Comments: Reform withdraws from sexuality conversations

Odd response by Reform. The objectives of the conversations were spelt out in a Synod paper. The allegation that the College of Bishops had changed the objectives is based on a reading of a press release which is a commentary on the objectives, not a change in the objectives themselves. I guess it enables them to express a hermeneutical suspicion about the process and the direction of travel as they see it. But it's a pity that they don't want to participate.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Wednesday, 8 October 2014 at 6:24pm BST

Presumably Reform's chosen strategy is a last-ditch, last bullet, last man assault on same-sex marriage in which the church spends vast amounts of money and loses almost all its public credibility over a battle, indeed war, that it cannot possibly win.]

It's essentially the Christian Concern strategy -- deliberately picking losing battles so as to make it look martyred, and to increase the pleasurable sense of victimhood --- on a giant scale. And it does appear that John Sentamu has similar tendencies.

Posted by Interested Observer at Wednesday, 8 October 2014 at 10:22pm BST

"Reform calls for ‘decisive intervention’ to save shared conversations on sexuality from collapse"

Oh brother. Reform recalls the spin of the U.S. Army in Vietnam: "it was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it". O_o

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 1:28am BST

'I'm not going to play unless I can change the rules of the game to ensure that I win'.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 10:56am BST

The C of E's stance on same-sex marriage already resembled a barn door shot through with holes: ' facile' conversations about something that is not only not being discussed by the rest of society, but is enshrined in the law of the land; seeking to deprive lawfully married priests of their livelihood; threatening LGBTI people who might be thinking of training for ministry, etc, etc. And now one of the chief players in this farce has stopped talking almost as soon as the 'conversations' have begun? I think that was the sound of one of the hinges falling off.

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 12:18pm BST

"Reform calls for ‘decisive intervention’ to save shared conversations on sexuality from collapse"

Whatever they want at this point, methinks that demands such as this are not the way to go about getting it.

And of course the split is really hermeneutical and interpretive.

This is what you get when you try to prevent an issue from being discussed for 20 years.

Looks as though the CofE might face attempts at schism earlier than one might have expected.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 12:19pm BST

Reform was bound to end up like this. There is a methodological impasse. If you believe church teachings develop, so that we can discover things we didn't know before, there has to be a process of debate and discernment. That means different points of view must be allowed, respected and examined. This is how the search for truth works in every field except hardline religious dogma. On the other hand, if you believe church teachings are complete already, so that there is nothing new to learn and the loyal Christian just reads off the answers from inherited revelation, then there is no point in discussion or discernment. Just look up the answer and accept it. This is the fault line that has always run through Protestantism. So Welby cannot do what he wants. Like his predecessor he seems to have a blind spot about this. If one side is willing to enter into dialogue and seek a meeting of minds and the other isn't, the only way you can get agreement is by capitulating to the hardliners.

Posted by Jonathan Clatworthy at Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 5:37pm BST

there is a third possibility, though. Even if one side is not willing to enter into dialogue with a view to changing its mind, it can still enter into dialogue with a view to negotiating a side by side in tolerance.

This can be formal, as with women priests, or informal as with most other theological differences that are accepted in the CoE.

Painting yourself into a rigid corner is not necessary.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 10 October 2014 at 9:04am BST

Surely they could be challenged on their division as to what Scripture means about marriage and divorce. Or their acceptance of contraception.

O how they designed their Covenant to wall paper over this divergence.

Posted by robert Ian Williams at Friday, 10 October 2014 at 1:01pm BST

My guess, Erika, is that the motivations are different.

There are very, very few people in the Anglican community who are so hardline on women priests that not only do they demand that their parish (and its reporting line upwards through bishops) not be "tainted", but that no other parish be likewise tainted, nor any other denomination, nor, while we're at it, that women not be allowed to be MPs or head teachers.

Even if there are "headship" campaigners who think that society as a whole should exclude women from positions of authority over men, they are invisible. And even if they exist they wouldn't, I suspect, hold out any serious expectation of getting their way.

The point about the anti-SSM campaigners is that "OK, you don't have to hold same-sex marriages in your parish" isn't remotely enough for them. They want all the CofE (certainly), all protestantism (probably) and all civil society (in many cases) to agree with them, and, worse, they think this is an achievable aim.

So far as the anti-SSM campaigners are concerned, the legislation is still up for grabs; they don't see the issue as being about accommodations around settled law, but a major battle which will result in the removal of the right of same-sex couples to marry, even in non-church settings.

They are, of course, mad. Same sex marriage will not be abolished. Some Christian churches have already agreed to performing same-sex marriages (Quakers, for example) and others are bound to follow over the next ten to twenty years. The best they are going to get is what they already have: individual priests being able to opt out, either on their own initiative or under the influence of their congregation. The rest of it is like Japanese soldiers unaware that the war is over, hoarding ancient ammunition to continue the battle.

Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 10 October 2014 at 2:22pm BST

One wonders if Reform's tactic might not simply be to bore the rest of us to death?

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Friday, 10 October 2014 at 7:09pm BST

Please bear in mind that it is not, in fact, 'same sex marriage 'in the new British legislation (Wales & England; and Scotland, but actually marriage.

M a r r i a g e

This is the real point. The reason it cannot be abolished by REFORM - or whoever.

Because it 'marriage' REFORM cannot abide it -- and yet Must.

No 2nd rate compromise this- just marriage.

Yes, this is marriage equality -- and not something cobbled together for queers (like me).

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Friday, 10 October 2014 at 9:45pm BST

Is this news from Malta an encouraging hint of ways forward that are human and christian ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Friday, 10 October 2014 at 9:57pm BST

If REFORM could meet this old couple...

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Saturday, 11 October 2014 at 6:51am BST

@ Interested Observer: As a New Yorker, I'm taken with your observations about the desires of the "headship" campaigners - particularly as regards the practice of civil society. I'm brought back to when I worked in the office of the bishop of my diocese (Maryland) in the 1970s. One person who worked in our building - a light-skinned mixed-race lady - was married to a dark-skinned Black man. Another of our co-workers would opine privately on the depravity of this situation, commenting that "no self-respecting white woman would ever marry a Black man."

Every day when I pass the playground in my neighborhood park, I can't help but mark with pleasure the beauty of the colors of the children and their parents. I doubt if 1 in 20 of the children are the products of same-ethnicity parents. And yet only a generation ago one could still voice one's ugly racial bigotry in the bishop's office without fear of being challenged.

In the United States, it isn't just the Quakers who have agreed to perform SSM's. On this side of the pond, clergy of nearly every recognizable Christian stripe are currently solemnizing marriages between two men or two women. For the most part, the rumblings in protest come from individuals and groups who have staked out territory on the fringe of the fringe. Meanwhile, congregations, neighborhoods, communities, schools, workplaces and government offices make ready welcome and accommodation for such couples and for their children. Though some continue to feed on its carcass, that dinosaur seems to have been slain at least in this part of the world - though I recognize that, to some religionists, the US is the anteroom to the pit of sulphur. Somehow, though, that isn't the vibe I'm getting from these changes.

The world is going to belong to the children in that playground almost before we realize that they've become adults and decision-makers. And those children aren't being taught to hate their gay friends or their friends' gay parents. My only regret is that I shall be dead by the time they come of age.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Saturday, 11 October 2014 at 12:27pm BST

A bishop in Nigeria speaks up :¬if_t=share_comment

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Saturday, 11 October 2014 at 8:32pm BST

More from Nigeria.

Cause of hope.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Friday, 17 October 2014 at 9:26pm BST

Further report of Nigerian RC bishop's listening process response.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Saturday, 18 October 2014 at 9:25pm BST

What concerns me about this is picked up in the interesting rebuttal issued by the CofE.

The Reform council seem to have got this completely wrong.
The press release issued in their name is exposed as spin and disinformation. At least as far as I can see, there has been no further clarification issued to justify their initial claims that seem patently false.

So, why publish such inaccurate information? Surely these people are interested in truth, above all things, and this exchange portrays them as hysterical liars willing to whip up a storm and make unsubstantiated claims. That's an appalling situation.

This makes them look like unscrupulous spin merchants who cannot be believed. It seems a simple telephone call would have sorted this out, rather they have chosen to rush to print.

That has nothing to do with the faith I practice!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 19 October 2014 at 11:29pm BST

It's as I described it at the top of the thread - they seem to have deliberately misunderstood the process. The rebuttal was put out, after consultation, because they weren't listening to what was being told them about the GS Misc paper. I recognise that there will be little sympathy for them on Thinking Anglicans, but it does indicate that there is a level of discomfort with the conversations at both ends of the spectrum.

It may mean that there is little chance that the conversations will be an exercise in genuine communication. Or it may mean that if we can get people in the same room that there will be a helpful first meeting between LGBTI folk and Reform people (I suspect that many of the latter have never had a genuine and witting conversation with the former). If that can be brought about, it will be worth it.

Personally, I want people to encounter and understand each other, even if they can't agree.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Monday, 20 October 2014 at 5:34pm BST
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