the Bishop critiques assumes the premise you aver you do not hold. It runs like this: “Only men and women can marry because only men and women can procreate.” When it is pointed out that procreation is not essential to marriage (as shown above), the "because" falls apart and the thesis fails, as it rests on the unstated premise, "Procreation is essential to marriage." If that premise were true, the syllogism would hold; but it isn't.

Usually we just end up with a reassertion of "Only men and women can marry" -- but as that is the question, this constitutes a fallacy of "begging the question."

And as I noted, Holtam's argument isn't fallacious as it is not based on an exception to a rule, but the revelation that the rule is not as stated.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 6:54pm GMT

A marriage is distinct from, but cannot exist without the parties to it. I repeat that pro-creation is not a condition of marriage.

A marriage is both a collective of substances and a state (in philosophical terms, an accident) with a specific dependence on both parties to it. It is distinct from the substance of the individuals so joined.

Nevertheless, marriage is not a relational accident. Relational accidents (e.g. a dance, a conversation, a kiss) can be described as existing in their own right, with qualities and changes being completely un-related to the properties of the individuals involved. The state of being a wife, husband, a brother or an uncle *cannot be so*. They are not gender-neutral terms. Such states are sometimes described as ‘Cambridge relations’ (Mulligan and Smith 1986).

Comparatives (e.g. ‘is longer than’, ‘is faster than’) share a common characteristic with these ‘Cambridge relations’. As Barry Smith says of them in ‘Objects and Their Environments: From Aristotle to Ecological Ontology’: ‘They exist not as something extra, but only in reflection of certain special sorts of demarcation which are imposed upon the underlying bearers or upon their non-relational accidents.’

We may then ask how the demarcations are set for such relations. Why can’t a mother-in-law be male? Why can’t a great-uncle be female?

If you do, also ask why the comparative ‘is longer than’ can only relate the length of two objects, and not the area. It is the property of ‘longer than’ that predicates and imposes the demarcation of length, rather than area, on the two substances under comparison. Few would challenge that.

Yet, it is the same with these ‘Cambridge relations’. The nature of the affinity involved imposes demarcations on the underlying bearers or their non-relational accidents, such as gender.

This demarcation is only contested here as it relates to sexual orientation and is therefore an unjustified exemption.

http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/articles/napflion.pdf

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 8:02pm GMT

I will wait and respect the moderator. Perhaps, I'll re-post. However, the issues cannot be debated because my reply (the only voice contrary to the SSM litany) wasn't published.

The thread will descend into yet another 'armchair martyr' rant-fest.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 12:53am GMT

It amazes me when opponents of gay marriage, desert the exclusive claims of Christian marriage and try and say that one man, one woman has always been the usual practice with all types of historical Marriage. In fact polygamy and concubinage have been the order of the day for centuries.Even the Utah Mormon Church bankrolling the California referendum, belives that in Heaven, polygamy will be the divine Order.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 7:20am GMT

Ian,
I am in a civil partnership. I do not need a creative interpretation of my life. If other people wish to indulge themselves, by all means. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm married and my relationship is absolutely not one bit different to that of a straight couple. We bring up children, we have grandchildren, we go to parent evenings (last night's was tedious!), we take the dogs for a walk, we try to remember to put the bins out.

The interesting question for me is that countless of gay couples tell you the same thing, that's why we lobby so hard for our relationships to be called marriages.

What's the incentive for straights to insist that we must be creatively engaged with and separated out into something different?

There is excellent theology about that explains just why straight and gay marriages are the same thing. The church might need a few more decades to get there, that wouldn't be surprising.

But "society" is way ahead and no longer in the stage of trying to define people as equal but different - which in practice never means anything other than "different and not quite matching up".

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 8:13am GMT

Ian,
unless you also want to creatively engage with the various forms of marriage at the same time and give them different names depending on their actual status? Childless couples could be one kind of “married” (you might need to find a creative other word for it), people who adopt children or have them following fertility treatment could be another kind of “married”. You might need to ask a few questions, but we could even separate out celibate marrieds from those who are not.

It all depends on where your particular interpretation of “difference that needs to be creatively engaged with” lies. For some, it’s the suspicion that gay couples sometimes have open relationships even if they’re together for life. If that’s it, then we need to find a way of identifying married couples who have more unconventional relationships.
Or is it sexual practices? But that’s deep water, as every single gay practice is also a straight one. We could try and discover who does what and then allocate marital status accordingly.

This may sound flippant and dismissive of your view. But I want to highlight just how impossible it actually is to define a genuine difference between straight and gay marriages that applies to every couple.

Unless we are able to do that conclusively, we shouldn’t even think of giving the thing two different names.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 8:28am GMT

David
I found two of your comments (one on another thread) in the Junk file, and have now published them both. I have no idea why the software rejected them originally.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 8:44am GMT

Simon,
this seems to be happening increasingly lately. A large number of my comments was not published recently and only a minority was possibly inflamatory and could have attracted censorship.
Are there any particular keywords that your SPAM filter doesn't like?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 10:48am GMT

David,
unless they transition, uncles cannot be females for biological reasons.
The definition of marriage, on the other hand, is purely man made and it's not helpful to suggest them people cannot expand it. They've changed it in the past, they can change it again.

The jump from "between a man and a woman" to "between to people" really isn't so impossible that it cannot contemplated.

Especially considering that this is not a mere theoretical issue but that the Government is already actively contemplating it, with huge support from the majority of people.

I know you don't like it. But that doesn't mean it can't happen.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 10:53am GMT

Erika I just searched and found two recent comments of yours in Junk. I have now published them.
Please, anyone who thinks this has happened to them, let me know and I can look.
I have no idea why any of them happen.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 4:10pm GMT

I too seem to have fallen victim to the Junk Folder, as I attempted to post an earlier response to David.

It now appears to me that the base of the problem is in fact philosophical.

David sees marriage as an entity the substance of which must consist of a man and a woman. He sees it in ontological terms.

I, and I assume others, see it as a relationship between entities, and argue that the entities involved need not be a man and a woman. I see marriage in active, rather than essential, terms. Marriage, for me, is not a substance, but a mode of relationship.

This being the case, David posits a definition of marriage that is unassailable, as he sees the mixed gender of the couple as essential, by definition, to marriage. His efforts to explain this position, are forms of restating his premise, rather than arguments showing why that premise is true. So while I welcome his further elucidation, it seems we are at a philosophical impasse in terms of the discussion.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 6:06pm GMT

Erika:
'I know you don't like it. But that doesn't mean it can't happen'.

Of course, it can. It just contradicts reality.

Let's see. Society already reduces the Lord's declared ground for divorce, adultery, to a mere finding of fact in the no-fault ground of irretrievable breakdown. The casualty is the parent that has loses custody, in spite of being, by biblical standards, the innocent cheated party.

Of course, for obvious reasons, the fact of adultery doesn't apply to civil partnerships. That would require a complex re-definition, so you'd have to 'streamline' the existing matrimonial causes by eliminating it completely from marriage laws.

However, that's similar to the way you can remove male genetic data regarding birth to no longer record the biological father. Romantically, it only records the child, the mother and the only other person who she really feels is important to their lives, her chosen partner at that time. The document ceases to provide ready, accurate data recording the most salient part of the child's biological family tree.

Then, you can further 're-certify' the stated gender previously certified on that document after the approval of the Gender Recognition Panel has been granted.

Alas, so far, you can only do the latter once. How unfair!

You mistake thoughtless public indifference towards these issues for support at a time when 'bread and circuses' matter more.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 6:49pm GMT

Erika:

'The definition of marriage, on the other hand, is purely man made'

Considering the theology that you recommended to Ian, I'm surprised at this statement.

If the definition of marriagr is purely man-made, it is not informed by the God. Yet, there are clear biblical precedents within the definition of marriage. The prohibitions on adultery may agree with most human consciences, but the laws are derived from God in the Ten Commandments. This understanding is basic to our Christian theology of marriage.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 7:43pm GMT

"The jump from "between a man and a woman" to "between t[w]o people" really isn't so impossible that it cannot contemplated."

Basically, we're left w/ DavidS (et al) *repeating* (w/ an added dollop of philosophical terminology) that it isn't. More heat, no further light.

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 8:49pm GMT

Simon,

Thanks for retrieving previous post, but it may have happened again.

ED NOTE: found another one!

Posted by: David Shepherd on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 9:21pm GMT

David

"'The definition of marriage, on the other hand, is purely man made'

Considering the theology that you recommended to Ian, I'm surprised at this statement."

Man gets it wrong. But God knows the truth and that truth is not based on externals but on what a relationship is about. Jesus has never been fixed on externals but has always seen the core of what people are about and has addressed that.

Which is why interracial marriages are perfectly possibly and have always been welcomed in the eyes of God, even though human societies haven't always understood that and have argued against it based on religious grounds.
I believe there was a judge in the US recently who re-stated that interracial marriage isn't possible.

That doesn't mean that God sees all black and white marriages as mere civil partnership, does it.

As for "You mistake thoughtless public indifference towards these issues for support at a time when 'bread and circuses' matter more."

You could at least do those who don't think like you do the honour of respecting their position and of accepting that they have come to it after carefull consideration and maybe after painful experience.
To just dismiss it as thoughtless and indifference says more about you than it says about those you're speaking of.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 9 February 2012 at 7:35am GMT

Tobias, several of your posts found and published. Sorry, again no idea why.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 February 2012 at 10:42am GMT

"The thread will descend into yet another 'armchair martyr' rant-fest."

Who are the armchair martyrs? I presume they're not those who actually have a stake in this because their very lives are being affected. You must mean the ones for whom this is a purely theoretical debate, the outcome of which affects them not one little bit.

But let me assure you that I don't think many of them "rant", just like the others don't "rant" either but post carefully thought through arguments.

There are, fortunately, very very few people here who show genuine contempt for those they don't agree with.

This has always been a brilliant forum for debate and I have had many disagreement with people I have nevertheless come to like and respect a lot. One of them ended up a very dear personal friend. Only very very few on both sides seem to find adult conversations difficult.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 9 February 2012 at 10:53am GMT

Thanks, Simon. The mysteries of the 'net!

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 9 February 2012 at 2:32pm GMT

I though this extract from an Anglican Mainstream release from October last year was pertinent:

"AMIE insists that it is determined to remain Anglican. But it has its own panel of bishops, ready to provide alternative episcopal supervision to parishes which disagree with their diocesan bishop.

One, Michael Nazir-Ali, former bishop of Rochester, has said: "Only a few will need such oversight at the moment.

"There may be others if bishops… teach that same-sex relations are equivalent to marriage or are in same-sex civil partnerships themselves, and if no provision is made for those who in conscience cannot accept women bishops." "

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 10 February 2012 at 2:48am GMT
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