Comments: Prime Minister criticises Church on same-sex relationships

I'm no Tory in membership or sympathy, but I've been making the same point for years. By arbitrarily locking out or disabling a whole population, the Church (Anglican and Universal) only hurts itself, especially at a time when growing numbers of the public on both sides of the Atlantic seriously doubt the good faith and authority of the Church's moral pronouncements on any issue.

LGBTs will continue no matter what. LGBT Christians will continue no matter what. I'm not so sure about the churches as institutions.

Posted by Counterlight at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 5:02pm BST

Unbelievable that a UK Prime Minister can know so little about the Churches that he doesn't know that there are lots of gay people who are Christians (even conservative churches!) and he doesn't know that a fundmental tenet of Christianity is that Everyone is Equal - whoever and whatever we are, right or wrong, good or bad!

Unbelievable!!

Posted by RevDave at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 5:35pm BST

Is John 3:16 REALLY 'the most famous verse in the Bible'?

Posted by David Rowett at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 6:03pm BST

Giddings' letter is full of deception.

Many Churches refuse full membership to self affirming gay people. I always think about and quote Mark Green head of LICC who has frequently pointed out that many if not most of his constituency do NOT offer a "safe place" for LGBT folk.

Of course Giddings fails completely to understand the law here in the UK which does not recognise the distinction he is making.

Posted by Martino Reynoldo at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 6:05pm BST

Mr. Cameron's comments seem perfectly sensible in themselves. But I can't help coming away with the impression that he has failed to appreciate that, as Prime Minister, he is in a position of management and control with respect to the established Church. If he really passionately believes that the policies of the Church need to change, he can't just assume that it's someone else's responsibility to change them.

Posted by Feria at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 7:35pm BST

Giddings, Sugden and Thomas, the moral guardians of our nation eh? More of the predictable same. I, for one, have been astounded by Cameron's forward thinking in this area, in the face of old guard reactionary Tories. The mood of the nation is for equality and inclusivity and against the likes of Giddings, Sugden, Thomas and their bedfellows Archbishop Tartaglia and Cardinal O'Brien.

Posted by Fr J C at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 8:26pm BST

Oh dear, Beckett and More again. Where's Thomas Cromwell when you need him?

Posted by Charlotte at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 9:08pm BST

I wonder if this will have any effect on the appointment of the next ABC, given the Prime Minister's role in that appointment.

Posted by Hugh James at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 9:39pm BST

So by their own admission Reform and Anglican Mainstream are 'locking out' any one who is GLTB who is having sex. Since that includes about 99% of us there's hardly any difference between what they say and what the Prime Minister is saying, is there? Misrepresentation? What misrepresentation? Mealy mouthed and plain mean.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 9:49pm BST

It would be a wonderful move forward if this Prime Minister did have an effect on the selection of the next ABC. Hugh James comments may be close to the truth on this issue. I hope so.

Posted by Chris Smith at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 11:35pm BST

Some fundamentalist Anglicans would no doubt argue that pointing someone to the door and saying "here's your hat, what's the hurry" is not the same as locking them out. But it has the same effect, getting and keeping the undesirables out of their personal private temple, eh?

Posted by Randal Oulton at Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 11:44pm BST

"Unbelievable that a UK Prime Minister can know so little about the Churches that he doesn't know that there are lots of gay people who are Christians (even conservative churches!) and he doesn't know that a fundamental tenet of Christianity is that Everyone is Equal - whoever and whatever we are, right or wrong, good or bad!"

De Jure is not De Facto, and, in an environment like a church, de facto is the more important. There are a thousand ways of forcing out without forcing out, of claiming membership by name only, of some being more equal than others.

In other words, a lot of things are "supposed to be" but "how it is" is what's important.

You claim the ideal RevDave - do you really expect us to believe it is the real, as well?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 27 July 2012 at 6:47am BST

I understand his invitations had included a number of prominent gay clergy so I imagine he knew exactly what the state of play is ... in the church Mr Cameron is just another member of the laity. I am no Tory - but I thought his speech was bang on the money...

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Friday, 27 July 2012 at 9:40am BST

I liked the Provost of St.Mary's Anglican Cathedral, Glasgow, Kelvin Holdsworth's, description of his experience at the U.K. Prime Minister's Garden Party - especially in light of the fact that the Scottish Parliament might yet beat England in legislating for the first Same-Sex Marriage. We in New Zealand won't be too far behind, seemingly.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 27 July 2012 at 11:10am BST

If whoever runs the C of E cares about the reputational damage it is suffering, most recently from the Prime Minister's remarks (and if it wants to keep its seats in the Lords, and to get women bishops on its terms rather than somebody else's), a gesture of penitence is available immediately: Announce publicly that the disciplinary proceedings against the Rector of Winchelsea and the Rev. David Page are being abandoned forthwith. If they continue, they will only make the PM's point for him, and show the C of E to be a corporate ass.

Posted by Iain McLean at Friday, 27 July 2012 at 11:51am BST

Charlotte,

"Thomas Cromwell" as in a lay Royal Legate a Latere? I guess there's merit in reminding people (including Mr. Cameron himself) that that option is at the Prime Minister's fingertips - although I'm not sure the situation quite warrants pushing the button _yet_.

Posted by Feria at Friday, 27 July 2012 at 12:44pm BST

Cameron and the Consrvative Party will lose more votes from core Conservatives on this issue than any other. Nor, I suspect, will he make up the difference from homosexual votes. To cap it all, with his kindly references to Blair he is digging his own grave.

Posted by John Bowles at Friday, 27 July 2012 at 4:02pm BST

There is what strikes me as an odd definition of baptism in Anglican Mainstream's remarks. They say, "This is because ‘full membership’ of a Christian church comprises those who are baptised, i.e. those who have repented of their sins, and declared their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Saviour."

Funny, I thought baptism was a sacrament of the Church involving water, the Holy Spirit, the Triune formula, and signing with the sign of the cross, acts performed by someone authorized to do so by the Church.

I did not realize that one could baptise oneself.

Interesting, the novelties the Anglican Mainstream folks can get up to.

Posted by jnwall at Friday, 27 July 2012 at 5:32pm BST

"the Conservative Party will lose more votes from core Conservatives on this issue than any other."
John Bowles on Friday, 27 July 2012 at 4:02pm BST

John Bowles doesn't give us evidence to back up this unequivocal statement of "fact" and there was a time I might have believed this propaganda but my friends and fellow TA posters tell a different story.

Robert Ian Williams stood in recent elections against a partnered gay Tory councillor and was on the stump every night for several weeks garnering support for himself. He tells that the gay issue or gay marriage didn't figure ONCE in ANY conversation within the constituency - NOT ONCE!

Similarly a very Tory and moderately conservative cleric who pastors a large Vale of Glamorgan true blue stronghold told me yesterday that his substantial Low Church" congregation think gay marriage - "inevitable" and hope the Church does not stick its heels in ..... he was somewhat taken aback!

The pundits are still crying foul, miffed at being totally ignored - indeed there is more than a suggestion from Westminster and Whitehall that the campaign against gay marriage has had the opposite effect to that intended and has in fact galvanised the supporters.

And one must ask where these "core" Tories are now going to cast their vote?
For, when Rowan Williams recently complained at the Tories not having a mandate for gay marriage, he did conclude by accepting (perhaps ruefully?) that ALL the major parties now embrace marriage equality.

Cameron sees this is a dead issue the moment the legislation is passed. Nobody is going to campaign on its repeal.

It does remind me though of the time when we were "decriminalised", looking back at what some Labour demi-gods like Dick Crossman wrote then:
“Frankly it's an extremely unpleasant Bill and I myself don't like it. It may well be twenty years ahead of public opinion; certainly working-class people in the north jeer at their Members at the weekend and ask them why they're looking after the buggers at Westminster instead of looking after the unemployed at home. It has gone down very badly that the Labour Party should be associated with such a Bill.”
Richard Crossman, 3rd July 1967, The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister, Volume 2

Posted by Martino Reynoldo at Friday, 27 July 2012 at 7:23pm BST

I wrote "Unbelievable that a UK Prime Minister can know so little about the Churches that he doesn't know that there are lots of gay people who are Christians (even in conservative churches!) and he doesn't know that a fundamental tenet of Christianity is that Everyone is Equal - whoever and whatever we are, right or wrong, good or bad!"

"MarkBrunso wrote: "... a lot of things are "supposed to be" but "how it is" is what's important. You claim the ideal RevDave - do you really expect us to believe it is the real, as well?

Dear MarkBrunson, Yes. You may not have noticed that there have been quite a few leading conservatives who are "confirmed bachelors"...

The error David Cameron is making it to think that the Church is supposed to include anyone who is attracted to it, without having to be a disciple of Christ in their beliefs, values and behaviours. I suspect that you and most liberals are making the same mistake. But Jesus told his Apostle to make disciples "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you". If anyone wants to be His followers we have to fit in with Him, and the teaching of Him and His Apostles.

Everyone is welcome in the Kingdom of God, but entering and remaining in it requires us to believe, trust and follow Jesus.

Posted by RevDave at Friday, 27 July 2012 at 8:37pm BST

However, as loving others is consistent with Christian beliefs, values and behaviour ...

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 1:09am BST

Of course, the other way that one could view Cameron's remarks is that they were expressed in the light of further legal clarification. Probably, he has now been advised that to legislate for same-sex civil marriage, while maintaining a blanket ban on the religious solemnisation of same-sex marriage would violate article 14 rights. So, this is Cameron dealing with the 'how' of implementing same-sex marriage.

For instance, if the proposals were implemented, how could Quakers and Reform Jews be prevented from conducting legally valid same-sex marriage services, anyway? Would the law force them, only in the case of gay couples, to invite a registrar to solemnise a same-sex civil marriage, but conduct their usual religious service without civil recognition?

As I've maintained before, the situation would be no different from Savez Crkava “Riječ Života” and others v. Croatia, in which the European Court held that once civil recognition of religious marriage was granted, Croatia could not implement a right that falls under one article (in that case, Article 9) in a mannner that discriminates (thereby contravening Article 14). Permitting churches that want to conduct gay religious marriages to do so is not the same as compelling those who don't. Therefore, the margin of appreciation would no longer apply.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 2:02am BST

The difficulty here is how we define equality. There were many South African whites who genuinely believed that blacks were their equal but that they had different roles in life. There were many who objected to women's liberation because they insisted that women were completely equal but have different roles in life.

Acutally, though, the only test of equality is whether it treats everyone precisely the same and gives them precisely the same rights and responsibilities.

By that reckoning, all are equal in the church but some (men) are more equal than others (women) who again are more equal than others (lgbt).

In civic and civil society the church definition of equality will not do.
It shouldn't do in the church either.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 10:03am BST

I am amazed by Martin Reynaldo's complacency. If he consults the Christian Institute's website he will find several references to the opposition of core Conservatives to this legislarion and the likely consequences for the Party. As for alternative political choices, many of us will vote for UKIP and others will not vote at all. Cameron has proved to be an intensely disappointing Prime Minister and leader of the Party. He may well have broken it in the way that Lloyd George destroyed the Liberals.

Posted by John Bowles at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 10:29am BST

" But Jesus told his Apostle to make disciples "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you". If anyone wants to be His followers we have to fit in with Him, and the teaching of Him and His Apostles." - RevDave -

Right you are, RevDave! So. Point to any place in the Scriptures - that you rely on to prove your anti-gay position - where Jesus spoke one word against the minority of people who happen to be intrinsically Gay. (Or even ABOUT them).

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 12:05pm BST

"Everyone is welcome in the Kingdom of God, but entering and remaining in it requires us to believe, trust and follow Jesus."

Sorry, but Christ is not an exam proctor or an auditor, and no one pulls themselves up into the Kingdom of Heaven by their own bootstraps. Rest assured that each and every one of us will fail any test of faith and virtue that Christ would send us. All the required tests have been taken and all the tasks already accomplished on our behalf by Christ Himself. Remember that He forgave his executioners from the cross, demanding nothing from them, not even their repentance.

Posted by Counterlight at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 1:12pm BST

I think Cameron might lose some votes by inducing a double dip recession and if the NHS were to disintegrate. I agree with Martin Reynolds. I remember when the Parliament Act was used to force through the equal age of consent against Lords (and Anglican) opposition.

The following day there was a blood curdling editorial in the Sun saying this was a terrible thing and that the Labour Party was going to pay a terrible price for doing such a thing. The Labour Party went on to win the next two elections and the issue was never heard of again.

In spite of all the bluff and bluster I think it will have big cross party majorities in both Parliaments and then will just become normal reality that people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 2:30pm BST

Ron and others:

Please make up your minds. I hear some of you maintain consistently that scripture says nothIng about homosexuality as it is practiced today, Fine! That would mean maintaining that any prohibitions (NT or OT) on same-sex copulation are irrelevant, but that would also end your attempts to sexualise references to eunuchs from birth, David and Johnathan, the Centurion's relationship with his servant and 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'.

Agree among yourselves and authorities in the liberal world whether scripture does or does not. It's really not subtly paradoxical. You can't cherry-pick inferred homosexuality, while ignoring explicit prohibitions elsewhere. You can't honestly have it both ways!

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 2:48pm BST

'He forgave his executioners from the cross, demanding nothing from them, not even their repentance.'

Ah, a lovely tinge of universalist clap-trap. 'Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?' That's forbearance towards ignorance, not relief from the need for repentance.

Their sins of ignorance were forgiven 'for they know not what they do'. This is borne out by Peter's speech after healing the lame man in Acts 3: 'And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And now, brethren, I know that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.' (Acts 3:15,17) The same was true of Paul, who persecuted the faith 'ignorantly in unbelief'.

If further insight of revelation through scripture and the preached word is constantly rejected, men are handed over to their self-rule, insistent distortions and self-serving deception. The conscience is seared away by habitual offence. The soul sits on death row awaiting its ultimate eternal forfeiture.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 4:01pm BST

" If he consults the Christian Institute's website ..... many of us will vote for UKIP....."
John Bowles on Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 10:29am BST

Enough said ......

Posted by Martino Reynoldo at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 4:13pm BST

"Vice-gerent in Spirituals" was the title Cromwell invented for himself in 1535, as Feria of course knows. Working through Parliament, Cromwell then used his new powers to bring in the Reformation. Of course, Cromwell rejoiced in the full cooperation of Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Interesting little fact: the online newsletter for my old church is featuring parishioners' summer reading lists. All the clergy are reading what you might expect clergy to be reading. All the laity are reading Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall."

Posted by Charlotte at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 6:49pm BST

I'm afraid, John Bowles, that UKIP isn't going to inherit the mantle of the Conservative Party, if indeed it is as broken as you believe. According to our first past the post system it is extremely difficult for minor parties to get elected. If anything, defections from the Conservatives to UKIP will only make it more likely that Labour will win the next election with or without the support of the Lib Dems. The Conservative Party will be scrambling again to make itself electable by appealing to the widest possible constituency. And that doesn't include its core Christian Institute or other voters who remain a tiny minority.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 7:49pm BST

Ron wrote "Point to any place in the Scriptures ... where Jesus spoke one word against the minority of people who happen to be intrinsically Gay. (Or even ABOUT them).

Dear Ron, neither Jesus, nor I, am against anyone, whoever or whatever they are: good or bad, right or wrong! The issue isn't "ontological".

What I said, and you agreed, is that "If anyone wants to be His followers we have to fit in with Him[Jesus], and the teaching of Him and His Apostles."

Jesus himself condemned sexually immoral *behaviour* saying, for instance, “... out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality [pornea], theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; ..." (Matt 15:19). Pornea is the general term for all sexual immorality - which, in the Jewish mind of the time, definitely included same-sex sex! Which is why, when he had to teach disciples in cultures where same-sex sex was practised, the Apostle Paul taught explicitly that “men who have sex with men” won't inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10) and condemned “practicing homosexuality” as “contrary to sound doctrine [ie teaching!]” (1 Tim 1:8-11).

I've heard often enough the argument that love is the highest law, and God is love - so what can be wrong with two people who love each other committing to a permanent faithful stable sexual relationship. The problem with this is that Jesus and His apostles taught the primacy of love but never saw the contradiction you see with condemning sexual relationships outside male-female marriage. Even in Revelation pornea is among the list of things that exclude people from the new heaven and new earth (21:8, 22:15).

Posted by RevDave at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 10:42pm BST

"The soul sits on death row awaiting its ultimate eternal forfeiture."

The word "love" dies on the lips.


I'll take "universalist claptrap" over gleeful personal vindictiveness projected onto the cosmos any day.

Posted by Counterlight at Saturday, 28 July 2012 at 10:46pm BST

'Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?' Ezek. 18:23.

It's a deprture from the original topic, but the scriptural counter to universalism is not 'gleeful personal vindictiveness projected onto the cosmos'. Those who have progressively banished from themselves all of God-ness as He is authentically revealed are reluctantly relinquished to their chosen state.

If I couldn't be persuaded by divine insight into God's supreme act of abandonment to our plight to abandon myself to His will, I wouldn't consider it more loving for Him to overpower me and reduce me to a mindless smiling automaton of eternal submission. I wouldn't want Him to take away my capacity to choose, if I have been made aware of the eternal consequences.

If His love cannot reluctantly accept human responses that add up to insisting on worldly self-rule: 'I am aware of the consequences, but no, I never want to be with you', then it's not true love. Dismissing the consequences to win our favour back is just manipulative and unworthy of God.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 29 July 2012 at 7:13pm BST

RevDave:

Re; "practicing homosexuality"

Amazing that Paul could condemn something using a word that didn't exist until nearly 1900 years after he wrote the letter in question. (Merriam-Webster finds the first citation of "homosexual" in 1892.) Whatever Paul was talking about, it wasn't "homosexuality" as we understand it in the modern world, any more than Genesis describes the modern understanding of the formation of the universe.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 29 July 2012 at 7:48pm BST

Misprint, Rev Dave - isn't it 'porneia'? And although my lexicon's an out-of-date Liddell & Scott, even as weak a classicist as I am would note the word is cognate with 'porne' and its derivatives, all of which refer to various forms of prostitution, including cultic (for which there would indeed be Jewish abhorrence). L&S offers 'fornication' as an alternative meaning, but the connection with 'negotiable hospitality' isn't easily dismissed.

I'm not much of a scholar, but I'd like to know the reliability of the source for your blanket assertion that 'Pornea (sic) is the general term for all sexual immorality...' etc. Names and sources, please, even if only to advance my education!

Posted by david rowett at Sunday, 29 July 2012 at 11:23pm BST

'Pornea' usually has the over-tone of 'sex as self-indulgence - sex for mere sensual pleasure - sex without commitment'. It is not, in the least, the same as a relationship of commitment between two people of the same sex.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Sunday, 29 July 2012 at 11:54pm BST

David Shepherd. You appear to be playing with words. That you utter them here is no guarantee that they are true - any more than those of any of the rest of us. Perhaps an economy of words from your end would help some of us to identify your actual arguments.

However, when you oppose my pointing out the mention of eunuchs by Jesus in the Scriptures (Mat.19) to my proposition that Jesus said nothing about LGBT people, you are surely playing semantics. The point I am trying to make (albeit, not to your satisfaction) is that Jesus seemed not to have the calculated dislike for Gay people that you seem to delight in, in your comments here.

The irrefutable fact is, that Jesus did not seem to address specific instances of mis-behaviour by intrinsically homosexual people. Whereas he was critical of those who betrayed their marital vows.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 1:33am BST

Come now, RevDave. We're Anglicans: by article VII of our Articles of Religion, our interpretation of phrases like "sexual immorality" is not supposed to be identical to that in the unabridged law of Moses, which I presume is what you mean by 'the Jewish mind of the time'.

As for the passages you mention from 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy... I see you've chosen the 2011 edition of the NIV as your translation to quote. I have to hand it to you: in the 2011 edition of the NIV (and indeed in the ESV), those passages unambiguously say what you claim they say. However, in the KJV, Wycliffe, the Good News Bible, and the earlier editions of the NIV, we get forms of words which, just like "sexual immorality" in Matthew, challenge us to make up our own minds about the details of what's right and what's wrong.

Posted by Feria at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 8:52am BST

@Ron:

'The irrefutable fact is, that Jesus did not seem to address specific instances of mis-behaviour by intrinsically homosexual people. Whereas he was critical of those who betrayed their marital vows'

Of course he didn't, he used the broader, more inclusive term, porneia. It's off-topic, but I'm happy to go down that road, if RevDave isn't and the moderator allows.

He also commissioned His apostles and endowed them with the Holy Spirit of truth and that same Spirit condemned same-sex copulation in the epistles, rather than equating it to part of a protected characteristic.

He also enjoined all to chaste behaviour. For those guilty of pre-marital and post-marital sexual sin, he demanded that we publicly admit its wrong and ask for His forgiveness, rather than try to explain it away as morally neutral.

I do not explain away anyone's sin, or my own as morally neutral. So, your point is?

Posted by David Shepherd at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 10:58am BST

The word 'Homosexual' was invented in 1869 according to Wikepedia, its first usage being in an anonymous pamphlet arguing against the Prussian anti-sodomy laws. It's part of the mid Victorian attempt at defining the 'condition' of same sex attraction, before then, morals and the law were only interested in 'actions'. As Pat O'Neil says, what ever Paul was talking about it certainly wasn't homosexuality as we understand it today.


Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 11:00am BST

So God has decided that gays and lesbians are his mortal enemies while he lets war lords and plutocrats rape and plunder with seeming impunity. People here froth at the mouth in purple faced rage over boy bits being attracted to other boy bits, and yet the High and Mighty profiting off the misery of millions of people gets barely a raised eyebrow. Some of us are even prepared to congratulate the High and Mighty and proclaim their might as a manifestation of God's favor. The "Strong Arm of the Lord" easily morphs into the strong arm of those Siamese twins, State and Corporation.

The everlasting appeal of the Apocalypse, "The Lord shall destroy my enemies utterly, and I will be there to watch."

Somehow the prospect of Almighty God smiting 2 dudes, a store clerk and a postal worker, for enjoying a Saturday night together seems grotesquely disproportionate.

Projecting one's vindictiveness onto the cosmos indeed.

Posted by Counterlight at Monday, 30 July 2012 at 1:05pm BST

Dear Pat, Feria and Richard,

You suggest that the Bible's authors can't be refering to homosexuality because the word wasn't invented until the 1800's. But this is another oft-repeated liberal argument... but not very well thought through: I presume that you aren't saying that what we call homosexuality didn't exist until the 1800's, or are you just claiming that noone realised that some people are primarily attracted to people of the same sex until the 1800's? Show me the evidence!

Of course people people were aware iof homosexuality before the 1800s. People weren't stupid!

ANYWAY the whole of the words and concepts of the English language have evolved and changed since the New Testament was written. That doesn't mean we can't understand what they wrote or that it is impossible to express in modern English.

ps Dear Rosemary, you are reaching you conclusion by starting from it (that same-sex sexual relationships are morally ok). There are other issues besides love and commitment that both of ius would probably agree on. For instance love and commitment are not enough to justify a sexual relationship between two people who are not married, or between adult siblings or between a parent and (adult) child, or between a man and an already married woman etc etc.

Posted by RevDave at Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 11:08am BST

Dear David Rowett and Rosemary Hannah

Arguments over the meaning of "pornea" are discussed at some length by "religious tolerance" here: http://www.religioustolerance.org/pornea.htm/ Given the forms of sexual relationship condemned by Jesus and the Apostles in the NT, I'd go with a simple definition that Religious Tolerance seems to think is a less controvertible: sexual intercourse outside marriage.. (eg 1 Cor 7:2) remembering that, for a Christian, "marriage" means marriage as defined by Jesus in Matt 19:5 (quoting Gen 3): "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" NOT any form of marriage recognized by the state - some of which are specifically condemned by Jesus (as they were at issue in 1c. Jewish culture) eg "But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matt 5:32 NRSV)

ps πορνεία is often rendered "pornea" nowadays

Posted by RevDave at Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 11:39am BST

RevDave:

What I am saying is that the idea of two men or two women in a lifelong committed relationship was clearly not what Paul had in mind and that same-sex attraction between equals was especially unknown to the ancient world...one side of the equation was always considered superior, the other inferior (generally man-boy and owner-slave). And the ancient world really had very little to say--positive or negative--about lesbian relationships.

As for your second posting about Jesus' definition of marriage: It is not clear to me that Jesus was limiting marriage to man and woman, only that he was using that form of attraction (the dominant form then as now) as an example. He never specifically says that a man cannot equally "leave his father and mother and be united" to another man.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 7:10pm BST

@RevDave. OK I have looked at the web page and it really tells me nothing. It cites some of the occasions when pornea is used. It then tells me that some translators have chosen 'fornication' as an English equivalent,and then further explains what fornication means in English. However, translating does not work like that. It is VERY rare for any one word to have a neat equivalent in another language. One can never assume that because a foreign word has an English equivalent, knowing more about the English will tell you more about the foreign word. Let us take the Latin word 'infandum'. The English word means 'unutterable' but if one imagined that knowing what 'I was unutterably bored' meant would help one to understand how the Romans understood 'unutterable grief' in book two of the Aeneid, well, one would be sadly mistaken. 'Infandum' means some, but not all, the things that 'unspeakable' means us us, and it also means things that 'unspeakable' does not mean. Thus the shades of meaning in 'pornea' are not the same as those of 'fornication'.

I do agree that while love and commitment are necessary conditions for a sexual partnership they are not sufficient. However, in brief, the other requirements (honesty, openness, lack of incest, tending to enhance the other party, equal power balance, not coercive etc etc) are as easily met by same sex as by opposite sex relationships. As to marriage, indeed, I am all for opening the to same-sex couples, which should end the whole fornication debate ...;)

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 7:21pm BST

Dear David S,

Nevertheless, some of the acts and omissions that were declared to be sins by (the civil precepts of) the Law of Moses _are_ morally neutral, or even morally beneficial. That's not some innovation that we twenty-first century liberals have introduced - it's been the doctrine of the Church of England since 1571. Of course, where your conscience and mine diverge from one another widely is on _which_ of those Old Testament commandments are obsolete civil precepts.

Posted by Feria at Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 8:38pm BST

Pat :
'He never specifically says that a man cannot equally "leave his father and mother and be united" to another man. '

So, Christ presents the pre-Mosaic prototype of marriage as a counter to attempts to justify a later concession to human intransigence (divorce). Since He does not explicitly condemn same-sex relations in that particular sentence (summarily dismissing the epistles), you think that we should deduce that He is in favour?

Of course, the prefixing the quote from Genesis is 'for this cause' is grounded upon sexual differentiation: 'Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man'. It is 'for this cause' and not another.

Christ re-iterates the specific divinely ordered cause from which sexual union, as approved by God, originates. So, we must ask the question, 'Is homosexual copulation consistent with the divinely ordered cause of sexual differentiation, as cited by Christ?'

Not much wiggle room there (sigh!)

Posted by David Shepherd at Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 8:41pm BST

Dear RevDave,

I didn't suggest anything of the sort. (Nor, I think, did Pat and Richard, but I guess they'll tell you that themselves.)

The point I was making was this: whereas, in 1 Corinthians 6, the 2011 edition of the NIV labels as wrongdoers all "men who have sex with men", the 1984 edition of the NIV applies the equivalent label instead to "homosexual offenders", the KJV to "abusers of themselves with mankind", and the Good News Bible to "homosexual perverts".

Hence, those older translations do something important for us that the 2011 NIV fails to do: they delegate to us, in human societies, the choice of the details of the moral principle, of exactly which actions are "offences", or "abuses", or "perversions".

My moral choice is clear: the vast majority of "men who have sex with men" are not "offenders", nor "abusers", nor "perverts". Therefore, the condemnation in 1 Corinthians 6 applies to a much smaller set of people, and to a much smaller set of acts (Rosemary has set out a list, which I endorse), than "men who have sex with men".

I think you've made a rather different moral choice - but you should be clear that that moral choice is your own, and not pretend to yourself that you're only obeying orders from St. Paul.

Fortunately, the difference between our respective moral choices doesn't mean an unbreakable impasse, because (assuming that you're also based in the UK) we have our representatives in an elected Parliament, through whom we can reach a collective decision.

(Closely analogous arguments apply to 1 Timothy 1 and Romans 1.)

Posted by Feria at Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 9:05pm BST

Jesus does not cite the 'made from a rib' pericope, but the 'male and female he created them' pericope. He then argues that where marriage takes place, it is because of this, and once joined by God,humankind should not separate them.

We know from other sayings that he did NOT consider such joining a necessity, and one cannot argue therefore that he felt all men should be joined to a woman and vice-versa. The pericope on marriage, therefore, does not enjoin marriage but instead describes what should happen once it has occurred - it is intended to be for life.

Jesus does NOT enjoin marriage, but only that marriage once entered should not be dissolved. He does not live in a society which has considered the possibility of same-sex marriage, and it not in any way addressing this question ... he has just been asked what his position is on men divorcing their wives, the only kid of divorce his culture makes provision for.

Paul's letter to the Romans starts with a long argument that God has made himself known to all people, but some have wilfully worshipped idols in animal form. He then moves on to claim that women abandoning 'natural' intercourse, and men having sex with men is a punishment for idolatry. He takes it as axiomatic that his readers with find it a shameful thing, and one cannot but think this may well be because in his period homosexual desire was so very often fulfilled by people taking their slaves to bed - which one sees would usually be an abuse of power.

The other condemnations of homosexuality in the epistles rests (I believe I am right in saying) on the translation of a word only found in the NT - which makes translation problematic. It appears to derive from words meaning 'man-in-the-marriage-bed'. In a period when people were most usually married at their parent's bidding, it does, to say the least, remind one forcibly that MOST same-sex sex was automatically adultery.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Wednesday, 1 August 2012 at 12:13am BST

The Greek words in 1 Corinthians 6:9 are "malakoi" and "arsenokoitai," words with great difficulty of translation, the fights about which have consumed trees of papers.

The only other New Testament use of "malakoi" is in connection with clothing (Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25) where it is translated to mean "soft" or "fine." In connection with a person, perhaps there is an implication of "indolent" or "fop." How that might relate to sex, and in what capacity, is really not clear.

"Arsenokoitai" is a word apparently created by Paul; there is no known usage beforehand and not very much ancient usage. It is a compound word created from the Greek words for "men" and "beds." Exactly what Paul meant is unclear. What is significant or at least curious here is that he did not use the usual Greek word for sexual activity between males, "paiderasste." "Arsenokoitai" has not always been considered related to homosexual sex; other possible suggested translations have included "temple prostitutes," "sex slaves," "pimps" (in the sense of people who make a living off the sexual activities of others), "child abusers," and "masturbators."

Posted by dr.primrose at Wednesday, 1 August 2012 at 1:09am BST

@Rosemary:
Both are pericopes of sexual differentiation. Sexual differentiation is the basis (for this cause) of the authoritative prototype for marriage in Genesis. As Christ did, we should apply the authoritative prototype to this dilemma, rather than resort, as the Pharisees did, to treating the human concession as positive law when it contradicts the prototype.

Jesus does not enjoin marriage upon all. He does enjoin sexual abstinence outside of marriage. Only Holy Spirit empowerment under grace makes it possible to follow any of the higher expectations within the Kingdom of God (the 'but I say unto you' expectations).

Posted by David Shepherd at Wednesday, 1 August 2012 at 9:18am BST

After half a century in my lifetime, this whole argument is so tiresome, because it is the same material gone over again and again and again. As far as I am concerned, this argument is settled by history. The only way my kind are going to return to the status quo ante is through the application of extreme force and violence, a prospect that looks very unlikely now.

Posted by Counterlight at Wednesday, 1 August 2012 at 12:21pm BST

" He does enjoin sexual abstinence outside of marriage." And the church denies marriage to those of same-sex sexual orientation. Thereby insisting on celibacy for an entire subset of the population for life.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 1 August 2012 at 8:38pm BST

I would have thought it beyond argument that humankind are found as both male and female, and that they are frequently attracted to each other, and that they frequently then marry and form new family units. What Jesus adds is that this is in accordance with the will of God, that he created the two sexes not merely to do this, but so that once they had done this, they were bound together.

I would see his stress (in a society which permitted men to divorce wives but not vice versa) that Jesus is putting a good deal of emphasis precisely on both man and woman being in the image of God - so that the man in rejecting his wife is not rejecting a lesser being but one who is also imago dei. We do know that many divorced wives struggled to live on the dole their husbands were obliged to provide.

Jesus is not setting up are argument about what should happen (you ought to be attracted to the opposite sex) but trying to explain the profound nature of what does demonstrably happen.

We are not arguing for trivial relationships for gay couples. We are arguing that they, too, are both imago dei and they too become indissolubly one flesh.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Wednesday, 1 August 2012 at 11:40pm BST

No, Rosemary, divorce rates show that lifelong joIning (which is God's intent in accomplishing sexual differentiation in the manner described in Genesis) is 'put asunder' by man thousands of times a day. BTW, statistics show that break-ups are orientation-agnostic.

You can argue for a position that imposes a solemn lifelong pact between any two people. Friends, family members and even political allies make these all the time. Christ's argument regarding the intent for permanent sexual union is founded upon our origin as a sexually differentiated species. It is an argument from the primal divinely ordered cause that drives a man to leave his descent group in order to build a new line of kinship.

It is not the man-centred pact of loyalty that you describe and want to pass for marriage: 'It was not so from the beginning'.

Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 2 August 2012 at 11:26am BST

David,
can I ask what you mean to say with all your dogmatic pronouncements?

Counterlight is right to point out that the same old same old arguments have been trotted out by both sides for a long long time.
And the movement of history is clearly on the side of a more liberal interpretation.

It is clear that civil same sex marriage will only be a matter of time.
It is equally clear that the church will eventually bless civil partnerships and there is already a growing movement inside the church, even at high level, that supports same sex marriage.
Other faiths are already openly lobbying to be allowed to conduct same sex marriage.

So what are you trying to do here, beyond repeatedly saying that you don't believe they're right?

You will have no choice but to let society and the church get on with it and to let God be the final judge.

What are you arguing for?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 2 August 2012 at 1:59pm BST

'What are you trying to do here? What are you arguing for?'

Your confidence in the political weight behind gay marriage legislation reminds me of the unassailable power of the Herods: the dynasty empowered by Rome to rule Judaea. I'm sure those at the forefront of the movement for gay marriage are equally astute.

Josephus' sense of outrage over Herodias's re-marriage would be lost on you and many other commenters here: 'Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorced herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod Antipas'.

Certainly, we might think John was a bit heavy-handed in his condemnation of the marriage.
Herodias has procured a civil divorce from Herod's half-brother, Philip. Even if Philip and Antipas were related to each other, it wasn't as though she was related by blood to both of them. I can't see how a good liberal could argue a good case against her re-marriage.

So, some might think John deserved censure for his outspoken (warmed-over Levitical) 'hate speech' against re-marriage. Yet, as with the Herods, there are once again those with the political will to attempt a re-definition of lawful marriage.

The Herods eventually managed to shut John the Baptist up permanently. When we look at the escalation of re-marriage, the 'movement of history' was clearly on their side. In fact, after John's execution, the Herods acted with impunity when Salome (Herodias's daughter) married her half-uncle Herod Philip II. As you like to remind us, then as now, life moved on and the sky didn't fall in. (As if morality is measured by short-term consequences).

So what was John's point? What was he arguing for? Well, the better question would be, 'Who was John arguing for?' John the Baptist had the full authority of scripture behind Him and, once again, challenging gay marriage may very well be at odds with the 'movement of history'. I simply don't hold to your progressive assumptions about the movement of Western history.

As for the 'why'? That's easy to answer: I'm not driven to see a divine affirmation in the 'movement of history' when I see how far astray we've been led by that idea. Another sexual revolution? Whoopee-do!

Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 2 August 2012 at 10:32pm BST

David, in any marriage there HAS to be a pact of loyalty between the couple, the 'ministers of the marriage'. Nobody is arguing that God did NOT intend men and women to enter 'one flesh' marriages. The question is, did he intend some men and some women to enter 'one flesh' marriages with their own sex. I believe he did. The fact he did not intend this for all is self-evident. I think God is capable of more flexibility then you believe him capable of, that is all, really.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 9:10am BST

I really do admire you, Erika.

Still, I recommend reading "People of the Lie" before you try it again.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 9:51am BST

David,
yes, it is patently obvious that you do not agree with any same sex relationship, never mind marriage.
It is also patently obvious that most of us here do not see things your way, nor that any of us will be persuaded any times soon.

All that has been clear for many many months now.
So what is it all about for you, beyond making sure we never forget that David doesn't agree? Why is that so important to you? And why do you think it matters to us that there is a man out there, somewhere, who doen't agree?
I really do not understand your motivation.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 9:58am BST

I think the real difference between David's position and mine is this: that I believe what C.S. Lewis encapsulated in the closing chapters of The Last Battle, which is that every good, well-intentioned deed is really dedicated to Aslan(Christ). I don't believe that the Bible is a simplistic rule-book. I think it is a conversation which God. I think the only clear rules are 'forgive, work for a full just life for everybody, see the life of Christ as God's life on earth'. I see equal marriage as a fulfilment of that second 'rule'. I think God will for give those who get things wrong, misunderstand, whichever side of the debate they find themselves. I am not convinced David thinks this - I suspect he thinks our eternal salvation depends on our believing it IS a rule book, and that the rules are simple to understand, unconflicted.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 11:13am BST

"Yet, as with the Herods, there are once again those with the political will to attempt a re-definition of lawful marriage."

We've been redefining lawful marriage for three or four thousand years, David. It was once lawful for any man to have more than one wife (providing he could support them). It was once unlawful for a woman to initiate divorce. It was once unlawful for a man to wed his brother's widow (never did understand that one, as it was also once considered de rigeur for him to get her pregnant, in order to continue the line). It was once lawful for children as young as 12 to get married. It was once lawful to contract betrothals for infants...or even for infants to grown men.

I'm sure you get my point.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 11:15am BST

I find it so very odd these days that there are so many passionate arguments for restraints and constraints on sexual passions, to save us all from our worse natures. And yet, there are no such calls for any restraint on what may well be the most destructive of all passions from the dark wells of our worst selves, greed.

I agree with Mark Brunson. Erika is truly remarkable for her courteous restraint and her determined persistence.

Posted by Counterlight at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 12:16pm BST

Dear David S,

Now I really can't see where you're going. You appear to be suggesting that, in your mind, the current prohibition on same-sex marriage is of comparable status to the prohibitions contained in the Table of Kindred and Affinity in the BCP. But surely you don't deny the right of Parliament to change the Table of Kindred and Affinity in the BCP...?

Posted by Feria at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 2:05pm BST

"I don't believe that the Bible is a simplistic rule-book. I think it is a conversation with God."

Thank you! Well said!

Posted by Counterlight at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 2:08pm BST

Rosemary Hannah wrote: "I don't believe that the Bible is a simplistic rule-book. I think it is a conversation with God." whereas Feria wrote: " But surely you don't deny the right of Parliament to change the Table of Kindred and Affinity in the BCP...?"

Don't these neatly illustrate liberal christianity's double-thinking? On the one hand arguing that the moral proscriptions of the Bible (that liberals don't like) are just simplistic "rule-book"isms, whilst, on the other hand, arguing that human governments have the right to change the bits of the church's "rule book" that they don't like.

ps What Jesus told us to do was not to "converse with God about what I said" but to go and *make* disciples of all nations,... teaching them to *obey* everything I have *commanded* you.

Posted by RevDave at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 3:38pm BST

Feria,

The analogy only extends as far as explaining why someone like me would oppose the cherished 'movement of history' as I appear to do.

The web-site is called 'Thinking Anglicans'. Perhaps, it should become a bit more exclusive, catering only to the back-slapping bonhomie of the liberal persuasion.

I'll let the moderator decide.

Posted by David Shepherd at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 3:39pm BST

"It was once unlawful for a man to wed his brother's widow (never did understand that one, as it was also once considered de rigeur for him to get her pregnant.."
Pat O'Neill on Friday, 3 August 2012 at 11:15am BST
Yes Pat, interesting to see how the levirate was outlawed by later Rabbinic teaching and interesting too that the children of these unions were attributed to the dead brother!

Posted by Martino Reynoldo at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 5:07pm BST

@Dave - FWIW I do not think it is legitimate for the state to change the church's rules, though I think it is legitimate for the church so to do. The state may of course change the rules of the state. I suspect that may be what Feria meant, but it may not. Liberals are not a monolithic entity!

Jesus's commands were pretty simple, weren't they? Hard but simple. Love and even the most impossible. Forgive, even the unforgivable. Don't be hypocrites. He of all people is not much of your actual rule-giver. He answers 'who is my neighbour' with one of his 'I'd rather not have to swallow this' stories. Stories are not rules.

Any answer to my points about translation yet??

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Friday, 3 August 2012 at 10:12pm BST

David Shepherd and RevDave are my neighbors whom God commands me to love as myself, even when they address me with a sneering contemptuous tone.

Now there's a very hard commandment to swallow.

Posted by Counterlight at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 1:09am BST

@Rosemary:

'David, in any marriage there HAS to be a pact of loyalty between the couple, the 'ministers of the marriage'

That was never in question. My contention was that marriage is more than a *man-centred* pact of loyalty. Marriage is rooted in a divinely ordered cause: sexual differentiation.

You countered this position by speculation:
'The question is, did he intend some men and some women to enter 'one flesh' marriages with their own sex. I believe he did.'

On what basis? That liberals have good hunches about these things and they are, for the most part, right? That you know gay couples who are so clearly committed to each other that it must be right? That it is clearly in keeping with the 'movement of history'?

Maybe, to you, it's all of the above, but the special pleading is that, unlike any other scripturally prohibited behaviour, homosexual copulation, as practiced today, has no equivalent in the bible and therefore cannot be measured by its pronouncements.

Of course, as a means of proving that God is in favour, liberals are happy to trot out theologians who infer homosexual relationships in respect of David and Jonathan, the Centurion and his servant, Christ and 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'.

The issue I have with that approach is that it asserts that speculative inferences about homosexuality in the bible are more certain and relevant than the explicit prohibitions.

The inescapable conclusion is that this contradictory approach to scripture is mainly motivated by a desire to cast homosexuality in a more favourable scriptural light. Unfavourable biblical prohibitions on same-sex activity are dismissed simply because they are unfavourable and do not advance the propaganda.

That's theological 'question-begging'.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 1:47am BST

Oh, and most of the moral prescriptions I REALLY don't like are the ones I consider I am bound to follow.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 8:48am BST

Pat:
What part of Christ's approach: 'it was not so from the beginning' do you not understand? The Genesis account is the universally applicable prototype of marriage. The difference between us is that you claim that one aspect of the prototype, kinship via opposite gender spouses, does not apply, whereas exclusivity and permanence do. A special pleading.

All of the situations that you mention were provisional concessions to earlier human ignorance and intransigence. As Paul said: 'And the times of this ignorance, God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent' (Acts 17:30)

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 10:24am BST

@David - I was being polite, when I speculated. I really meant 'it is as plain as the nose on my face.' The basis is empirical. I am not a believer in 'only scripture' - I believe reason and experience play a part in faith, and experience mediated by prayer. If there was a huge amount in scripture about the utter necessity of being married, and if there was a whole lot about same-sex relationships, I would think differently. There is not. There are a very very few OT prohibitions, which speak of it as an abomination, just like eating forbidden meats, and there is Paul's condemnation at the start of Romans.

Now I love Paul dearly - really dearly. But it is also as plain as the nose on my face that he has it wrong. Individuals are not gay because they have been idolatrous. There IS no correlation between being gay and having worshipped idols.

There ARE a whole load of commands throughout the Bible about justice, and what, if I may translate into English as spoken today, I would call both being empirical about moral matters ('by their fruits you shall know them' in many different forms and ways)and also about working for real fullness of life. Not gratification, but fullness.

Personally I really would not take David as a compass for anything but a stunningly great ability with PR, though I think he was bisexual when it suited him to be. No, the fact is that the idea of a one to one partnership equal in power is virtually unknown to the ancient world, which means that (as in many other situations) we simply have to extrapolate to arrive at guidance.

But as I keep saying - there is not 'the liberal view' in any simplistic way.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 12:38pm BST

" The Genesis account is the universally applicable prototype of marriage."

Really? Please point me to the marriage ceremony in the story of Adam and Eve. Best I can figure is they were co-habiting.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 2:11pm BST

Because Jesus is talking about exclusivity and permanence, perhaps? "A male and a female" --- as the Hebrew and the Targum have it (the Greek is ambiguous) is about two becoming one flesh --- and the unity is not to be divided. It isn't about gender, though gender comes into it, but precisely about exclusivity and permanence. (The only ground for dissolution being infidelity.) q.e.d.

Jesus was no fan of kinship, by the way. Only the new kinship of God's big adopted family, certainly not the biological kinship of "marriage and giving in marriage" which has no role among those deemed worthy of the resurrection.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 2:49pm BST


Dear RevDave and Rosemary,

Parliament _did_ change the table of kindred and affinity in the BCP in 1986 (and before that in 1949). I was trying to tease out David S's opinion of this historical fact, rather than stating any ecclesiological position of my own.

For the avoidance of doubt, however, I do approve thoroughly of our democratically-elected Parliament acting as the primary decision-making body of the established Church. From your replies, I guess you'd both regard me as incorrigibly Erastian on this point.

In any event, David S has now clarified that my question was irrelevant to his argument.

Posted by Feria at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 5:49pm BST

"All of the situations that you mention were provisional concessions to earlier human ignorance and intransigence. As Paul said: 'And the times of this ignorance, God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent' (Acts 17:30)"

Talk about a gross misapplication of scripture! Paul was speaking to Greeks about idolatry, not Jews about marriage.

Nowhere - but nowhere - is it hinted in the Bible that Abraham and Sarah's marriage, for example, was the result of ignorance, or something simply tolerated by God. As a matter of fact, God goes out of his way to bless the union and make it fruitful by way of a miracle. Ditto with Jacob, Leah, and Rachel (and Bilhah and Zilpah). God didn't *overlook* those arrangements - he blessed them.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 9:38pm BST

By the way, it's very interesting (and very telling) that part of Christ's words in Matthew 19 are used to "prove" that gay people cannot marry, while the entire passage in which they appear is no longer used to argue absolutely against divorce, especially divorce with remarriage? He was talking about divorce, after all, but I don't recall anybody in the Anglican Communion cutting off relations with those Provinces which allow remarriage after divorce.

Odd, isn't it, how the heterosexual majority interpret Scripture with special gentleness and pastoral sensitivity when it comes to strictures that apply to heterosexuals, while speaking in absolutes when it comes to non-heterosexuals?

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 4 August 2012 at 11:53pm BST

"The Genesis account is the universally applicable prototype of marriage." Disfunctionality & unhappiness?

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Sunday, 5 August 2012 at 12:25am BST

Pat:

As if a ritual performed by a vicar of our faith could carry greater weight than the scripturally recorded divine endorsement of generative kinship in and its origin in sexual differentiation.

You're clutching at straws.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 5 August 2012 at 12:54am BST

'Odd, isn't it, how the heterosexual majority interpret Scripture with special gentleness and pastoral sensitivity when it comes to strictures that apply to heterosexuals, while speaking in absolutes when it comes to non-heterosexuals?'

Er no - not guilty of either, here, Bill, though I am straight. I can see how very very trying some attitudes and comments are, but please ...

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Sunday, 5 August 2012 at 4:56pm BST

Bill:
'Talk about a gross misapplication of scripture! Paul was speaking to Greeks about idolatry, not Jews about marriage.'

1. Although Paul's audience was Greek, the tenor of his address was universal: 'From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth.'

2. Although 'this ignorance' focused on idolatry, the call to repentance did not preclude everything, except idolatry. The call is to Jews and Greeks alike ('all men everywhere') and has a broader purview than just abandoning idolatry, since it involves Christ's Great Commission: 'teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.' That would include a return to the Genesis origin of marriage as a permanent and exclusive heterosexual union.

Your last posting is very valid, but I haven't interpreted scripture on TA with special exceptions to accommodate re-marriage after divorce.

Tobias:
'It isn't about gender, though gender comes into it' Perhaps, you could clarify this apparently paradoxical statement further. How, then, does gender come into it?

Even casual sex involves becoming one flesh: 'Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."' Should union with a prostitute be put asunder? Of course, it should. It's not what God has joined together, since the man has become united with her body in illicit desire. Such a union involves no overpowering desire, or even freedom to leave the biological descent group 'father and mother' in order to start a similar pairing of one's own. This is the critical difference in the Genesis outcome.

BTW, Christ's issue with "marriage and giving in marriage" was the prioritisation of temporal concerns at a time of an impending apocalyse. (Even a parent's funeral arrangements were deemed secondary to forsaking all to follow the itinerant Messaiah). Paul endorses the priority: 'I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided...So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.' (1 Cor. 7:32 - 34)

Marriage, as scripture defines it, is still 'honourable in all, and the bed is undefiled'

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 5 August 2012 at 11:53pm BST

David:

Yes, but in what sense are Adam and Eve "married" as modern society understands the term...except, perhaps, a common-law marriage?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 6 August 2012 at 12:25am BST

Sorry, Rosemary - I didn't intend to include all straight people in that. It does hold true, I think, that the majority of Christians *do* find ways of interpreting Scripture in ways so that the rigor seems to fall on the Other. In the case of sexuality, the needs of straight people *are* met with a leniency that is absent from the Church's approach to gay people on the whole. You personally don't do that, but then again I don't view you as representative of the straight majority as a whole.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 6 August 2012 at 2:57am BST
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