Comments: Americans study the Tanzanian communiqué

This document seems like a good summary of where we are and how we got here. It admits that we are hung up on sexuality (especially out gays and lesbians with partners). It hints that perhaps someone needs to sacrifice. In the end there is sort of a feeling of "so what" (as another person has said) and we are back to "does the communion matter more than people"?

Posted by Ann at Saturday, 2 June 2007 at 2:11pm BST

Technical point: there is no reference from note 1, and 33kb when processed to paragraph flowing text.

There is a great stress on diversity, liberty and breadth and comrephension as a means to truth. Not everyone shares this, within and outside Angloicanism, it says, and globalisation has brought this closer. Then there is this autnomomous in communion, "freedom-in-relation" via bonds of affection. Centralising is not an option, and it wants not "a compromise for the sake of peace, but a comprehension for the sake of truth".

It seems to me that this stance is hardly something that is for Episcopalians to work out. They already have it. The problem is elsewhere and overseas. They are not giving up comprehension and liberty. So either the narrower minded will succeed in pushing them out, or the narrower minded will set up their own less comprehensive body, or the muddle will go on.

The internal consultation of the Episcopalians, in other words, will not result in any change among Episcopalians and indeed it would be silly to expect it given its nature and would be a loss if it did change.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 2 June 2007 at 5:31pm BST

Regular readers of TA posts will find nothing “new” in this document from TEC.

Perhaps that is why it has attracted so few reactions so far.

In setting out the stall this account says it attempts to be “impartial”, to this end it deals with Communion documents uncritically. It does not look at what has happened around those documents nor investigate the political activity of groups such as the Global South etc.

In today’s parlance we have here a “Windsor document”.

It is generally argued elsewhere that progressives have far less to fear from the pursuit of the Windsor Process than others. In part that is now true, TEC has already withdrawn from its inclusive actions and Gene has been isolated by resolution of General Convention. TEC has never approved a blessing liturgy for same-sex partnerships, Canada is finely balanced on how it will act on this at its next synod – but it is not likely to do any more than it has already as the House of Bishops statement makes clear.

Lesbian and gay inclusion has not just come to a crashing halt it has already been reversed on all fronts. So, if that is the starting point – then having already lost all practical progress achieved over the last 40 years – we have indeed less to fear than others!

All this is surrendered (some say sacrificed) because the Communion is NOW committed to putting the Listening Process front and centre and has refused to close the debate. Now the threat to Communion will shift from the Americas to those parts of the world where they are unwilling to see the debate continue across the Communion (Road to Lambeth) and remain virulently opposed to engaging in a Listening Process that might allow the possibility of change.

With Lambeth invitations out some might say we have already reached the point (statements from Uganda and Nigeria) where the minority of Global South Primates who want to assert their certainty in place of a semblance of order has now come to the fore. The statement from Pittsburgh would seem (in part) to confirm this.

With America and Canada now restored (all bar Gene!) – the spotlight falls on the conservative Americans and their allies. Will they continue preparing for separation? Will they continue to build an alternative power block? Will they now walk away as the statements from Nigeria and Uganda suggest?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 3 June 2007 at 1:26pm BST

Martin, I couldn't agree more. The problem is that the "GS" view is that these matters are beyond discussion -- and their strategy from 1998 (table the "irenic" report and adopt a "final" resolution) continues. In spite of that, Windsor and all that follows continues to speak of the possibility of a new consensus emerging, a listening process towards change. This the GS will not do; they see no need to change, as Scripture is clear and final. Thus we face the impending divide, now not between the progressives and the rest of the church, but between the "people open to the possibility of progress" and those who will not budge. It is along that line that the Communion will split.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Sunday, 3 June 2007 at 7:38pm BST

Martin Reynolds: "Lesbian and gay inclusion has not just come to a crashing halt it has already been reversed on all fronts. So, if that is the starting point – then having already lost all practical progress achieved over the last 40 years – we have indeed less to fear than others!"

Are we sharing the same reality? 40 years of progress lost? I don't think so. In many ways there's no going back.

What has happened is that we've gotten too far out in front. We haven't done the hard theological work that we've needed to do. We've listened, we've responded, I believe appropriately, but we haven't put this process through the same kind of theological work as we did with the ordination of women.

And today we're paying the price of our arrogance. It's not enough for us to achieve full inclusion for gays if it results in no other Anglican province being willing or able to consider doing the same. Our responsibilities extend beyond our borders. We need to pause to do this right.

But this is clearly only a pause and not a backtrack.

Posted by ruidh at Monday, 4 June 2007 at 3:10am BST

As I have said many times before - the sensible thing to do would be to positively work for the break up of this appalling organisation, and look towards a new global body headed up by TEC. I cannot understand, other than misplaced sentiment or fear of offending anything connected with Africa, why there is any good reason to pursue a worldwide communion when clearly ideas and beliefs have diversified so greatly. We should not allow ourselves to be held back by homophobes, no matter where they come from.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 4 June 2007 at 10:02am BST

There are two opposing tides of change flowing in the Church of England: One posits diversity, where all ministries, laity, clergy and bishops, are of equal merit, embracing differences in theology, practice, gender and sexual orientation; the other threatens to impose outmoded patriarchal Windsor-compliant power structures.

One will have to give way to the other. My hunch is that a laity-driven revolution will prevail against a male-dominated curial one-party state, leaving the ancien regime exposed. Women bishops will be key to this development.

In order to break the current impasse across the wider Communion, each member Church should be allowed to develop according to its own local customs, within a liberal system. Otherwise progress can never be made.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Monday, 4 June 2007 at 12:30pm BST

I've explained it elsewhere, Merseymike. It's easy to be in communion with those with whom you agree and whom you like. The true expression of Christian love is to be in Communion with those who despise you, and not despise them in return. Not something I have been able to do, but I recognize the need to try. This really isn't about religion or God or faith for you is it? Is it about punishing the Church, or people who have used the Church to hurt you, or about getting your way, or about fighting against those you see as oppressing you, or something else entirely? I'm trying to see where you are coming from. And what is the Church for you? Just some societal institution, or something more?

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 4 June 2007 at 2:03pm BST

My own view is slightly different from Merseymike's. I would not be working for a division in Communion up front but see value in a loosest possible one and in not trying to achieve a unity. In that several are trying to achieve a unity, I can see where the division is likely to be, and that it is preferable to any unity that comes with a price tag acting against inclusion. There is now, in a sort of transition to who knows where, but I reckon this is temporary. We know who the people are who want to impose a lasting and more considerable price tag, so let them go off if they want to form their own, but to have no impact on the rest. Then, as someone has already said, there is the problem that as they continue to invade other space, what those within this remaining communion of sorts (still should be very loose) should do for those coming under the other yoke. It might not be much, but it ought to be something.

A church member in Barton has leant me The Inclusive God: Reclaiming Theology for an Inclusive Church, a book by Steven Shakespeare and Hugh Rayment Pickard and a forword tale by Giles Fraser. It's 2006, London: Canterbury Press Norwich. She wondered if I could read it with a view of whether the arguments would convince an "intelligent evangelical" and also what I think of it myself. She reckons she and I have similar views or perspective. I think the book is a mess, sorry to say, and no it would not convince an intelligent evangelical. It hardly convinces me, and I agree with its stance. I said I'd write a review and, as I get around other demands and doing other things, I'll write it and also provide a link to see what people think.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 4 June 2007 at 2:16pm BST

ruidh commented:
"We haven't done the hard theological work that we've needed to do... And today we're paying the price of our arrogance."

And so I respond arrogantly -

Yes, it is we who are to blame for all our troubles. Bad, bad Dobbies!

As a layperson I'm not exactly sure what constitutes doing "hard theological work". Turning out a certain number of impenetrable 1800 page theses? At what point do we know the work is done? Most people have a gut reaction that something is right or wrong - ordination of women for instance - then will try to back this reaction up through what they suppose to be reasoned arguments, that will then be challenged, then counterchallenged, etc. Theological work is part of this, but it isn't driving the process.

I might point out that nearly a century and a half after the publication of The Origin of Species, and all the hard *scientific* work that's gone on since then, there are still a large number of influential Christians who insist on denying the reality of evolution. I'm sure the same sort of Christians can hold out for another century and a half, while we others keep slugging away at the theological rockpile trying to excavate undeniable proof of the moral worthiness of homosexuals.

I think that the theological work that needs to be done on this issue, has been done and is being done. What's going on apart from that is purely a political power struggle.

Posted by Brian MacIntyre at Monday, 4 June 2007 at 9:12pm BST

"we've gotten too far out in front. We haven't done the hard theological work that we've needed to do... as we did with the ordination of women."

This is precisely why we need to try and stay in the AC even though it is hostile towards gays. If we leave and surround ourselves with those who already agree, we will never do the work that STILL needs to be done. And yes, I do believe that if it is to be done anytime soon, we are the ones to do it. Clearly, there are those who will never be persuaded, but that is no reason to hand the rest of the world a weakly realized theology, that is only vaguely compelling, rather than a solid theological base from which to operate that can not be easily dismissed. There is more for us to do, more for us, ourselves, to understand through this process. Our focus should not be on all that they do not "get," but we have yet failed to give.


Posted by C.B. at Monday, 4 June 2007 at 9:25pm BST

It seems to me that Martin Reynolds is overstating the case, as some other commenters have suggested -- my current feeling is that this situation is best approached tactically (sometimes two steps forward, one step back is really the right thing to do).

But I certainly agree with Tobias & have said repeated that the (so-called) "Global South" primates have never accepted the Windsor Report, which implies the possibility that the church's position might change -- they never have and never will accept that.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Monday, 4 June 2007 at 11:41pm BST

As a response to ruidh's charge, I would like to direct your attention to this outstanding (IMO) Scriptural meditation (loosely framed as a letter) here: "“For freedom Christ has set you free” http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/%7Elcrew/dojustice/j491.html

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 1:17am BST

There are some excellent pieces of work out there and have been for some time, not simply in biblical scholarship but in doing theology on the matter. Eugene Rogers comes to mind, for example, as does that of Elizabeth Stuart, Tobias Haller, Michael Vasey, James Alison, Sarah Coakley, Gray Temple, Gareth Moore, OP...come to mind. Others could be added. Sometimes no matter how good the work, however, it is disagreed with and will be so. Theology in and of itself does not change minds, nor end debates. In the meantime we who are in same-sex relationships are in need of concrete and practical care of our relationships in practical terms. Too few seem able to spell out what that might be...

Posted by *Christopher at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 2:05am BST

"As a layperson I'm not exactly sure what constitutes doing "hard theological work". Turning out a certain number of impenetrable 1800 page theses? At what point do we know the work is done? Most people have a gut reaction that something is right or wrong - ordination of women for instance - then will try to back this reaction up through what they suppose to be reasoned arguments, that will then be challenged, then counterchallenged, etc. Theological work is part of this, but it isn't driving the process.

I might point out that nearly a century and a half after the publication of The Origin of Species, and all the hard *scientific* work that's gone on since then, there are still a large number of influential Christians who insist on denying the reality of evolution. I'm sure the same sort of Christians can hold out for another century and a half, while we others keep slugging away at the theological rockpile trying to excavate undeniable proof of the moral worthiness of homosexuals.

I think that the theological work that needs to be done on this issue, has been done and is being done. What's going on apart from that is purely a political power struggle."

Let me be blunt. We in TEC have been very passive aggressive about the whole issue. We haven't come out and had a vote which says: we're going to bless SSMs where they are legal. Probably because we couldn't get a 2/3rds vote by orders. That itslef should give us pause.

Instead we pussyfoot around the issue. We need to make a theological case and make it to the rest of TEC and to the rest of the AC. And we shouldn't elect a gay bishop who is neither celibate nor in a legal SSM. We should make every effort to get a favorable resolution out of a future Lambeth Conference.

Posted by ruidh at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 3:37am BST

Now I'm truly fascinated.
C.B., what is the weakly realised theology you're speaking about, and ruidh, what kind of work is still to be done - where could it arise from and where might it be taking you?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 8:12am BST

At the moment, Ford, the church is something I am positively choosing not to go to. I think it is a negative and unhelpful force in my life, and until it stops being so, then I will continue to stay away. But the longer I stay away, the less I feel Christianity has to say to me, so maybe I will never return.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 9:29am BST

The abolition of slavery would never have come about had the matter been left to theology. It was the sheer inhumanity of it which drove change.

Likewise, the abolition of homophobia won't come about by recourse to theology alone. Lambeth 1:10 has become the Fortieth Article of Faith, running counter to those advocating an inclusive Church.

People witness the maltreatment of gays and want justice for them at every level of the Church, on humanitarian grounds.

This remains my hope.


Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 10:53am BST

Ruidh,
I wish we had those "bowing down in adoration" smilies! You have it spot on! The only thing I can say is that it seemed to me that the "hard theological work" around the ordination of women didn't seem done at the time, but seems to be more clear now. I do hope that's NOT the path this goes, however. Let's get it right this time and do the theology first, eh?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 12:22pm BST

Erika - I don't mean to open a pandora's box on this issue. The past is the past. Many who completely support SSBs and the ordinations of non-celibate gays and lesbians feel TEC got the cart before the horse with the consecration of VGR. It can be debated endlessly. However, the fact remains that TEC and the AC are not at the end of dealing with this issue, but STILL at the beginning. Yes, there are many great theological pieces that have been produced on the subject. But they were not and have not been placed front and center. Go to the TEC website and see what it promotes as the best writing on the subject. It is not nearly as good as some of the work I have read on Tobias's website, yet that is what TEC put out to the general public. Tobias, himself, has in recent months, written about the need for a stronger response to the theological arguments of the neo-conservatives. Not because they don't exist, but because if we listen carefully we will hear that what we have put out there has not been comprehensive and accessible. Only now is the public and the majority of Anglicans really beginning to pay attention world-wide to this issue. People who don't do theology, want a better more rigorous, more accessible presentation of TEC's position. And if we think TEC has done all it needs to do and all there is to do in this regard, it has simply misjudged the moment and its audience.

Posted by C.B. at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 1:52pm BST

*Christopher:

"In the meantime we who are in same-sex relationships are in need of concrete and practical care of our relationships in practical terms. Too few seem able to spell out what that might be..."

I couldn't agree with you more and it is one of the things that concerns me about the upcoming vote at the Canadian General Synod. If it fails, and it may well because the bar has been set very high, what then? Will we get more motherhood and apple pie about "pastoral care" or will the Bishops spell out in concrete terms what the phrase means.

In my own case, I am less concerned about my own relationship, which I know to be blessed, than I am about young gay people who can so easily fall into self-destructive life-styles in the absence of leadership and guidance from the Church.(I wonder sometimes if our bishops know the huge cost, in human terms, of their silence, - of their failure to act and offer hope in the past).

So, if, for reasons of preserving unity, the "blessing" resolution fails, I would ask them to address their words of pastoral care, not to me a 60 year old, whose 25 year old partnership has endured and for whom an official blessing would be "icing on the cake" but rather to those young gay people justing setting out in life.

Posted by Andrew Innes at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 1:59pm BST

Andrew, I grew up in a Church and society that made it pretty clear what an abomination in the eyes of God, like myself, deserved if caught. I'm 45. I left in my early 20s because the Church wasn't conservative enough, and returned about 6 years ago. I would agree with your last statement, but I think part of the problem is the idea that rejection of sacramental matrimony for homosexuals is a rejection of us, and also that marriage is about the validation of relationships, so to refuse to marry us is somehow to deny our humanity. The fact that marriage is, regardless of my ideals, used merely as validation of the relationships of straight people who otherwise would not even consider themselves Christians just makes us more hypocritical. The whole mess is nurtured by the fact that a large number, but perhaps not all, who oppose this show clearly that they are using the Bible to support their own attitudes.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 4:03pm BST

Andrew,

You've hit the nail on the head, and hence my frustration. The Church doesn't seem to give a damn about what this puts young folks through. We figure it out on our own, do it ourselves, and frankly, I would appreciate it if the blather about "pastoral care" would go away altogether given that I've seen little in the way that is spelled out in any way that is concrete beyond priests and bishops patting themselves on the back for a nice word.

To ruidh, I would note that conflation of legal and same-sex blessings is a mistake; one can be blessed before God and have one's relationship be illegal. That would be like the Church not recognizing the marriages of enslaved Africans because legally their marriages were not kosher. Oh, that's right TEC went along with that, and didn't recognize those marriages either.

Posted by *Christopher at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 4:06pm BST

Ford,
as someone who has been married and now lives in partnership with another woman, I would very much like to know just where your objection to SSM lies.

By any yardstick I can imagine, my current relationship has a depth and intensity my marriage never had: companionship, friendship, caring for the children, living as active Christians together, seeking God's presence in our lives... this relationship is truly blessed and I have now doubt that it is the real "marriage".

Everything we promise to be to each other in a marriage service has been realised, where before it had been a weak immitation.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 4:33pm BST

Andrew - thanks for your excellent words!

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 4:57pm BST

To argue for "full-inclusion" using slavery as the basis is really quite specious. The men and women who led the abolitionist movement were deeply spiritual and did use theology as the basis for their argument. It was their prophetic voice that changed nations. Theologically it is difficult to argue for "full-inclusion"... it requires a significant paradigm shift and a abandonment of much of what has come before... a disestablishment and deconstruction of the "tradition".

Posted by John at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 5:11pm BST

Christopher - There are well over a million children in the U.S. alone who are being raised by same-sex couples. That number is growing. So, is the ability of couples to be legally married. I know dozens of same-sex families (legally married with legally adopted children) that would not consider sending their children to church just because they do not want their children to feel like their families are second class, that their parents are somehow not on equal footing with heterosexual parents because the church has blessed the straight couples, but not the gay couples. The legality of marriage and same-sex parenting looms large. A generation of children are going to be unchurched already. What about the next generation and the next? This is where the orthodox are simply clueless as to where the culture is and what its needs really are.

Posted by C.B. at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 5:13pm BST

I'm not denying there were "deeply spiritual" abolitionists, John. And many were slaves themselves.

It is generally accepted though that the Church had a part to play in the retention of slavery before the tide changed. We're all familiar with those passages of Scripture which were used to condone slavery; it would be an understatement to say that it was tricky to oppose it on exegetical grounds in those days. Acceptance of slavery was entrenched.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 6:47pm BST

"I would very much like to know just where your objection to SSM lies."

I had a partner for 16 years. It ended. I don't want to go into it. I am now with another partner with whom I have found great healing. Both strictly monogamous gay relationships, both entered into with the expectation of lifelong commitment, and the end of the first was just as painful as the end of any hetero marriage. I believe God led me to this relationship, I truly do. For me, to repudiate it, as many conservatives would have me do since it is nothing but "sinful" in their eyes, would be to wilfilly reject God's blessing at the behest of another human being, which I will not do. How does one repent of accepting God's grace?

But the clobber passages are there, and I am not comfortable at all with the way they are explained away. I also think we are making too much of this. The Left seems to be all about validating gay people, the Right about being the embattled defenders of the True Gospel against the pagan hoards. Neither side is behaving in a Christian fashion, but the behaviour of the Right is breathtakingly bad, as far as I can see. Each claims God is on their side, and doesn't give a cobbler's cuss if they are on God's side.

If the Canadian Church allows SSBs in June, which is not all that likely, I understand, I will not have one. I cannot see why I would want to, actually. You sound like you are in a similar situation to me, having found true love and partnership in a gay relationship. Why do you want to get married?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 7:14pm BST

I have concerns about those who tell lesbian and gay people they have not done enough to be treated as equals.

I have concerns about those who say lesbian and gay people should accept their inferior status within the Church while everyone gets their arguments straight.

I have concerns that the abusers have convinced some of the abused that they are to blame for their predicament.

I have concerns that lesbian and gay people are being scapegoated in the name of God and for the unity of his Church.

I would ask those who are happy to accept the status quo and engage in what is loosely described as Realpolitik to think beyond 2008 to a post Rowan Williams Communion. The situation can get a lot worse.

Those who think that matters cannot be reversed might consider the Lithuanian Church under Archbishop Vanags. Women are no longer ordained since he became leader of his Church.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 7:14pm BST

CB. I know. And that doesn't include many others who will give up on finding a framework for "the good life", an Aristotelian term, because of a lack of anyone suggesting support for such.

Ford,

However, the psychology studies I've read in journals have shown that same-sex couples who went through a civil union tended to recognize that this framed, matured, gave a sense of "hardening" to their relationship. Rituals do matter. I know that our own union ceremony surrounded by family and friends, with vows (stability, obedience, life-long conversion--the vows of Benedict) and crucifixes exchanged, and Eucharist solidified our relationship not only for us but in the eyes of our family and friends, some of whom had waited for some time.

John,

I would suggest that it took a significant paradigm shift to end slavery; after all even Wilberforce recognized that arguing from the Bible would support slavery, and came to a limited understanding of rejection of chattel slavery--not all slavery, on grounds of how badly enslaved Africans were treated. Slavery was taught as a part of the natural order by Christians through the Renaissance at least, including by thinkers like Augustine and Aquinas.

The point of my meander on that point was I don't think we should conflate what the state does with what Christians might do to support one another even if the state refuses legality.

And to suggest that anybody arguing for "full inclusion", I would say hospitality, is not theologically engaged is itself specious. Folks like Bishop Briedenthal and Charles Hefling are quite conservative natural law theology types who would argue for same-sex unions.

Posted by *Christopher at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 7:16pm BST

"We're all familiar with those passages of Scripture which were used to condone slavery; it would be an understatement to say that it was tricky to oppose it on exegetical grounds in those days. "

Difference being, that the 6 misygynic passages really are misogynic (though not as much as has generally been claimed in the 20th century) and that the 3 pro-slavery passages really are pro-slavery, whereas the 6 anti-gay passages are 20th century changes.

(and yes, there are new, hitherto un-known passages, both pro-slavery, misogynic and anti-gay, in some late modern "translations", not merely the inverted formerly-pro-mandatory-celibacy ones).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 7:54pm BST

"But the longer I stay away, the less I feel Christianity has to say to me, so maybe I will never return."

So why are you here, then? Seeking a reason to come back? Seeking to vent your hurt, to hurt Christians the way they have hurt you? Seeking to grandstand? If you've no use for the Church, fine, why is it necessary to repeatedly state your disdain? Where is the gain for you in this? I know this sounds like an attack, and I'm sorry. IRL, you'd hear a tone in my voice that tells you this is a real question sincerely asked, webwording makes it sound angry. I'm not getting huffy here, I truly don't understand what you are gaining by being here and arguing in this fashion.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 8:54pm BST

Ford:

My primary concern is that the Church offer young gay people encouragement to form loving, committed, faithful, life-long relationships. Abstinence for life, - the current position - is simply an unattainable goal for most and rigidly held, simply directs them into harm's way.

For me, the issue is less about equality, or rights, and more about acknowledging the value and worth of gay relationships before God. If marriage is the sticking point, find another term. I am prepared to accept that a committed gay relationship, while sharing many of the same attributes as a marriage, is sufficiently different that it should not be called a marriage. Fine. What I cannot accept is that, therefore, it is worthless, un-holy and beyond blessing.
The sacramental point you make, alas, as a lay-person, I am in no position to debate.

P.S. I always enjoy your posts.

Posted by Andrew Innes at Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 9:10pm BST

Very pleasing account, Erika, and wish you two the best; I agree with *Christopher on the purpose of rituals - one of my this-world spirituality points as to how rituals are gates for passing through - and I think this may be an answer for Ford Elms's point, wishing his relationship well too.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 12:25am BST

"But the clobber passages are there, and I am not comfortable at all with the way they are explained away."

Ford: Excellent interpretations (and *translations*) have been made repeatedly (here, most notably by Goran), which you dismiss as "the way they are explained away". Instead of continuing to clobber us (and yourself) with the very notion of "the clobber passages", maybe you could explain why you do not find scholarship like Goran's (and Tobias Haller, etc. etc.) convincing?

What *I* am not comfortable with, Ford, is the ease with which you seem to dismiss the *need* for a public covenant between two people, seeking the blessing of God---in other words, the NEED for *marriage*, the same for same-sex couples as for opposite-sex. Why in the world would you think that a "strictly monogamous...relationship" could SURVIVE "lifelong commitment", without the *strength* provided through that public covenant, and most of all, WITHOUT GOD'S BLESSING?

Happy are they who know their need of God! :-)

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 12:28am BST

We can hardly do all the hard theological work that remains to be done about queer folks and such, just because the hard empirical data is hardly yet completely gathered into the storehouse of corrected knowledge. We are barely at the beginning of correctly understanding sexual orientation - a number of open doors are still startlingly open in brain studies, developmental biology, as well as in several new key domains of what we might loosely call, the social construction of the human body.

Any theology which too closely depends upon any facts in those domains remaining untouched is putting all its eggs, legacy or innovative, in too small a basket, intellectually.

What we have achieved, fairly, is a good start on disconfirming most if not all of the negative legacy ideas about people who are not straight. One after another, the alleged and accusatory details of their presupposed incompetence have come crumbling down. Truth is, these claims are about as accurate as if we believed that oral sex causes crop failures and droughts.

Does anybody posting these days really believe that gay/lesbian couples commmitting in love to one another is a direct empirical assault on straight couples getting committed in love? Just how do you work that belief, factually, according to the best practices of double-blind research method?

We can wiggle around a lot on all the keen points of the disconfirmations, and many conservatives are doing something like a heroic job of fairly tragic wiggling; but the startling and unpredicted disconfirmations stand, as clearly as any other empirical disconfirmation stands that shook us up quite a good bit in the past.

The people who most obviously need to do their hard theological work includes the staunchest traditional or conservative religious thinkers at all levels, who still seek to preserve their legacy negatives by carefully presupposing around the factually disconfirmed negative claims our legacy offers us about people who are not straight.

Provisionally, in this era of great factual and intellectual and social and religious change, we approximate the worth and value that people who are not straight might have, by trying out the novel and unprecedented notion that they are probably about as competent or good as queer folks, as they would be presumed to be if we thought them straight. That at least offers us a better direction for re-thinking their human worth among us.

Stay tuned.

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 3:56am BST

I agree with Ruidh. There are many good theological discussions of the grounds for blessing committed same-sex relationships and why participation in such relationships should be no bar to ordination to any order of clergy. The difficulty has been with the reception and use of this work. To my knowledge, in TEC little use has been made of this work in pastoral letters, official reports, and convention resolutions to address the concerns of those in TEC and the broader Communion who are upset at the breach with past practice and teaching that TEC actions open up. My mildly cynical view is that that the leadership of many dioceses, having upset lots people by appropriate inclusive policies, tried to molify discontent by bland sound bites about to justice and tolerance rather offering a substantial theological rationale that confronts inherited practices and attitudes with critical evaluation in the terms drawn from Scripture and Tradition. That was a mistake.

Posted by Tom Ricketts at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 4:10am BST

Ford,
Everything the bible tells me a marriage is or can be about, I find in my relationship. I believe God has led me, painfully, to this relationship and it has been the greatest blessing and surprise in my life.

I do not want to GET married, I AM married. My understanding is that in a marriage service the priest affirms what is already in place, thanks to God's grace.

Not to seek God's blessing through the church on this relationship almost feels like rejecting the enormity of what God has so graciously given to me. A church blessing would be an opportunity to stand up and give the most heartfelt thanks for this amazing gift, and to affirm that I am willing to treat it with all the respect, love and reverence it deserves.

I also accept that the clobber passages are there, but I have grown up in a small village church which, already 45 years ago, explained them carefully and with sensitivity. My otherwise tediously boring pastor started every sermon with "now, what do we think God wants to tell us here"; not with a "this is what it says". I have never internalised any of the biblical passages that are apparently designed to keep certain groups of people in their place. And, being a woman, I have already lived through a sea-change in opinions and theology, and have already once been transformed from an “equal but different even in God’s eyes” to an “equal” person. I cannot now go back on this in another area of my life simply because 1 isolated NT passage seems to confirm what 4 other OT passages seem to say.

It has nothing to do with Left and Right for me, but with the deepest understanding of who I am and what I am in God’s eyes.
Of course, I may be wrong....

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 8:29am BST

And we shouldn't be afraid to assert, Goran, that the Bible is just plain wrong on those three issues.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 9:38am BST

"it is worthless, un-holy and beyond blessing"

Don't you think this a tad extreme? "We do not believe that sacramental matrimony is designed for gay people" means "Your relationship is worthless, un-holy, and beyond blessing"? I don't see it. Lots of people will take it to mean this, of course, but surely the challenge then is to counter them. If the first is in fact true, we do not counter the bigots by trying to be something we cannot be, but by being what we ARE and what God calls us to be with dignity.

"Why in the world would you think that a "strictly monogamous...relationship" could SURVIVE "lifelong commitment", without the *strength* provided through that public covenant, and most of all, WITHOUT GOD'S BLESSING?"

Because millions of couples, straight and gay, have been doing it for centuries! Why do you think God's blessing is necessary for monogamy and lifelong commitment? And I am not convinced by arguments that claim we do not know what the original Greek meant, people a lot closer to first century koine felt those words meant homosexual, we are two millennia removed. That Paul didn't know of the kind of relationships we are talking about is a bit more powerful for me, I grant you, but still doesn't address the nature of what WE are talking about. My relationship is not a faux straight one, that much I do know. That such passages might be later additions is immaterial. I can't argue that the Spirit guides us to discern what is Scripture and then argue that such discernment is suspect because what is identified is too late to have been written by Paul or whoever, implying the Spirit didn't know what She was doing. So, I am left in a strange place: convinced by what I think is absolute proof of God's love for me, despite what the bigots and the fearful say, in a Church that is reticent about telling me He loves me. So what? He still loves me. He still has blessed me in, yes, a gay relationship. I don't need to make some conservative African or some American fundamentalist agree that He does. They'll find out soon enough.


Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 1:28pm BST

"The people who most obviously need to do their hard theological work includes the staunchest traditional or conservative religious thinkers at all levels, who still seek to preserve their legacy negatives by carefully presupposing around the factually disconfirmed negative claims our legacy offers us about people who are not straight."

I couldn't agree more. And I am still waiting for someone to tell me why they believe God created man and then gave him woman so he would not be alone, yet that he also created another category of people who will have to be alone, because being in a life long loving relationship is sinful for them.

Narrowing complex relationships down to sexual acts and then declaring them sinful is no longer convincing.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 2:06pm BST

Tom Ricketts -"the leadership of many dioceses, having upset lots people by appropriate inclusive policies, tried to molify discontent by bland sound bites about to justice and tolerance rather offering a substantial theological rationale that confronts inherited practices and attitudes with critical evaluation in the terms drawn from Scripture and Tradition."

Couldn't agree more. For my two-cents, I think there is a deep desire on the part of many (progressives and moderates) for more exposure to the theological underpinnings of TEC's position. We have to remember that conservatives have framed this issue in terms of "if you are pro-gay you are anti- true Christianity." While this position has been very hurtful (and in some circles successful), it is actually an opening, as we know, to discuss how one may be a Christian in the 21st Century. A discussion many are eager to hear. Conservatives have used the "clobber passages" as a means of discrediting progressives and inclusivity. Rather than trying to minimize their importance, as I feel TEC has done, I think TEC should take the opposite tact. Highlight the theology that has, is and needs to be done in this area.

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 2:10pm BST

drdanfee said
"We are barely at the beginning of correctly understanding sexual orientation..."

So one assume that our understanding of sexual orientation will dramatically change in potentially unexpected ways as research progresses. We frankly don't know what drives orientation and we're not sure what we'll find.

Therefore we are making statements of God's eternal, unchanging standards based on an ever changing base of human knowledge.

Posted by Chris at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 2:45pm BST

"I do not want to GET married, I AM married."

Point taken. Marriage is the Church affirming what God has done.

"Not to seek God's blessing through the church ..... "

Neither am I willing to reject what is plainly God's blessing to me because some people have a need to have the rules spelled out for them. Perhaps they are so unsure of the love of God that they can only see Him in words they can read.

I don't however feel the need to do it in public, nor to force the Church to give me the public space in which to do it. My relationship is just the same source of blessing to me and God knows I am thankful whether the Church lets me express it or not. So what is it about the Church's refusal to bless my relationship that is the issue? I am not trying to be argumentative here. As much as anything else, it's based on my lack of understanding of matrimony, I think. It seems to me to be the odd one out sacramentally. Neither the Gospels nor the Epistles think all that highly about. St. Photini's promiscuity and adultery didn't stop Jesus from sending her to tell her people the Good News, in the Kingdom we "neither marry nor are given in marriage", Paul clearly thinks it is a sop for people who cannot control themselves. Some people will have to do it, thereby decreasing their ability to fully work for the Kingdom, their sex drives are so great they wouldn't be able to work for the Kingdom at all without some sort of release, and to use sex indiscriminately is to damage our humanity, so let's tell people how to go about having sex and raising kids, if they must, in a way that does not bring dishonour to the Church and the Gospel, and does not damage the humanity God created and reddemed. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, IMNSHO, so why are we tearing ourselves apart over it?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 2:58pm BST

drdanfee,

After re-reading your post (and prior to seeing any response to my post) I think we're closer in agreement than I thought.

My apologies if my previous post was unclear and led some to think I was questioning the human worth of GLBT people. I certainly did not mean to imply God does not see GLBT people as less than or beyond salvation even if non-celibate.

However, I question the idea of saying, based on very limited and changing scientific data, all forms of sexuality are created by God and we should have equality in marriage and ordination.

Posted by Chris at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 3:53pm BST

Ford,
I can't think of an intellectual answer to your question why you should want to seek God's blessing from the Church instead of being content that he has blessed you privately. Only that Christianity is about what we do and affirm corporately, not something we do privately at home.

Would you feel equally happy with non-Church authorised Baptism or a funeral without the presence of a priest?

I'm not sure where your exposition of Paul's view of matrimony takes us. I'm not a Pauline scholar, but I would have thought his view that marriage was only for those who couldn't control their sex drive can only have come out of an eschatological world view that assumed the second coming was close at hand and mankind would soon cease to exist anyway, therefore forming close human bonds and having children was no longer of any importance.

There are many very strong and positive images of the kind of relationship we call marriage in the Bible. This relationship is available to straights and gays. And this relationship is so precious that is is worth any amount of "tearing ourselves apart over". It is such an incredible gift and so important that I would want God to be included in it, at all levels of our corporate and church life, openly and full of affirmation, joy and thanksgiving, not just privately behind closed doors.


Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 4:08pm BST

"if you are pro-gay you are anti- true Christianity."

or more broadly, if you are gay,y ou are not Christian. Look at the debate here. Despite the fact that I and many others here are gay AND Christians, many conservatives, by their use of language, obviously do not recognize this as anything otherthan a vague almost academic point. "They" "the homosexuals" "my Church" it is all so obvious in the language they use that they are unaware that the people kneeling next to them at the rail of a Sunday morning might not only be faithful Christians, but also might be gay.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 4:57pm BST

Hugh of Lincoln wrote: “And we shouldn't be afraid to assert, Göran, that the Bible is just plain wrong on those three issues.”

Well… not so fast… I’d say the Bible is wrong on 2 of them p e r h a p s, or rather: different scriptures do address 2 of these issues, pro or con. Addressing them in the 2 ways the Bible addresses things;

A (in scriptures up to and including the 1st century AD) there is a Gospel direction given explicitly, or implicitly, such as in Galatians 3:26-29 There cannot be either Ethnic, Social or Biological categories in the Congregation, and Filémon “… as a Brother, yea more than a Brother! in the Flesh as in the Lord”,

B (2nd century pseudo-epigraphical scriptures) where we encounter explicit commands Do!/Don’t! on a crowd control level, “supplementing”/supplanting the 10 Commandments with Hellenistic Hierarchic stuff contradicting A, such as in 1 Peter 2:13, 18-20 and 3:1, 6-7.

The Pastorals, of course, is a special case containing both anti-Gospel and hierarchic commands, and also including both military service (Bacchus cult) and Olympic games (Zeus cult).

Which means that when it comes to the 3rd issue – and to everything else the Bible does not address – we (= some) have a problem; that of stretching/altering/changing/inventing new Bs for New Ages catering to new Heresies.

The wireless, blood transfusions, et cetera.

To see this for yourselves, just compare a pre-modern and a dozen or so late-modern translations, both traditional and Dynamic Equivalence, of Genesis 19:5, Judges 19:22, 1 Thess 4:3-7, 2 Peter 2:14, Jude verse 7! and preferably both kinds to the Greek ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 5:57pm BST

Interesting to read a thread with nothing but liberals arguing with each other.

However, recognizing in advance that I will be about as welcome as a skunk at a picnic, I appear merely to commend Ford for his forthrightness and unstinting grip on the realities of the situation. As he says, Scripture does not endorse the goals that liberals pursue in this area and neither does the Tradition of the Church.

I've read enough poofy liberal theologizing to know that no amount of thesaurus theology will convince me to abandon the plain meaning and intent of Scripture. And, I also commend Ford for recognizing this and dealing with the realities of this situation.

So, how am I to deal with the remainder of what Ford has said? Ford does not disqualify himself and render his opinions and beliefs moot in advance by embracing the typical delusive and unrealistic approaches to Scripture expounded by most of the liberal horde, nor by abandoning Scripture altogether. However, he also affirms a belief that, somehow and none-the-less, God is truly blessing him in his relationship. Because he does not abandon reality in order to reach this conclusion I am tempted to believe him.

This does not mean I have abandoned any of my positions on any of the issues under debate here, nor will I. Still, Ford has given me something to think about in terms of trying to see his relationship as some kind of special providence of God for him, which BTW, is farther than the rest of you have ever gotten. Honesty really is the best policy.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 6:14pm BST

"I've read enough poofy liberal theologizing"...

thank you for that intellectual and stimulating contribution. I'm sure your incisive theology will convince many round here.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 6:47pm BST

Steven,

I've noticed many of the same attributes in Ford's posts as well. There is no doubt in my mind that God can and does bless people THROUGH same-sex relationships even if the relationship itself is outside the bounds. I am not convinced this is reason enough to bless same-sex relationships as God's blessing THROUGH the relationship comes DESPITE the the nature of that relationship.

If you look at list of the attributes of heterosexual marriage a same-sex relationship has some of the same attributes - but not all.

Still, Ford, you have given me a lot to think about over the past few months as well.

Posted by Chris at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 7:02pm BST

Steven,
Thanks. I speak as though I know more than I do, I have no theological training at all. I really don't know what to think on this issue. I can only look at what Jesus said when asked how to tell the true prophets from the false ones: by their fruits shall ye know them. So, I look at both sides to see who is bearing the fruits of the Gospel. Despite the fact that I believe the actions of some dioceses to be rash, and perhaps even arrogant, and not overly concerned with bearing the burdens of our fellow Christians half a world away, I sincerely feel that Right in this has behaved execrably. The scheming and plotting, the rejoicing over the grief of others, the dehumanizing of gay people, the continued disparaging of the faith of those who disagree with them, the attempts to set up some sort of Anglican Curia, and then there's My Lord of Abuja of whom the less said the better in this thread. I'm sorry, but for all their faults, the Left in this is showing more of the Christian love and compassion we are all called to show, whether or not they are right as to my status before God. I sincerely cannot see the fruits of the gospel in the actions of Duncan, Iker, Harvey, Akinola, et al. And the conservative blogs are just over the top. So, I wait for the Church to figure it out, shooting off my mouth along the way.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 7:09pm BST

"Interesting to read a thread with nothing but liberals arguing with each other."

And there I was thinking I was having a conversation.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 7:14pm BST

"Only that Christianity is about what we do and affirm corporately....."

Definitely! And this does give me something to ruminate on.

"Would you feel equally happy......?"

Any Christian can baptise if necessary, so yes. A funeral is not a sacrament, and I grew up in a rural 16 point parish where a lot, including funerals, was done by lay readers, so yes to that one too. I get your point, though. I am appalled that there are Anglicans who can argue for lay presidency at the Eucharist, for example. Whatever else it might be, it ain't no Eucharist in an Anglican sense. But, as I said, I don't understand how marriage is a sacrament either.

I see Paul's position as coming out of the sense that nothing is more important than bringing the Good News to all the world. Everything else is mere distraction from that calling. Marriage, home, family, job, anything. Yet not everyone can drop it all and go "peregrinatio pro Cristi" as the Celts called it. Many are called to simply be Christians where they are, and that involves engaging with some of what ought to take second place to the Kingdom. This is not sin, merely a product of the fact that we are not all called to be Apostles. So how do we do that, then? Paul attempts to answer that for marriage. Some are called to, as Mother Theresa put it, "be holy where God puts you". I don't really think Paul was all that concerned with whether or not there would be another generation of Christians, though he probably assumed there wouldn't be, granted.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 7:59pm BST

Steven - Do reasserters do nothing all day but seek out ways to sow division. Not enough to be divided against progressives, must try and use one progressive against another. I'm glad that Ford's humanity has moved you to realize what is obvious. What is also obvious is that once moved you could not take it in without giving out a slap to others.

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 8:45pm BST

Well, if a sacrament is a visible sign of a spiritual grace, then I can easily understand how marriage can be a sacrament.

But true sacrament or not, the church clearly does affirm and bless marriages and accords them great importance. I can accept that you might not wish to take advantage of such a blessing for whatever reason.

What I don't fully understand is why you feel that your relationship is as valid in God's eyes as any straight relationship, and yet you would allow the church to deny this by refusing to bless your love.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 9:28pm BST

Ford:

I don't agree about relative levels of nastiness, though you may experience it that way on a personal level. However, as before, you give me pause because I trust these to be honest impressions honestly conveyed. Truthfully, everyone could stand to take 10 deep breaths and calm down, for even if the two sides can no longer live together, we will scandalize the world even more and defame our Lord even more by separating in an atmosphere of epithets and enmity.

Chris:

Thanks for your comment. I do see many "monomagous" homosexual relationships as being a relative blessing compared to the alternative of promiscuity. I think there are other blessings here as well, but I'm not prepared to say too much until I've had a chance to think the matter through. That may take a while.

C.B.:

No intent to sow discord and, as far as I can tell, if there is discord, it existed before my comment. I merely remarked on something that struck me--Ford's basic honesty about the Scriptural issues, what Scripture says, etc. and the affect that had on me as a conservative.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 9:59pm BST

Steve please, your comment on Ford implicitly stated that he was honest while others on this thread were not. Honesty, unlike being mistaken or misinformed is a character trait. Someone who does not disagree with your position on Scripture is of good character, those who do not are not of good character. That is a slap in the hopes that Ford would buy into your false vision and be less open to hearing other gays out on this matter. There is no discord here. Only discourse. We are virtually in one accord that God blesses gays and gay relationships. The discussion is about the role of the church in portraying that truth and helping both gays and straights realize that truth in their lives. Dancing away from your own actions, is itself dishonest.

Posted by C.B. at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 12:11am BST

I thought the idea was to avoid the ad hominem stuff. Most of the time we do, and now after a warning it looks like we don't.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 12:30am BST

"I've read enough poofy liberal theologizing to know that no amount of thesaurus theology will convince me to abandon the plain meaning and intent of Scripture."

By that criterion, Jesus and Paul were poofy liberal theologists as well, so we are in good company!

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 3:36am BST

"Well, if a sacrament is a visible sign of a spiritual grace, then I can easily understand how marriage can be a sacrament."

The idea that marriage be a Sacrament is Tridentine. It was imported into Anglicanism by the Oxford Movement.

We, who are a pre Tridentine Church, have never had it.

However, in the Roman church marriage remained civil law until 1918 (new edition of Corpus iuris canonici).

So the Tridentine idea ruled between 1918 and Vatican II, which changed "Sacrament" to "sacramental", claiming under the influence of the view of the Church as God's People, that the parties themselves "do" the sacramental thing in their mutual Promises (and deriving a No to divorce from the same).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 8:29am BST

Thanks Goran for the clarification. Not sure I can make any sense of it - I'm only an ordinary lay person - but it sounds convincing ;-)

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 10:52am BST

"allow the church to deny this by refusing to bless your love."

"Allow the Church"! It is not for me to "allow the Church" to do anything! Sorry if I'm sounding cross here, Erika, it's just this attitude that we are somehow storming the gates of Heaven demanding our rights from God is intensely frustrating for me. When I was in confirmation class, our very saintly priest taught that joy came in the order you put your priorities: Jesus, Others, Yourself. Trite I know, but I believed, and still believe, it. St. Chad of Litchfield is a hero for me, hence my respect for Jeffrey John. I find this idea of Church as oppressor to be challenged and brought down just as frustrating as the Right's "It's all about law" arguments. Here, we watched in the late 80s/early 90s as our RC neighbours suffered the massive loss of trust in their priests as a result of the child sex abuse scandal. So, I am in agreement that we cannot any longer simply trust that our leaders have our best interests at heart, but I do not believe we need to swing the pendulum completely the other way either. We need to keep to the ideal that we are called to be an icon of the Kingdom, and we DO have the right to demand of each other that we practice that as far as possible. We are failing to do that in the current situation on a massive scale.

Still, the Creator of all that is became the poorest and the weakest of us to restore us to the state of grace He had created us in and from which we fell. He counts us, His fallen disobedient Creation, worthy to stand before Him, to call Him Daddy. He loves us because we are His, not for anything we might do ourselves, and a good thing to, since how could we ever make ourselves worthy in the eyes of the One who made the entire universe? He gives us the victory over anything, natural or supernatural, that would threaten us. What other rights could we possibly demand?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 1:54pm BST

As I understand it, the medieval church considered the sacrament of marriage (marriage WAS one of the seven sacraments of the medieval church) to be the contract - the plighting of troth - between the two parties committing to marriage, rather than the formal blessing of that act by the Church. Richard III's bastardizing Edward V, his brother's son, was on the grounds that Edward IV, Richard's brother and Edward V's father, was precontracted to another woman (Eleanor Butler), to whom, allegedly, he had privately plighted his troth prior to his marriage to Edward V's mother. Such a precontract, in the eyes of the medieval Church, rendered the subsequent marriage bigamous and invalid even though the first commitment had not been formally blessed by the Church.

For visual confirmation of the medieval theological status of marriage, check the seven sacraments altarpiece by van der Weyden at this link:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/21/Seven_Sacraments_Rogier.jpg

Marriage is the central scene in the right-hand panel.

Posted by lapinbizarre at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 2:51pm BST

"I've read enough poofy liberal theologizing to know that no amount of thesaurus theology will convince me to abandon the plain meaning and intent of Scripture."

I've read enough history to know that plenty of evil has been done based on a "plain reading" of Scripture.

Posted by ruidh at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 4:10pm BST

You don't sound cross, Ford, but maybe I'm confused.

I can't find it now, but I seem to remember that you said on another thread that you did not think the church should vote in favour of SSM, that you think the church would be wrong if it did so, but that you would nevertheless accept the decision with sadness.
At the same time, should Canada come out in favour of SSBs, you would not avail yourself of this.

There appears to be a huge element of you making up your own mind in this.
I don't have a problem with that, I do believe that the church can get things wrong, and that the Spirit will then find another way to change the world. Although I accept that Christianity is first and foremost corporate, for me that means the church as the community of believers, not as any one of the structures the various denominations have set up.

But I do struggle to understand your position in all this.
If you genuinely believe that your love is a gift from God, why are you so resistant to the church agreeing with you and offering blessings for it, to the point that you believe it would be wrong to do so?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 4:11pm BST

Göran suggests that "hitherto un-known passages" have been included in some late modern "translations" - is there really a need to explain why someone might find his "scholarship" unconvincing?

I myself use the NRSV (it is also the pew Bible in my church, by the way). Maybe Göran can let us know which parts of the NRSV Bible were unknown prior to "late modern" times. Or, if NRSV is not among the late modern "translations" he has in mind, maybe he would care to name the passages in the NIV (a translation for which he has expressed disdain in the past, so presumably this one qualifies) which would not be found in early translations.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 4:18pm BST

C.B.:

Well, to the extent there is an implicit insult in my compliment to Ford, you have my apologies. I definitely accept the fact that many liberals on this board are merely (and in good faith) mistaken and/or misinformed. If it will help your feelings any I will confess to the fact that I think that most liberal commenters on this board seem to be pretty nice people. Hard headed and dead wrong on a variety of important issues, but nice people none-the-less. So, let's see if the compliment is returned. . . . testing . . . testing . . .

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 5:01pm BST

Göran also claims that "the 6 anti-gay passages are 20th century changes" and gives us a number of passages to examine. Let us pick the first example. We find “that we may know them” in the KJV of Genesis 19.5 (cf. NRSV). What does the Hebrew verb refer to and how would one render this in a dynamic equivalent way? Maybe “that we may ‘say hello’ to them”? Would Göran be able to produce a reference to a single Biblical scholar who does not think that the reference is to having sex?

The Old Greek rendering of Genesis 19.5 uses a term for having sexual intercourse. References to Sodom’s sexual immorality and changing the order of nature are found, e.g., in Jubilees 16.5-6; 20.5; Testament of Levi 14.6; Testament of Naphtali 3.4; Testament of Benjamin 9.1. Obviously none of these had to wait for "20th century changes" to find a reference to sex in the text.

I found these passages in James Kugel, The Bible As It Was (Harvard, 1997; see http://www.hup.harvard.edu/features/kugbib/chapter.html) but I think all these can be read online in different translations, e.g. at http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com I conclude with a citation from City of God 16.30 (also found in Kugel), where Augustine recalls Lot’s deliverance with reference to Sodom being the place “where lewdness between males had become as habitual as other deeds that the law declares permissible” (ubi stupra in masculos in tantam consuetudinem convaluerant, quantam leges solent aliorum factorum praebere licentiam).

Please note that I do not claim that Genesis 19 refers to anything other than homosexual rape. I am not saying that Genesis 19 is relevant to contemporary debates of homosexuality. I am merely pointing out that Göran’s reference to late modern Bible versions obscures rather than presents scholarship.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 5:03pm BST

Thomas Rentz:

I think it best that I not express an opinion about the level of "scholarship" shown in Goran's posts--or the lack thereof. However, I do appreciate the fact that you took the time and effort to check out some of his assertions. At this point I usually just ignore them.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 6:08pm BST

Father O'Leary:

I disagree, but we may just be using words in a different way. Perhaps you could elaborate. I'd appreciate the chance to discuss the matter further with you.

Ruidh:

I agree, but correct understanding does not guarantee correct application.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 6:39pm BST

Ford,
my comment seems to have disappeared again - when will I learn to keep a copy for a while!

"What other rights could we possibly demand?"

From God - none!
From the church - a fair few!
There is a huge difference between the church made up of the community of believers, all of who make up the body of Christ, and the hierarchical structures and the individuals making up the official church in the various Christian denominations. They can and do get it wrong.

Whenever the church is tempted to treat people unequally, when it gets involved in power games, when individual representatives treat their neighbours differently from themselves and abuse Christ’s name to do so, then we have the right and the duty to speak out.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 8:45pm BST

Steve - I don't have a problem accepting your apology and further note the ease with which you offer it. May we all carry on mindful of one another and the Lord.

Posted by C.B. at Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 9:54pm BST

I wrote: “Difference being, that the 6 misogynic passages really are misogynic (though not as much as has generally been claimed in the 20th century) and that the 3 pro-slavery passages really are pro-slavery, whereas the 6 anti-gay passages are 20th century changes.

(and yes, there are new, hitherto un-known passages, both pro-slavery, misogynic and anti-gay, in some late modern "translations", not merely the inverted formerly-pro-mandatory-celibacy ones).”

I took for granted that the first paragraph conveyed the idea “the anti gay passages as they now (2001) stand”, which I further thought obvious by the following paragraph, but I underestimated Thomas Renz’ flair for misunderstanding – as of this answer:

“Göran suggests that "hitherto un-known passages" have been included in some late modern "translations" – is there really a need to explain why someone might find his "scholarship" unconvincing?”

Which I didn’t suggest. I noted that there a r e in some late modern "translations", passages both pro-slavery, misogynic and anti-gay that previously haven’t been any of this, but “merely” pro Mandatory Celibacy (as per Lateran II in 1139).

That is they have been c h a n g e d under Dynamic Equivalence (and why ever DE if it doesn’t allow the promotion of socio-political agendas ;=)

And somebody d i d the changing. It didn’t happen by itself. Nor was it God-given.

I repeat: In Modern and late modern translations passages that in translations from the late 12th century Parisian Versio vulgata have been merely pro Mandatory Celibacy, or have not been deemed “useful” for “application” at all, have been c h a n g e d into pro slavery, misogynic and anti-gay a f t e r 1955/66 (such as respectively Thess 4:3-7, 2 Peter 2:14 and Jude verse 7 in the last Swedish State translation 1981/2000).

I am sure there are others.

It is also clear (as by the Swedish State example heavily relying on both the Oxford/Cambridge NEB and the Sectas TEV – in fact it sometimes translates the latter l i t e r a l l y, not the Greek text…) that this is not a phenomenon of this or that m e t h o d, nor of scholarship or its absence, but of anti-Modern SOCIAL POLITICS, since the post Bailey changes occur in both traditional and DE “translations”.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 11:24am BST

Thomas Renz wrote: “Göran also claims that "the 6 anti-gay passages are 20th century changes" and gives us a number of passages to examine. Let us pick the first example. We find “that we may know them” in the KJV of Genesis 19.5 (cf. NRSV). What does the Hebrew verb refer to and how would one render this in a dynamic equivalent way? Maybe “that we may ‘say hello’ to them”?“

Precisely. Traditional vernacular translations from the late 12th century Parisian Versio vulgata – the epoch-making Scholastic changes in the very reliable 2nd century Old Latin translation from North Africa – render ina sungenåmetha autois/ut cognoscamus eos as “that we may know them”. At some point in Time, however, academics got the idea that this means “to know in the biblical sense”. But no one – I repeat NO ONE – ever dared put this into Genesis 19:5 before the mid 20th century. Change.

And even though the aorist imperfect egnå- “knew” may be, context permitting (that is in around 1 percent of the cases; 9 Greek egnå- out of 943 Hebrew jad), an euphemism for hankey pankey, sungenåmetha autois is, always has been, and always will remain a d i f f e r e n t word, meaning “to say hello to them” ;=)

“Would Göran be able to produce a reference to a single Biblical scholar who does not think that the reference is to having sex? “

Derrick Sherwin Bailey 1955? No, of course, not. Silly me! Scholarship only counts when it can be abused for “application”.

Honestly, most scholars of all stripes today agree with Bailey that Gen 18-19 is not about sex, but about the (frequent) Biblical command to Hospitality towards “the Levite, the poor and the stranger (hence the de-sexualizations of the 40 something Bible references to Sodom in most translations post 1955). Gagnon is among the few who still insists.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 11:25am BST

Thomas Renz wrote: “The Old Greek rendering of Genesis 19.5 uses a term for having sexual intercourse. “

Gnåmen means to know; gn = kn. It’s the same word – Greek is not at all as difficult as some would have us believe… What happens is that the Academic adulation of Academic Greek of the Platonic Academy, makes already 1st Millennium “Fathers” (these were “fathers” only in the 2nd Millennium for obvious church political reasons ;=) read LXX Greek (which is a theological/technical use of (ordinary) Greek words for specific Hebrew theological concepts), as is if it were general Greek, or even that of the Heathen Academy.

Cf 10th Commandment epithumía: Greed, which is specific in the Bible: m a t e r i a l Greed, but g e n e r a l in General and Academic Greek – and further changed into sexual desire => immorality in Carolingian theology, in the Vv and its vernacular translations of the same.

Cross readings of Neo Platonist sexualizations abusing several languages at the same time is in fact not exceptional. The changing of “to know” into “sexual intercourse” is ideologically and politically parallel to the transmogrification of Greek koitän BED into Macaroni Latin coitus “sexual intercourse”.

Only… whereas the Renaissance Neo Humanism Volkssprache versions were all faithful translations of the Parisian Scholastic forgery (replacing the Byzantine additions found in Greek manuscripts with the Western Scholastic additions ;=) nowadays this is approached from different angles. As a result Romans say BED is a verb (“euphemism for sexual intercourse”), Calvinists on the whole still claim it’s a noun; bed; marital relationships (He 13.4); sperm (koítän éxo conceive Ro 9.10); sexual impurity (Ro 13.13).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 11:26am BST

Late modern “Scholars” sit in different bubbles eons apart, even when united by the same anti Modern policies.

Since at least the 1590ies (translation of Charles IX) every new translation initiative (intended to change the text in accordance with late dogma) has been heralded by the claim that “scholars” now possess better knowledge and better manuscripts… It was no different in the 20th century, but the game is given away by the fact that the 20th century forgeries do not agree translation wise e v e n when they agree ideologically, causing conflicting and sometimes mutually excluding claims ;=)

But then, what you see is what you are looking for…

Example for study: Lev 18:19-24 in which passage there are 3 BEDS in the text (18:20, 22, 23) – but none in most translations (exceptionally, the Bible de Jérusalem still retains 1 Lit conjugal against 2 coucher).

I have a one-and-a-half page dok. in Technicolor showing how Lev 18:19-24 is translated in the Versio vulgata, the KJV, and the French Jérusalem (the latter 2 not seldom translate the Latin not the Greek – and sometimes neither ;=) – I am happy to send it to you if you provide an e-mail.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 11:27am BST

Thomas Renz wrote: “References to Sodom’s sexual immorality and changing the order of nature are found, e.g., in Jubilees 16.5-6; 20.5; Testament of Levi 14.6; Testament of Naphtali 3.4; Testament of Benjamin 9.1.”

Sorry, but these writs have never been kosher anywhere but come in the same category as Plato’s Symposion…

“Obviously none of these had to wait for "20th century changes" to find a reference to sex in the text.”

Hardly, for together with philosophically challenged Filon of Alexandria and double traitor “Flavius” Josephus, né Levi they are the p a t t e r n 20th century changes follow. The forgers having read in Bailey about these Hellenist writs sexualizing the (material) Sodom story (note! that several of these sexualizations are not factual, but in-readings by Bailey himself).

“I found these passages in James Kugel, The Bible As It Was (Harvard, 1997; see http://www.hup.harvard.edu/features/kugbib/chapter.html) but I think all these can be read online in different translations, e.g. at http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com

Surely Thomas, this fellow Kugel isn’t claiming that these ante dated writs are Scripture is he? Nor are these authors Jewish in any sense but the Racial Biologic one; they are Hellenists plain and simple.

But, on the other hand, if Judaism had been dogmatic in any way I’m sure they would have been counted first among the arch-heretics ;=)

Of course, professional convert Augustinus of Hippo and his De civitate dei (not the “City of God”, as later “applied” politically, but rather On Civilization) also stand in this anti Cosmic Indian/Alexandrian tradition. Not Bible. Not Christianity.

“sexual immorality” is a category found abundantly in 20th century translations.

“order of nature” Tut, tut. Le legge naturale. 12th century categories.

Telescoping this scholastic nonsense into 2nd century scriptures really is Ridikkulus!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 11:28am BST

“Please note that I do not claim that Genesis 19 refers to anything other than homosexual rape. I am not saying that Genesis 19 is relevant to contemporary debates of homosexuality.”

Sorry, but the only rape there is in Genesis 18-19 is the hetero-sexual one hyperbolically suggested in 19:8 (which, however distasteful for Modern sensibilities, cannot be rape in a pre Modern setting anyway, since the Pater Familias himself suggests it, if only hyperbolically. See Genesis 20-21, 26 and yet another place – alias John 8:1-11, originally Luke 21:38ff represents the opposite situation when the Pater Familias has n o t authorised the goings on).

Loot’s cry is polemic, Jewish rhetoric, meaning: You must be mad! you can’t do this!

Unfortunately they were mad and they thought they could do it.

Reading “homosexual rape” into this is an Academic Sexualization amongst many. The strange effect of which, is that Gen 19 is used NOT against “homosexual rape” but against fellow human beings, whereas Judges 19 is never claimed against hetero-sexual rape!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 11:29am BST

Conclusion: The Bible, be it pro or con, addresses 2 of these late-modern anti Modern socio-political issues from Rome and Colorado, which is God’s given reality one and the same: the Subordination of women and slaves leading to an Hierarchic society of un-earned privilege.

With the exception of generally gravely mistranslated 1 Cor 7:1-7 Don’t deny each other! (rendered post 1139 as pro Mandatory Celibacy) and the Gnosticist pro Philosophy gloss in Romans 1:26-27 (which, as with most glosses, was put there by somebody else ;=) the Holy Scriptures (always in the plural) don’t address “sex” – a late modern category, unknown not only to the Biblical authors, but even around here in the Global North when I was a child (somewhat later, at the point in Time when it surfaced, “sex” meant biological gender ;=)

During most of the 2nd Millennium, Academic post Carolingian Theology and translations addressed the Gnosticist category of Masturbation as a Deadly Sin; the Spilling of Semen for non procreative purposes. Marriage – an Article of Faith in Rome and Colorado – was held in low esteem: it was for those week in the Flesh.

Continence was the norm.

So sorry. As a child I was taught the R E A L 2nd Millennium Academic Tradition:

Hands on the blanket, children! Lest the Angels be crying.

Anti Modern Counterfeits don’t impress me.

Again: just compare a pre modern translation to the post Bailey changes in a dozen or so late-modern ones, both traditional and Dynamic Equivalence, of Genesis 19:5, Judges 19:22, 1 Thess 4:3-7, 2 Peter 2:14, Jude verse 7… and preferably both kinds to the Greek (and do include both the RSV, the NIV and the ESV… but note! there are instances where the NIV is correct and the ESV is wrong ;=)

If I can see this with my single eye, you can with your 2.

It’s easy. It will hurt – but you will profit from it.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 11:30am BST

"Whenever the church .......abuse Christ’s name to do so, then we have the right and the duty to speak out."

No argument from me here. I think we're approaching the issue differently. I think I'm a bit of a naive idealist, actually. For me, the Church is not the people in power, but the body of believers. I believe grace is a free gift from God, given solely because of His love for us, His Creation. I is certainly not something we demand. There is a group called "Claiming the Blessing", which is why I used the term earlier. If this is their attitude, that blessing and grace is something we can claim, can demand, then they do not speak for me, and, frankly, I no more trust their interpretation of the faith than I do that of Evangelicals and fundamentalists. I agree that we must demand that our leaders live the life they preach. This has, however, become conflated with standing up against an oppressor in a society that really only values those who define themselves as victims and then fight that which they think is victimizing them. I'm not saying that's NOT happening in this case, merely that, if indeed it is, we are called to find a solution in a better way than the world would, and we're not doing that because both sides are buying into the "I'm a bigger victim than you" mentality. There are so many on both sides who have the attitude, as my partner says, "I'd get your point, but then I'd miss a chance to be victimized."

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 12:50pm BST

Ford, I couldn't agree with you more. And one of the hardest things is to determine who is truly a victim and what wrongs in society genuinely have to be changed.
And there can be no doubt that people like Davis Mac-Iyalla are more truly victims and you or I will ever be.

But if... and it's a big if... there is a growing body of people, including those affected, who believe that their treatment is not in accordance with God's will, then we have to speak out.

The other question is whether it isn't possible to righten wrongs without creating new ones. "I get your point and making you equal does not threaten me" is perhaps another option?

I think the difference in our approach lies in the fact that you appear to feel that lgbt people are claiming a right (from God?) that may not be theirs to claim, whereas I am saying that God has long granted equality to us, that we, society and church as a whole, are just beginning to understand this, and that we're now claiming that right from those who do not (yet) believe it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 1:31pm BST

It's actually broader than that, Erika.
I'm saying that the entire way we see this in terms of rights, at least when it comes to the Church, is wrong. It is not a Christian thing to assert my "right" to anything, but to try to understand my fellow human beings, to try to see Christ in them, even as they are stomping on my face. That's their sin against me and is between them and God. I'm saying we need a paradigm shift in how we see these issues, that we all need to just stop and ask ourselves "Is my behaviour Christian? Am I putting myself first? Am I acting in the humility I am called to show?" We are not selling out to the world in claiming gay people should be treated with respect and dignity. I fear we ARE selling out to the world in using society's language of rights and freedoms as the means by which we see this, or any, issue. I think the "other side" is selling out to the world too, BTW, but in a different way.

Now, do I practice this admittedly idealistic view? Very poorly, but we are called to try, not necessarily succeed in this life. Redemption is a process, not a state, pace Evos. I'm an "I have been saved, I am being saved, I shall be saved" kind of guy. And what's wrong with being idealistic, even if it is incredibly hard to live up to?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 3:03pm BST

Father O'Leary:

Unfortunately duty calls. Hence, I will be unable to receive your response and follow-up with you on a point where I hoped to hear more.

Ford et al.:

Work dictates a prolonged absence. The "et al." will doubtless be cheered by this, but like the proverbial bad penny, I expect to turn up again sometime in the not too distant future.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 3:16pm BST

Ford,
no, I don't think you're wrong at all, and no-one said the Christian path was an easy one.
I agree with every word you say.... but....
are we only reluctant to talk about rights because we are personally implicated in this particular "battle"?

If we were straight, or if this were about another group of people in society, would we still be reluctant to demand that their right to be recognised as fully human and fully equal is upheld by our church?

I would go one step further - even when I allow my enemies to stomp on my face, I have no right (that word again!) to demand the same sacrifice from my gay brothers and sisters.

I'm not quite as idealistic as you are, and I have one further consideration. There are many conservatives who will genuinely and with integrity argue that God made women/gays "equal but different" and that it is therefore not un-Christian to assign them different roles in society and expect different codes of behaviour.

For me, this is one stage in the process on the road to equality. But if we're not allowed to ask for it, then what? Rely on others to do it for us? Accept that it will never happen?
I don't want to sound pompous and arrogant, but if I believe that God wants true equality, is it not also my duty to speak up and make it happen?

Many gay Christians are finding the struggle very costly, and yet have a firm sense that they are being called to take their part in it. For people like Davis Mac-Iyalla, the battle could even cost him his life, whereas quietly fading into the background and living a life in the closet would be the much safer option. I doubt it would be the more Christian one.

You ask "is my behaviour Christian? Am I putting myself first?"
I would argue that "me first" is obviously wrong, but so is false humility and "me always last even when I believe it's wrong", and when righting the wrong would not just liberate me but my brothers and sisters too.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 4:30pm BST

Come back soon, Steven, I find discussion with you very beneficial

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 8 June 2007 at 6:05pm BST

I acknowledge, Göran, that I misunderstood you when I took the "new, hitherto un-known passages" to be in addition to "the 6 anti-gay passages" which "are 20th century changes". My misreading was not malicious.

As for the rest, IMHO your barrage of words on various translations and editions across the centuries merely serves to obscure the simple fact that you refuse to acknowledge the accuracy of mainstream scholarship on the Hebrew and Greek text.

For the benefit of others, let me state what I consider to be one of the noteworthy differences between the discussion of "women’s ministry" and the discussion of "gay equality". Both started off with a gut reaction which led to a re-examination of the biblical text. In the process some good and some not so good arguments were put forward.

In the last fifty years the dust has settled on "women’s ministry", not in the sense that we are all agreed now but in the sense that we have a substantial body of sustained argument supporting either view – those who have argued for change have dropped, and sometimes explicitly refuted, the untenable arguments put forward in the early stages of the discussion. Those who question the less restrictive view can be pointed to up-to-date Biblical scholarship and will find a case which needs answering.

By contrast, the discussion of "gay equality" seems to have barely moved on in the last fifty years, as far as biblical scholarship is concerned (which is not to deny that there have been developments elsewhere). “Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition” by Derrick Sherwin Bailey (1955) has not won the day, as Göran implies. A look at recent commentaries on the pertinent passages will confirm this.

Can one really blame those "reasserters" who conclude that "reappraisers" are not in fact interested in a better understanding and more faithful application of the Scriptures when they observe how many "reappraisers" on "gay equality" seem to latch on to anything which professes to support their case for reappraisal, without distinguishing between valid and invalid arguments, between solid scholarship and ill-informed theories?

Posted by Thomas Renz at Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 11:59am BST

Thomas Renz wrote: “My misreading was not malicious.”

Does it matter?

Thomas Renz wrote: “… you refuse to acknowledge the accuracy of mainstream scholarship on the Hebrew and Greek text”

You are a skilled propagandist Tomas, but you haven’t been paying attention much, have you?

What I say is that there has been a systematic distortion of the biblical witness from post Carolingian academy onwards starting with the editing of the 10 Commandments.

“Accuracy” is not the word.

The 1st Commandment (“The Great Commandment”) has been deleted, the 3rd Commandment has (generally) been deleted, the 2nd and the 10th cut in two, the collective 7th Commandment has been individualized to aim at wives and “bastardize” children, the 8th (which addresses slavery) has ben changed to address the stealing of material possessions, to mention only the most important changes.

Further, a number of words, Cultic, Household and Social, of – or pertaining to – the 10 Commandments (The Great C + 3 Cultic, 3 Household, 3 Social) have been sexualized, changing the Gospel from God’s Righteousness in Christ into Gnosticist/Philosophical/Academic “moral” teachings on the Spilling of Semen for non procreative purposes, accommodating various (and changing) socio-political and church agendas; porneía, akatharsía, asélgeia (2nd Commandment), moixeía, malakía, arsenokoîtai (7th), epithumía (10th) & c.

The 6 Phantom categories excluded from Society by Laterans III and IV (but protected in European law after 1945), Slavery, Witches, Mandatory celibacy, Holy War, Torture, the disinheriting of women and the Canonical testament (the financing of the Gregorian World Revolution) & c…

I don’t really know what you can mean by “untenable arguments” since you are on record claiming that PSA is 1st Millennium, and (in this very comment, referring to what you so dismissively call “women’s ministry”) claim “a substantial body of sustained argument supporting either view”. There isn’t.

There is the Gospel – and then there is tradition (small “t”); “We haven’t done like this before”.

No, we haven’t. But that is merely a question of Time, not an argument pro or contra. Tradition is change in continuity. What the anti-moderns are up to is Innovation.

A New Gregorian Revolution cum Empire.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 10:41am BST

As to what you equally dismissively call “gay equality”, 50 years ago there was no public discussion. Perhaps there was one w i t h i n institutions leaving no trace, but there is really very little written before 1978. This, however, didn’t prevent great changes taking place in translations, between the Cambridge Jerusalem Bible and the NIV ;=)

No “consultation” offered…

DS Bailey is both refreshingly old-fashioned and refreshingly ahead of Time. He cannot be painted in the simplistic categories of a black or white political thinking or of an Americanized “success” story.

His influence is more long-term and (in my view) more profound. An unmitigated “success” was the treatment of the 40 or so Biblical references to the Sodom story. Post his 1955 disclosure of the extra biblical origin of the (hetero)sexualization current in his day, they have been rendered as material, as indeed they should be. I haven’t seen anyone trying to claim them for the anti-modern political agenda.

The exception is, of course, Jude verse 7 – but, having been abused for centuries to prove the 1215 teachings on Purgatory, that one is rather an example of a general re-directing in late modernity of dated pro Gregorian “proofs” (cf 1 Thess 4:3-8, which in the Danish Bible has remained an exhortation to honesty in business ;=)

As to the literature surging after 1978, even a very casual look will show, that hardly anyone agrees on anything. Everybody reads the 6 traditional 2nd Millennium “proofs” their own way.

Entertaining but as you say, not “scholarship”, as of yet. There is the small trifle of Time, you know...

For the practical non existence of published works before 1978 and the striking non-agreement of the post 1978 surge show, beyond denial, that the “issue” is NEW; an entirely novel re-interpretation of Alexandrian Gnosticist and Philosophical core “values” into a late-modern anti Modern socio-political situation: the re-subordination of women and other minorities.

Not the tradition of the Church (Continence), not even that (of the Hare, the Weasel and the Hyena, see Clement’s Fables) of the Academy.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 10:42am BST

My use of inverted commas with "women's ministry" and "gay equality" was meant to signal that I was self-conscious as I was using them, not wanting anyone to read too much into the use rather than any other designation. The inverted commas were certainly not meant to be dismissive; I am sorry that they were read that way.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 2:33pm BST

My reference to mainstream scholarship was to underline that you do not believe contemporary linguistic and biblical scholarship to be trustworthy, Göran. Admittedly, your use of phrases such as "Academic adulation of Academic Greek of the Platonic Academy" imply as much.

It is fair to say that "most scholars of all stripes today agree with Bailey that Gen 18-19 is not about sex" if by that you mean that sex is not the real issue in these chapters - but this was not the point at hand. The discussion has been specifically about Genesis 19.5 and "most scholars of all stripes today" *disagree* with Bailey's interpretation of this verse and argue that the text does indeed refer to (attempted) homosexual rape. This is not about "success" stories - American or otherwise - this is about Bailey having put forward a reading which has not been found persuasive by and large.

You may of course seek to revive that reading and argue in favour of it. I have no problem with that but it is disingenuous to imply that Bailey's is a generally agreed reading which needs no further argument in its favour.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 2:58pm BST

What do you mean, Göran, when you write sentences like "Greek is not at all as difficult as some would have us believe"? You clearly do not mean that we only have to pick a dictionary from the shelf and look up the word in question. Nor do you mean that it is simply a matter of observing how the pertinent Greek word is used in contemporary sources because you have indicated before that there are sources we need to discount, even for linguistic research, because of their ideological bias.

So how did you decide on the reference of the Greek verb used in Genesis 19.5 to translate the Hebrew yadah?

Do you have access to a store of Greek documents which use the verb in the meaning "to get to know" or "to make the acquaintance of" which has been ignored (or even suppressed) by academics?

Or do you claim an intuitive knowledge of Greek which does not require evidence? Do you expect us to trust your judgement in the absence of any reference to Greek writings or dictionaries? Surely not!

Posted by Thomas Renz at Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 3:28pm BST

My edition of the Vulgate uses adulterium in 2 Pet 2.14 which is rendered accurately by “adultery” from KJV onwards. The word “adultery” is a development from “advoutrie” (a word attested from 1415 and used in Tyndale’s NT, 1526) which in turn is from “avoutrie” first attested c.1300 (used by Wyclif in 1395 with the spelling “auowtrie”). More detail on the development of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.

In which precise ways would you want to dispute this, Göran? Is your appeal to an “original” Latin translation which did not use adulterium? (Which Manuscript?) Do you dispute the meaning of adulterium? (What about “Adulterium est cum aliena uxore coire” in Quint. 7, 3, 10 and the references to “qui in adulterio deprehenditur” in Cic. de Or. 2, 68, 275?) Or do you take issue with the standard accounts of the development of the English language? (On what basis?)

Posted by Thomas Renz at Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 8:56pm BST

More briefly, my edition of the Vulgate uses moechor in Exodus 20.14 which Wyclif rendered “Thou schalt `do no letcherie” - similar questions:

(1) Do you want to dispute that moechor was the term used in the best manuscripts of the earliest Latin translation?

(2) Or do you have an issue with the standard dictionary gloss of moechor as committing adultery?

(3) Or would you like to argue that “letcherie” referred to something other than adultery?

Or a combination of these? And how would all this in your view relate to the original Hebrew text?

Maybe, if you have not done so already, you should write down the whole narrative of the “systematic distortion of the biblical witness from post Carolingian academy onwards starting with the editing of the 10 Commandments” which explains how “European translations have been forged in the 9th, 12th, 15th and 20th centuries”, explaining wherein precisely the “Parisian Scholastic forgery” consists and maybe why masturbation is a “Gnosticist category” (or would that be a particular version of masturbation?) and why “Neo-Platonists” in particular have such a horror of the non-procreative spilling of semen. I wonder whether Simon would be happy to host such a document. I am confident that it would help all of us to make better sense of your various theories and how they relate to each other.

It might also make you more accountable for the various tid-bits of history lessons you offer here.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 9:32pm BST

I have discovered that the Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon of Classical Greek does give "-to be with any one, hold converse or communication with, associate or keep company with" etc. for Herodotus and Attic Greek etc. -- my comments on how you, Göran, got to the meaning of the Greek verb in Genesis were thus not fair and I take them back.

Elsewhere in the Septuagint the verb is always used with sexual connotations (Gen. 39.10; Judith 12.16; Susanna 1.11 and 1.39) and this is the only meaning given in, e.g., the Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint compiled by Lust, Eynikel and Hauspie.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Wednesday, 13 June 2007 at 5:56pm BST

Thomas Renz wrote: “I have discovered that the Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon of Classical Greek does give "-to be with any one, hold converse or communication with, associate or keep company with" etc. for Herodotus and Attic Greek etc.”

“Elsewhere in the Septuagint the verb is always used with sexual connotations Genesis 39:10, Judith 12.16, Susanna 1.11 and 1.39.”

Probably you are referring to either gnåmen or sungenåmetha autois (or even both) by “the Greek verb in Genesis” but the words here are anépesen, kateúdein and sungenéstai. Accord-ing to the Stuttgart ”Novum” anapaå means “to sit, sit at table, lean”. According to the same katheúdå means both “to sleep” and “to be dead”…

Also, sungenéstai means “to be together”, but is not ína gnåmen autón “that we may know him” (Judge 19:22) or ína sungenåmetha autois ”that we may say hello to them” (Gen 19:5) but a different word meaning “to be with”. BE, not KNOW.

There are many ways to be together… which, however, makes none of these words into a little realia-cube from the imaginary World of Ideas eternally and miraculously changing both context and text into late-modern “sex”, by its presence.

Unless you make it so.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, as we are speaking of the poor naked Emperors of this World, so I must say, is Ugliness.

(and – it would seem – “connotations” ;=)

Genesis 39:10
äníxa dè elálei tå Iåsäf äméran eks äméras,
kaì oux upäxouen autä katheúdein met’autäs, toû sungenéstai autä.

“So she said daily to Joseph, who neither listened to her wanting him to go to bed with her, nor wanted to be with her (in her presence).”

And what she (Potifar’s wife) said to Joseph was (verse 7): Koi-mäthä-tiå (koì-mao-mai) met’ emoû! Go to bed with me!

Plain and easy.

Aber Joseph ein Joseph war ;=)

Sad story, really.

Judith 12.16:
kaì eiselthoûsa anépesen Ioudíth,
kaì ekséstä ä kardía Oloférnoû ep’ autän, kaì esaleúthä ä psuxä autoû.
Kai än katepíthumos sfódra toû sungenéstai met’autän, af’äs äméras eiden autän.

Judith put herself on the mat (“at table”). Holofernes (heart and soul) was glad in her pres-ence.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 3:43pm BST

Susanna 1.11:
… óti äsxúnonto anangeîlai tän epithumían autån, óti äthelon sungenésthai autä…
… how they were ashamed to reveal their desire for her, how they wished to be with her…

Well, as the Scottish saying goes: The Cat may look at the King…

Susanna 1.39. You seem to be referring to the late (4th century?), much changed version of the additions (1st century) to Daniel (168 BC)? My edition (Lipsiae 1826, ed. Leander van Ess, Darmstadt 1823, after Sextus V 1587) and the latest Swedish State translation (1986) have a different numbering, since both follow the earlier version in the Codex Vaticanus:

37 kaì älthe pròs autän neanískos òs än kekroumménos, kaì anépäse met’ autä.
38 ämeis dè óntes en tä gånía toû paradeísou, idóntes tän anomían,
edrámomen ep’autous. Kai idóntes sun-ginoménous autoùs.

Again anépäse ”to sit, sit “at table”, lean” and sun-ginoménous ”to BE with”.

Really Thomas, I don’t see how you can believe that the one-sidedness of these apocryphal stories about attempted (but failed) Seductions may ever put a Rape in Genesis 18-19!

Also, it is not evident that late forms of words in added, late or redacted stories of the OT can tell us about the use and meaning of the same combination of letters in earlier texts.

For example, the Story of Susanna is a late addition to Daniel, itself dated by the reference to bdélugma äfanisménon (Dan 11:31), the idol (Zeus) put up in the Temple of Jerusalem by Syrian King Antíoxos IV Epifánes in 168 BC. Which reference, however, does not actually help us at all in defining possible meanings of bdélugma in Ezraic additions to pre Exile texts. They are all too general and abstract: Their trespasses and bdélugma. Could be anything.

Thomas Renz wrote: “… and this is the only meaning given in, e.g., the Greek-English Lexi-con of the Septuagint compiled by Lust, Eynikel and Hauspie.”

English lexica are the worst. There are hosts of others; Greek-Latin, Greek-German, Greek-French, Greek-Spanish…

Try Père Chantraine’s, fairly recent, etymological, wordbook in the grand French tradition from le Grand Siècle!

But I suppose it would seem “post Modern” to you, as it seems to do to most anti Moderns.

What you see is what you’re looking for – no look, no see.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 3:44pm BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?






Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.