Comments: More on the civil partnerships decision

Both of the statements refer to "church teachings" without reference. Do the CoE teachings include bigotry toward LGBT persons? Do the teachings say that LGBT persons are not created in the image of God? Please inform me on this aspect of CoE's teachings.

Are they referring to the Bible? Surely we all know how problematic Leviticus is, having to stone adulterers and people who work on the Sabbath, and all that... Haven't we figured out that Sodom was about justice and not sex? That's what Ezekiel says, and if we're going to use the Bible, how can we discount Ezekiel 16:49?

The New Testament's supposed "references" are not at all clear. There was no word for homosexuality, but there were cultic prostitution practices honoring fertility gods, that wouldn't go well with the early Christians... In no way do these passages refer to same sex couples in loving, committed relationships. Just like fornication and adultery don't refer to loving, committed heterosexual relationships.

What does Jesus say? Love your neighbor. Don't judge. His harshest words are for the Establishment for using the law to exclude and demean people, His is the Good News that liberates the poor and the oppressed.

Those are my churches teachings in TEC, praise God. These lessons were hard won at great expense, slavery, Civil Rights, genocide of Native Americans, oppression of women and LGBT persons. Enough. The Good News if for all. Sorry those learned people who wrote those statements seem unlearned in the ways of justice and the heart.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 12:52am GMT

"Given the ambiguous nature of civil partnerships" say Anglican Mainstream. Ambiguous?

No, they aren't. They are the first step in giving proper legal social recognition to the commitments that same sex couples make to each other for life. The rather cautious nature of the introduction of this arrangement by the Labour government in 2004 makes it possible for them to be contracted as a kind of business arrangement in their most minimal expression. But then marriages can be contracted that way.

Popular imagination (as AM rightly observe) considers CPs to be a quasi-marraige. But what they are about (more often than not) is the same kind of commitment to making a new unit, the same risk of love, the same intention to be together for life making their way through as any marriage. Some will flourish, others fail, some will be selfish, others generous and creative. But in that they will be no different from marriages. There is no ambiguity at all about that.

When will AM get beyond this kind of arrested pubescent obsession about what two men (they don't seem to think much about the women) do with their willies?

As for Michael Lawson: "Some bishops are known to be lax about questioning civil-partnership clergy about their sex lives." Has the man no shame? Does he ask all his heterosexual clergy what they get up to in their bedrooms? Are they having sex at all? Is their wife getting enough? Do they dress up? Is leather or rubber ok in a clergy bedroom? a bit of S&M?

I am not being facetious - does this man think he can offer a moral judgement on everything that goes on in all clergy bedrooms? If not, then he has no business poking his nose into any of them. We have surely had enough of an unenforceable and utterly discreditable prurience.

Both these comments seem to me to lack any real understanding of or interest in the moral value that there is to be found in the best of same sex relationships, as in the best of marriages, not only for the couple themselves, but for their communities, their churches (if a church is lucky enough to have held on to them despite all the insults and discrimination) and their society. That is where AM and CEEC's attention should be focused - but if it was, they might have rather different things to say.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 1:54am GMT

Anglican Mainstream: "A bishop known to be in a civil partnership could hardly be a focus of unity nor be a bishop for the whole church."

How are bishops who vilify gay and lesbian sexuality, a subject many church members in the pews now accept, "a bishop for the whole church"?

How are they bishops for gay and lesbian lay couples, gay and lesbian priests, and all those who are Christians who believe a more accepting theology and way or handling the bible?

What - in the context of Anglican Mainstream's statement - is "the whole church"?

And does that mean that the whole church doesn't really include all those (a majority in this country) who now respect the right of people to love ona another intimately, regardless of gender? Does that mean that to truly be part of "the whole church" you must believe in the vilification of these tender expressions of love and fidelity?

By "whole church" do they mean the section of the church which holds their views?

Because that doesn't sound very 'whole' or very inclusive at all. The Church is institutionally 'alienating' one category of its membership and treating those members differently.

In the process it is alienating the British people as well.

Posted by Susannah at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 2:57am GMT

Both the Anglican Mainstream & Fulcrum responses would have more credibility if they stated that heterosexuals who seek to be married should be questioned about previous sexual activity. If they were 'guilty' of this, there should then be an act of repentance similar to that which they expect of homosexuals. Indeed, should not a relationship founded on such sinful practice be denied the blessing of the Church and admission to the sacrament of matrimony? I only ask this question in order to offer these two bodies an opportunity to be logical, consistent, and true to their 'biblical witness' to all men & women.

Posted by Commentator at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 5:56am GMT

Wow - this received top billing on the BBC News programmes last night but I can't recall this being debated at the General Synod and receiving a 2/3rds majority in all three Houses?
Does this mean that after daringly appointing the first female Dean of York Minster Archbishop Sentamu will now have no hesitation in recommending Jeffrey John for the soon to be vacant See of Durham? Go on Archbishop - I dare you - after all Durham has a fine tradition of scholar bishops and the Dean of St. Albans is one of the finest scholars currently in the Church of England. As they proved with the appointment of David Jenkins they do so love a controversial bishop in the see of Dunelm!

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 6:48am GMT

Ven Michael Lawson "Christians are supposed to be different".

Different from what darling?

Posted by Alastair Newman at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 9:07am GMT

The Andrew Goddard piece is unusually short and ill judged.

This is a matter concocted entirely by the bishops who now have nobody to blame but themselves for creating yet another "gay crisis" that will make them and our faith look daft.

Up until John Rees wrote that very dreadful, so called legal opinion which led to the moratorium on civilly partnered men being considered for bishoprics, men in civil partnerships were being considered as bishops.

Jeffrey was careful to get Rowan's nihil obstat before allowing his name to go forward for Southwark. Nobody I know, at that time, thought there was a different policy pertaining to clerics who were bishops or being considered as such. The change in policy in fact seems to have been wrought as a legal strategem to deal with a possible legal action from Jeffrey in the light of the shenanigans from Rowan and Sentamu at the selection Committee. So they have thusly created this maelstrom for themselves.

While it is interesting to read what this or that Evangelical council have said or written it hardly represents any real concern outside their constituency and its authority even within that group is questionable. Andrew ignores the facts, finesses the actual teaching, creates an imaginary situation and then exaggerates the significance of such things as St Andrew's whatyamaycallit and groups he belongs to.

Still the fact remains that Rod Thomas and his gang are promising mayhem and they surely will make very miserable the life of any man in a Civil Partnership nominated to a vacant see. Just as Andrew and his friends made Jeffrey so welcome when he toured the diocese of Oxford.

Of course, what we can expect and sooner rather than later is a bishop in post announcing that his Civil Partnership has already taken place .... I can see Rod waving a placard now.....

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 9:43am GMT

Fr David
the sudden introduction of the requirement in 2011 wasn't debated in General Synod either. It was cobbled together to make sure Jeffrey John did not become Bishop of Southwark.

Jeffrey John would still not stand a chance because of the remaining requirements that have not been removed:
"• whether the candidate had always complied with the Church’s teachings on same-sex sexual activity;
• whether he was in a civil partnership;
• whether he was in a continuing civil partnership with a person with whom he had had an earlier same-sex sexual relationship;
• whether he had expressed repentance for any previous same-sex sexual activity; and
• whether (and to what extent) the appointment of the candidate would cause division and disunity within the diocese in question, the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion."

You can rest assured, it will be a long time yet before your church discovers any honesty and integrity in its treatment of gay people.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 10:03am GMT

Alternative, speculative hypotheses:
1. The bishops are trying to re-focus attention on their new-found support for civil partnership in anticipation of the debate on SSM (seems entirely plausible, given its clumsiness);
2. The bishops were advised that their previous position was vulnerable as direct discrimination under the ECHR (I think that's a loser in reality given the ECtHR's reluctance to wade into this kind of thing, but who knows?);
3. Lawson: The bishops are trying to look good after the women bishops debacle (I have a hard time with this, too);
4. There's material in one or both of the pending reports that they need to anticipate/defend the status quo against.


Posted by Scot Peterson at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 10:30am GMT

The obsession with the sexual nature of civil partnerships shows that these people either regard gay people as liars, or that they ARE HAVING SEX, something they would rather not contemplate but, sine they have, shows how screwed up they are.

As some one posted in a previous blog, it' s all about sex and the (un) Christian obsession with it.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 10:50am GMT

Father David,
no we don't like a controversial bishop! We want a bishop who will put our diocese first, won't like travel or too much writing, doesn't go off to others jobs when this one is just starting or one who believes such "controversial" things that the story is all about him and not about his diocese. I hope the CNC is listening!

Graeme Buttery

Posted by Graeme Buttery at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 1:33pm GMT

It would take the heat out of future appointments if a bishop in post announced that he was going to enter a civil partnership. He would probably be wiser to make the announcement after the partnership ceremony had taken place to avoid unwelcome attention to what should be a joyful occasion for family and friends. He would need to have a fairly robust personality because they would attract of unfriendly attention from within the church. They may be pleasantly surprised by the number of greetings of goodwill that they receive.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 2:01pm GMT

I still come back to a simple approach to this. The reality is that members of homo sapiens come in all shapes and sizes and orientations etc, and it is the Church's job to deal with all that variety - see what material you've got and then work with it, not the other way around.

Peter's vision tells us to call nothing (by which it means no-one) unclean that God has made. Paul gives a list of appropriate cultural differences that don't apply in Christ. Why, then, is there any scope for discrimination against anyone either freshly approaching, or working for, the church, on any grounds?

Excuse me while I choose logic over "tradition" and individual over institution.

Posted by Tim at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 5:07pm GMT

Martin Reynolds,
I have never really understood the second Jeffrey John crisis.
You say he was careful to get Rowan Williams' nihil obstat before and yet it was Rowan and Sentamu who then blocked him.
What happened there?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 9:47pm GMT

Graeme - I think I used the word "love" not "like" and I seem to recall that there was a great deal of love within the diocese for Bishop David Jenkins. Durham being such an important see has for many past years taken pride in sharing its bishop with the wider Church and nation. Within my lifetime two Bishops of Durham have been translated to York (Ramsey and Habgood) and this has been a good thing. Surely the one thing currently needed in the Established Church is a good deal more Christian "love".

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 6 January 2013 at 4:58am GMT

Durham needs another Bishop Welby, but this time one that will stay. The diocese is historically important and bats #4 in the arcanery of precedence of bishops in the House of Lords, but apart from that it is a diocese desperate for some stable and consistent leadership. It needs someone who can encourage and equip what has been a financially failing enterprise. It was fortunate to have, for an all too brief time, a bishop with more business and financial experience that either the Prime Minister or Chancellor of the Exchequer. The only consequence of the House of Bishops announcement on Friday is that it clarifies that being in a civil partnership is no bar to consideration for preferment as a bishop, with the impossible proviso that the candidate is celibate. Nothing has changed in terms of the qualities that are sought in a bishop in terms of being Chief Pastor and a focus for unity etc. All that means is that some CNCs will view a gay candidate as no problem, others will take a different view. It depends on what the diocese needs. I am bound to say, however, in the light of the perceived needs of Durham as an outsider, that I support Graham's view that the last thing it needs is to make another 'controversial' appointment.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 6 January 2013 at 4:44pm GMT

Father David,
sorry if I misunderstand you. But in any connotation of "love" we have had too many bishops who for one reason or another have not been able to give of their all or their best for our diocese. We deliberately wrote a warts and all depiction of our diocese and asked for just such a Bishop Justin figure, because in our diocese we need him.
Our position is not great and the future is uncertain without a bishop whose time and energies, however selfish this may seem, are primarily tasked with saving never mind growing the kingdom in the North East.

Graeme Buttery

Posted by Graeme Buttery at Sunday, 6 January 2013 at 7:20pm GMT

Erica, Grandmere Mimi has put something together from a previous exchange here
Perhaps it helps.
But the answer to the question What Happened?

Betrayal and deceit cover it, I think.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 6 January 2013 at 8:16pm GMT


As I mentioned on the comment thread of the preceding post, I read it similarly.

A 'Pretend To Ask, Don't Tell' policy will ensue for admitting civil-partnered clergy to the episcopate. The theology of sex-free same-sex soul-mating will need a poster-child. Cue the next bishop. What about an uncontroversial unpartnered clergyman (who can challenge conservative and liberal orthodoxy by 'coming out' about his homosexual orientation and celibacy at the same time)?

The liturgical meaning of blessing will be re-vamped to claim it signifies no more than the invocation of divine influence for good, rather than divine approval of the kind of relationship. Gender-neutral marriages that are solemnised elsewhere (and which *could* be celibate) could then be followed by a religious blessing service.

In political terms, this buys the church time to manoeuvre. The Fourth lock is an imminent blanket exclusion. If, in response, the government removes it from the draft legislation, its immediate impact on church's declining position in civic life is reduced.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 6 January 2013 at 8:52pm GMT

Graeme, I would agree wholeheartedly with your view that the current financial and spiritual position of the great diocese of Durham is currently pretty dire. One of Justin Welby's great strengths was not that he spent his formative years in the oil industry but that he has been a parish priest (Southam in the diocese of Coventry) and fully understands the pressures and difficulties of parochial ministry. In the few short months he has been at Durham he has radically transformed the approach to collecting the Parish Quota - not telling the parishes what they must pay but asking them what they can pay and thus setting the Diocesan budget accordingly - if that's not "controversial" then I don't know what is!

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 6 January 2013 at 10:20pm GMT

Ah, Erika! I see now, you were commenting there at the time.

I am sorry then if you are still in the dark.

Perhaps if you contact Simon he will give you my contact details and we can clear up some facts.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 6 January 2013 at 10:40pm GMT

As I read the excerpted portions of the two statements (by Anglican Mainstream and the Church of England Evangelical Council), my jaw kept hitting the floor.

No, not because they have these thoughts and opinions. I, too, am a fallen sinner, having bigoted thoughts about This Group, That Group, Them Other Group. Kyrie eleison!

...but that they can say (print) them out loud, in 2013???

As Our Father "sees in secret" our virtues, so ought not our vices be contained there also? Go into your {ahem} closets, turn out the lights, and have a good rant against "Them" (whatever your personal Them is). But press releases? These lobby groups have lost the plot about the "wise as serpents" part, nevermind being as "gentle as doves"! :-0

Posted by JCF at Monday, 7 January 2013 at 9:50am GMT


Perhaps Ezekiel is merely being euphemistic - in referring to "lack of hospitality" for what was in Genesis clearly attempted violent rape of God's angels (perhaps even the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus - the Angel of the Lord), and in Jude it refers to the sexual immorality of Sodom.

Personally I think the man shall not lie with man as man lies with woman does speak negatively of an act, in a clear way, when they did not have a word for homosexuality - concerned with the act rather than the (fallen) nature. There is nothing in the bible to say that homosexual identity is actually God given, it is a human construct that we have adopted because we feel it describes us.

Posted by David WIlson at Monday, 7 January 2013 at 6:09pm GMT

"Anglican Mainstreams" can reissue, with a straight face, a 2005 statement on sexuality whose principal signer is Wallace Benn?

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Monday, 7 January 2013 at 8:32pm GMT
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