Comments: Same-Sex Marriage: Anglican Mainstream takes a position

Why does this desperate response make me feel so sad?

I suggest that Anglican Mainstream (who now number but a remnant of paid up members) pray to St Jude, patron saint of lost causes. Of course as conservative Evangelicals that isn't possible either.

So, all that's left is the Flat Earth Society.

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Monday, 14 April 2014 at 7:34pm BST

Point 1: That a marriage between a man and a woman is good for “human flourishing” is not disputed. No one wishes to undermine it. But we also know that a marriage between two people of the same sex is good for “human flourishing” (what a odd phrase!) and policy should support this sort of loving, committed relationship as well – at least if we believe in the equal value of all human beings, and not just the heterosexual ones.

Point 2: This has not been demonstrated; children in same-sex households have been shown to do as well, or in a few ways better, than those raised in a “traditional” household. In either case, perhaps the proper focus of public policy should be toward the promotion of stability in marriage, irrespective of gender, and the causes/effects of divorce.

Point 3: Partly rubbish. But any dysfunctional relationship can have harmful effects. Equally, good relationships, supported by public policy and not harassed by homophobes, can be shown to promote growth, contentment, stability and to put less stress on public resources.

Point 4: So what? Or is the fear here that heterosexual couples will discover homosexual tendencies and abandon their marriages? At any rate, surely a person’s sexual orientation, and the decisions made relative to it – such as marriage – are best left to the individual?

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Monday, 14 April 2014 at 8:27pm BST

First Bullet: Between a man and a woman is good for human flourishing. Yes, I'm quite sure that's true - except when it isn't. I'm also quite sure that when a person is gay, marrying a person of the opposite sex isn't so good for human flourishing. I'm in love with a man who tried that for 10 years and ended up acting out all manner of self-destructive behaviors. Since he has left that marriage, he has flourished in his love life, his personal life, his professional life - and his children adore him.

Second Bullet: There simply is no data supporting this malarkey.

Third Bullet: I guess they didn't bother culling the literature for stat concerning abuse in heterosexual relationships and households.

Fourth Bullet: I guess that's supposed to be an argument that everybody's supposed to force themselves to be straight?

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Monday, 14 April 2014 at 8:53pm BST

You have to feel sorry for them really. So much of their energy goes into trying to prove everyone but them is wrong and sinful. They simply haven't noticed nobody could care less what they think anymore. The main thing is that they can maintain their own righteousness as the ship sinks around them.

Posted by sjh at Monday, 14 April 2014 at 8:56pm BST

I'd be interested to hear from Anglican Mainstream quite why AIDS transmission via male-to-male sex is an argument against women marrying, and why figures about AIDS transmission amongst young men is an argument against marriage: I'd have thought that encouraging monogamy and faithfulness was a good thing. And, of course, women are nowhere to be found in the howls of outrage from men with a problem with homosexuality: "women shouldn't be able to marry women because men might get AIDS" seems a rather bad argument.

But anyway, it doesn't matter. There is no world in which legislation like this is repealed. They may as well campaign to repeal the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which, I suspect, they'd secretly like to.

Posted by Interested Observer at Monday, 14 April 2014 at 10:06pm BST

Sounds like Mr Brown and I are just about on the same page.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Monday, 14 April 2014 at 10:28pm BST

At least we can be confident that all the trustees actually support this letter---contrast the bishops' letter.

Posted by Turbulent Priest at Monday, 14 April 2014 at 10:49pm BST

If the ship is sinking, then let us hope that the last one out shuts the lights off and firmly locks the door, so that such overt prejudice never see the light of day again! It is very fitting this has been published in Holy Week, as I do not recognise the Gospel such authors are reading/living by! 'While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.'

Posted by Fr. J at Monday, 14 April 2014 at 10:58pm BST

"There is no world in which legislation like this is repealed."

Exactly that happened in Maine, 2009, where an equal marriage law passed by the legislature was promptly repealed by a referendum.

I wouldn't get complacent about Anglican Mainstream and their allies. Civil rights for gay people are newly won, and the backlash seen in Russia, Uganda and Nigeria is ferocious. It was stoked there so the results could be broadcast back home. Victory's precarious. Opponents of gay rights are savvy, motivated, and have the weight of 2,000 years of history to back their play.

The 1980s already saw one backlash, in both church and state. We should be prepared for another, because odds are, it'll soon arrive, and arrive hard.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 12:12am BST

1. Marriage – between a man and a woman – is good for human flourishing.
And is not marriage between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, good for human flourishing? Unless "human flourishing" means "procreation," in which case perhaps Anglican Mainstream should say what it really means, and let infertile, post-menopausal, or contraceptive-using heterosexuals draw their own conclusions.

2. Homes centred upon such marriages provide the best context for the bringing up of children, so that they can know the love and support of a mother and a father.
This is nothing more than an assertion. There is no research to support this statement. It is simply an emotional conviction, and a bigoted one at that.

3. There is well-founded evidence of the physical and emotional harm which can be a consequence of sexual relations between persons of the same sex.
Of course, sexual relations between persons of the opposite sex can cause physical and emotional harm. Spouse abuse and venereal disease are not, I believe, unknown among heterosexual couples. Is Anglican Mainstream calling on us all to abstain?

4. Scientific enquiry into sexuality has shown that, rather than being a given, it is fluid, the product of a combination of factors including particularly nurture and experience.
In other words, Anglican Mainstream would prefer a society in which heterosexuality is so normative and dominant that no one has any alternative model. And if any LGBT people suffer the consequences of such heteronormativity, that is not Anglican Mainstream's concern.

They really are losing it over there.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 12:33am BST

Concerning point number 4, these "studies" have been repeatedly trotted out by proponents of conversion therapy in support of their position. They are as "mainstream" as Anglican "Mainstream" is. They are contrary to the findings of the truly mainstream medical, psychiatric, and psychological groups.

These trotted-out "studies" used to also include Robert Spitzer's "Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation?", published in 2001 But in 2012 Spitzer repudiated his previous study, saying "I was quite wrong in the conclusions that I made from this study. The study does not provide evidence, really, that gays can change.", and requested that repartive therapy groups stop citing his 2001 study.

As noted above, Anglican Mainstream's points reflect bad theology and bad social science. It also reflects bad hard science.

Posted by dr.primrose at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 2:58am BST

So many, so many. I had not thought death had undone so many.

Posted by JNWALL at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 4:02am BST

When I read points 3 and 4 I was expecting point 5 "Science has shown that the earth is flat."

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 4:06am BST

• aim to be the best source of information available on family and sexuality matters from an orthodox Anglican perspective.

Rather rich, when one considers, they can't agree on divorce and re-marriage and what scripture means on thay side step it. Divorce raging over our land and destroying families, and affecting children in the millions!

Why can't they admit too that they lost the battle when they accepted contraception?

Posted by Robert Ian williams at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 5:48am BST

"I wouldn't get complacent about Anglican Mainstream and their allies. Civil rights for gay people are newly won, and the backlash seen in Russia, Uganda and Nigeria is ferocious."

I don't wake up in an English city, even one with a white minority, and worry that the UK is about to descend into gangsterism under a succession of violent dictators. Comparisons with small states in the US are similarly irrelevant: what proportion of the US population claim to be "born again"? Now, what about the UK?

I should have been clearer that I meant "there is no situation in which legislation like this is repealed in the UK". Anglican Mainstream (next meeting to be held in a telephone box, where the entire active membership will have space to stretch out) and their allies have so far managed to lose every court case and campaign they have entered into. They and, particularly, the CLC, are a laughing stock, and although Paul Diamond is presumably making a living out of losing cases in successive appeals, he's still a specialist in losing. The UK legislation (north or south of the border) wasn't passed by a narrow majority, there is no imaginable scenario in which this, or any other, legislation is subject to a referendum, such a referendum would be lost anyway, there is no political party with any chance of being elected which does not support it, the howls of outrage from the Tory right are simply going to split the vote with UKIP and elect a Labour government, and as each year goes by a significant proportion of the opponents of SSM die (and, in reality, the idea that it's the sine qua non of their voting decisions is a fantasy shared only by AM and their ilk).

There are many battles to be fought and won, but it is a distraction to worry about the overturning of one of the most broadly supported pieces of legislation in modern times.

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 9:36am BST

"Scientific enquiry into sexuality has shown that, rather than being a given, it is fluid, the product of a combination of factors including particularly nurture and experience." Asserting this smacks of utter desperation, so opposite sex desire is not a God-given paradigm anymore? something built into our human nature? or does the remark only apply to same-sex hanky panky?

Posted by Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 12:39pm BST

James Byron has the correct response here.

Those opposed to marriage as we now enjoy it have been looking for an initiative around which to coalesce, the RC bishops passed on leading a campaign for repeal, the two retired bishops might just give this group enough credibility to attract support.

It's important to note at this point that the best interests of children are being set aside in favour of "an orthodox Anglican perspective". It's indeed helpful for the rest of us to know this.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 2:11pm BST

"Scientific enquiry into sexuality has shown that, rather than being a given, it is fluid, the product of a combination of factors including particularly nurture and experience."

Even if that were true, what does it have to do with marriage equality?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 6:10pm BST

Can't agree with James. The battle is won forever - that is, within any conceivable temporal perspective - in Western Europe, the UK, and many (and increasing) states in the US. There are some reforms that are so self-evidently good that they win out'forever'.

Posted by John at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 6:34pm BST

With regard to "human flourishing," a new article in The New England Journal of Medicine states that marriage equality is "a prescription for better health" for families... "

"Public health research has suggested not only that discriminatory environments and bans on same-sex marriage are detrimental to health but also that legalizing same-sex marriage (among other policies expanding protections) contributes to better health for LGBT people."

Of course, the health of LGBT people may not be of high concern to Anglican Mainstream...

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 7:35pm BST

Same sex marriage is lawful in Maine. It became so in 2012 by the vote of the people.

Posted by Rex Gaskill at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 8:49pm BST

Written by Erika Baker: "Scientific enquiry into sexuality has shown that, rather than being a given, it is fluid, the product of a combination of factors including particularly nurture and experience."

Even if that were true, what does it have to do with marriage equality?

It's simple, really! The folks in "Anglican Mainstream" still firmly believe that "people dealing with same-sex attraction" (as they call us) can change our attractions, or, at least, repress them. Being able to marry takes away an incentive for us to "change," since we're no longer denied something "normal" people enjoy (that denial serving as a constant reminder of our "abnormality"). In other words: the "Anglican Mainstream" folks want to keep "homosexuals" frustrated and unhappy, constantly reminded of our "wrongness," so that we'll want to give up being "homosexuals." Few things bother these people more than a "happy homosexual"!

In any event, with respect to the various claims and assertions made in their statement, I refer the "Anglican Mainstream" people to Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 5:20. Given how often they assert their loyalty to Scripture, perhaps they should start obeying it!

Posted by WilliamK at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 10:36pm BST

"the two retired bishops might just give this group enough credibility to attract support."

Enough support to elect the 326 MPs necessary to pass a bill repealing the act, followed by convincing a sufficient number of members of the House of Lords to complete the deed?

The delusion of Anglican Mainstream et al is that same-sex marriage is the most pressing issue of our time, at the forefront of people's political thinking ahead of jobs, schools, houses, health care and pensions. It isn't. Quite a lot of people think it's an issue of civil rights. A handful of nutters think it is a sign of the end times. The vast majority of the population didn't care overmuch, and now it's happened care even less.

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 10:43pm BST

Interested Observer, Maine is hardly a red state: it borders Canada, abolished the death penalty decades before Britain, and its legislature passed equal marriage by convincing majorities. California, a leader in civil rights for LGBT people, likewise overturned equal marriage with Prop. 8.

I'm not suggesting that the English or Scottish laws are facing imminent repeal, 'cause they're not. I am saying that we shouldn't be complacent about a backlash. Who, in the late Seventies, would've predicted Section 28 or 'Issues in Human Sexuality'? Who, ten years ago, would've predicted the Nigerian and Ugandan laws, or the direction Russia's traveled?

Anglican mainstream are marginal, yes, but they might wise up their PR, or a slick organization could take their place. As always, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 10:48pm BST

Oh dear. The first three points are utter rubbish, and the last (while likely true) is a complete non sequitur. Is this the best our "mainstream," evangelicals have to offer? They could at least be honest and stick to selectively citing the Bible. There, at least, they are on firm ground. But when they wander off their home territory and start trying to make their position sound rational to a non-Christian audience I'm afraid they just make themselves appear absurd.

Posted by rjb at Wednesday, 16 April 2014 at 1:49am BST

Yes, Maine has an interesting history on this.

It was good to see the local bishop welcoming the anniversary at the end of last year, particularly as back in 2008 the RC bishop had been a key player in the defeat of equal marriage:
And the law then under discussion recently failed to reach the statute books
The Speaker's comment that religion should never be used as a cloak to conceal discrimination might serve as a valuable motto for TA!

It is heartening to read here how solid was the victory and I value deeply what others say, but those of us with families may be a little more cautious in relaxing this soon.
What those of us with children see is a determined attempt to continue building a hostile picture of our families. This goes back to the hateful, lying and deceitful mantra that "every child deserves a mother and father" spouted by the Roman Catholic hierarchy as they struggled to seem reasonable discriminating against gay couples for adoption preparation. Preparation they were only too keen to offer to gay and straight singles, the divorced or unmarried partners.
That hideous betrayal of the many families they had helped to build not based around a male/female couple did considerable long term harm.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 16 April 2014 at 9:30am BST

I don't believe gender is a social construct. I believe the 'expression' of gender is (to an extent) a social construct.

Similarly, I don't believe sexual orientation is a social construct. But I believe the contexts and ways that orientation is culturally projected and expressed is (to an extent) a social construct.

I believe people develop from foetus onwards, with integral characteristics, that create dispositions when they interact with social externals. In many ways, these are compelling dispositions if they are to be true to their authentic identity.

In contrast, the Bible IS a social construct.

It is a product of successive religious hierarchies, reflecting their cultures, their agenda, their prejudices, and the limits of their knowledge.

Like any other group of fallible human beings, they can sometimes express impressive insights, but they can sometimes get things wrong (either in their own time, or in the unfolding reality of future cultures and emergent knowledge).

In the context of a religious community and hierarchy, trying to control an agenda, and construct a system of belief and rules to frame their identity and their members... the Bible is pretty obviously a social construct, far more so than the innate natures that human beings are born with and develop with.

The willingness to read the Bible critically, to call into question its assertions, to relinquish deference and exercise human and contemporary conscience... is a necessity if we are, in good faith, to escape the social constructs and prejudices of the past and very particular religious cultures.

Men were almost certainly having sex with men, 2000 years ago and 3000 years ago. Sexual desire and orientation is a feature of human nature. It is a constant. In contrast, the Bible is a socially produced set of documents, reflecting views, values and culture in specific communities at specific moments in time.

Not all of it is applicable to all communities in all times. But men having sex with men will almost certainly occur in all communities in all times. To this extent, homosexuality is not a 19th Century invention.

The Bible reflects the cultural tastes and prejudices of specific communities with their own agenda. To this extent it should be viewed as provisional (as we already recognise many OT rules as provisional) and in a number of places simply mistaken and wrong.

The biblical view of man-man sex is a social construct.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 16 April 2014 at 10:07am BST

When is the myth of 'Mainstream' - as representative of membership of the Church of England going to be revealed to all and sundry as the oxymoron it is?

I partly blame web-sites like 'Thinking Anglicans' for entertaining such bigots as representative of mainstream anything - let alone the Church.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 17 April 2014 at 12:53am BST
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