Sunday, 6 April 2014
other reactions to the LBC radio phone-in
Updated Monday evening
Here are two articles which are supportive of the line taken by Archbishop Justin Welby on Friday:
Ian Paul has written What did Justin Welby say about gays and violence in Africa?
Andrew Goddard has written a long article The Archbishop, Gay Marriage and Violence: What are the issues?
The latter goes on to consider in some detail how the issues raised in the interview should be considered in the event that the Church of England, as a result of the “post-Pilling conversations” does eventually decide to make some change in its present official positions.
Here are two more articles:
Cranmer Archbishop Justin gets handbagged by Ann Widdecombe
Phil Groom Epitaph for an Archbishop? For fear of sailing over the edge of the world, he never put out to sea
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 11:00pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
| Church of England
As I said over on Ian's blog, while I can accept the integrity of the evangelical position (God tells us to condemn homosexual relationships), I have nothing but contempt for moral blackmail.
Open evangelicals like Goddard and Paul, who don't oppose gay relationships out of homophobia, but out of a careful and sincere reading of the Bible, are the very people I'd hope would step up and say to Welby, "We support the traditional position, but this isn't the way. Your approach, even if unintended, amounted to moral blackmail. It was not only unfair, it was deeply hurtful to our gay sisters and brothers in Christ. We must be better than this. Please, take it back, and apologize."
What was not factored in, by the Archbishop, in connecting the possibility Anglicans being murdered in Africa – if the Church of England were to sanction the Blessing of Same Sex relationships in Civil Marriage – is the fact that Equal Marriage is already a part of the institution in England and Wales, and whatever the Church of England does, or does not do, about this reality, will not turn the legislation around.
Therefore, to pin upon the Church of England any blame or responsibility for the homophobic murder of Christians in Africa, is to offer an odd excuse for the appeasement of homophobic views of people in another country, whose civic laws against LGBT people are neither civil nor Christian.
I believe the ABC is doing his level best to try to diffuse the possibility of homophobic attacks on fellow Christians in Africa. But that is a far cry from what ought to be the action of the Church in this oppositional circumstance; which should surely be to put its weight behind the issue of justice towards a category of human beings who have no way of changing their nature.
Unless, of course, the Church believes that homosexuals are not – like other human beings – children of God.
Have any dates been set yet for the much heralded facilitated conversations? Who is going to facilitate them and, more to the point, who is going to be invited to converse?
ABC needs our support, his is a difficult and often thankless calling.I see on this web site a lot of strident comment ab0ut supporting the tribal position, on either side of the debate, rather than bearing the burdens of others that we disagree with.
What forever changed my perception was hearing two clergy who I knew well sharing their experiences - one was straight and one was gay (to use the unfortunate shorthand but you know what I mean) - this gets you away from the stereotypes and into personal relationships. We did this 8 years ago in Leicester Diocese. Those who make simplistic arguments, I respectfully suggest, may need to listen to those they disagree with more?
Than you James for "Having clarified the Archbishop’s own position and noted the place of considering consequences in moral decision-making", something dear Andrew seems to have failed to do in his long essay.
I am sorry though James, if you think you are going to get any reasonable response to this from Fulcrum.
Fulcrum has done all it can to support those in the Communion who are wedded to their section 28 theology.
It beggars belief that sensible people can testify with a straight face as to the historical continuity of opposition to gay folk without any reference to the murder and torture that went along with it, and seem ignorant of the fact that their continued teaching is responsible for the death and mutilation of gay people throughout the world.
That IS the consequence of their teaching!
It IS that teaching that results not just in the persecution and murder of gay people in the Global South, NO we just need to look within and see the living hatred that drives a mother to kill her own four year old child.
I am not responsible for the death of hundreds in South Sudan, but Ian Paul and Andrew Goddard are responsible for giving succor to the mentality that ends in this:
Listening to "both sides" is all well and good, Stephen, but not all positions are true, valid, or moral. South Sudan has been at war for the majority of the last 50 years. The Muslim-Christian strife is awful, but it is ultimately about local issues of control and power, with lots of blasphemy and whatnot to use as an excuse. There are logical and moral flaws in accepting the position that homophobic African Muslims are killing homophobic African Christians because TEC treats me and my partner like human beings.
The sectarian violence in places like South Sudan and Nigeria are most tragic. But I'm sorry, it is immoral to use this awful tragedy to further a homophobic agenda, and that is the appearance. The other part of the equation is that even if there is a modicum of truth to this crazy allegation that suddenly gays are the excuse du jour for killing, it is sheer ignorance. It reminds me of the aid workers who were killed for vaccinating children because the Muslim villagers thought they were sterilizing their children.
Giving in to bullies does not create peace. Nor does giving in to ignorance. How is it moral to support murderers abroad by buying into their claims and withholding human rights from LGBT people at home? Sounds like that affirms and encourages the murderers.
The ABC's premise is simply wrong. I'm sure that he is reporting what he was told, but that doesn't make it true or moral.
Does anyone actually believe that if the West just goes back to our old horrifically homophobic ways that there will be peace in Africa? Seriously? Does anyone believe that a single life will be saved by buying into that ignorance and hate? No! Of course not. The killing will sadly continue, they'd just have a new excuse for it. A new excuse that fits yet another hateful agenda, most likely.
Of course Ugandans and Nigerians are "less enlightened" about homosexuality -- his prissy display of political correctness here well and truly cast gays under the bus!
Stephen, I have the experience of being in Haiti during a time when political violence erupted. Each day, young men with guns came into the downtown, chanting slogans and shooting indiscriminately. They call it a "manifestation," we'd call it a riot. People got hurt. Their calls were ridiculous and ignorant. So the right reaction is to give the mob what it wants? (Their real goal was to destabilize the government and sure enough, the US obliged by stepping in and removing their twice elected president).
That is essentially the level of the ABC's assertion. There's a mob and we need to strongly consider giving in to it with our own hateful response toward LGBT people. Never mind that this mob most certainly has it's own objectives, like getting control of the oil fields… But that's all the fault of TEC treating LGBT people as Children of God.
There's no peace that is won via more injustice. The darkness can only be cast out by the light, MLK.
David Porter and his team are being asked to facilitate them, based on material being devised (not Pilling, which doesn't give us a proper basis). Participants as yet unknown. I assume that a proposed way forward will come back to the Bishops in May.
Andrew Goddard doesn't like TA, does he? Or rather he doesn't like the views expressed here and really holds us in contempt.
I think I could stomach the ABC's handwringing about treatment of gay people - and Ian Paul's defense - if the archbishop had a history of condemning outright the deeply sinful treatment of gay people in our history and currently in the African countries under discussion.
SUCH AN UNEQUIVOCAL CONDEMNATION IS CALLED FOR AND INEXCUSABLY DELAYED.
And that includes the ugly rhetoric spouted by Ugandan and other bishops at Lambeth 1998 and since. This has gone unaddressed way too long.
The simple thing would be to dissolve the Communion. It would then remove any need for the church to have to waste time on the views of the bigoted and unenlightened and remove the frankly laughable excuses the CofE comes up with so regularly.
"There's no peace that is won via more injustice."
I won't get hung up on the accuracy of Welby's comments. For the sake of argument, I'll accept that equal marriage in English churches would be "catastrophic" for Anglicans in other countries, and some affirming act in America did provoke a massacre in Nigeria.
It's still not reason to delay justice to appease sectarian thugs. Even from a consequentialist POV. Terrorists are only emboldened if they're allowed to dictate policy. As 'Letter From Birmingham Jail' so rightly said, "a negative peace which is the absence of tension" is no substitute for "a positive peace which is the presence of justice."
If Welby is convinced that gay relationships are wrong, he should defend his position on whatever merits he believes it has, not distract with tales of horror. I suspect he's doing so because, in some deep-down part of him, he knows that "because the Bible says-so" is not going to carry the day. As John Shelby Spong said to Welby's predecessor: "The Bible has lost each of those battles. It will lose the present battle and you, my friend, will end up on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality and the wrong side of truth."
"Andrew Goddard doesn't like TA, does he? Or rather he doesn't like the views expressed here and really holds us in contempt."
I'd love to see him in a room with MLK and Desmond Tutu.
Ref "David Porter and his team are being asked to facilitate them, based on material being devised (not Pilling, which doesn't give us a proper basis)"
1. Is it possible to expand on the "Pilling does not give us a proper basis" statement. Why not?
2. Are any homosexual people, or people who can talk expertly on "the lived experience of homosexual persons" (perhaps from a first person basis) involved in the preparation of the new material?
I sympathise with Justin Welby, who was understandably distressed by what he saw. But I think he is letting himself be manipulated by leaders whose own actions have not only fanned the flames of homophobic violence in their own countries but may also have put heterosexuals there at risk. For instance Archbishop Nicholas Okoh has been busy trying to persuade Nigerians that:
(a) being gay can be spread ('If anybody is gay, our position is that we should counsel the person because it is an acquired habit that can be delivered through the power of the gospel');
(b) Western churches are out to spread homosexuality in Nigeria ('The church in the west had vowed to use their money to spread the homosexual lifestyle in African societies and churches; after all Africa is poor. They are pursuing this agenda vigorously and what is more, they now have the support of the United Nations');
(c)same-sex marriage involves 'dethroning God' which will led to 'extinction'.
If some Nigerians outside the Christian community actually believe what he says, it could increase the danger of violence against Anglicans (though, obviously, the killers have to take ultimate responsibility for their misdeeds). So it may make matters worse to bolster his credibility, and that of other church leaders whose false witness against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people and fellow-Christians overseas may create the impression that African Christians who are part of an international Communion may pose a threat to the survival of their neighbours.
Martin, I disagree with evangelical theology, but open evangelicals are the power in the church, and must be won over if anything's to change.
The positive news is that open evangelicals like Paul and Goddard, and Fulcrum in general, aren't homophobic: they oppose gay relationships because they honestly believe the Bible to be God's revealed will. Regardless of whether they want to affirm gay relationships, so long as they believe in biblical authority, their hands are tied.
While I can't see the majority of open evangelicals ever affirming gay relationships, as they're not driven by prejudice, they might well be persuaded to accept a compromise on the "two integrities" model used to pass female ordination. The sticking point at present is that homosexuality isn't "adiaphoron" (theologically indifferent), but a "salvation issue." However, evangelical Anglicans tolerate other "salvation issues," such as priests who teach universalism, so there's hope for progress.
"Open evangelicals like Paul and Goddard, and Fulcrum in general, aren't homophobic: they oppose gay relationships because they honestly believe the Bible to be God's revealed will."
If it quacks and waddles, it's a duck. If it support discrimination against gay people, it's homophobia.
If prejudice had no real world effects,if people didn't lose jobs, homes, lives because of their God-given sexual orientation, it wouldn't matter, but it does. And it's still real if the prejudice is from a nice person wringing their hands and saying 'the Bible says so'.
I'm gobsmacked by James Byron's assertion that Andrew Goddard isn't homophobic. He has opposed every step towards equality in church, more crucially, also in state since he first came to public notice. Not being homophobic isn't just about what one says - it's easy to make pious statements about loving everyone and considering them all God's children (clergy have a lifetime's practice in doing that!) Homophobia is about what one does.
I think this is more to do with James' low view of the Bible, and attempt to convince liberals that they need to move to a less Bible faith. The Bible is not the problem. Selective and literalist readings of certain biblical texts are the problem.
Ask Goddard and Paul do they favour a literalist reading of 1 Corinthians 11.
If people are not prejudiced but merely forced by the bible to believe that homosexuality is wrong I would expect them to be heartbroken about this. I would expect them to be really upset that, for some inexplicable reason, God expects their perfectly normal gay friends and family members to live permanently diminished lives.
I to no see any sign of distress, sadness or even unease in any of the writings on conservative evangelical blogs and from conservative members of Fulcrum.
Prejudice is as prejudice does. The concept of biblical authority used in this way is a cloak for many a prejudice and for making it sound respectable. That's all.
Thank you, Father Andrew.
"I sympathise with Justin Welby, who was understandably distressed by what he saw."
You know, I think I *could* sympathise w/ Justin if, following his African mass-grave experience, we learned of it like this:
"God's beloved LGBT community of England and Wales: you have every RIGHT to marry, and moral justification to see your marriages blessed in CofE churches.
HOWEVER, because of what I was told, and searingly SHOWN in Africa, here's why I ***ASK*** you to refrain..."
But No: LGBTs in the UK weren't talked TO (imploringly and *humanely*), they were talked AT. On a radio show! They weren't asked, they were TOLD (in the 3rd-person) that they shouldn't be *allowed* to marry, because if they did, they would be RESPONSIBLE for others deaths.
I can have no sympathy for Justin when he dehumanizes LGBT people in this way.
I agree, it is homophobia. Difference lies in motive: open evangelicals advocate a homophobic position out of obedience to the Bible, not hatred of gay people.
I draw the distinction not to downplay the harm done, but to be accurate, and look for a way to fix this mess.
Thanks for providing links to articles written aimed at trying to lend Archbishop Welby at hand shoveling himself out of the trench he has dug for himself.I suggest trench, rather than hole, because whereas one can fall into a hole by accident, one normally digs a trench to take up a defensive position, typically with some degree of strategy beforehand. The Archbishop has a position regarding same gender marriage. It provides a perspective that is consistent with his anxiety linking sectarian violence, in this case in Africa, to the assertion of equal rights for the GLBT communities in England and America. I find the flurry of spin after the fact, including Andrew Goddard's rather long winded one, unconvincing. Here is what you do when confronted with obscene violence. You condemn it and make a vigorous case for human rights. For a good post mortem of the ABC's comments, thankfully only a small portion of an otherwise worthwhile media event, check out the blog of TEC bishop Marc Andrus.
"Regardless of whether they want to affirm gay relationships, so long as they believe in biblical authority, their hands are tied."
Which is pretty much the Nuremberg Defence.
If it's really the case that Evangelicals don't have moral agency, then let them say so. It sounds pretty much like a textbook definition of sociopathy, however.
"If it's really the case that Evangelicals don't have moral agency, then let them say so."
And that's where it falls down, because they do. In increasing numbers they are changing their views without letting go of the idea of scriptural authority.
It seems obvious to me and I cannot understand at all why James doesn't seem to be able to see it.
Evangelicals can and do read scripture in affirming ways. We really should support them in their battle against homophobia among evangelicals and not insist that what they do cannot be done without giving up the concept of scriptural authority.
The really instructive proof are those evangelicals who are liberal on women priests yet conservative on homosexuality.
Read their exegesis on both subjects and you quickly discover a real depth and multi faceted approach to scripture when they talk about women, yet a completely closed and unimaginative approach to those same scriptures when they talk about gay people.
Applying different methods to different topics says nothing about scriptural authority. It says much about the fact that the desired conclusion can come come first and that scripture can then be read accordingly.
JCF, while I disagree with Justin Welby, he did not seem to me to be telling LGBT people that we should not be allowed to marry. In fact he has not mentioned the massacre in any pre-planned talks. Rather, in response to a question in a phone-in and after being pushed to clarify his position by a journalist, he talked about his distress standing by the mass grave as well as about the church's treatment of LGBT people here. He also indicated on radio that he was not convinced the the Bible supports same-sex partnerships but he continues to grapple with the issue. While I believe it is important to challenge the opinions of those opposed to celebrating the marriage of same-sex couples, I believe there is a risk of attributing the worst motives to those with whom we disagree.
I don't often agree with Andrew Goddard, though I have the utmost respect for his sincerity and would certainly never accuse him of being a 'homophobe' (at least as I understand the term). But I think his analysis of this particular fracas is actually incredibly insightful - the question "who is my neighbour?" is really at the heart of this issue. It pains me that some people I greatly respect in the Church don't appear to want to see African or Asian Christians as just as important to the Church of Christ as people in their own churches and parishes. I have been dismayed by the growth of a parochial, navel-gazing little-Anglicanism in some parts of the church over the last decade, especially in England. Some of the liberals I would usually find myself in agreement with seem to want to reduce the church to a small coterie of like-minded tea-drinkers, evensong-enthusiasts, and readers of the London Review of Books (admittedly, this would be me). I recall in particular one liberal celebrity-vicar's startling comment to the effect that all the Anglican communion meant to him was a collection box for poor Africans at the back of his church!
The Archbishop's comments remind us that we are not a religious society of the like-minded (or at least, we shouldn't be). We are an international family of faith. African Anglicans are our co-communicants; African Christians are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Those bonds should be enormously important to us, even (or especially) when they are awkward or uncomfortable or even costly to maintain. Much as I detest efforts to turn the Anglican Communion into a legally contracted federation bound together with laws and threats of punishment, I also hate the suggestion that it doesn't exist or shouldn't matter to us. To say that it doesn't matter is to say that we are no longer part of the Church catholic. And if it does matter we should be at least as preoccupied with the suffering of African Christians as we are with issues of sexuality in our own dioceses and provinces. The fact that we clearly are not - just look at the topics of the posts on TA! - suggests that many of us are just as guilty as the conservative evangelicals of failing to perceive the full humanity of people different from ourselves - much less the love that should unite us with all our fellow-Christians.
are you suggesting that we agree with the Archbishop that there is a link between affirming gay equality here and Christians being murdered in Africa and that we are simply ignoring this?
Can I suggest you re-read the comments on the various threads about this, please?
rjb, I have the same questions as Erika.
We are all part of the Body of Christ. This includes Christians who aren't Anglican. And ALL people are our neighbors, each and every human being. In the global world, where people without electricity get news feeds on their phones, we all are truly connected.
When our brothers and sisters are in deadly conflict, we all grieve. If we want to positively impact the situation, we pray. If we take active part, then we need to really deeply consider the nature and complexity of the brokenness before us. The Christian answer is simple: LOVE and do JUSTICE. However, the enactment is not so simple.
We have martyrs and prophets, living and dead, who have lead us through these things before in modern times, MLK, Desmond Tutu, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We can't fix the problem of hate (homophobia) by withholding love and justice from afar. We can address it by modeling the Radical Love of Christ with love, justice, and inclusion at home. We can address the suffering people themselves by bringing that radical love to them as best we can, in the form of presence, food, medicine, peacemakers, etc.
The premise of the ABC's statement is mostly false. Whatever truth might be in there is just excuse for the killing. They will find other excuses, no problem. There is nothing I can see in the Gospel of Jesus that indicates that we should refrain from doing justice as blackmail to murderers! And there's every reason to believe that giving in to the blackmail only encourages them. So in my view, the ABC is acting dangerously here.
I agree that it would be best if some folks (whoever you're referring to) were less parochial. The ABC, for example, seems to behave as if MLK, Tutu, et al., never existed. Humanity has been here before, and God has worked through his/her prophets to show us the way of mercy, justice, peace, and even reconciliation. It doesn't look like the ABC's conundrum.
I would have thought rjb's comments spoke for themselves. But this is the kind of 'Mozilla' climate we are now being asked to inhabit.
Christians in Africa and in other places where hardship is daily bread -- these are our brothers and sisters. They are members of our communion in the Body of Christ.
Much of what one reads suggests that we are Christians in national entities in the first instance (where there is also internal division over matters like sexuality). We figure out what will work in our borders. We ask others to do the same in their regions.
But the entire point of +Welby's remarks was that this understanding of national entities does not work. I understand rjb to say as well that it isn't a Christian account of the Body of Christ.
"If it's really the case that Evangelicals don't have moral agency, then let them say so."
They do, Interested Observer: evangelicals aren't shy about submitting to the teaching of scripture. The "Nuremberg Defense" was rejected 'cause conscience should trump orders: but evangelicals believe the Bible to be God's revealed will. For them, conscience and orders are inseparable. Mervyn Noote's right, I do, in line with liberal theology, have a "low view" of the Bible. For good reason: I find the authoritarian position terrifying.
Evangelicals don't choose to believe this, anymore than an atheist chooses to disbelieve in God, or I choose to disbelieve in biblical authority. However vehemently I disagree with their content, I can't blame anyone for acting in line with involuntary beliefs. I *can*, and do, blame them for not calling Welby out on his moral blackmail.
I don't understand, Savi. Is that not what Justin told Parliament? Is that not what he says *today* about CofE clergy?
I don't believe I attributed to Welby anything not factually true. (OCICBW)
This isn't about Welby's animus to LGBT people---I don't believe he has any. But he's willing to make discriminatory policy FOR us, for a woefully *misperceived* trade-off to save African lives. He still won't talk TO us. Why?
Cynthia, I agree that Welby's premises are false, even in terms of realpolitik: as Kipling so rightly said:-
"... But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane."
Erika, some evangelicals can read scripture in an affirming way, yes: many can't. Don't you think evangelicals like the gay men on livingout.org *want* to find an affirming message in the Bible? (The difference between women's ministry and gay relationships is that the Bible is mixed on the first, and not on the second.) Likewise, don't you think it would be easier for Goddard and Paul, Broadbent and Wright, Welby and Williams, and many, many others if they could just take an affirming stance? Defending the traditional position sure isn't making their lives easier. They're acting against their own interest because they honestly believe the Bible tells them to.
Do you believe that every evangelical who takes a traditional position is homophobic, even if they're openly gay? It's possible, but it doesn't appear likely.
JCF, my understanding of your comment:
'LGBTs in the UK weren't talked TO (imploringly and *humanely*), they were talked AT. On a radio show! They weren't asked, they were TOLD (in the 3rd-person) that they shouldn't be *allowed* to marry, because if they did, they would be RESPONSIBLE for others deaths'
was that you were referring specifically to what Justin W said on the LBC 'radio show'. He has not, as far as I know, mentioned the mass grave incident to Parliament.
He has of course talked with LGBT people elsewhere, e.g. meeting Peter Tatchell and a delegation from the LGB&T Anglican Coalition as well as those he knows personally.
Erika, while I agree with you and several other commentators that Justin W starts from the wrong premises and hence reaches the wrong conclusions, some of the comments seem to indicate difficulty in grasping why he should feel such a strong sense of personal connection to Christians in Africa.
While there always will be little Englanders and American isolationists, the vast majority of people love the idea of us being a part of the Anglican family. There were those among us Anglicans willing to see gay equality as something worth waiting for if it meant a better life now for lesbian and gay people in the continents of Africa and Asia. Some even went along with the Windsor Report and process hoping that the promised Indaba would deliver the long awaited "listening" the Lambeth fathers had promised for so long.
Even the North American churches tried very hard, stopping consecrations for a time, humiliated and excluded.
But, this was never going to be enough and as at the Primates meeting in Dar es Salaam we realised that the promises of listening were a sham and the threats of division did not come from liberals.
What we are now saying, some years on, is that it is not liberals who undermined the ACC, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Conference and reformed Primates Meeting, nor are we forming alternative power structures to support the establishment of parallel churches in other members countries.
Sadly those now heading up the Global South and who are firmly rejecting the Communion based Indaba process and driving the divisive agenda are those who are supported by the Fulcrum leadership team and their allies like cseitz.
It is they who are digging the grave of the Communion, it is they who have given the intellectual support to this schism and who are even now working to harm gay people and give further support to those who would imprison, torture and murder us In the name of Jesus Christ Our Saviour.
Apart from that, I am site they are all sincere and lovely men.
"some of the comments seem to indicate difficulty in grasping why he should feel such a strong sense of personal connection to Christians in Africa."
He doesn't seem to feel a strong sense of personal connection to African LGBT Christians.
Why would his connection lead him in the direction of blaming a massacre on TEC's kinder treatment of LGBT persons? I'm not really seeing your point. One might think that his connection would lead him to question the assertion and be cautious about giving encouragement to the murderers.
maybe I should ask you to re-read our comments on the various threads too.
The questions are:
1. Is there a direct or indirect link between Western theology on homosexuality and murders of (conservative anti gay) Christians in Africa?
2. What is that link? Is it liberal theology that causes people to die? Or are our lgbt brothers and sisters in Nigeria right when they insist that suffering is caused by the West and especially the Archbishops not speaking out loud and clear in favour of gay equality and especially for respect for gay people in Africa?
3. If there is a link, what is the best response to it?
Is more homophobia in the West likely to save Christian and lgbt lives in Africa or is dismantling prejudice more likely to do that?
Just because we're asking doesn't mean we don't care. On the contrary, it means we do care. But we don't care about prejudice and easy assumptions because they fit someone's personal preferences.
I want to see some proper work done to show the links there are. I want us to be able to have the tools to assess this rationally and then form a rational response.
Insisting that we don't care just because we're not quickly urging the Archbishop to make sure the CoE continues to treat us like lesser moral beings is maybe politically expedient but it doesn't help African Christians, not in the short term nor in the long term.
“Likewise, don't you think it would be easier for Goddard and Paul, Broadbent and Wright, Welby and Williams, and many, many others if they could just take an affirming stance?”
I am absolutely convinced that a deep emotional reluctance to accept gay relationships is at the heart of this.
When you have been told from childhood that being gay is sinful you internalise it. When your whole church community, in which you feel safe, loved and where you belong, insists that being gay is ok but having gay relationships is sinful, you internalise it.
It’s basic psychology. We internalise all kinds of things and some spend years in therapy to get over how their father treated them, or how their teacher made them feel stupid and they ended up never believing in themselves. Why should homosexuality be different?
To us it seems as if it would be easier to accept gay equality. But when you’re in those churches, in those circles, it would mean the loss of your fellowships, your friendships, your position, your influence – and that’s after you’ve started to have the first doubts. In an environment that constantly reaffirms itself, that invents words like “reasserter” and “reaffirmer” to categorise people and to create an “us and them”, you are more likely to have your views affirmed than challenged.
But more and more are having their views challenged and if you listen to the big names who have jumped ship (losing their church communities and had to start somewhere else), it was never pure theology that changed their minds. That came after the doubt had already set in.
As I said yesterday, if you can approach two subjects, women’s ordination and homosexuality, with completely different hermeneutics, chances are your resistance has nothing to do with your inability to engage intelligently with scripture.
There is by now enough intelligent pro gay evangelical theology to make it perfectly possible for people to weigh up the arguments and to make a rational, bible based choice.
What is stopping them goes beyond the bible.
Rowan Williams is a completely different case – he was never an evangelical. His is not concerned with scriptural authority in the evangelical sense. And still… and still.. but then, it’s not about scriptural authority.
I can accept that, due to his past long experience of Africa, Justin Welby might "feel such a strong sense of personal connection to Christians in Africa".
But Christianity in Africa is diverse and contested. It is struggling with many of the same issues that we are, as well as many difficult issues of it's own.
Yet rather than connect with all of the various diverse strands in Africa Justin Welby seems to connect with, and support, only the authoritarian, patriarchal, anti-gay, central establishment. Those on the margins don't seem to get his attention.
Cynthia and Simon
I think Justin W is genuinely upset at the treatment of LGBT people in parts of Africa. However (like a lot of church leaders) he is too trusting of certain senior clergy's claim to speak for whole communities and fails to recognise their complicity in fuelling the prejudice that makes violence more likely. His shock at the mass grave may have also meant that he was not thinking critically enough about what he was being told was the cause.
Don't you all get it, yet?
GLBT's Christians *don't* count to the ABC, or to the CofE, and they will always see/treat us as subhuman. Throw out all the little anecdotes about "my parish" or "what the vicar of so-and-so said" you like, the reality is that the ABC is the voice of the CofE. He's not there by accident.
We're not wanted. You're not wanted. Gays are trash to them. Leave them to their hell and find a way to heaven without them.
Do I think that Christians die in Northern Nigeria because
".. the Archbishops [are] not speaking out loud and clear in favour of gay equality and especially for respect for gay people in Africa?"
No I do not. Not in the least.
"There is by now enough intelligent pro gay evangelical theology to make it perfectly possible for people to weigh up the arguments and to make a rational, bible based choice."
Erika, I continue to disagree with you on this point, and to agree with James Byron.
In my opinion, there is only one authentic way of reading the bible, and evaluating the cultural views and intentions of the religious communities that generated it... and that is to recognise that the bible (and its authors) are dead set against man-man sex.
In my opinion (and I think, James') it is possible for Christians who take an inerrant view of the bible, to disagree with man-man sex in sincere conscience, not because they are homophobes, but because they feel they owe a loyalty to God to accept (and obey) the Bible as it is written.
It is palpably clear to me that your typical 7th Century Jew of 1st Century Christian would not have been cool about men having sex with men, in any context. To use the later Islamic phrase, it would have been totally 'haram'.
I've already described my own journey >>> from a position of zero antagonism to gay people >>> to a position after a 'born again' evangelical experience, where I simply believed the bible when it excoriates man-man sex, not because of pre-existing phobia, but because the Bible is right and true (because it says it is) >>> to a position, after theological dismantling of my evangelical position and belief in an inerrant bible >>> to a reversion to my original openness and not being troubled about gay and lesbian sex >>> to an even later position where I came to celebrate it.
Today, I believe my sincere conscience should be respected and protected by the Church, with regard to affirming or practising gay (or in my case lesbian) sex. And the protection of priests and local church communities who wish to do the same. It is a conscience issue.
It is also a conscience issue for many evangelicals, who are as moral as you or I, but who hold the opposite view on homosexuality, and in my opinion their conscience also deserves recognition, rather than being tar-brushed with the tag 'homophobe'.
(Post 1 of 2: to be continued...)
(Post 2 of 2:)
There *is* homophobia in the Church (as elsewhere) but to be an evangelical who believes the bible means what it says... does not imply they have had long-term visceral disgust of gay sex.
In many ways, I am more mistrustful of people who try to squeeze interpretations to suggest the bible doesn't condemn man-man sex. It seems to me, that such people are sometimes *still* seeking biblical mandate for gay or lesbian values, instead of the more honest assertion I feel James makes: that the bible is simply wrong.
Some people want to maintain the 'fantasy' of an inerrant bible, and seek intricate justifications to squeeze the bible into their own value sets, whereas I'd say the bible simply gets some things wrong.
Above all, I think we should respect and protect one another's consciences. We should seek grace, love and generosity (the very stuff of God)... not doctrinal uniformity and rigidity.
Savi, I saw no "upset" in Justin over the horrific laws recently passed in Uganda and Nigeria, nor the violence it fueled towards LGBT people there. The response from Lambeth was awful. Compare it to our Presiding Bishop's. The fact that Justin doesn't condemn the injustice and violence gives him little standing in this new thing about the massacre's being caused by me and my partner.
Whatever the psychology, and whatever he's feeling, the narrative of blaming the massacre's on TEC is both dangerous in encouraging the murderers, and it also happens to fit his personal agenda against full inclusion of LGBT people in the church.
"No I do not. Not in the least."
As our lgbt brothers and sisters in Nigeria tell us otherwise, we really need a little more than our individual beliefs here.
That's my whole point.
We need someone to investigate the links properly so we can stop talking about our individual suspicions and can begin to talk about something a little more factual.
"In my opinion, there is only one authentic way of reading the bible, and evaluating the cultural views and intentions of the religious communities that generated it... and that is to recognise that the bible (and its authors) are dead set against man-man sex."
I respect your opinion, I really do.
But this is not about opinion, this is about an available body of theology that has helped evangelicals to change their minds.
Maybe I can ask our evangelical friends here to help me out again and provide us with a list of reference material that has helped them?
My own first suggestion is Tobias Haller's Reasonable and Holy, which while not evangelical is purely bible based.
Not sufficiently appreciated is the fact that most Biblical discussion is based on translations. Translators strain to make sense of the originals, to provide readability in the target language, especially where the original is obscure. I've tried to find info on what the original Hebrew or Greek actually says about sexuality, and it seems that the originals aren't exactly clear -- translators have strained to provide coherent versions of material that isn't coherent in the original.
In modern languages, talk about sex often is conducted in slang and metaphor. Evidently sixth century Hebrew and first century Greek were no different. Bringing such obscure statements into present-day languages is further complicated because the cultural frameworks are very different. For example, any modern translation of scripture that uses the term homosexual is dishonest -- the term was invented in the 19th century and the concept (if not the practice) was unknown earlier.
The Bible is simply silent on sexual orientation -- it's not part of the authors' worldviews. The passages in Leviticus and Romans do not describe present-day same-sex situations, and attempts to apply them today only reinforces the misunderstandings of those lacking experience of such desires.
There's a 2013 book by K. Renato Lings, Love Lost in Translation: Homosexuality and the Bible, that delves into the original texts, as far as they may be known (what we have now are copies of copies). I've read only the excerpts on Amazon, but the book looks useful. Two-millennia old thought forms may be no more helpful for present-day understanding of sexuality than they are in the areas of biology and cosmology.
We are speaking of deaths in Northern Nigeria at the hands of Muslims. Muslims. Take an afternoon to read Sharia Law and get a translation of boko harum -- 'western decadence.' No palliatives from Archbishops would change that one iota. It would make things only worse.
I respect your values as well, Erika, and have done over the extended period I've read your posts here.
What I'm saying is that, as far as the authors of the bible were concerned, I simply don't 'buy' the idea that they might have been okay with man-man sex. On the contrary, I think the culture of their religious communities would have been dead set against it.
I just don't believe the references to man-man sex were simply limited to rent boys etc. No effort or attempt of any kind is made to rescind the already hair-raising negativity earlier in the scriptures regarding man-man sex. The whole thing is, and remains, out of bounds.
It doesn't fit with the elevated view of scripture which they use to assert man-woman sex within strict parameters. They clearly present what we'd call a conservative view of marriage, based on Genesis principles and events which they regard as inerrant, and the idealised concept of man-woman relationship as equated with Jesus's relationship with the church.
People can construct theologies to justify gay and lesbian sex. I believe they should. But I don't believe they should build them on anything bible-based that is written about men having sex with men.
The fact that they do attempt to, suggests to me a reluctance to surrender the bible's inerrant status, while trying to conform that inerrant principle with moral views they hold on gay sex.
This 'hanging on to the bible's inerrant status' seems to me to be exactly the problem. People sometimes seem afraid to simply say outright 'On these issues the bible gets it wrong.'
My analysis is that it is the insistence that the bible is inerrant, which is at the root of many problems.
However, I accept that fellow Christians genuinely hold that position, which leads them to beliefs they hold in conscience.
I think it is perfectly possible to oppose gay sex on grounds of biblical authority and have no prior or deeper disgust for it. Like I said, I was never troubled by gay sex until I was taught by influential evangelicals that I should believe the bible was always right.
In my view, that is exactly what's going on in Africa, with biblical inerrancy being introduced, and promoting homophobia where there was far less homophobia in earlier culture.
I believe biblical inerrancy is what primarily divides the debate on man-man sex.
"We are speaking of deaths in Northern Nigeria at the hands of Muslims. Muslims. Take an afternoon to read Sharia Law and get a translation of boko harum -- 'western decadence.' No palliatives from Archbishops would change that one iota. It would make things only worse.
- Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 9 April 2014 -
Precisely! Therefore, why should the Archbishop of Canterbury have ever suggested that how the Church of England treats Same-Sex Couples who want the blessing of the Church on its monogamously-based legal marriage relationships should affect the Anglicans of Africa - who have the same view as the Muslims on this issue?
On the other hand, how does the homophobic view of cseitz's 'Anglican Communion Institute' in the
U.S. help the situation of LGBT Christians in Nigeria, Uganda, the Sudan and Kenya? Certainly, it does not help TEC in the US in its initiatives towards justice for LGBT people in that country.
cseitz wrote: "We are speaking of deaths in Northern Nigeria at the hands of Muslims. Muslims. Take an afternoon to read Sharia Law and get a translation of boko harum -- 'western decadence.' No palliatives from Archbishops would change that one iota. It would make things only worse."
Dr. Seitz: First, it's just "Sharia," plain and simple. The word means "Path," just as the word for Jewish law, "Halakhah," means "Pathway" (literally, "way to walk"). I've read a fair amount of Sharia. Most of it is concerned with the same sorts of things with which Jewish Halakhah is concerned--things like procedures for prayer, which animals can be eaten and which can't, whom one can marry, how a marriage is to be contracted, how one is to be terminated, how inheritance is to be divided, etc., etc. Yes, it has a civil component, and some of the traditional penalties for certain crimes are disturbingly harsh by Western standards. But a priest and scholar who is a citizen of a country that still executes people might be a bit circumspect about passing judgment on other people's concepts of acceptable punishment. As for "Boko Haram," please note the correct spelling, and the correct translation: "Western education is forbidden." "Boko" is a Hausa word that means "Western education" and "Haram" is the Arabic word that means "forbidden." The extremists of Boko Haram are about as representative of Islam as Fred Phelps was of Christianity.
William (feel free to address me by my Christian name, even though I, too, have a doctorate, teach at a major university, and publish books and articles about the Bible)
I'm not out to convince you. I am not an evangelical, never have been, I don't have that concept of scriptural authority for myself, not in the evangelical sense.
I am not trying to argue against your point that it is perfectly possible to oppose gay sex on grounds of biblical authority. It is.
I'm trying to answer James's question whether I believe that evangelicals can **only** come to a different view on homosexuality if they throw the concept of biblical authority out of the window.
And they don't.
When I first had this conversation with James about the bible and homosexuality I recommended Tobias Haller's Reasonable and Holy.
James said he had googled the synopsis and he would not read the book because it didn't throw out the concept of scriptural authority.
Fair enough - but then if you know of a book that does not throw out the concept of scriptural authority and yet comes to a scholarly conclusion that gay marriage is reasonable and holy, you have to at least acknowledge that there are biblical scholars who believe it possible to come to that conclusion.
David Runcorn is another one who does - see his contribution to the Pilling report.
It is not helpful to say "it cannot be done", when it clearly is being done.
All we can say is "it does not speak to me".
But it also means that James's point that there are anti gay people who would dearly **like** to be pro gay if only the bible allowed them ... is not true, as far as I'm concerned.
Yes, it is possible to be anti gay just because we accept other people's reading of the bible, and yes that does happen in Africa and yes, that also happens in many of our own congregations still.
But it does not apply to people who have started to ask the question and who would change their minds “if only the bible let them”. It does let them.
Once people lose their emotional reluctance, shall we say, about same sex relationships, and if they are the kind of people who do not wish to throw out the concept of scriptural authority - there is ample material available to help them come to a scripturally sound pro-gay conclusion.
Erika, I believe thoughtful evangelicals approach issues on a case-by-case basis and some continue to hold on to a view of the centrality of 'gender complementarity' questioned by James V Brownson among others. But that does not mean that they may not change as Brownson and many others have done.
Susannah, those who profess to believe in biblical inerrancy do not always treat the Bible as inerrant on, say, the Gospel call to treat others as one would wish to be treated, for this is the law and the prophets. Indeed they often ignore huge swathes of Scripture.
And how does anything you write alter the main point that having archbishops say anodyne things wouldnt change anything?
Glad you have had an illustrious career, Dr K.
Susannah, as one who has engaged those texts for some years, let me assure you it is not an issue of biblical inerrancy, but an effort to explore what the Scripture actually says, meant for those who recorded and first engaged with it, and still means for us today. You appear to dismiss the arguments of those who suggest that the Scripture was actually addressing sexual situations and behaviors of the time in which it was written, and instead is offering a timeless prohibition of any and all male-male sexual relations. (I take it you are aware of the ongoing debate about whether Romans 1 refers to lesbians or not.)
So in fact my "rejection" of biblical authority (if that's what you want to call it) is exactly like that of most Evangelicals who have come to accept -- quite rationally -- that although the Scripture is the Word of God and contains all things necessary for salvation, it does also contain a good bit of the historical and cultural, and that those situations can be -- and of right ought to be -- understood in that light, and set aside in changed circumstances such as we find ourselves in at present.
I'm sorry that James read the synopsis instead of the book; in which I try to make clear that this is not an issue of "authority" but on the contrary of the _limits_ to which one can apply ancient texts to present situations. And the first step is to understand those texts as written and read in their day, as I believe they reflect situations that are totally unlike our present concern for marriage equality.
Thank you, Dr. William, for your contribution on Sharia. It is clarifying and I think deeper understanding is the only way through. We need our scholars on the job.
Tobias, thanks for the elaboration. :-)
I did read the blog posts on which the book was based: as I said when Erika raised it previously, you did appear to be arguing that the "clobber verses" didn't apply to loving same-sex relationships. If that's the "limit," then we disagree.
As I've also said when this last came up, I accept that your position can be held with honestly and integrity; but with Susannah, I believe the opposite is also true, which is why I don't believe that evangelicals who take a traditional position are necessarily motivated by homophobia.
Conservative Evangelicals may be persuaded to live with a more accepting position but only on the basis that either i) we treat one another's sins/failings with grace and forgiveness (even if we're not agreeing on what constitutes sin) or ii) we are genuinely agreeing to respect the theological positions with which we strongly disagree.
There may be a need for a great deal more respect and grace on both sides.
I broadly agree with Erasmus, provided that such a 'deal' includes (some) reification of liberal positions.
Just seen the recent ABS survey on attitudes toward the Bible. It might be helpful to import some of their categories so people know who they are taking to. Just reading this thread we find 1. Bible is authoritarian document that is harmful. 2. Bible is a book of past opinions and religious ideas, and must be used on those terms. 3. Bible is an artifact with some poetry and occasional nuggets to be mined, which is selectively brokering 'Jesus' via its NT section. 4. Bible is a sacred text and functions in accordance with hermeneutical 'rules' -- so Articles of Religion. 5. Bible is 'inerrant' (whatever that actually means).