Comments: Hereford case: hearing concludes

The Bishops and others have been behaving like this for years with impunity. But no-longer! Now their words and other actions will have to be justified in public, on the basis of public policy. Public scrutiny and accountability will make all the difference to the behaviour of bishops.

It is long overdue. The judgement of this tribunal will make it very clear that the Church cannot treat people in the cavalier fashion, any longer.

Having myself been threatened with deposition from post, and homelessness with my partner, and an elderly bed-ridden member of our family, I do have rather strong feelings on this matter. That was in the bad old days of the 1970s, but it is only now that lgbt people are receiving the protection of the Employment Laws, at last.

As Jesus said,there are things done in secret, that will be proclaimed from the rooftops.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 10:21am BST

Is not the point that the scripture "upheld" in Lambeth 1.10 should be applied by people of integrity in both their public and private lives?

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 11:15am BST

Why is 'No extra-marital sex for Christians / Christian leaders' a *headline*? Where have people been for the last 2000 years? In a bubble where everyone is the same as them and their media-type friends?

Clement Freud (while he was still a politician!) once cited '''I lied'' says politician' as something that could not possibly qualify as a headline - because 'It is too every-day'.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:11pm BST

Perhaps the "point" is as the bishop of London says:
"The Church of England has not always been clear about the relative weight and authority of the documents it produces and the contexts in which they should be construed."

"Lambeth resolutions have a considerable moral authority but they are strictly advisory in the polity of the Anglican Communion as we actually have it."

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:30pm BST

Lambeth 1.10 is null and void, not least because it is self-refuting and contradictory. In attempting to uphold some parts of it, bishops have failed to adhere to the following sections:

"...all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;"

Clearly gays are less then full members of the Body of Christ at the present time.

"...calls on all our people ... to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals"

Describing homosexuality as an "acquired aberration" and supporting punitive measures against gays without censure, many bishops are not following Lambeth 1.10 to the letter.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:53pm BST

NP,
I thought Reaney was doing exactly that. He was not in a relationship and stated he would not start one. How is that going against Lambeth 1.10? Homosexuals are called to celebacy, yet even when a gay person publically proclaims his celebacy, that still isn't enough. What then is enough? Repentance? I doubt any of us would be able to carry out a penance you would find satisfactory. Thankfully, you're not God. trust me, I have that on good authority.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 1:11pm BST

The issue is whether the same standards are applied across the board. I can't for a moment imagine that the diocese would have turned down a single male heterosexual youth worker solely on the grounds that he might enter into a new relationship in future and potentially have sex with his girlfriend.

Posted by charity at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 1:15pm BST

Does anyone have any idea what the proportion of married to unmarried diocesan youth workers is?

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 1:38pm BST

Ford - I think you have it right. There is an intense contradiction here. It is not that gays and lesbians must be celibate. It is that they must renounce their sexuality and declare it an abomination. (The occasional transgression of having sex can be forgiven after all). So, under the circumstances shouldn't it read,

"...all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, who denounce and renounce homosexuality as an abomination are full members of the Body of Christ"?

That would at least clarify what the standard really is. Then, let's see how that goes over with the moderates. If nothing else situation like these puts the real position of the conservative into full relief for all to see.

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 1:48pm BST

CB,
To be fair, they would see this as a reasonable attitude towards all sin. The fact that this is hardly what's practiced is beside the point. All the same, I'd like to see us require revilers, slanderers, usurers, and the divorced held to the same standards. But the ones who erect these standards are the very ones to be affected, so I doubt we'll ever see a request for gossips to publically denounce their acts as abominations, or the divorced to repent in sackcloth and ashes, that is, unless the divorce was as a result of the homosexuality of one of the partners.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 3:18pm BST

Given that Mr Reaney more than met the bishop's apparent requirement then trying it on that his "lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese" smacks of the disingenuous to say the least. I hope the bishop loses this case heavily and it will do something to stop the duplicity of which Susan Johns spoke.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 3:42pm BST

'Given that Mr Reaney more than met the bishop's apparent requirement then trying it on that his "lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese" smacks of the disingenuous to say the least. I hope the bishop loses this case heavily and it will do something to stop the duplicity of which Susan Johns spoke.' Pluralist.


Yes, this needs to happen, and I have little doubt that it will.

This is how progress has been made in all other fields.

Noting what the diocese has said, I notice that it would have offered a very different defence and press statment , as recently as five years ago. They have conceded ground -- as indeed have most conservatives, who have had to concede a lot already. E.g. *Most people now begin by saying, "I am not homophobic but..... " It is the 'buts' that must go, sooner rather than later. The diocese claimed to be treating all workers equally --that is a new stance of the last five years or so.

* I do of course, concede that this does not include the likes of Fred Phelps, Joseph Ratzinger or Peter Akinola. While the RC denomination in Britain employs the liberal soundiang rhetoric of equality, discussion, democracy, and choice, it is very noticable that it says something very different in countries where the public opinion will allow them to get away with it. ( Look at Poland; and some African countries).

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 4:37pm BST

Ford - as I understood it, the bishop took a view as a pastor that the man's had been too recently contradicting church teaching to be able to promise to obey it credibly. Maybe a wise pastoral decision? Maybe in the plaintiff's interests in the longer-term?

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 5:28pm BST

Perhaps Mr. Reaney more than met the requirements. On the other hand, the bishop may have been concerned by what he heard from Mr. Reaney about the circumstances under which Mr. Reaney left his previous job with the CoE, especially if the spin Mr. Reaney gave to that departure was as negative as I recall hearing.

Jon

Posted by Jon at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 6:08pm BST

"Ford - as I understood it, the bishop took a view as a pastor that the man's had been too recently contradicting church teaching to be able to promise to obey it credibly. Maybe a wise pastoral decision? Maybe in the plaintiff's interests in the longer-term?"

Benefit of the doubt to you on that one, NP, though I find the implications of your last statement a bit disturbing. Similarly, then, given that a Baptist or a Congregationalist or a Pentecostal convert to Anglicanism was only recently contradicting the teaching of the Church, should such a person be allowed to sit on the vestry? How can they reliably obey teachings they so recently contravened? How soon is too soon? If the six schismatic parishes in Virginia had taken this view, perhaps a lot of grief might have been avoided. Just a thought.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 6:53pm BST

Time for the church to face the truth, society has moved on to recognise humans are diverse and complex. One size fits all morality never worked and now looks stupid and bigoted. As a christian I often have to explain to friends that I am not with the bigots and the people who hate gays -it's so embarrassing. Then along comes the C of E with a case like this.
This is why people can't be bothered with the church any longer.
Frankly, Peter Tatchell has done more for the oppressed and is more christ like than the men(some of them gay) in mitres.

Posted by AnglicansforTruth at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 7:55pm BST

NP: "the man had been too recently contradicting church teaching to be able to promise to obey it credibly"...

...too soon after Damascus? ;-)

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 8:53pm BST

Hugh:

I doubt this fellow is any Saul of Tarsus--quite the opposite apparently, nor have I heard that he had a Damascus Road experience.

This does not discount the possibility of real repentence and commitment to celibacy. But, judging this is pretty tricky in the first place, and second-guessing the judgment made by those that were present and in authority is even more tricky.

Hmmm. A dicey candidate leading to the necessity of making a dicey judgment leading to a dicey review of that judgment. There seems to be a pattern here.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 9:58pm BST

But if the Claimant's lifestyle was not a barrier to faithful lay ministry in the Diocese of Norwich, why should he be called to repentance in Hereford?

By all accounts he was a good candidate not a "dicey" one.

"There seems to be a pattern here" - Sorry, I don't follow your argument.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 10:30pm BST

"But, judging this is pretty tricky in the first place"

I'll say. Could be why a Certain Someone said "Judge not, that ye be judged"?

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 11:02pm BST

Reading the comments from you Brits on this matter is painful. While I can tolerate a modicum of hypocrisy in public life (with all of us there is a gap between saying and doing) this Hereford matter has reached the level of madness. You block a person who fulfills Lambeth 1: 10 because you guess what he will be like in the future, but never apply this or any other test to heterosexuals about their sexual future. This is insane. Now you can see why many here in the US, having been the target of the Global South and some select English bishops, simply want out. We no longer see any reason to remain in a Communion now so blind and corrupt as to allow this madness to continue.

Posted by William R. Coats at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:56am BST

Sorry but for my money, I would tilt towards distrusting the folks who so publicly love to procalim and valorize their own and others' celibacies. It is this presuppositional framework of alleged higher purities that needs as much careful scrutiny as all the other forms of sexuality and embodiment, in my view. None is higher than any of the others, innately and categorically, apart from what is actually going on in people's relationships, hearts, motivations, and openness to caring for the other.

I wouldn't trust some celibate believers as far as I could throw a space shuttle. Yet others do not seem to have allowed their celibacy to dry out their hearts and minds and bodies to the awful point of being uncaring, empty husks. Those who so loudly trumpet celibacy as an irrefutable gold standard in sexuality are welcome to live out their convictions, but they have some deep explaining to do to the rest of us, so far as describing their special trust of celibacy above everything orgasmic.

A similar range of ethical and other concerns seems to obtain for me when I look at non-celibate sexualities. You can start with looking at behavior, but you soon have to pass into matters of discerning what ethical and spiritual laws are written on the hearts and minds of the people involved.

Just another theme that tends to show up our differences, then.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 2:22am BST

The point has been well made already, but bears repeating:

Would a straight unmarried young man with equivalent qualifications (by all accounts, far from "dicey") been challenged as to whether he might have sex with a new girlfriend?

It's just like Jeffrey John: gay people cannot be trusted even if they promise celibacy. straight people are given every benefit of the doubt.

Posted by IT at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 5:28am BST

The Christian church has standards which we wish to show to the world. These standards must apply to heterosexual people just the same as homosexual people. Those who are in authority in the church - from the level of PCC member to bishop, should give good examples for others to follow.

Awdry

Posted by Awdry Ely at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 8:57am BST

IT, actually as with Jeffery John, the issue is much wider than that. Can this person uphold the teaching of the Church of England? Will he? Will he do it with integrity? Anyone would think that a Diocesan Youth Officer has no involvement in teaching young people?

The reality is that explicitly or implicitly this person could not publicly teach that sex belongs inside of life long heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman.

Posted by Neil Barber at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 10:35am BST

One point which I cannot see has been made so far but which could prove to be hugely harmful to the Bishop's case is that Mr Reaney had already been employed by two dioceses, presumably whilst in an "active" relationship. It therefore becomes vital for +Hereford to explain why he could not permit Mr Reaney to be appointed when two of his episcopal colleagues could.

Posted by David Chillman at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 10:41am BST

Ford - I think my point, as well, is to draw attention to the hypocrisy of the Lambeth statement "...all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ"

What meaning does it really have when what is required is that people "regardless of their "sexual orientation" must denounce and renounce all sexual orientations as an abomination save one - heterosexuality.

As you have pointed out, we already know that God embraces all repentant sinners. If this is the church's position, the statement actually says nothing. It may sound like a welcome, but it isn't. Is that what it means to say to gay people - nothing that hasn't been made clear to them all along anyway?

Posted by C.B. at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 11:16am BST

"...all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ" ... provided that any expression of sexual orientation is solely between a man and a woman, ideally, but in practice not exclusively, as part of a life-long marriage, otherwise virginity and life-long celibacy are called for.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:20pm BST

David Chillman, if 2 speedcops let you get away with breaking the speed limit, do you think a third one who pulls you over for speeding should let you break the law just because two others did??

Posted by NP at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:28pm BST

Audry wrote: "Those who are in authority in the church - from the level of PCC member to bishop, should give good examples for others to follow."

And what, pray, is Audry's point? That the Bishop of Hereford is a bad example?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:30pm BST

Neil Barber said:
The reality is that explicitly or implicitly this person could not publicly teach that sex belongs inside of life long heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman.

How many remarried lay youth workers are there in the CofE

Kennedy

Posted by Kennedy Fraser at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:34pm BST

One rarely hears much in anglican circles about the pleasures, benefits, and joys of sex. The beauty of giving and taking it, of communication, of bodily, emotional and spiritual inter-course.

....The way it brings people together. The sharing and caring. The laughter and smiles. The way your skin zings and your heart sings. The way you shine, and glow and almost expire, transpire, find yourself, find another .....

You could try reading Adrian Thatcher --but why not take your love to bed .........

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:38pm BST

Well, CB, that IS the Conservative argument. Not only that, it must be in the confines of marriage. It is very interesting that heterosexual marriage has been elevated to so high a state, since Jesus states quite clearly that in the Kingdom, "they neither marry nor are given in marriage" and Paul clearly considers it a sop for those of God's heterosexual children who are too weak to keep it in their pants. How odd that Lambeth should reverse the definitions. Celebacy is no longer the charism, without which people should marry so as not to burn. Instead, marriage is the charism without which people should stay celebate. And sexual continence is not about self control, not about respect for the humanity of others and one'sself, it is all about obeying, since that's the "Gospel" they preach: obey or burn. That this is justification by works seems to escape them.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 2:53pm BST

David Chillman, if 2 speedcops let you get away with breaking the speed limit, do you think a third one who pulls you over for speeding should let you break the law just because two others did??

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:28pm BST

Some people seem to have all the luck !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 2:53pm BST

Ford - This may be what conservatives want Lambeth to say, but Hugh's point above, and I guess mine, is that such a reading actually renders the statement to be rather meaningless. And if that is the case, why say it at all. Why say "regardless of sexual orientation" when all you mean is that homosexuals who repent and denounce homosexuality like all other sinners who repent and denounce sin are full members? To do so, is to say very little indeed, if anything that needed saying at all. Isn't it possible and more logical that the bishops as a group were making a different statement, and that the position of the conservatives is in contravention of that meaning?

Posted by C.B. at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 4:54pm BST

Dear Awdry, If your policy was stringently applied, the parishes of central London would cease to function. Perry Butler

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 5:18pm BST

The Rector of a highly conventional Surrey parish church recently wrote to The Times saying that he couldn't remember the last time he was asked to marry a couple who weren't already living together.

The idea that no-one has sex outside marriage except homosexuals could not be more wrong. In England, almost everyone does. If you only recruited youth workers who were virgins, or virgins before marriage, you'd struggle to find any candidates at all.

Posted by badman at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 5:39pm BST

Perhaps the Bishop saw something else as well in Mr Reaney that he thought made him unsuitable for the post. I notice that he had to take two days off work because of 'hurt feelings'!! Hardly the sort of stuff for the rough and tumble of youth work.

Posted by Flossie at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 6:29pm BST

"provided that any expression of sexual orientation is solely between a man and a woman, ideally, but in practice not exclusively, as part of a life-long marriage, otherwise virginity and life-long celibacy are called for."

You forgot the bit that goes, "and even if you say you are celibate, we won't believe you."

We've already seen this happen once with Jeffrey John, but here's further proof that if you're gay, even if you play by their rules, they don't want you about the place.

What I love is the bare-faced hypocrisy of the episcopal gentleman in question here. He can't bring himself to admit that he discriminated even though he asked a pile of questions that he would never have asked a perceived heterosexual and and then didn't give the guy the job anyway. He might argue that it's legal discrimination, but it's certainly discrimination whichever way you look at it. If he were honest, he should have said "I can't stand queers and I'm not letting any near my teenage son." But like most Church of England Bishops he is unable to stand up for his convictions so he pretends the fact that Mr. Reaney was gay had nothing to do with it, which just beggars belief.

Oh, and what happened to Issues in Homosexuality? It hasn't been mentioned here, presumably because it isn't helpful to the queer-bashers to mention it. Mr. Reaney is a lay person, so gay sex is not forbidden to him according to what we are always reminded is the stated policy of the CofE on 'human sexuality'. But, of course, the queer-bashers move the goalposts when it doesn't suit them.

Awdry Ely seems to suggest that heterosexuality should be a requirement for PCC membership... that really is a new one.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 7:12pm BST

NP,
how come we're not supposed to judge Don Armstrong until his trial is over, but you seem to be perfectly happy to believe that this youth worker was unsuitable?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 7:51pm BST

Oh, to be in Hereford
(Apologies to Robert Browning)

Oh not to be in Hereford
Now that Priddis’s there,
For whoever stays in Hereford
Gets questioned unaware,
That the smallest sighs and the wayward look
Are misdemeanors brought to book,
And sexuality causes a row
In Hereford – now!

Posted by R Browning at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 12:17am BST

Erika - because the bishop made a judgment consistent with the teaching of the AC and he also made a pastoral judgment which seems sensible.

You know the man was never offered the job?

And he has no right to the job.....even if some feel it is good that he is dragging the CofE through the courts (against scripture)

Posted by NP at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 7:09am BST

"Awdry Ely seems to suggest that heterosexuality should be a requirement for PCC membership... that really is a new one."

Not that unusual, though. When I was married to the most sarcastic atheist you can imagine I spent 3 years on my PCC, on Deanery Synod, Children's Ministry and lots more. Now I'm living in the most loving and most committedly Christian (same sex) relationship possible, the PCC is about to take a vote on whether they think I'm still suitable to re-join them as secretary to take notes of their important theological discussions about the toilet fund.....If my wonderful priest didn't so desperately need the help I wouldn't even bother.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 8:30am BST

HE WAS offered the job on the day, at the interview, by --er--- the interviewing panel !!

But I believe that in future Hereford are to fly gay couples out o Canada to be married, and so fulfil Priddis' notion of propriety. SO that's alright then...

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 10:29am BST

NP: your words 'the bishop made a judgment consistent with the teaching of the AC' sound peculiar - do you really mean that the AC's position is that employment should not be offered to a celibate homosexual?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 6:26pm BST

David
Will a (currently) celibate homosexual refuse to teach the Church's and the Bible's position that sex belongs inside of marriage? Or will they use their position to campaign against the Church's and the Bible's position?
In either case if clergy or lay post with teaching responsibility, an appointment would be very unwise.

Posted by Neil Barber at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 10:09pm BST

Ask them Neil, just ask them!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 21 April 2007 at 6:37am BST

Neil - that surely was an issue for the interviewing panel to assess, and rumour has it that they were satisfied. The intervention of the bishop seems to have been based, not on ministry/authority/obedience but on this business of sexuality.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Saturday, 21 April 2007 at 8:39am BST

NP: your words 'the bishop made a judgment consistent with the teaching of the AC' sound peculiar - do you really mean that the AC's position is that employment should not be offered to a celibate homosexual (sic) ?
Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Friday, 20 April 2007 at 6:26pm BST

OF COURSE NP has right. We should all be aware that the AbC., the CofE and the AC say ONE thing,and DO another.

The J John affair makes that abundantly clear to all. Even Ricahrd Harries hadn't twigged until that moment, himself. He thought Christian leaders believed what they said, what they signed up to -- Lambeth 1.10 for most bishops --- but something more radical for a few hundred of others of whom Rowan Williams -- then bishop in Wales, and now AbC -- was, of course, one.

The obsession with celibacy for the few is obscene and hypocritical. Few people have ever managed to be celibate for long, and in truth --- it is not worth the effort .

I suppose as long as the supposed celibacy of Jesus & his parents, continues to obsess us,despite all reason to the contrary then THAT will continue to let off noxious gasses which hamper visibility, free breathing and clear thought.

MAKE no mistake I am saying that this Christian myth of Celibacy is a wicked idea (in the old-fashioned sense of the word!) and an enemy of human flourishing.

I look forward to responses from the experience and reflections, of life-long celibates (if any) and life-long sexually active people.

No BS , please ...

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 21 April 2007 at 2:34pm BST

I am sorry that Erika faces this vote. It's wrong. Very wrong. You must have the fortitude of a saint.

In solidarity.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 21 April 2007 at 2:37pm BST

Simon, did you say your own report on this was due in the Church Times yesterday? Any chance of a link to it?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 21 April 2007 at 5:03pm BST

So according to Neil Barber, no-one who doesn't agree with the conservative stance should be able to hold any post in the church at all....of course, this is actually the conservative agenda.

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 22 April 2007 at 7:49pm BST

No Merseymike, I think Neil Barber's position is closer to saying that nobody should take oaths to uphold teaching which they never intend to uphold or find they cannot uphold.

I think he is just calling for integrity

Posted by NP at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 7:33am BST

Interesting, Neil Barber: not only are you excluded if you are a gay man in a relationship, and excluded if you are a gay man not in a relationship, but you are excluded if you have a contrary opinion.

This is a Church, is it?

I really think they need to overhaul the interviewing process so that only clones are accepted for appointments.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 3:02pm BST

The taking of oaths is itself condemned by Jesus in the gospels.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 3:36pm BST

Oh, that was a brilliant point, Laurence! Well done.

The point remains - people make lots of promises as they become vicars and bishops and some do that with no intention of keeping some of them. This is called hypocrisy.

Posted by NP at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 4:44pm BST

So, therefore, no-one who holds the liberal opinion, on anything should be allowed in the Anglican church, NP?

This suggests that change can never and should never happen. I don't agree with that perspective.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 6:58pm BST

Call me old-fashioned, Merseymike, but if people are going to make promises (before God!), I prefer it if we have people who fully intend to keep those promises.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 7:24am BST

Thanks NP, but having looked over my ordination vows, I think I can safely say that I've tried to keep them, even though I (and my confessor) know that I fail with monotonous regularity.

Please understand that the cheap charge of 'bad faith' is deeply insulting - were you to put your neck on the ordination chopping-block (a decision, by the way, which to date has cost me and clergy like me a cool quarter of a million pounds), you would take it ill if your integrity was repeatedly questioned. How do you have all this inside information on people's souls? Are you upset that the CofE (even in its 1980's ordinal) is insufficiently watertight doctrinally to keep out people like me?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 8:34am BST

Yes, NP, we do! But we happen to believe in a God who guides our development, not in one who forbids it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 8:59am BST

Mynster - CofE vicars have higher than UK national average income- given housing is provided, the disposable income is not at all bad at over £20k (not many people have that much left after they pay their mortgage) if you worked as a teacher in London, you would be worse off than being a vicar given you would have to provide your own accomodation and pay council tax - and the clergy pension is still very good compared to industry, as you know

Mynster, I am clearly not talking about you if you are one of those hard working souls who is trying hard to keep his vows.
I am talking about those who ignore their vows faithfully to uphold the teaching of the church....those who even contradict it - are they not breaking promises?

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 11:09am BST

Erika
I will link to my Church Times report when it reaches the public website on Friday.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 3:35pm BST

NP said
I am talking about those who ignore their vows faithfully to uphold the teaching of the church....those who even contradict it - are they not breaking promises?

But I still don't understand how you know the secrets of other folks' hearts. In my role as confessor I will challenge people when there are inconsistencies in their thinking and so on - but I am not there to assume that I have some right to pronounce on their integrity. You may find it difficult to undesrtand integrities different from your own, but that doesn't make those who hold them any less regarding of their promises — does it?

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 4:11pm BST

Rather harsh comment, Mynsterpreost! If one promises to uphold the teaching in the Bible and the traditional teaching of the church and then subsequently doesn't, promises are being broken, as NP quite rightly says.

There's quite a lot being said about exclusion, to "being kept out" and so on. It strikes me that any person who comes in with a stance that is contrary to scripture and the teaching of the church is in effect saying "I want membership, but on MY terms; I'll build up my own religion as it suits me."

Posted by Peter at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 10:02pm BST

So, again, we are being told that no-one can ever be part of the Church unless they agree to support all its stances 100%.

This is what conservative religion is all about - and why it must always be so resolutely opposed, for it has no place for ongoing revelation nor admitting that they might just have got it wrong - as they have so many times in the past and so often today

Christianity needs revision!

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 12:43am BST

"we are being told that no-one can ever be part of the Church unless they agree to support all its stances 100%."

Nothing of the sort, Merseymike. There may be secondary issues over which one might disagree. But when something appears to be totally contrary to the Bble and the teaching of the church, then those who uphold the scriptures sit up and take notice.

No church, in my experience, has rejected someone who may have a particular sexual orientation, which seems to be the prevailing issue. The one thing in common with us all are that we are sinful people. But coming in and proclaiming that sex outside marriage, or homosexual relationships as OK, well, that's a different matter. Some appear to wish to be members on their terms, and that is where the much maligned conservatives part company.

Posted by Peter at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 10:03am BST

Peter: "No church, in my experience, has rejected someone who may have a particular sexual orientation"

Why were Gene Robinson & Jeffrey John rejected if not because of their sexual orientation? Why are loving same-sex couples denied church blessings if not because of their sexual orientation? Why does the church persist in its theological rhetoric of rejection of gay lifestyles?

"There may be secondary issues over which one might disagree."

True. You don't hear much about differences over the Assumption these days, so obviously a secondary issue, along with the Virgin Birth. Gay lifestyles have been elevated to the status of core doctrine: nothing else matters.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 11:49am BST

Merseymike - are you a pluralist rather than belonging to any one faith?
It seems like you are and care most for that ideal.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 12:16pm BST

"Some appear to wish to be members on their terms, and that is where the much maligned conservatives part company."

Because the "much maligned conservatives" already are members on their own terms. Go into one of their parishes and preach against the death penalty, usury, the war in Iraq, my God, look at the to do here over whether or not it is a moral issue for Christians to own two houses when others are homeless! Conservatives demand conformity to the way in which they perceive the Gospel to support their particular political, social, and economic practices, and accuse the rest of us of accomodating to the world without realizing that their positions are just as much compromises with the world, just older ones. Moral issues can only be sexual, and change of life applies to those guilty of not conforming their sexual behaviour to that of the "conservatives" (which means do what turns you on, but in secret, and with the appropriate amount of shame). God forbid that a person with a six figure salary might actually think that he is expected to help the poor with the excess, not buy a summer home in the Cotswalds, or the Hamptons, depending on which side of the pond you're on.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 2:59pm BST

Er, uh, Peter, um, HELLLOOOOO!!!!

The Bishop of Hereford rejected a celibate homosexual for a non-ordained post just because of his sexual orientation. Let's deal with the issues as they are and not as we would like them to be...

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 4:04pm BST

"Er, uh, Peter, um, HELLLOOOOO!!!!"

Garry, there's a vast difference between welcoming someone to a fellowship and appointing someone who will be in a teaching role in that fellowship, surely. As a parent I would expect those who teach my children to conform to the Bible and to the tradition of the church.

Posted by Peter at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 4:47pm BST

"conform"
Uh huh. And isn't this just it, though, a battle between those who want to enforce comformity to the rules as they see them and those for whom conformity is anathema? Something in my soul, while acknowledging it is possible, even easy, to put too fine a point on it, doesn't think Jesus was all that big a conformist.

"the Bible"
Now let's not get into 'sola scriptura, fer er agin' all over again.

"the tradition of the church"
Which Church and which tradition? There's lots, and they'd all likely agree on this point, but if this is a basic principle, you've kinda gotta say which one, or you'll soon end up in difficulty. And, if you specify Anglicanism, can you explain how being celibate is NOT part of the tradition of the Church?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 12:12am BST

Ford - you really need to get rid of this idea that Anglican "tradition" is the same as modern, postmodern thinking. It is certainly not an "anything goes", "all views are equally legit" tradition...it has deep roots in scripture which are obvious in the prayer book.

A small part of the AC wants the tradition to accept all and every view but that is a recipe for yet more confusion and decline....now that has been an Anglican tradition, fostered by a culture of weak leadership and accountability.

Posted by NP at Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 9:28am BST

I'm not as gifted as you are with playing with words, so I apologise if I put it wrongly.

I thought that the three sources to be adhered to were scripture, church teaching, and reason. The first two do not support the view that homosexuality is perfectly OK, so we can dispense with them and invent a religion based on reason alone. I'm now beginning to understand what is meant in this forum by "Thinking Anglicans" - pick and mix. Not my scene, so I will retire gracefully.

Peace be with you.

Posted by Peter at Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 9:50am BST

Ford - as you know, JC demanded that people conform to his message and taught very clearly that there are terrible consequences for not conforming to what he said.

Posted by NP at Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 10:09am BST

I have come late to this debate - my apologies. But could NP say where he stands on the issue of those who were proponents of the admission of women to Holy Orders when 'the Church' hadn't done so for centuries and it was 'official' teaching that ordination was for men only? Reading his submissions on TA would mean, logically, that they must be excluded as he now wants others to be.

Posted by Anglicanus at Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 11:52am BST

"invent a religion based on reason alone"

Not forgetting the radical new religion proposed in the Windsor Report by adding Rule by Curia to form an Abuja-Lambeth Quintilateral.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 1:41pm BST

"It is certainly not an "anything goes", "all views are equally legit" tradition"

You need to understand that "I respect your right to your beliefs" is not the same as saying "We're both right". My past experience tells me that the Evangelical position is "If I am right, then you must be wrong. God says I'm right. Therefor, I have every right to force you, by whatever means necessary, to conform to my view."

"JC demanded that people conform to his message and taught very clearly that there are terrible consequences for not conforming to what he said."

And you assume He wasn't speaking to you? You have never looked to see in what way YOU are a whited sepulchre? I figure if you had been a first century Jew, you would have been pretty strict in keeping the Law. How would you have responded to a man who said He had not come to do away with the Law, then let His followers do work on the Sabbath? How would you have felt about this dirty unsophisticated Gallilean defiling Himself, in direct opposition to the Law, by associating with sinners? He pretty much overturned all the social conventions of His day, to which people were expected to conform, because these conventions were believed to come from God. Gee, He even spoke to a Samaritan woman, to whom He was supposed to react the way +Akinola reacts to gay people, and, despite knowing her sexual immorality, sent St. Photini to bring the News to her people! Not exactly conformity there!

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 3:32pm BST

Anglicanus -

In my church, I am sure we have more women teaching than in any "liberal" church in England - given we have much more minisitry to do as there are lots of people coming 5 days per week. We see no bar to women's ministry.

We also send women to theologial college (not just at Oak Hill!) and have senior women leaders. You will not be surprised that we have a male rector and that is not going to change but under his headship, we have a very positive view of women's ministry.

I think women have been used and had their case damaged by the LG lobby because the women do have a scriptural basis for ministry - because it is not a sin to be a woman and a leader and because women have always been an integral part of gospel ministry.

Posted by NP at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 7:16am BST

Thank you, NP, for giving some explanation of your position. It appears that you subscribe to the idea that a woman may not exercise 'headship'. Am I right in assuming that? When a priest is the celebrant at the Eucharist s/he acts as president and head of the community. S/he also acts for the bishop, that's why when the bishop is present s/he is normally the celebrant. So if you church has women who are ordained priest, they exercise 'headship'. Or is your church like the Diocese of Sydney where a female priest may not celebrate in the presence of post pubescent males?
And by the way, churches in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England have 'activities' most days of the week too. This isn't limited to a daily celebration of the Eucharist. Men and women exercise ministries to the full both in sacramental and non-sacramental contexts in the church where I worship.

Posted by Anglicanus at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 8:50am BST

Anglicanus - you are right on my views re headship....but I am sorry to say that you caricature Sydney and so give a false impression of what happens there.

(we have women teaching adult males - just to be clear!)

What do you think about the political move of the LG lobby to link themselves with the issue of women in the church leadership?

I would be furious by such a political move if I were a woman.

Posted by NP at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 11:33am BST

So, simple questions, NP

Do you believe that women should be ordained priest and be in charge of a parish church ie in a 'headship' position?

Do you believe women should be bishops?

Yes or No would be ideal as answers.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 11:47am BST

"I think women have been used and had their case damaged by the LG lobby"

NP, On what grounds do you base this assertion?

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 11:54am BST

Hugh - because the ministry of women is celebrated by most but the LG lobby by linking it to its own rights-based agenda is causing people to think that the two go together and cannot be separated - and so the LG lobby makes it harder for the ministry of women to be accepted in conservative circles............ smart politics for the LG lobby but bad for women

Posted by NP at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 12:40pm BST

"the ministry of women"
Lovely fudge, this. You know, NP, I used to be very much like you. I stopped going to church for 18 years because in the debate over women's ordination all I heard was rights based arguments which, like you, I do not think are powerful in the end, and it seemed the ACofCanada just didn't get it any more, so i sympathise, I really do. I now accept women's ordination, from a solidly Incarnational argument. All the same, you are not arguing the same thing. Ministry is something everybody is supposed to do, so all you are saying is that you feel good that your parish "allows" women to do what they are called to do as Christians anyway.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 1:53pm BST

But NP, if you are truly in favour of an inclusive church, you cannot help but link the two. The struggles for acceptance run in parallel.

At a basic level, it has to do with what roles we perceive our ministers to take. Some were initially opposed to women's ministry, either because of the maleness of Christ as represented at the altar, or because women were perceived to be unclean, or because of the traditional roles women were expected to perform at home or in church. But when they saw ordained women's ministry at first hand, they were converted.

Some male clergy were opposed (and still are) to women because of the perceived threat to power bases by having to accept women as equals.

Likewise, the idea of gays in authority - bishops - directly challenges the feminine in man. Furthermore "practising" gay men, even partnered ones who are celibate, are perceived to be unclean.

Lesbians cannot help but link the two issues.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 2:07pm BST

>Some male clergy were opposed (and still are) to women because of the perceived threat to power bases<

Are you sure this is the motive? Are you not making assumptions here?

Posted by Bob L at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 2:31pm BST

Ford and Hugh - the point is that people have convinced me from the bible of the rightness of the case for women to be ordained and teach / pastor.

This is why I think the two "causes" should be separate for the sake of women - the LG case does not have a strong scriptural case for it and the other is diminished by association with a movement that has to argue to contradict scripture to achieve its aims.

Posted by NP at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 2:44pm BST

"an inclusive church"

Sometimes arguments suffer because a term is mentioned without clarification as to what it means.

I'm still trying to get my head round the definition of "inclusive" in this thread. It's one thing to say that people are included irrespective of - in this instance - sexual orientation. That seems entirely within the will of God, and I'm glad I am a member of a church that has no problem whatsoever about this. But it's another thing entirely if someone is being considered for appointment to a role which may involve teaching others within that community. Here I would not be happy. So which of these two come under the term "inclusive" within the LG lobby? It strikes me that there's slightly dishonest argument going on. What does "inclusive" mean?

Posted by Andrew at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 2:49pm BST

>Some male clergy were opposed (and still are) to women because of the perceived threat to power bases<

Bob asks: "Are you sure this is the motive? Are you not making assumptions here?"

What other motives could there be, Bob?

Andrew: "But it's another thing entirely if someone is being considered for appointment to a role which may involve teaching others within that community."

Isn't that somewhat insulting to the laity, Andrew? Aren't all our ministries of equal merit?

"What does "inclusive" mean?"

Quite easy really. A church inclusive of "all,all,all" (to quote Desmond Tutu), regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 4:27pm BST

I see inclusive beliefs as being those which reject homophobia and which regard gay and lesbian people and their relationships as the moral and legal equivalent of heterosexuals.

Nothing else is really acceptable.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 4:53pm BST


"What other motives could there be, Bob?"

Hugh the suggestion you made was that some male clergy were opposed (and still are) to women because of the perceived threat to power bases. That doesn't follow at all; they may - rightly or wrongly - have objected as a result of their interpretation of the Bible.

I don't agree with those who object to women being in ministry, and have been greatly blessed by it; but to state that the male clergy's objection is all about reluctance to surrender a power base I find very unfair and offensive to them. They may have been wrong (and I'd say as much), but to suggest motives as Hugh states is quite unkind. I've often argued with ordained men on this issue, but have never had the slightest impression of someone protecting one's patch; in every case they have been humble and devoted Christians who feel that they are following the New Testament pattern. That's what my comment was all about.

Posted by Bob at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 11:03pm BST

Hugh, I suggest that you are being too simplistic in defining inclusivity to mean not only accepting one as a fellow - we are all sinful people in one way or another - but also for any role within the church. Another definition, and I suggest of equal validity, is that of welcoming people to a fellowship, as indeed my church does. It does not however necessarly follow that all can be considered suitable for teaching roles within that community. I have absolutely no problem with Desmond Tutu's statement. But I'd most certainly have problems if I were to find that someone were teaching what I perceive to be contrary to the teaching in the Bible. And correct me if I am wrong, but I guess so would Desmond Tutu.

Merseymike, I'm beginning to understand your stance. There are people within the church who feel that homosexual relationships are not within the will of God, and base this on what they read in scripture. You regard such people as homophobic, and that is definitely not necessarily the case. Dividing people into two categories - either LG or alternatively homophobic, is a convenient but totally unfair categorization, both within the church and indeed in the community at large. My guess is that the overwhelming majority would say that they are neither of the two.

Posted by Andrew at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 11:30pm BST

Andrew
"Dividing people into two categories - either LG or alternatively homophobic, is a convenient but totally unfair categorization, both within the church and indeed in the community at large. My guess is that the overwhelming majority would say that they are neither of the two."

Ultimately, we have to divide people into two categories. I will allow a third - those who have not yet made up their minds because they've had no reason to think this through.

But the gay issue is a moral issue whose time has come, and it will develop along the same lines as all previous issues of this kind have developed.

It was once acceptable to say that not giving women the vote was a view a man was perfectly entitled to hold without being considered misogynistic. Just as it was once ok to think that trading slaves was wrong, but keeping them and treating them kindly was a valid moral position. Or that blacks should have legal rights, but that didn't mean they had to be allowed into higher positions at work.

The gay issue is at the crossroads where the view that "they're ok, but obviously a little more tainted than the rest and therefore not allowed to be fully equal in society and in our church" is becoming more and more inacceptable. Rightly too, in my view.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 9:15am BST

"to suggest motives as Hugh states is quite unkind"

Unkind, perhaps Bob, but true in some cases. A couple of decades ago, one female deacon attended a deanery chapter meeting (I think it was) in her cassock - she was the only woman - and one of the clergy said: "There goes that f***ing transvestite" within earshot of the deacon. She was taken aback as you can imagine and I was horrified when she told me.

An isolated case you might say, but the feelings about women's ministry were really quite visceral, especially in the early days.

Of course, all sorts of Biblical and theological arguments are used, including the obvious one about our relationship with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. And I don't deny that they are genuinely held.

But no matter how you intellectualise the arguments against women priests, human instinct usually prevails. And the same of course applies to gays.

Andrew; "But I'd most certainly have problems if I were to find that someone were teaching what I perceive to be contrary to the teaching in the Bible."

But what would be taught contrary to the Bible, as you see it?

Is it likely that a gay minister would promote gay rights from the pulpit? Most conform to "Don't ask, don't tell" policies.

Ministers talk freely about the injustices of the slave trade. Some talk about the injustices experienced by gays, regardless of the sexuality of the preacher. What's so unchristian about this?

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 11:01am BST

Hugh, I thought I had clearly indicated that I have no problems whatsoever about the ministry of women; it was your bald statement as to why men object that I felt was unfair. There are nutters, extremists, and bigoted on both extremes, and the argument is not enhanced by citing cases such as the one you have. No-one, I suggest, would excuse such disgraceful behaviour.

"Is it likely that a gay minister..."etc.
It has happened more than once, and indeed following an assurance that this would not be done.

"But what would be taught...etc."
I fail to see where in the Bible the scriptures condone homosexual behaviour. Throughout it is a no-no. Do you deny this? Or can these references now be disregarded? And if the answer to the latter is "yes" where do we stop?

But I sense that we are going in circles. Having glanced at many past postings in the archives, it seems that the LG lobby would cheerfully do away with the scriptures entirely, and devise their own religion to their own liking. I find that sad.

Let me make just one last point clear. Neither I nor the church I belong to exclude homosexuals from the church. No-one stands at the door asking such a question! They as indeed all sinful people like me, are welcome. And there are other sins as well, no less or more sinful than this!

But it's a different matter if a homosexual were to be teaching my kids. I'd want to be satisfied that he/she teaches from the Word of God. Is that such an unchristian attitude to take?

Posted by Bob at Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 6:00pm BST

"people have convinced me from the bible of the rightness of the case for women to be ordained "

Please explain, and I do mean that. It is an issue for someone I know, and while I support it, Scripture, particularly Paul, seems fairly clearly against it. For me that's not an issue, since I don't see Scripture as possessing all authority in the church. You do, however, so I am interested in how you find a Biblical justification for OOW, and it would help my friend as well.

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 6:49pm BST

Bob: "I fail to see where in the Bible the scriptures condone homosexual behaviour. Throughout it is a no-no."

Throughout, huh??

Locating the passages in question is the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack; they are susceptible to mistranslations and misinterpretations out of context. Didn't you read the ABC's lecture on Romans 1?

Eating shellfish is a "no-no", but you don't get many placard-waving Christians outside Tescos's shouting "Prawn-eaters rot in hell!"

Usury is forbidden. You don't keep an interest-bearing account?

Divorce is forbidden. Should divorcees be prevented from teaching children for fear of corrupting them?

Yes, we all love to pick and choose the verses which suit us, don't we?

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 7:24pm BST

Bob
"Having glanced at many past postings in the archives, it seems that the LG lobby would cheerfully do away with the scriptures entirely, and devise their own religion to their own liking. I find that sad."

Have you read the report of the Scottish Church (a few threads above this one), which perfectly summarises different people's stance and how they can be justified? I think it's just too facile to say that liberals want to do away with Scripture.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 7:36pm BST

It is long past the time when all ministers need to speak out against anti-lgbt actions and words of all kinds.

Speak up ! Speak out !

the phrase 'the teaching of the Church' is unanglican --- and when I hear these weasle woeds used in this context, I know I am most likely in the presence of a knave. Don't accept what I say --do this simple theological test. It tests for the hidden presence of BS hidden benaeth a frgrant but unreliable 'smoke screen' !

Simple theological test : --

What is 'the teaching of the Church'

with regard to the real presence, the eucharistic sacrifce, our Lady, the Saints, receiving forgiveness, personal salvation, the divinity of Christ ?

Is there not a range of different (and contrdictory) teachings on all these central doctrines, which makes the use of the expression 'the teaching of the Church' moot ?

So why pretend to uncharacteristic certainty on this one matter (on which the Creeds and Articles are silent) ? !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 10:04pm BST

Hi Ford - re the biblical case for women's ministry, I refer you again to Dr John Stott ("Issues Facing Christians Today" and other writings by him)

Posted by NP at Monday, 30 April 2007 at 8:24am BST

NP,
Ah, our dear John Stott. Yes, I have read him and I have heard him speak. And although I don’t agree with much he says, I also don’t think he's as biblical as you are:
Take this excerpt from http://www.bonairefbc.com/papers/womeninministry.html

"I have the greatest respect for Dr. Nicole and John Stott, even so, I find their positions lacking in conviction. In an interview in "Christianity Today," Stott quotes from the Lausanne Covenant where it describes Scripture as being "without error in all that it affirms…our duty is to determine what it affirms.". He then adds a genuinely artful statement in the tradition of classic ambivalence when he says, "the purpose is not to dodge awkward issues or foster disobedience, but to make our obedience contemporary."

This clearly more right of centre evangelical conservative looks at the bible and concludes that:
Women may serve as teachers (though they may not teach men authoritatively).

As a liberal, of course, I rather agree with Stott’s comment that obedience has to be made contemporary!

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 30 April 2007 at 12:52pm BST

ERika - I am not at all to the right of Stott and very much agree with him on women and other issues.............you have labelled me a "literalist" because it suits you to do so in order to think your rejection of scripture is somehow valid.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 1 May 2007 at 11:58am BST

NP,
So you agree that obedienence has to be made contemporary?
We might yet end up having a real conversation!

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 1 May 2007 at 1:51pm BST
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