Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Pilling: Christian Concern lobbies the Bishops

From the website of Christian Concern:

ACTION: Ask the Bishops to stand up for marriage

On 28th November 2013, the Church of England published a crucial report by the House of Bishops Working Group on Sexuality (Pilling Report), outlining its recommendations for the recognition of same-sex relationships by the CofE.

The Report suggests that, while the Church of England should not change its official teaching on marriage and sexuality, it should enter into a period of “facilitated conversions” to allow local clergy to bless same sex partnerships informally, using unauthorised liturgies.

However, to allow informal blessings of same-sex relationships, while claiming not to change the church’s teaching, would in practice and in fact, change the church’s traditional teaching on the issue.

The College of Bishops meets next Monday (27th January) to give serious consideration to the proposals put forward by the Pilling Report.

Please write to the Bishops, urging them to affirm the Bible’s clear teaching on marriage and sexuality and to give courageous leadership which is faithful to Scripture.

Concerns about the Report which you may wish to make are:

  • The report as a whole appeals to the secular world-view by seeking to accommodate same sex relationships
  • The liberal view of Scripture adopted by the Report is hugely concerning as it suggests that Scripture does not offer conclusive teaching on the issue of homosexual practice
  • The Report wrongly claims that Scripture and theology are apparently unclear on the rightness of homosexual practice, but urges the church to go ahead and bless such practice anyway, as long as the relationships are ‘permanent, faithful and stable’
  • The Bible offers clear teaching on how humans are best able to flourish and we appeal to you as Bishops to reinforce the commitment to biblical teaching
  • Permitting services to bless same sex unions would be a direct denial of the authority and teachings of the Bible, and would result in serious division, distress and acrimony within the Church
  • Allowing clergy to offer an informal blessing, and claiming that this does not change traditional Anglican teaching, is too fine a distinction and potentially contradictory for the wide Christian community and beyond
  • True pastoral care in the case of those experiencing same-sex attraction is to help them live Christianly and it is wrong to separate teaching and practice
  • Please also ask the Bishops to support the strong dissent to the Report issued by the Bishop of Birkenhead, which you can read here >

Click here to read the full text of the Pilling Report >

See below for contact details of the Bishops [scroll down for email list of diocesan bishops only]

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 at 10:53pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Christian "concern" by name but not concerned enough to have noticed it's facilitated "conversations" Pilling speaks of not "conversions".
But maybe being clear about the "word written" doesn't matter to them very much. Ho hum.

Posted by: David Walker on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 2:40am GMT

It was rather ironic reading Christian Concern's tirade with the title of the next article underneath about "reasonable accommodation"! Reasonable accommodation for Christian Concern means locking LGBT people up, we have to remember. I hope the bishops file this rant in the appropriate place.

Posted by: sjh on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 6:37am GMT

One of the issues here is that I don't find a category called "homosexual practice" in scripture - the category itself is an abstraction involving interpretation. We need to know what we mean by "homosexual practice" before making any suggestion that scripture says anything about it. The Bible says certain things which might relate to "homosexual practice", and we could define "homosexual practice" to mean "those things connected with homosexuality which scripture clearly proscribes" - that is one domain of meaning for the concept. But the domain of meaning in current use is not necessarily the same, and whether it is is an issue about the use of language rather than fidelity to scripture. Just because we use the same words, it doesn't necessarily follow that we mean the same thing by them.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 8:54am GMT

We should all be concerned about these particular Christians; especially their militancy against the loving relationships they do not understand.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 9:53am GMT

Have Christian Concern slash Christian Legal Centre ever won any of the causes, campaigns or petitions they've tried? I guess you could argue that Eweida was fought to a score draw (the case she won was against the UK government on the provision of redress rather than against BA, who had already settled with her) but the rest of their cases are complete car crashes.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 10:29am GMT

Bishops being politicians, who respond to what looks like public opinion, it would be good if those favoring blessings of same-sex relationships would let the Bishops know how they feel as well.

Parliamentary pressure alone might not do the trick. Thinking Anglicans need to lobby too.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 11:12am GMT

Well said, Jeremy, but to mount an effective lobbying campaign, liberals need, at the least, three things they currently lack:-

1) Numbers -- generally speaking, the big churches are evangelical
2) Money -- those big churches are, naturally, also rich
3) Will -- liberals hate coercing people. Good. They should do. But tolerance is fatal when your opponents are themselves intolerant. Hard fact is, this is a power game, and turning the other cheek only gets you slapped. You can't transcend it, you must win it. Unless liberals stop avoiding conflict and trying to accommodate their opponents, and recognize the battle for what it is, they haven't a hope

Of these, I'd say number three is the most important. Institutional homophobia in the Church of England is so deep and pervasive that it'll take Herculean willpower to oppose. Just consider the magnitude of the problem. *Every single diocesan* is complicit in supporting homophobic policies, either directly, or by passive consent. The same goes for, at the least, a substantial number of clergy and laity. Liberals must take on their entire leadership to win. Worse, it's an appointed leadership, used to governing without consent. And most liberals hate the mere idea of "winning." It's no wonder that, to date, they've been trounced.

Hope comes from outside the church. Inside, supporters of gay rights are a broken, cowed minority, mostly hoping to be left alone. They don't resemble a force to be reckoned with so much as victims of abuse hoping to dodge further blows. Beyond the walls of Lambeth, they're a solid majority. If liberals within the church can tap and mobilize external support, the game changes in a flash.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 4:54pm GMT

In answer to Interested Observer, the point is not about winning. In fact losing is much the preferred option since it validates the victimhood narrative of CC and the 'Christian' Legal Centre and this is what they need now. It is the fact that their views are increasingly that of a minority and and indeed are seen as eccentric which enables them to assert that 'orthodox' Christians are a persecuted minority and which enables them to adopt the phraseology of other minorities and plead for their human rights and 'equality'.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 6:20pm GMT

In answer to Interested Observer, the point is not about winning. In fact loosing is much the preferred option since it validates the victimhood narrative of CC and the 'Christian' Legal Centre and this is what they need now. It is the fact that their views are increasingly that of a minority and and indeed are seen as eccentric which enables them to assert that 'orthodox' Christians are a persecuted minority and which enables them to adopt the phraseology of other minorities and plead for their human rights and 'equality'.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 6:20pm GMT

"In answer to Interested Observer, the point is not about winning. In fact losing is much the preferred option since it validates the victimhood narrative of CC"

I'd assumed that was the case, but if so it's hardly a winning strategy. I guess they've been hanging out with a lot of Americans for their "culture wars" advice. After the Bull judgement, they put out an absurd press release in which they claimed that the UK Supreme Court was terrified of "political correctness" [1] and therefore was unable to reach proper judgements; the narrative that the Supreme Court is filled with east-coast liberals plays well in the US bible belt, but has no traction whatsoever over here. So I suspect their strategy is more about continuing to extract money from their American backers than actually achieving anything.

[1] http://www.christian.org.uk/news/christian-bb-loses-supreme-court-appeal/

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 23 January 2014 at 8:17am GMT

Interested Observer
"So I suspect their strategy is more about continuing to extract money from their American backers than actually achieving anything."

To what end?
They must have some actual purpose and reason for staying in this fight?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 23 January 2014 at 10:09am GMT

' They must have some actual purpose and reason for staying in this fight? '

Many of them seem to be hoping that one of two things will happen.

1. Something apocalyptic - another Great Flood, the Rapture, the end of the world, you name it. This is something which some strands of Christianity look forward to in any event. A pastor I know recently posted on his Facebook page an internet hoax story stating that all babies born in Europe from this spring onwards would be microchipped - he got lots of 'likes' and comments from his followers saying that the time had come (i.e the Beast of Revelations was putting his mark on people and we are in the End Times). Thus many want the world to end and when the time comes they will say that gay marriage and acceptance of homosexuality was the last straw.

2. That the acceptance of gay marriage will lead to the legalisation of polygamy, incest etc. Then they will be able to sit aback and say 'We told you so'. They will also hope that the tide will then turn back against gay rights. They seem determined to 'keep the home fires burning', hoping that the cavalry will arrive in the form of success in Russia, Uganda and Nigeria. If the new laws there are widely seen to wipe out homosexuality - or at least minimise it - they hope (in vain, IMO) that one day, such laws can be passed in Western countries.

Posted by: Sam Roberts on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 7:37am GMT

Sam,
"Thus many want the world to end and when the time comes they will say that gay marriage and acceptance of homosexuality was the last straw."

So why try to prevent this desired outcome?

Your second point makes more sense to me. But that would necessitate a desire to win.
Richard Ashby and Interested Observer both seem to think that the Centre doesn't actually want to win.
It seems like that, unless we must assume that they do not even realise how ineffective their strategy is. Could it be a simple case of not seeing the wood for trees?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 9:15am GMT

No, I think the chosen tactic is victim, Christians are persecuted model. Just watch Andrea's Christmas video!

I think in the present xenophobic, islamaphobic environment it is one of the few tactics that will find any traction though it will earn them ever more troublesome bedfellows.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 11:11am GMT

Erica:

It's not about achieving anything in the greater world. It's about making money, pure and simple.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 11:37am GMT

Agree with Pat. Let's not overlook the fact that some people make a living playing the theological victim.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 4:29pm GMT

'hard fact is, this is a power game and turning the other cheek only gets you slapped.'

I can't quite go along with this. It's surely possible to seek to do the right thing by LGBT people, including consistent campaigning, and to maintain an integrity without compromise, while still seeking to follow the Gospel imperative to "love your enemies and bless those who persecute you" and indeed to turn the other cheek. That's neither avoiding conflict nor seeking to accommodate our opponents. We can do the right thing without descending to low-level political behaviour and be vindicated. Indeed as followers of Christ we have no choice.

Posted by: fr.rob on Sunday, 26 January 2014 at 12:09am GMT
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