Comments: Virginia: Sunday reports

They may vote to leave TEC, but they may not vote to take TEC's property with them. Let the lawyering begin.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 6:47pm GMT

This is a sad day. We are seeing estrangement overcoming unity. This is a day where things that were raised up are being cast down; things that were made new are grown old; and where human perfectionism seeks to prevail over God's plan for salvation. They may have won the vote in these churches, and they may have the comfort of being "right" but at what cost to the Church and to their own souls? Pray for the Church.

Posted by Andrew Gerns at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 7:19pm GMT

Cynthia: In case this is relevant to your point, the congregations voted separately on property because the "Protocol" required that they do so. This odd provision was included in the Protocol at the insistence of the diocesan reps on the committee. Of course, this vote does not resolve the property questions (if that's your point), and litigation may ensue (as you predict) if settlement is not possible; but the diocese did call on them to take a separate vote on the property question. Go figure.

Posted by DGus at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 7:27pm GMT

The official status of the so-called protocol is in question, but that is perhaps moot.

Based on the results of the past three years' efforts to accommodate and reach out to these folks on the part of the diocese, I would not be sanguine about any permanent property settlement outside the courts.

Such reaching out included (1)inviting former Archbishop Carey to confirm in parishes which refused the ministry of their bishop,(2) allowing parishes that out of 'conscience' did not want to support the work of the diocese through its general budget to give to designated other diocesan ministries,(3) setting up a reconciliation committeee soon after 03, (4) Bishop Lee and members of the deputation enduring public meetings in the aftermath of 03 and listening to some of the most poisonous comments I have heard in a church setting, and numerous other meetings.

Each effort to reach out met with accelerated rhetoric and schismatic planning, including the 40 Days of Discerning How to Leave TEC.

So that's why I think the property matter will hit the courts sooner rather than later. You can't negotiate when only one side comes to the table.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 9:20pm GMT

I want to announce that I, JCF, have just voted 94.3% to retain unto myself "all the gold in Fort Knox." ;-/

But seriously...

Lord have mercy!

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 9:26pm GMT

Today we prayed that God would gather into one body his Church that is scattered in different places and separated groups. That God would unite us, that we might rejoice together that we share in his salvation. That he would grant us sincere repentance for the faults -in each - that has held us apart.

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 9:36pm GMT

There are some very lucky lawyers in Virginia as of today. They will emerge as the only real winners in all this madness.

Posted by counterlight at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 9:54pm GMT

Most certainly so, Counterlight.

Piracy and litigation.

DGus wrote: “Cynthia: In case this is relevant to your point, the congregations voted separately on property because the "Protocol" required that they do so.”

Sorry, DGus, but before you let us read this famed “Protocol” we simply don’t believe this.

Politeness notwithstanding.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 10:09pm GMT

Dear JC: Clever move!--voting yourself someone else's gold. That's essentially the same clever move that ECUSA pulled in 1979. It declared itself, in its "Dennis canon," the owner of the beneficial interest of all congregational property. (Congregations were not consulted about their consent.) Any one of us could declare himself the owner of congregational property. But alas, we would learn what Bishop Lee probably knows already: Virginia law abhors these "trusts". For resolving property issues, Virginia has a little eccentricity: It prefers to look at the title deed.

And Virginia prefers to look at "neutral principles," rather than religious authorities like the Bible or TEC canons. God may own the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10)--AND God may own the hills, too--but most states, like Virginia, honor title records that show a chain of title owners. States have reliable methods for determining a temporal owner (you can look it up), and under these methods no attempt is made to account for God's ownership.

Today Bishop Lee solemnly refers to the "Dennis canon" claim on congregational property as an "historic trust," and I guess 27 years counts as (recent) history. But you'll understand if traditionalists find it ironic that the Bishop saw fit to compromise millienia-old traditions of morality but has such zeal for a 27-year-old property tradition in the canons.

Posted by DGus at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 10:10pm GMT

Dear G K-S: The Protocol has long been available on the diocesan website at:

http://www.thediocese.net/News_services/pressroom/docs/special_committee_report.pdf

It is the "Protocol for Departing Congregation" that begins at page 2 of the report. The requirement for the separate vote on property appears in paragraph (f).

Posted by DGus at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 10:22pm GMT

All this guff about the churches leaving the properties that were built by faithful Episcopalians!

If they could be asked, most of them would reject TEC's recent innovations too... Do I have psychic powers ? Not needed: until just a few years ago TEC itself rejected same-sex sex as immoral!

Posted by Dave at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 10:35pm GMT

Most interesting read indeed, dear DGus, especially the names and parishes at the end of it ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 10:42pm GMT

Dave dear, a few years ago (1966) a l l churches rejected a l l sex as immoral.

The English translation of the Bible de Jérusalem and Focus on the Family changed all that ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 10:54pm GMT

The duplicity and sheer nastiness of fundamentalists knows no bounds.

But its a good thing - TEC will be all the better once the last conservative has left the premises, for conservative religion has not a single redeeming feature.

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 11:01pm GMT

"All this guff about the churches leaving the properties that were built by faithful Episcopalians!

If they could be asked, most of them would reject TEC's recent innovations too... "

And if they could be consulted, many would be shocked to know that actual Black people were bishops priests and deacons, and that lay Episcopalians had stopped paying pew rent, and that we no longer use the Prayer Book they used, and that actual women were also bishops, priests, and deacons, but wait! That the PB is an actual woman.
Wow!
That is why the property rests with the national institution, that lives in the present.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 11:22pm GMT

I have to wonder if the members of these Virginia parishes are the same types who brought you Ollie North and the escalating fracus in Iraq. Thought so.

My tory ancestors would be aghast at people that base serious decisions such as this on very private sexual matters. They may pretend, but the present day congregants at these two major Virginia parishes have nothing in common with gentle folk of my cradle Episcopalian
lineage.

Trash is trash. Not very Christian I admit, but what these people are doing to the church I love certainly aren't either. Laugh at the "Dennis canon" or whatever you call it, we are not Congregationlists. Indeed the land of lawyers and Beltway bandits are going to boom and prosper with these decisions.

Makes sense in this era of mass starvation in Sudan and Chad.

Makes you proud.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 11:50pm GMT

Not sure I get your point, G K-S. The committee consisted of 6 members, per Bishop Lee's decision. Bishop Lee asked John Yates and two others of his choosing to serve on the committee. (Yates chose Hugo Blankingship (TFC chancellor and former chancellor of the diocese) and Tom Yates of Truro (no relation to John). I assume those are the parish names you notice.) Bishop Lee himself named the three others, and you see them there. (They are various shades of liberal.) I.e., there were three members from the dissenting congregations, and three members in agreement with the Bishop.

Their report, and its Protocol, was unanimous. The Bishop has said that he "support[s]" the protocol. The President of the Standing Committee has commended it as "a way forward". They seemed at pains at one point to say that they had not "approved" the Protocol, but they distributed it to the parishes engaged in "discernment."

The Protocol is certainly NOT the unilteral product of the "discernment" parishes. Not remotely.

Posted by DGus at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 12:50am GMT

Question -- how many of these congregations were or are heavily involved in the Charismatic movement?
Columba Gilliss

Posted by Columba Gilliss at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 1:34am GMT

I am praying that TEC makes a first priority of doing missionary work in Virginia. Even the smallish number of "no" votes at the two reactionary parishes still require us to reach out in love to them and provide them with welcoming spiritual homes. And shame on Dave for his unkind words about the long-deceased - the lingering prejudices of an older era not withstanding. Remember, these schismatic churches aren't returning to some earlier "golden age" Anglicanism. They're adopting puritan congregationalism in some cases - and certainly moving away from the Via Media balance that drew myself and so many others to the Episcopal Church. That is their right, and I don't even care about the buildings - but we've got to provide alternatives for those now set adrift spiritually by their actions.

Posted by Byron at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 1:49am GMT

The liberal clergy who run TEC asked for it and now they've got it. For the past 30 years they've been manipulating and bullying the laity, who finance the operation, to push through their politically correct agendas on everything from liturgical revision to sexuality convinced that we were dumb-asses who needed their wisdom and guidance, and that if we resisted it was because we had psychological hang-ups and were irrationally resistant to change.

The fundamental issue is not sexuality but clericalism. I don't think there's a damn thing wrong with homosexuality--or for that matter any consensual sex, including bestiality if the sheep is ok with it. I do think there's something wrong when religious functionaries we pay to do church for us don't give us what we're paying for, appropriate church property we financed by declaring unilaterally that the diocese holds it in trust for congregations and imagine they can teach us about faith and morals.

We're consumers. If TEC doesn't provide the religious product we like there's no reason we should buy it. There's no reason we should put up with their patronizing attitudes and high-handed behavior.

Posted by H. E. Baber at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 3:02am GMT

"Clever move!--voting yourself someone else's gold. That's essentially the same clever move that ECUSA pulled in 1979. It declared itself, in its "Dennis canon," the owner of the beneficial interest of all congregational property."

The Dennis Canon was nothing new. It merely codified a legal position taken by TEC for over 150 years. The Supreme Court heard a case in the 1830s regarding a parish which wished to remove its property from TEC. They lost because the church asserted the same legal doctrine that the Dennis Canon codified.

Posted by ruidh at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 3:17am GMT

"All this guff about the churches leaving the properties that were built by faithful Episcopalians!"

Scoundrels and thieves abound.

Posted by ruidh at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 3:22am GMT

Could this not be interpreted as a hopeful sign? -- I mean, it looks as if the dreaded Schismatic Forces will never be anything more than a scattered archipelago of parishes, who will no doubt return to the fold when their moment of panic has passed. If there was a real schismatic tsunami coming, these parishes would have waited to have their boats lifted by it. So their precipitous actions could then be taken as a reassuring sign that ECUSA is not threatened with any real rift. But am I missing something?

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 4:44am GMT

>>>until just a few years ago TEC itself rejected same-sex sex as immoral!

Not long ago, TEC believed that the blind were unworthy to serve as priests, based on a literal reading of a Levitical passage.

Fortunately, that has changed. My own priest is the first totally blind man to be ordained in TEC, and he is wonderful. Only forty years ago he would have been rejected.

Sometimes things do get better with time.

Posted by JPM at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 7:14am GMT

I have a great respect for some of what Professor Baber has written over the years.

I even agree with her that some of the “consultations” that went on in her church were nothing more than poor shams that did not listen to other views and verged on bullying.

I too have seen the “steam roller” church in operation and despair of the consequences. I too fear clericalism at its most insidious and despair over the power and coercive influence it can have. Only recently an archdeacon friend visited a large congregation famous for its opposition to WO on the retirement of its leading anti-WO Vicar, at the congregational meeting he said almost as a joke – “Of course you won’t be looking for a female priest” – the parish lay leadership squirmed as nearly every other person in the very sizeable congregation said they would be happy with the appropriate woman.

As an observer and occasional visitor to America I find their clericalism highly developed, and am always rather taken aback by it. The bishops are often even more distant than their lordships across Offa’s Dyke here in the UK, and frequently more imperious.

But on the other hand I was amazed to find whole dioceses not admitting women and other signs of extraordinary local independence and diversity allowed that even in my (thought to be ultra liberal province) would never pass muster – and that was within the conservative parishes, yet alone the liberal ones.

It seemed in practice a Province that was very elastic that (in the main) allowed for almost every expression of Anglican conscience that you can find in the Anglican Communion. But I was also impressed that by far the largest number of parishes I visited were happy and vibrant communities of Anglican folk that would be happy in any of the parishes I have worked in and were centred on a deep Anglican tradition of quiet confidence and a broad welcome.

Sadly I must say that the type of schism we see developing from the Global South is a fanatical clericalism she and I will fear even more.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 2:01pm GMT

"The fundamental issue is not sexuality but clericalism."

Those fleeing TEC to be under the authority of ++Akinola or other African archbishops in hopes of escaping 'clericalism' are in for a nasty shock.

TEC could have arranged its polity to include an archbishop, but instead created the office of Presiding Bishop and a polity much like the American constitution, that includes all orders in the church in its governance.

Readers will remember how in the wake of Gencon '03 many in the Anglican Communion kept referring to +Gene's having been 'appointed,' along with calls for the PB to 'remove' him.

That reflects a leval of clericalism that TEC does NOT share with those parts of the Communion that some now are rushing to embrace.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 2:13pm GMT

"We're consumers. If TEC doesn't provide the religious product we like there's no reason we should buy it."

Dear God! If you actually mean this, if it is not some sort of sarcasm, then we really are two different churches. Religion as commodity. Faith as product. Believer as consumer.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 2:27pm GMT

You bet I actually mean it--though I confess I used the terms "consumer" and "product" for shock value.

What this "consumerist" account means is that we're adults capable of making rational, informed choices, and that it's time the Church recognized that. If you don't like it, consider the alternative: clergy as moral teachers, therapists and community leaders; laity as pastoral care objects or a peasantry to be manipulated into correct political views and heathy attitudes. This is the role in which clergy have cast themselves for the past 30 years--it's PATRONIZING and I don't see why we should put up with it.

Now there's clericalism and there's clericalism. On the old version, favored by Nigerian archbishops and the RC church, the hierarchy proclaims its official doctrines and the faithful yawn and ignore them. On the TEC version, clergy "use psychology" to wheedle and manipulate the laity into buying into their half-baked sentimentalities and then pretend that the garbage they've pushed represents "the mind of the church." It's manipulative and patronizing--and it may be that that's where much of the heat comes from in this debate: the refusal of liberal clergy to recognize that their opponents, however wrong-headed, may have a rationally considered intellectual position rather than a collection of psychological hang-ups, "discomfort," "anxiety" (terms Schori has used) and irrational resistance to change.

Posted by H. E. Baber at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 3:31pm GMT

I imagine Professor Baber has never had (and is unlikely to have) contact with the Holy Office or indeed will never be placed before the “sedd fawr” in a congregational meeting, she might have some different perspective on how other churches work then.

As to everyone yawning as Nigeria merely proclaims its doctrines – not quite dear Doctor.

They are determined to lock us “perverts” and our advocates up. Calvin’s Geneva not too far away here. That is the clericalism we should both fear.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 4:51pm GMT

So some consider themselves "adults capable of making "rational, informed choices (based on their fears and prejudices perhaps?) and time for the church to recognize that." And always a two dimensional argument; clerics as moral teachers (what else would they be per chance?) or another brand of clerical hierarchy that "the faithful yawn at and ignore".

And there's a "rationally considered intellectual position" in all of this schismatic nonsense.

So why don't the lot of schismatic types get the nerve to do what Puritans, did, leave the property behind, stop pandering to third world countries and get on with their wonderful new world of faith based hate initiatives?

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 5:36pm GMT

DGus, that "protocol" you mentioned has not been formally adopted by the Standing Committee as of yet. Please don't put the cart in front of the horse. And as Cynthia already pointed out, it is hard to wage reconciliation when one party is doing all it can to avoid coming to the table.

Posted by AmyS at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 5:45pm GMT

So the idea of the Church as the community of the baptised and of the clergy as individuals set apart by God for specific roles in that community, the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is something different from what the world offers us, these things mean...what, exactly? Frankly, the image you portray is so alien to anything I understand Church to be that I really don't know where to begin to argue with you. Your first scenario is a disturbing, if accurate, depiction of how things used to be. I don't really understand the second one. I agree that pushing the Windsor report and Lambeth '98 as some sort of expression of the "mind of the Church" is a bit much, and that the obvious desire of some conservative bishops to claim pseudo-papal authority does put the rest of us in the role of mindless sheep, but the clergy ARE supposed to be teachers, leaders, and councillors, among other things, and we owe a certain amount of obedience to them. The Kingdom of God isn't a democracy, after all. And "liberal" clergy, as far as I can see, are very much opposed to the old "Father knows best" clericalism and stress the priesthood of all believers and the Church as the gathered baptised children of God. Your last sentence demands the response that the "conservatives" need to understand that the liberals also have a rationally considered intellectual position and not just some worldly political correctness contrived to gain the world's affection. All the same, these are just responses to individual points. I can't relate to the idea of faith as market commodity and that we are free to buy whichever product appeals to us. That goes beyond allowing the world to decide our doctrine and morality. It represents the adoption of the entire worldview of Western society. Talk about being led by the world!

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 6:05pm GMT

Cynthia Gilliatt wrote: "...if they could be consulted, many [now dead episcopalians at falls Church etc] would be shocked to know that actual Black people were bishops priests, and deacons........ etc
That is why the property rests with the national institution, that lives in the present."

Dear Cynthia, your Psychic powers are indeed well developed! However you just defeated your own arguement - that the church properties were paid for and maintained by "faithful Episcopalians" who would not support the departure of these churches to CANA. :-)

Posted by Dave at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 6:33pm GMT

This thread just makes me weep. :-(...

Lord, have mercy!

On the other hand: hearing our PB's wise words yesterday [a link to it, SimonS? Check out NPR's site], quoting ABC Temple, about how "the church is the only institution who exists, primarily, for those outside of it."

This means, for TEC, that we now exist for (among others) those persons who voted to leave us yesterday. If it was difficult to see Christ in them before [behold some of the posts above], Episcopalians HAVE TO see Christ in them now.

Lord, give us hearts like Yours!

Posted by JCF at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 6:35pm GMT

"Nothing wrong with....consensual sex or bestiality if the sheep is ok with it"

Baber has touched on one of my fears and confusions about all this sexual prefereces that has brought the church this much turmoil and confusion. Where do we draw the line. If there is no divine authority to draw the line, then who draw the line? Human authority is fraught with danger and much guess work. If I say "Love" is the only answer, the question arises, am I permitted to express sexual love to whoever and whatever I claim to love? Does the sheep and the dog and other non human animals enter the equation? What about one (crazy)man in Netherlands who wants to form a political party to promote his (sick) relationship with children-a Pedophile party? He sincerely thinks that it was his right to do so, because that was his sexual orientation.

I think the traditionalists, by their resistance, are simply saying: let's leave the line where it has been drawn for thousands of years of Judeo-Christian tradition. The slippery slope is a real and present danger, I think.

Posted by R. A Asika at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 8:26pm GMT

Dear Amy S: You say, "that 'protocol' you mentioned has not been formally adopted by the Standing Committee as of yet."

Why the scare quotes around protocol?

We're quite clear that the S.C. has not "adopted" nor "approved" the Protocol. Rather:

The S.C. commended the Protocol as "a way forward" and published it to the congregations engaged in discernment; and the Bishop said he "supports" it. The Protocol provides that those congregations that get a 70% vote in favor of departing will then engage in negotiations with the Diocese about property; and Bishop Lee has named the team of people who will negotiate on behalf of the diocese.

By its nature the Protocol doesn't bind anybody to anything, so I don't know the significance of the distinction you raise ("adopting" it vs. "supporting" and implementing it). The Protocol gives a procedure for getting people to the table. Now eight congregations are at the table.

Posted by DGus at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 10:17pm GMT

RA Asika, NOT the "slippery slope" argument again!

Observing the line drown thousands of years ago would re-establish slavery as a legitimate insitution, reduce women to chattel, and establish male patriarchy as divinely ordained. Taking John 14:6 in its literal sense would have us engage in pogroms against Jews, whose covenant has been superceded by that of Christ. The Christian Church has had a horrible track record equalled only by the Muslims described by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel (cf. Ratzinger's Regensburg Address). Is that what you want us to return to?

Posted by John Henry at Monday, 18 December 2006 at 11:22pm GMT

Yep R., it's a real slippery slope when you recognize two adults can have consensual monogamy. It's like when we outlawed slavery - talk about crossing "the line where it has been drawn for thousands of years of Judeo-Christian tradition!!!"

Posted by Ryan at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 1:58am GMT

R.A. Asika wrote: "I think the traditionalists, by their resistance, are simply saying: let's leave the line where it has been drawn for thousands of years of Judeo-Christian tradition. The slippery slope is a real and present danger, I think."

Only this is a lie newly made up (40 years ago).

The "thousands of years" claimed here are 2.500 years and belongs to Indo European Philosophy, which (probably to the surprise of some) is neither Jewish nor Christian.

(Not to say, that Judaism and Christianity do not interpret the Bible in the same way - certainly not the terror passages made up after their 2nd century separation).

Nor do I think painting irrationality as rational helps much (exepts political operatives, of course).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 5:26am GMT

R. S. Asika,
The difference lies in the fact that neither children nor animals are capable of informed consent to sexual acts, so any such acts are abusive by definition, and damaging to the parties involved because of that. Not difficult. And there is Divine authority to draw the line, the argument is about whether the Divine has actually drawn the line to exclude monogamous committed gay relationships. The answer is only clear to those whose reading of Scripture is literal. This need for a literal reading of Scripture then leads them to accuse of faithlessness those whose understanding of Scripture and how it's authority is manifested is more nuanced, and, I would argue, more traditional than the Reformation era innovation of 'sola scriptura'.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 1:23pm GMT

Ford - so the RC church has adpoted a post-Reformation view on what the bible says on certain moral issues?

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 2:17pm GMT

NP, I doubt the Romans have accepted 'sola scriptura', can you prove that they have? You have misunderstood my argument, which is that 'sola scriptura' is a Reformation era innovation. Rome's reasons for opposing homosexuality are not based on "it's in the Bible".

I am merely pointing out that some people read the Bible with a very literalist mindset, and find that comforting. I, on the other hand, find it destructive to my faith. Sadly, it leads people to the belief that anyone who does not have a such an understanding is faithless, which is untrue, and often couched in hatred.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:03pm GMT

Dear Ford Elms, What's wrong with bestiality is that it is against God's created/natural order, not just that sheep can't indicate their mature [sheep-level] consent!

I guess that on a purely utilitarian arguement H Baber could say that, if both the [mature] human, as far as they are concerned, and the [mature] sheep, as far as they are concerned, have both consented [in their own way] then the abuse is hard to show - and, she might argue, the harm is less than the benefit. I suspect that this is not the only wierd conclusion that reductionist utilitarianism can lead you to!

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 6:14pm GMT

Ah, but arguments based on "natural order" are fraught with difficulty. It used to be said homosexuality was wrong because it went against nature. Not much of that now that we know that there is homosexual behaviour in numerous animal species. It could equally be said that monogamy is against the natural order. Indeed, given that for most of the Bible, monogamy seems to be of pretty low priority, one could argue it isn't God's law either. Or else what are we to say of the patriarchs?

So you come down to what God says/doesn't say on the issue. This is not at all clear, at least for those for whom the Bible is not some sort of Divine dictation. And reductionist utilitarianism? Where did that come from?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 8:05pm GMT

"The answer is only clear to those whose reading of Scripture is literal."

The answer is only clear to those whose reading of 2nd Millennium Neo Platonist t r a n s l a t i o n s is "literal".

Starting with the 12th century (deliberate) Parisian changes (= the non fictional Versio vulgata) in the (by then) 1000 years old Latin translation.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 8:09pm GMT

My question elicited some strong reactions. However, John Henry, I think your line of argument is quite an exageration. True, the Christian movement has not always lived up to its own ideals, but there are certain moral norms that are so obvious and is almost instinctively recognised universally.

I must also reply Ford Elms. Yes I guess the question of two consenting same sex adults in monogamous relationship may seem so right to the liberals of today. But what happens when the polygamists and bigamists and even animalists of tomorrow raise the same arguments of rights and exclusion in the future? And who is to say that the guy in Netherlands is not wired to be attracted to children. If he and his cohorts can argue strongly that they are genetically wired that way, are we to deny them of their objects of love and attraction.

Henry may not like the "slippery slope" argument again, but it remains a stumbling block that we cannot cross over easily without doing some damage to our own logic.

Posted by R A Asika at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 10:05pm GMT

Ford Elms said: "It used to be said homosexuality was wrong because it went against nature. Not much of that now that we know that there is homosexual behaviour in numerous animal species."

Dear Ford, just because same-sex sexual behaviour crops up in animals *occasionally* doesn't mean that it conforms to the natural order... more likely quite the opposite. Don't forget that the according evolutionary theory the *primary* function of sex is reproduction of the species (or their genes if you are of Dawkinesque views).

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 10:36pm GMT

Ford Elms is spot on when he writes: "Rome's reasons for opposing homosexuality are not based on 'it's in the Bible.'"

Rome's arguments that homosexual relations are against the order of nature (and, therefore, disordered) presumes that gays/lesbians are heterosexual persons. Once Rome accepts the fact that certain human beings are homosexual because of genetic predisposition, etc., Rome, too, will become inclusive rather than exclusive. And that process may have begun behind 'closed' doors as RC moral theologians and members of the curia are beginning to listen to the experiences of the gays/lesbians banished from their religious orders by Pope John Paul II during the latter part of his pontificate.

Posted by John Henry at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 10:53pm GMT

"Yes I guess the question of two consenting same sex adults in monogamous relationship may seem so right to the liberals of today. But what happens when the polygamists and bigamists and even animalists of tomorrow raise the same arguments of rights and exclusion in the future?"

We'll look for the same signs that we look for and find in faithful, monogamous relationships today -- Are these relationships ones in which we see the love of God reflected? Frankly, I don't expect to see that in polygamy. The only way such a relationship can be stable is through unhealthy psychological domination by one party.

But, I don't understand the a priori objections to polygamy. Unlike homosexuality, there is not a single word against it in Scripture.

Posted by ruidh at Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 2:45am GMT

"... he and his cohorts can argue strongly that they are genetically wired that way, are we to deny them of their objects of love and attraction."

So is the shool yard bully and the marriage breaker and a host of others... You're mixing things, doing some damage to our own logic.

And yes, we are to deny the bullies of this World the objects of their "love" and "attraction". It's in the Bible, stupid.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 6:24am GMT

John Henry - I think you do Rome a disservice - their position seems to be driven by scripture.........and if you think Benedict is building a new inclusive RC, you see a very different man that I do (he makes the last pope look liberal!)


Ford, all I was saying was thay they (RC) had the same position on morality pre-Reformantion so I don't think it is an innovation by evos)
The RC problem is more what they add in error (eg no marriage for priests and much more important added ideas which do undermine the gospel) rather than them rejecting anything, as you know.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 7:40am GMT

the "slippery slope" argument

But surely humanity lives on the slippery slope all the time - in terms of (eg) medical ethics? The issue is defining where we hammer in our pitons.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 9:16am GMT

Dave,
Homosexual behaviour in animals is not 'occasional'. My point was that reference to animal behaviour is a poor way to argue about human behaviour. Your conflation of the natural order and God's Law is also suspect. God made the animals, so the way they are is His order, but many things happen in the animal world that are not Godly. God has told us how not to act like animals, we are held to a different standard, so whether animals exhibit homosexual behaviour or not is not relevant.

R. A. Asika, it is us adults ,who know that any sexual relationship between an adult and a child is damaging to the child, who have the right to deny to the pedophile the object of his desire. And polygamy can be quite abusive to the women involved, thus unacceptable.

And NP, the innovation is not in ideas of morality, it's in treating the Scripture as the only source of authority, as you well know. Iwowuld argue the Evangelical problem is what they discard in error and their legalistic imperious attitude that undermines the Gospel.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 12:36pm GMT

Ford says: "I would argue the Evangelical problem is what they discard in error and their legalistic imperious attitude that undermines the Gospel."

I agree some are like that Ford and I would not have anything to do with bigots (sadly there are some but mostly outside Anglican cirlces, I think) - but most are not amongst Anglican evos.

If you met +Jensen, I bet you would not find him like that at all...in fact, I bet you might even like him! His little brother is a bit tougher....but we must remember they are Australian! Seriously, the Jensens are lovely people and Reform people I know and are not in the camp you describe above - thank God

Posted by NP at Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 9:10am GMT

Dear Ruidh: You ask, "Are these relationships ones in which we see the love of God reflected?" I think this is an excellent question to ask in order to examine the licitness of a relationship. However, I am predisposed to accept that question because I believe the Bible and resolve to treat it as normative and authoritative. One can assemble Bible proof texts to bolster that idea, so it will be easily accepted by Bible-thumpers like myself. Sex is sacred; this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

But I wonder whether you've ever been on the defending end in the rough and tumble of ethical arguments. How will the idea that "relationships, to be licit, should reflect the love of God (because the Bible says so)" sound to the polyamorous "Christian", the promiscuous "Christian", the "Christian" pornographer? WHY (they will ask) does sex have to be this high and holy intense religious experience, as you seem to insist? Why can't sex be unshackled, rather, to become merely recreational, just good clean fun?

You've pretty much discarded Bible-quoting from your ethical toolbox. How will you defend this spiritualized view of sex? How will you resist "anything goes"?

Posted by DGus at Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 5:25pm GMT

Ford Elms wrote: "Dave, Homosexual behaviour in animals is not 'occasional'. My point was that reference to animal behaviour is a poor way to argue about human behaviour. Your conflation of the natural order and God's Law is also suspect. God made the animals, so the way they are is His order, but many things happen in the animal world that are not Godly. God has told us how not to act like animals, we are held to a different standard, so whether animals exhibit homosexual behaviour or not is not relevant."

Dear Ford, I think we nearly agree.. but many people do point to animal same-sex behaviour in their attempts to "prove" that homosexuality is part of the natural order. But uncommon behaviour in animals is not necessarily "natural" - often quite the opposite. It is an imperfect world! Animals are occassionally born with, or develop, all sorts of behavioural defects.

Humans are different to animals, of course. We also have moral responsibility for our behaviours. However, reproduction remains one of the main purposes for sex (until we intervened to prevent unwanted conception), and the sex organs are designed/evolved specifically for male-female sex. These are at least indications of God's intentions for the nature of human sex, and give substantial physical grounds to question the "equality" of same-sex sex!

Posted by Dave at Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 11:12pm GMT

Predatory sociopaths are charming people, the clever ones who get away with serial violations without getting caught stun communities when they are finally exposed. Often there is a sense of betrayal and fear that what they were was not recognised.

Talk to people from El Salvador about the death squads and how families were divided. People often did not know who was with which group.

Being charming and playing the media well does not make one compassionate or kind. There can be an incredible predatory ruthlessness that is only shared with an inner circle, who will not disclose because they are of the same character.

All humans should fear such circles gaining too much power and influence, because there is no moderating limits to their behaviour. They are the ones, like Cain, whose answer to God is that they are not their brothers/sisters' keeper and not accountable for how they have contributed to their downfall. Sometimes by deliberately attacking them, other times by with holding support, typically by inciting indifference and dulling the consciences of those who would do better under more compassionate leadership.

The flock is not condemned when they behave consistently with a wasteful shepherd who does not tolerate alternative perspectives.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 22 December 2006 at 10:27am GMT

This is the problem, Dave, with a view of the world which sees everything as 'ordered' and doesn't get to grips with the very great diversity which exists.

It is clear enough that gay or lesbian sexual orientation is a legitimate minority variant - there is no need for concepts such as 'normal'. They are purely part of your mistaken and erroneous world view, directed by a non-scientific book written by men 2000 years ago.

The creation ordinances are a fable. They are about as valid as a way of understanding the way the world is as Grimm's Fairy tales. You may be able to read them very broadly, but even that is, I think , not really helpful.

The vast bulk of scientific and psychological insight rejects your viewpoint, Dave. There is room for variety, particularly a variety which continues to reoccur and indeed, increase, despite the logic of the 'ordered' brigade which would have seen us disappear many moons ago! Fortunately, in the UK< the days we were treated as second class citizens has passed, because your view is regarded , quite rightly, as something unacceptable and outdated.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 22 December 2006 at 10:50am GMT

Dave, I'm sure you would agree that sex between two people who love each other is about far more than physical gratification. The fact that it plays such a role in bonding relationships would suggest that God intended it for more than just reproduction. Not that that proves anything, just that I reject a purely mechanical view of sex. If sex is only to be within marriage, or at least committed relationships, and if it is for procreation alone, then we shouldn't be marrying those who "are of riper years." What then is the purpose of sex between those who can't have children?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 22 December 2006 at 12:57pm GMT

I think one problem with Dave's argument from nature (ie the twiddly bits are designed for procreation) is that it's a department of natural theology which assumes the 'is' of the natural world is 'god-driven'.

When this chimes in with our feelings and prejudices, that's great — but it doesn't half fall down when the natural world (tsunamis and the rest) don't fit neatly into our preferred moral categories.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 22 December 2006 at 10:50pm GMT

DGus wrote: “Sex is sacred; this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

The unified 2nd Millennium teaching on “sex” (a word unknown in these parts until the late 1950ies) is that “sex” is everything but holy, even less sacred. Even (heterosexual – but the word was not known) marriage is a lesser celibacy for those week in the Flesh.

Chastity for all! Abstinence for those able! Celibacy for the ordained!

What you are propagating is the late modern Heterosexism cum Fertility Cult Heresy from Colorado and other places.

(your latter day Utah nonsense is just silly).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 23 December 2006 at 12:47pm GMT

Dave wrote: “God made the animals, so the way they are is His order, but many things happen in the animal world that are not Godly.”

Dave dear, animals only eat each other ;=)

Your reference “God has told us how not to act like animals, we are held to a different standard” comes from Clement of Alexandria, not God. Not in the Bible.

Dave wrote: “… reproduction remains one of the main purposes for sex…”

Well… according to the Ancients and their pseudo-christian followers, such as Philo and Clement, reproduction is the only permissible (for some = the lay) e x c u s e for “sex”.

Not “purpose” by any stretch, I think.

Dave continued: “… and the sex organs are designed/evolved specifically for male-female sex. These are at least indications of God's intentions for the nature of human sex…”

Well, if Creation is either very Bad or Fallen, who – I wonder – can claim this a g a i n s t the unified Tradition of 800 years (un-unified for longer ;=)

Seems to me, dear Dave, that you need either follow the Alexandrian Academic Tradition of 2000 odd years in all its Splendour – or abandon it as anti God, anti Christ, anti Creation, and so on.

Consistency.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 23 December 2006 at 12:49pm GMT

Mynsterpreost (oh, for a Saxon church!) wrote: “... a department of natural theology which assumes the 'is' of the natural world is 'god-driven'”

In Hinduism this is the principle of Rita: What IS, is Right!

In the Bible, only God IS. Everything else derives from and is dependent on God.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 23 December 2006 at 12:51pm GMT

(not that Mynsterpreost doesn't know this... but I thought I should state it for the benefit of some others ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 23 December 2006 at 4:04pm GMT
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