Comments: Archbishop Jensen on same-sex marriage

If the Archbishop's strongest suit is a non-sequitur, it shows he knows he can't win the substantive argument.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 9:03am BST

Isn't it interesting that the opponents of the recognition of same sex relationships up to and including gay marriage always end up with these same predictions, I'm just surprised that he didn't include paedophilia and sex with animals!

The article is so week in it's arguments and so full of tendentious statements, and inspite of himself so full of (perhaps unconsious?) ignorance and prejudice that surely no one outside his immediate coterie will take it seeriously?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 9:33am BST

It's amazing that it's always the same arguments, too, no matter where the issue comes up...we've seen these across the USA as well.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 11:10am BST

It's worse than all that. Gay marriage will comprehensively destroy straight marriages. There will be infidelity and adultery, there will be divorce. The well established purity and holiness of all straight marriages will be seriously undermined. There will suddenly be pornography aimed at straight people. We might hear unbelievable tales of straight men abusing children and raping women. Some sheep might be worried.

The very moral fibre of our society is at stake.
Legalise even one single faithful and stable gay couple you will have opened a Pandora’s box that makes Dante’s picture of hell look like a summer picnic.

You have been warned.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 11:29am BST

Canada, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal... yes, Your Grace, all well-known hotbeds of polygamy and incest, unlike such nice conservative anti-gay societies as, erm, Saudi Arabia.

The more church leaders spout such rubbish the more they write themselves out of a place in public life in the 21st century.

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 1:19pm BST

Doesn't the Anglican Communion already accept polygamy in some places? Does it then follow that same-sex couples are already allowed to marry?

Posted by parodie at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 1:43pm BST

Further to my previous comment (and apologies for the typos) I would like to think that both Archbishop Bensen and Bishop Philip Richardson, Bishop in Taranaki (see 'White Collar Crime' blog earlier) might read and learn from this in the Independent:-

Unfortunately some Christians choose to remain wilfully ignorant in order not to undermine their fixed views, and others don't want to engage with these sorts of reports because it means that they will have to get down off the fence and confront the consequences of their liberal instincts.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 1:44pm BST

The Archbishop and his followers can't persuade on the merits of the argument and so he/they resort to lies, innuendo and fear mongering. It's too bad of them.

Posted by Lois Keen at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 2:41pm BST

I might have some respect for Archbishop Jensen and his ilk if they would only come out and say what they no doubt really mean, viz. sodomy is a crime against nature and an abomination before God. Few would agree, but at least it's a moderately coherent argument. Instead, however, they come out with this tendentious piffle. It's positively embarrassing.

Oddly enough, the 'homosexuality leads to polygamy' argument doesn't seem to run the other way, as neither Mormons nor Muslims are famous for recognising same-sex marriage.

Posted by RJB at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 2:57pm BST

Ya'll gotta keep up with us in San Joaquin.

Posted by Fred Schwartz at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 3:01pm BST

Every time I hear arguments like the archbishop's, I think of the following scenario:
Earl and Eve meet each other during the social hour after Sunday Eucharist. They start dating, and fall in love. After talking it over with their priest, they arrange a date for a church wedding, and go to the registrar's office to get their civil marriage license. While there, they see Alan and Adam also getting a marriage license. Horrified, Earl and Eve look at each other and exclaim "Oh, darn (or very, very strong words to that effect)! Those homosexuals have ruined everything! We may as well go out and commit fornication in the streets, and rob a bank, and burn down the orphanage!"
Give me a break! Do these pompous opponents really think straight couples are that weak? If so, they have a very dim view of humanity.
We are talking about same-sex couples who want to be married, who believe in the institution, and all it stands for.
It's like a group of knights coming down a road. They see a castle under siege. Sappers are undermining its foundations; its defenders are being picked off from the ramparts. The knights gallop forward and offer their arms in defense -- and the lord of the castle says "Shove off, you lot! You're of the wrong religion!"

Lord, in your mercy, spare us!

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 4:19pm BST

Lies and innuendo are always the last result of those too intellectually dishonest to learn.

And vegetarianism will lead to eating stones...

What utter, head-in-the sand rubbish.

Posted by Nat at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 4:53pm BST

Polygamy! Next it'll be lay presidency!

Posted by Tobias Haller at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 5:20pm BST

Did I hear somewhere that in certain African countries there are two 'Mothers' Unions', one for the monogomous and another for the polygamous? I believe this is reported as being sensitive to the cultural context.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 7:49pm BST

yes they do have a very dim view of humanity, and they see themselves as the chosen few to save the rest of us by keeping us on the straight and narrow (pun intended)

Posted by Jim Pratt at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 7:52pm BST

Check out the stats on marriage and divorce in Massachusetts, one of the places in the US where same-sex marriage is legal. Now check them out for states such as Texas, where the state constitution bans same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 8:16pm BST

This archbishop's words are, of course, alarmist. His strained logic assumes that somehow a further minority of Australian citizens who wish to legitimise their polygamous or incestuous arrangements will 'piggy-back' on a completely different cause by mimicking its victorious march towards legal recognition and its language of struggle against oppression.

Shame on him! Let him name a single minority cause has ever advanced its goals by this means in the course of Western political history...

Okay, let him name three in the space of five seconds!

Posted by David Shepherd at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 10:01pm BST

The Archbishop of Sydney, who at the same time cries 'alarm' at the prospect of monogamous same-sex relationships; compares them to the promotion of heterosexual polygamy. Does he not know the difference between the words 'monogamy' & polygamy'?

Really, this is just one more example of his oxymoronic claim to 'Anglican orthodoxy', while pushing for Lay-Presidency at The Eucharist, and denying the priesthood of women!

Moore College, Sydney has a lot to answer for - including it's influence upon the Anglican Church in Nigeria.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 12:21am BST

Last time I checked, more than a century of polygamy in Utah has not made that state more open to same sex marriage.

Posted by Counterlight at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 1:15am BST

Why is it that conservative heterosexuals have so little self-control? I mean, all it takes is legalizing gay marriage and they entirely lose it, and can no longer tell the difference between sexual relations between a partnership of two people in love, and a disordered relationship with one's sister. Tell them two people of the same sex can have a legitimate sexual relationship, and they no longer are able to tell the difference between a reasonable spouse and a barnyard animal!

I think these conservative, straight "christian" types are dangerous because they just can't tell right from wrong like the rest of us can. Can we allow them to teach, marry, hold public office! Won't someone please think of the children!

- thus speaketh Sarcasmo.

David, where is your *faith*? Do you really believe we cannot tell the difference between a committed gay relationship and incest, pedophilia, polygamy (which, btw, is in no way invalidated by the conservative argument about marriage's purpose, but reinforced) and bestiality? Could it, possibly, by some twist of fate and good p. r. mean that the same groups might use similar tactics and win?

Yes. Of course.

A tornado could strike Canterbury tomorrow. You might get hit crossing the street. A computer error might launch nuclear missiles all over the world. Tomorrow the sun could turn into a chicken and hatch the moon into a dragon.

Allowing Christians to practice their faith could be used to advance human sacrifice. Allowing straights to marry could advance the cause of polygamy. Allowing religion to be professed could lead to religious war and persecution.

Possibilities, like wants, are endless. Christians are called to fearlessness in faith.

Don't let Jensen's fear-mongering control *you*. That is not Christian.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 6:02am BST


There was a modicum of irony in my earlier remarks.

At the risk of stating what others have said in pedantic terms. Of course, it was alarmist. Of course, 'incest, pedophilia, polygamy and bestiality' are not automatic concomitants of homosexual orientation. And no, I don't agree with his scare-mongering.


Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 11:26am BST

Fr Ron:

The only part of your post I feel tempted to argue with is the prefix 'oxy-'.

But I won't.

Posted by Lister Tonge at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 12:37pm BST

We await Muriel Porter's book on Sydney Anglicans to appear this summer published by Ashgate with a preface by the Principal of Cuddesdon. I dont think all is well in the diocese despite the tremendous hype that followed Jenson's consecration ( plotted for many years). Financial problems, the increasing anxieties of the beleagured old fashioned evangelical parishes 9 the few catholic parishes are inured to being beleagured)...and the retirement of Jenson in 2013 with no obvious successor of any stature....

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 2:45pm BST

"and the retirement of Jenson in 2013 with no obvious successor of any stature...."

- Perry Butler -

But the Archbishop does have a younger brother, does he not? Also, I believe, equally bigoted, and in 'good standing' in Sydney

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 1:51am BST

I am sorry, David.

I was confused by

"Shame on him! Let him name a single minority cause has ever advanced its goals by this means in the course of Western political history...

Okay, let him name three in the space of five seconds!"

Which, I think most would agree, seem to be pointing to agreement with him *through sarcasm* that such a slippery slope is a viable and even imminent possibility.

I am terribly sorry that I bored you to sleep.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 5:44am BST

Sorry too. That all of us have 'liberal' and 'conservative' labels. Yet, I see a flicker of hope as we both 'earnestly contend for the faith'

It's clear that the archbishop's tone smacks of a political desperation that I don't agree with. It's an attempt to build a climate of 'social contamination' fear. It's one thing that gays don't need. In fact, one thing that no-one needs.

That said, I also know that every liberation movement since the Civil Rights movement in the 60's has employed the same strategy and rhetoric to advance their cause. How many times have I heard the shop-worn use of uncritical equivalence: 'substitute the word 'black' for ...' on these comment threads?

Nevertheless, I don't think polygamists will hold a 'Multi-bride Pride Day' on the day after any amendment to the Marriage Act is passed.


Posted by David Shepherd at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 7:30am BST

I would agree that those tactics are, indeed, common. Yet, as we also both agree, we are entrenched in sides. Perhaps that is right, too.

I think that I have begun to understand that there are those who truly believe that homosexuality is a learned behavior of willful self-indulgence. I no longer try to argue them out of that, but to accept that that is what they believe, firmly, deeply, immovably. In the same way, if you look at the use of "substitute the word 'black' for ..." you can come to appreciate that we believe it is an immutable characteristic in the same way. It isn't just a jaded political tactic, it is our true conviction. Black is immutable and inborn, so is gay. It is pointless to argue that with *us* either. Both sides have heard for nigh on 40 years the other sides' arguments, and it is time to stop telling one another that we are not understanding what's being said. We understand, and with equally-convincing reasons, we reject each others' sides.

This, too, is perhaps immutable. The ongoing argument is whether to part in acrimony or struggle to coexist in love. I don't see that anyone much considers a third option of parting in love. The coexistence is not a question - we can't kick you out of the world or out of God's love, nor can you us. However, it is important to realize that, deep down, what both sides are saying when they speak of walking together in covenant (or whatever), they mean holding their own until the other side dies or changes its mind. That is acrimony. Better to have - *gasp, horror* - a schism than to foul each other's spirits in a false brotherhood. Schism is a man-made "sin" while anger and violence are actual sins.

Perhaps, in time and left to ourselves, we can find a day when we all grow together again, perhaps not, and that is what was always intended. I can't reconcile the triumphant Christ with a single, worldwide version of Christianity. I think Christianity would be poor and Christ's body maimed without the many separate denominations and their contributions.

We won't make history with bogus accords, but we could make history with the first amicable schism. That would be true brotherly coexistence.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 9:00am BST

The people who actually practice polygamy in the wilderness areas of Utah are hardly wild liberal anarchist libertines. They are people who completely reject all modernity (including technology and constitutional democracy), who even dress in clothes that were out of fashion in 1870. They have more in common with fundamentalist Islam than they do with the rest of the Western world. They are extreme Biblical and Mormon literalists who (I think correctly) see that the Biblical norm for marriage was polygamy (see King Solomon).

On the contrary, lgbt rights and feminism are both bound up with the advance of modernity, with expanding the political, economic, and social franchise, with changing traditional gender roles and hierarchies to reflect a larger and expanding sense of equality and democracy in an increasingly cosmopolitan and interdependent world. Those movements are the creation of that very modern conviction that the human condition can be changed, and for the better. Since the American Revolution, we no longer live by the assumption that we are always doomed to toil in sweat and pain and that kings shall always be our nursing fathers and queens our nursing mothers.

I think all the concentration on fitting pegs into proper holes (so to speak) misses the real moral responsibility of any two people coming together and deciding to make their lives together, the responsibility of mutual respect and fidelity. People find each other and come together to face life together with all of its pleasures and contingencies. Others come into that community in the form of children for both gay and straight families, and for both, the children become the primary focus of all energies and attention. Both partners in the relationship assume equal responsibility for maintaining that little community of love.
Polygamy clearly is inconsistent with that responsibility and so is historic patriarchal hierarchy that until recently was enshrined in laws designating both wives and children as "property."
Same sex relations are not inconsistent, and indeed, just like heterosexual couples, are no more nor less flawed than the human beings who make them.

The objections to same sex marriage are ultimately arbitrary, based in preconceptions that are discredited and can no longer survive the tests of evidence, reason, and fairness, as Archbishop Jensen so clearly demonstrates for us.

Posted by Counterlight at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 3:00pm BST

It's unfortunate that while one issue dominates the Anglican moral landscape and its witness to the world, other equally weighty matters of justice take second place.

So you're gay. You and others believe innately so. I accept that's who you and they are. I am campaigning on behalf of any soul who can participate in the constant struggle against the dearth of critical thinking in the world today: the mass-media driven worship of pop culture icons, the fear of scrutinising the polarised right and left-wing divide, the masquerade of ritual externalisms, the pagan temples of 'got-to-have-it-now' credit-fuelled conspicuous consumption, the forgotten losers in the globalised capitalism sweepstakes, the church and secular politicians who can only ride to fame through populist appeal and the lazy-minded constituents who follow them for 'bread and circuses'.

I have no particular interest in supporting the vast paid hierarchies of Anglican moral theorists and academics, so I won't be campaigning for the preferment of anyone: whether gay, straight, male or female.

A schism may work for you. History records how easily hard-liners advance within break away movements (whether right or left wing) by eventually branding and overthrowing the moderates within their number as weak, compromising traitors. They then assume a 'protective' role in the movement, scrutinising for defection and making ever more insistent attempts to accelerate the pace of change.

How does Robespierre justify the Reign of Terror? How does Oliver Cromwell become the regally attired and handsomely paid Lord Protector? How does the 10th Secretary-General of the courageous Non-Aligned Movement accelerate much-needed land reform in Zimbabwe by sanctioning violent attacks on White farmers?

So, I know how easily the glorious idealism of any movement liberated and segregated from one form of intolerance can descend into their own intolerance of internal dissent. The demand for unchallenged commitment to the cause, however important, eventually supplants loyalty to the broader cause of Christ in the world.

I see a value in opposition. King Saul becomes God's mirror of David's own propensity for jealous tyranny (Bathsheba). That doesn't make Saul right. He needed to be resisted, rebuked and challenged for the wrong that he perpetrated. However, it did make him a necessary evil: a reflection in which David could view how his own life might end up, should he remain impenitent towards the marred madness that almost consumed his own soul.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 18 June 2011 at 5:42pm BST

David Shepherd: "It's unfortunate that while one issue dominates the Anglican moral landscape and its witness to the world, other equally weighty matters of justice take second place."

Quite: so I hope you address yourself vocally to the people responsible for making such a continual brouhaha about this one issue for nearly 10 years now, the Conservative Evangelical ageing male leadership cadre.

Posted by Fr Mark at Sunday, 19 June 2011 at 9:01pm BST

"So, I know how easily the glorious idealism of any movement liberated and segregated from one form of intolerance can descend into their own intolerance of internal dissent." - David Shepherd -

Indubitably! Just look at ACNA in the United States and Canada.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 20 June 2011 at 3:46am BST

My point is, schism is merely the boogeyman-word for division - cells, for instance, "schism." If not, no growth, no life. The Body must grow, cells divide, to live. This is living death, all of us clawing at one another and pretending it's for belief or our souls.

It's not. Trevor Phillips has it exactly right - on both sides - it's an attempt to grasp power, to be greater than our powerless Master. It is death - worse, eternal death.

Yes, hardliners can divide and separate further, that's part of the pain and chaos of growth and life, out of which comes an order we may never comprehend. The problem isn't the division, but the reason for which it is done.

To separate in love has not been tried before. Believe me, the hardliners on both sides will dislike the idea, hate it, in fact. They want to *win* - to be *right*! They want the enemy humiliated and new power established, and internal war becoming internecine open conflict - a la the Protestant Reformation, the Great Schism, early Christians and the Jewish faith of which they had just separated. No, the hardliners will cling to each other in hate forever, but we needn't let them cling to *us*.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 22 June 2011 at 5:23am BST


Yes, I get that. I totally get that.

Posted by David Shepherd at Wednesday, 22 June 2011 at 9:31pm BST


I feel very happy and very blessed and a true fraternal bond at your reply.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 23 June 2011 at 4:49am BST

Peace all round.

Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 23 June 2011 at 4:53pm BST
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