Comments: opinion

I found the article on David Porter fascinating but wish it had gone into a little more detail. What does it mean to say that history matters? What did David mean by that?
And what does it mean for him to say that reconciliation may not mean justice? How did he explain his thinking in that respect?
I'd like to be able to engage with his thoughts but it's difficult without any context.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 14 March 2015 at 7:51pm GMT

David Porter makes all the right points about reconciliation. The difficulty can sometimes be tremendous. Here in Australia we are still working through the best way to amend our Constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians and have it accepted overwhelmingly by all Australians. Our Prime Minister, known for his hard work in engaging with Aboriginal Australia, has made a few gaffes lately (or more accurately not just lately!). However, we press on.

Posted by Pam at Saturday, 14 March 2015 at 9:34pm GMT

During a court case when I was a witness, over a land-access dispute, I was the "religious one" (an Anglican at the time) and the only person of our group and indeed anyone who asked to give an oath in a secular fashion and not over the Bible, because of course the Bible did not represent giving consistent truth.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 15 March 2015 at 1:03am GMT

Erika, you asked "And what does it mean for him to say that reconciliation may not mean justice? How did he explain his thinking in that respect?"

I can't speak for David, but in my own understanding of the situation - if you have an abuser and an abused (for whatever abusive offence), justice might require that the abuser goes through a formal judicial process and is punished. Reconciliation might require that the abused person forgives the abuser before that process starts. So reconciliation might replace justice.

If the abused person chooses to forgive the abuser of his or her own free will, then such reconciliation might be wonderful and generous. But it often happens that some third party, for their own reasons of "peacemaking", will put pressure on the abused person to forgive the abuser (or at least not pursue a judicial process), against the abused person's wishes or better judgement. Thus leading to the abused person being doubly abused - by both the original abuser and by a denial of justice.

It is a similar issue which causes me great concern in relation to the "Facilitated Discussions" over sexuality. Will the drive to achieve reconciliation between various factions within the church win out over the need to provide justice for LGBT people?


Posted by Simon Dawson at Monday, 16 March 2015 at 12:28am GMT

thank you. That's what I was thinking. But if there was a change in the situation for lgbt people in the church, that would be justice. I don't think anyone is expecting retrospective justice?
In debate like this, reconciliation IS justice.
I don't really understand how the two differ here?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 16 March 2015 at 9:37am GMT


Thank you. I admit to not being sure about this myself. I think my posts here are a process of thinking aloud so that, in dialogue and with the feedback of others, I can clarify my own thoughts.

You said "I don't think anyone is expecting retrospective justice?". Perhaps - perhaps not. But I note that in the secular world restrospective justice is very much to the fore, with talk of pardoning/cancelling past prosecutions of gay people, and a Governmental apology for the past appalling treatment of Alan Turing. So is there any reason why a church acknowledgement/apology for its past sins against gay people might not be placed on the table as part of a reconciliation process.

But it is your second sentence that is interesting - "In debate like this, reconciliation IS justice.". I think it depends what you mean by reconciliation.

When two people, or groups of people, come together with a true meeting of minds and a sense of mutual opening of hearts and forgiveness - then yes, such a process replaces calls of for justice, and is justice.

But my own intuitive feeling of what is on offer here in the facilitated conversations (and what was available in the Women Bishop's process) is less than that. It feels like we are being managed into agreeing that two opposing groups can exist in separate ghettos within the same corporate church structure. And we will live our own separate lives within the same church.

And I am not quite sure where justice and reconciliation fit into that process. Where we supporters of women bishops or LGBT Christians are being asked to agree that to discriminate against women or LGB christians is an within acceptable boundaries of Christian practice.

Is it more honest to refuse to collude with such a "reconciliation" process right from the start?

I don't know the answer, but at present it is an important question for me.

Best wishes


Posted by Simon Dawson at Monday, 16 March 2015 at 9:10pm GMT

" Will the drive to achieve reconciliation between various factions within the church win out over the need to provide justice for LGBT people?

- Simon -

I believe, Simon, that you focused on the real problem at the heart of the proposed 'conversations' mode of engagement, on matters of human sexuality. In the urge to find some sort of consensus among the parties, will there be a tendency towards injustice - being done to people like Alan Turing?

To my mind, reconciliation should be based on justice being done - and seen to be done. Any other basis must surely be false.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 16 March 2015 at 10:57pm GMT

thank you.
You see, for me, it's basically about an imbalance of power. At present, the conservative view of my life counts more than my own and curtails me in a way that conservatives themselves are not curtailed.

If Good Disagreement results in a church where gay people can marry and where no office is barred to married gay people, justice will have been done because others will no longer be judge and jury of my life.
At that point, what others think of me becomes less important, it will be their problem, not mine.

If we ended up with a proper side by side, in which every single church could choose where it would stand, there would be enough churches of all kinds to enable every gay person and their friends, family and supporters to worship in a fully accepting church.
That would take the sting out of strongly conservative churches and no-one would have to continue to choose to be Christian or gay and partnered.

There are still many many young people growing up in conservative churches that tell them it's wrong to "be" gay, never mind be partnered, and Diverse Church is full of young people who were driven to despair believing that they had to choose between being gay or Christian - and finding that, in reality, neither was really a choice for them.

Once the church tells people very clearly that it IS possible to be gay, partnered and Christian, and once there are enough churches to enable that, justice will be done.

And it won't matter that other churches remain conservative, because they won't be the only churches in town.

Good Disagreement can work, it can bring reconciliation and justice.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 17 March 2015 at 9:18am GMT

Well, Jesus did say this: "He who would be my disciple should take up his (own) cross and follow me" I think that's what most of us try to do and be.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 19 March 2015 at 8:29pm GMT
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