Comments: Opinion - 20 August 2016

Are you kidding me? The Telegraph called him a "reverend"?

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Saturday, 20 August 2016 at 3:45pm BST

The piece by India Sturgess is outstanding because of the words of Clive Larsen she reports:

“We can bless nuclear bombs, we can bless warships, the Archbishop of York has blessed TGI Friday, but the church can’t and won’t and is reluctant to bless same-sex relationships.”

That makes the Archbishop of York look like a complete and utter ass. The Bishop of Manchester fares little better. Forget the theology and just feel how that comparison resonates.

Posted by Kate at Saturday, 20 August 2016 at 3:55pm BST

If Clive Larsen has eloquently supported LGBTI people, in my opinion, Philip Baldwin has done the opposite. He said

"However, for an LGBT worshipper like myself, the Church of England is still not fulfilling its role. I want to fall in love with another man, to marry in church, so that we can celebrate our love for Jesus together."

So he wants the church to ignore sexual orientation while he himself defines himself in terms of sexual orientation. Can he really not see the incongruity?

Posted by Kate at Saturday, 20 August 2016 at 4:11pm BST

After reading Clive Larsen's story I feel a mixture of emotions. I'm happy that he has found true love with his partner, that he has found the courage to stand up to a church that won't acknowledge the validity of that love, and that his family are so supportive. I'm sad that not all gay people will have that sort of resolution, yet.

Posted by Pam at Saturday, 20 August 2016 at 10:48pm BST

Kate - Certanly the church should ignore sexual orientation just as it does race. But saying that a gay man wants to marry another man is hardly "defining himself in terms of sexual orientation" any more than another man wanting to marry a woman. Indeed, wanting to worship Jesus is part of his self-definition as well.

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Saturday, 20 August 2016 at 11:14pm BST

"The reverend" is pretty good. So is "gay lover." Does the Telegraph say "opposite sex lover" one wonders?

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Saturday, 20 August 2016 at 11:17pm BST

Let's get logical. One can "acknowledge the validity" of all kinds of love between people, including love between those in an informal or a legal gay union, while still believing that "marriage" is between a man and a woman, whatever a parliament may decide - and our Commonwealth Parliament in Australia has yet to decide to change our law.

Posted by Elizabeth Lintower at Sunday, 21 August 2016 at 10:46pm BST

"...our Commonwealth Parliament in Australia has yet to decide to change our law." You might send a fact finding delegation to Canada.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 3:17am BST

Elizabeth Lintower, the context is Britain, 2016, not Australia, dark ages. "Valid" means legally or officially acceptable. Same-sex marriage is legal in Britain. Therefore, logically, acceptance should follow. Except if one doesn't believe that following the law is acceptable.

Posted by Pam at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 5:37am BST

Yes, Elizabeth. A reason I am glad I emigrated to the more enlightened New Zealand and am now proud to be a Kiwi. Here I only feel 2nd class when I enter a church. I feel I am a 2nd class citizen every time I go back to my country of birth, the only time I bother to use my Australian passport.

Posted by Brian Ralph at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 6:15am BST

the logic is simple. At present, the CoE does not recognise the religious validity of same sex marriage (it must, by law, recognise it's legal validity in Britain).
This letter is one step in the long process of attempting to persuade it of this legitimacy.

That many don't agree does not alter the logic of the process.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 8:38am BST

Liz, the train has left the station. "Separate but equal" isn't acceptable any more.

Posted by Turbulent Priest at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 9:34am BST

Nathaniel, you are overlooking that the church has for centuries seen herself as the Bride of Christ and straight. The proposal to allow same sex marriage does change how the church identifies herself and consequently how some members identify themselves. Read the many letters and articles by traditionalists and it is obvious that allowing same sex marriage does impact their self-identity and quite strongly.

I know many liberals cannot understand that, but there is a clash of self identification. Paraphrased the author was saying "I am gay and won't change: you (the church) are straight but must be bi." That is hugely different to Clive Larsen in the other article saying he wishes to marry the person he lives with, not because that person is a man, but because setting aside sexual orientation that is very simply just the person Clive lives with. When he was with a woman, he married her; now he is with a man he wishes to marry him. Clive's focus is on the marriage of two Christians who wish to spend their lives together. In contrast, Philip Baldwin expresses a focus that he wants two men to marry. The difference in emphasis is significant.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 10:34am BST

«"The reverend" is pretty good»

There is also a contradiction in saying that the Church should be agnostic about race and sexual orientation but should see some sort of dichotomy between ordained and non-ordained Christians and that ordained Christians should edify themselves with an exclusive honorific?

21st century Anglicanism is going to be about equality. First it was the ordination of women. Now it is same sex marriage. Next is vestments - we have already seen some relaxation but there will be more. Personal edification through the use of titles like "father" and "reverend" will be deprecated. Then comes understanding that the only rites which affect an ontological change are baptism and the Eucharist and neither requires the participation of an ordained minister. That is going to be driven not just by policy but by the practicality of ministering to rural communities. It will take 30 years or more but at the end of the process, the church will start growing again. At times we will each be a progressive and a traditionalist, supporting some changes with enthusiasm will struggling to accept some other changes. But whatever our personal insights and hang ups, Anglicanism will be transformed.

I believe that the Lord desires a church in which believers concentrate on what they share in common rather than upon their differences.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 11:54am BST

@ Kate, "...the church has for centuries seen herself as the Bride of Christ..."

This correctly points to one of the reasons why those who are conservative/traditionalist on the SSM issue reject the notion of local options for parishes and dioceses. It also points to one of the reasons why some traditionalists/conservatives oppose the ordination of women.

However, the question that can be put to those taking this view is : Which is more important, a metaphorical turn of phrase in the service of an ecclesiology, or the baptized person worshiping next to you?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 3:08pm BST

"Same-sex marriage is legal in Britain. Therefore, logically, acceptance should follow. Except if one doesn't believe that following the law is acceptable."

You should be pleased you live in 2010s Britain, rather than 1930s Germany, where your "logic" would compel you to write: "Anti-Semitism is legal in Germany. Therefore, logically, acceptance should follow. Except if one doesn't believe that following the law is acceptable."

Posted by William Tighe at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 3:33pm BST

"church has for centuries seen herself as the Bride of Christ and straight. The proposal to allow same sex marriage does change how the church identifies herself and consequently how some members identify themselves." Kate, you do realize that "Bride of Christ" is a metaphor; it's not supposed to be taken literally. Forcing it just muddles the meaning.

Posted by Tom Downs at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 4:58pm BST

Rod, I think you have summed things up admirably and I agree but a battle between I-am-gay-deal-with-it against the-church-is-straight-deal-with-it gets nowhere. For me, Baldwin is essentially taking the I-am-gay-deal-with-it approach. I think it is unhelpful and unproductive, quite possibly counter-productive.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 5:49pm BST

Kate: "...the church has for centuries seen herself as the Bride of Christ..."

The church saw herself that way at a time when the bride was the groom's property, often as part of an arranged marriage; and when the wife was supposed to submit to the husband.

It was a useful metaphor to express the Church's dependence on, and submission to, Jesus.

Nowadays, however, being the "bride of Christ" suggests being in a freely chosen relationship of equals. This may not be the metaphor that the authoritarians are looking for.

Unless the Church is now a fourth person of the Trinity.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 22 August 2016 at 8:31pm BST

"One can "acknowledge the validity" of all kinds of love between people, including love between those in an informal or a legal gay union, while still believing that "marriage" is between a man and a woman, whatever a parliament may decide"

Well, yes. But same-sex couples, overwhelmingly, WANT to get MARRIED. They're not going to settle for "an informal or a legal gay union".

So Elizabeth, what you really have to face, is your desire to impose *your will* on them (whether in Church or State). How comfortable are you saying "No, you may not"...especially when those same-sex couples simply aren't going to surrender their desire (divine CALL, even) to marry? Do you want the Anglican Communion to be "The Church of the Perpetual No"? [NB: though here in my part of the world, the USA, it isn't. Praise God!]

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 23 August 2016 at 7:27am BST

I'm just glad that there is at least one parish in the Church of England (Southwark Cathedral) where the author of the article,Philip Baldwin, can actually feel loved, welcomed and accepted for who he IS, regardless! "Christ died for ALL sinners" - including me. Thanks be to God!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 23 August 2016 at 8:42am BST

@William Tighe: I take your point although I do not live in 2010's Britain but in Australia. A place I am pleased to live in.

Posted by Pam at Tuesday, 23 August 2016 at 9:32am BST

Well, I think this site has hit a new low in allowing the comparison of same-sex behavior and marriage to the Nazis' Final Solution.

Well done, Thinking Anglicans.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 24 August 2016 at 7:55am BST

There can be absolutely no communion between the traditionalist/reactionary camp and we who embrace a liberal theology.

To attempt to force together these two opposing religions into one camp is damaging to both and a sign of corruption and failure in the ecclesiastical structure.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 24 August 2016 at 7:59am BST

Obviously, drawing parallels between same-sex marriage and genocide, and the UK in 2010 to Nazi Germany in the aftermath of the Nuremberg laws, is entirely reasonable.

To start with, anti-Semitism in Germany harmed people who didn't consent to being the victims of anti-Semitism. Same-sex marriage affects no-one other than the happy couple who consent to being married. So unless you think that there are round-ups taking place in which young men are forced into marriage at gun point, your "comparison" is aside from being offensive - Godwin's Law! In one posting! - is also simply wrong.

Posted by Interested Observer at Wednesday, 24 August 2016 at 9:58am BST

Dr Tighe's post is very offensive indeed but I'm glad that the moderator allowed it so that we can understand the sorts of things that are being thought and said. I won't speculate how his comparison would go down with the Ukrainian Catholic church of which Dr Tighe is a member (or was in 2010).


Posted by Turbulent Priest at Wednesday, 24 August 2016 at 11:15pm BST

I didn't find William Tighe's post offensive, just wrong.
It's true to say that because something is legal it is not also necessarily moral.
Nazi Germany was a silly example for all the reasons Interested Observer lists.

The core point is that people have to prove that their position is not immoral and harmful.
The question must now be turned around towards opponents of marriage equality:

On what grounds can the traditional position still be considered to be moral and beneficial to the individuals concerned and to society at large, knowing that stigmatising a whole group of people as somehow lesser and not worthy of the same lasting, sustaining, nourishing and stabilising relationships straight people enjoy causes enormous mental health problems including suicide?

And if it cannot be justified as moral and beneficial any longer, how can we still insist that it's what God wants for people? Where else does God mandate knowingly causing harm to a whole group of people?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 10:12am BST

"Where else does God mandate knowingly causing harm to a whole group of people?"

The slaughter of the 12,000 inhabitants of Ai wasn't exactly harmless.

With regard to Elizabeth and William's posts, I consider them the most reasonable and logically coherent posts in the thread.

I think it's a pity if we alienate people from posting at Thinking Anglicans, simply because we disagree with their premisses.

Their logic was impeccable.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 11:16am BST

Re the introduction of Nazis and Nazi era Germany in debates, nothing to see here folks, it's just Godwin's law.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 1:54pm BST

"Their logic was impeccable."

Are you sure Susannah? It seemed to me what was being argued was at the very least a false analogy with a whiff of reductio ad absurdum and possibly a straw man thrown in for good measure.

I think the word you might have been after was 'fallacious' not 'impeccable'.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 2:58pm BST

are you saying that you believe that God actually required the slaughter of the people of Ai and all the other cruelties attributed to him throughout Scripture?

Are you saying that you can read the New Testament and find in it a God who mercilessly requires the suffering of one random group of people? For absolutely no benefit to anyone?
Who else by gay people is being singled out for this? Not just in one instance, but as a law, forever and ever?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 3:19pm BST

Erika, you asked us where, and I was replying: in the Bible. No I don't think the biblical narrative is a reliable representation of God's likely views on the slaughter at Ai. It is the narrative of victors, 'claiming' mandate.

Andrew, Elizabeth's assertion that you can regard gay love as valid, while believing marriage is ordained for male-with-female, is a logical statement and claim. Both those things are possible conscientious beliefs. Her logic is plain. I don't agree with her premiss about marriage, but logic doesn't take sides. She can credibly hold both views, though I don't myself.

Regardless of the Godwin aspect, which some have critiqued, William's logic is also fool-proof. He makes a legitimate point. He is simply demonstrating that just because something is legal does not prove that it is acceptable. The logic of his Nazi example works pretty well, even if the association is invidious.

My last comments on this thread!

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 5:45pm BST

With friends like these ...

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 8:01pm BST

Strangely enough, I feel "unwelcome to post" when a part of my created being is compared to genocide.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 8:28pm BST

"The logic of his Nazi example works pretty well, even if the association is invidious."

Again, I beg to differ. I would suggest that far from being faultlessly logical, William is proposing a false analogy. 'Law' under an authoritarian dictatorship is only superficially comparable to 'law' under a liberal democracy: in the two very different situations 'legal' means very different things.

The two situations- (late) 1930s Germany and (early) 21st century Britain are not just different in degree, they are substantially different situations and the same conclusions with regard to law cannot logically be drawn.

We all do it, of course, pick the most extreme example we can think of to prove our argument, it's a ubiquitous rhetorical device (mea culpa I'm certain), but when it boils down to it, often logical folly rather than fool-proof logic.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 8:51pm BST

thank you. So maybe I was too cryptic. The question is whether it is God's character to demand a lifestyle from a random group of people that is harmful to that group.
As you say, like so many other victories attributed to God's will in Scripture, the slaughtering of the Ai is the narrative of the victors claiming mandate for the slaughter they visited on people.
That's not quite the same as God stipulating a moral rule for people that causes them harm.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 9:36pm BST

Thank you, Fr Andrew, for noting the difficulty with such analogies or comparisons.

One wonders if St Paul's enthusiasm for the civil authority's bearing of the sword against wrongdoers (Rom 13:3-4) was at all diminished when that same sword was aimed at his neck. Two-edged logic, indeed.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 11:08pm BST

The proposition being advanced seems to be that denying marriage to gays and lesbians cannot be God’s plan because it causes undue suffering.

Although I support same sex marriage, I find this particular argument unconvincing. Take someone born with acute gender dysphoria instead. With the present state of medical science, if hormonal and surgical treatment for the gender dysphoria is chosen, the consequence is sterility. It's a choice which for many is between two types of suffering. (That ignores the fact that for some because of age, physiology or being born in the wrong country that post-transition looks, genitalia etc can be deeply disappointing.) Even in enlightened countries, the statistics show that those who transition can face a lifetime of discrimination, disadvantage and stigmatisation. In other countries, even the US, the risk of facing violence or being murdered is very significantly increased.

The suffering gays and lesbians experience if denied marriage while real is insignificant in comparison. If God leaves many of those born with gender dysphoria to choose only how they will suffer, not whether they will suffer, why is it unreasonable to think He might also expect gay and lesbian people to suffer?

Suffering is awful. I wish it wasn't necessary. Most of us struggle to understand why God not only allows suffering but in some cases seems to impose it. Arguing that the suffering of gays and lesbians cannot be part of God's design is, however, hard to reconcile with groups like trans people (picking another LGBTI group) for whom lifelong suffering might be unavoidable and the proposition being advanced risks causing offence.

Posted by Kate at Friday, 26 August 2016 at 2:58am BST

To refuse to try to alleviate unnecessary suffering, with the cry that it is "God's Plan," is to abrogate your calling as a Christian and unworthy.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 26 August 2016 at 8:40am BST

thank you for engaging with the argument.

I think there is a material difference with your example.
Random suffering exists throughout human life. And the question why God "allows" it has been engaging Christians throughout the millennia. This random suffering can affect everyone and anyone at any time.

That is not the same as God picking out a group of people and "mandating" a lifestyle for them that is guaranteed to cause them suffering and the misery of knowing that God would believe their loves to be sinful. When there is no good reason for this, no benefit to anyone.
And where, if God did not request that lifestyle, the same people would not be suffering but live like anyone else, with the same options in life. And with the same chances of suffering random illness, disability and the current consequences of managing gender dysphoria (that bit isn’t taken away from anyone).

God is in the suffering that arises. He does not impose it on people who would not otherwise suffer.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 26 August 2016 at 9:46am BST


I can accept that there is a difference with my example, although I am unconvinced as to its relevance but you are now talking of "mandated" and "imposed" and there I think is perhaps your error.

Anglicans often use the phrase walking together and a definition of sin sometimes used is that it is behaviour which increases the distance between us and God, it disrupts the walking together with God. So the question is whether God might ask us to do something difficult to walk with Him, and undoubtedly He does. This could - were it a sin - just be another example. It is not mandated, or imposed because we always have a choice whether or not to sin.

The better argument to yours though is that marriage is recognised as a mechanism for relieving temptation for those for whom chastity is too high a burden. We pray for deliverance from temptation - why should that not apply to gay and lesbian people too?

So I think your argument about suffering fails, but I think it is solid if you recast it as an argument about temptation. Ask those who disagree with you to explain why gay and lesbian people should not be delivered from the temptation of sinful sex outside of marriage when Jesus Himself taught us to pray and ask to be delivered from temptation.

(However, in terms of suffering we should be teaching as I repeatedly say that marriage is created when one first loses ones virginity, not in church. That is why divorce is impossible - it is not about undoing a rite; divorce is not possible because something done cannot be undone just as a Christian cannot be unbaptised. If marriage is something a couple enters into privately in the presence of God, then the church cannot deny marriage, merely refuse to acknowledge it. The correct teaching on marriage might alleviate the suffering of those Christians who wrongly think their church is denying them marriage. It isn't and it cannot. One of the key differences between Anglicanism and Catholicism is that we have presbyters, not priests. Priests intermediate between man and his god; presbyters are shepherds. So while a priest could be an agent of marriage, a shepherd presbyter cannot.)

Posted by Kate at Friday, 26 August 2016 at 12:37pm BST

"Being gay is your cross to bear" -- how many have heard that before? Interesting that people are so willing to put a cross on someone else's shoulders, particularly if they are not of a group to bear it themselves.

The argument over what to do with straight, divorced people is illustrative. i would argue that most churches on the left or right have found a way to work with divorce in some way. Even the Roman Catholics are trying to figure out a better way forward. I suspect this is because the majority of people are straight, and can "relate" to divorce. They can picture themselves in an unfortunate circumstance that might require it.

But of course, Teh Gayz. Ewwww. "Those people." It's the "othering" that makes it.

Anyone who is willing to place a cross on someone else's shoulder and claim it just, should be required to bear it themselves as well.

Posted by I_T at Friday, 26 August 2016 at 4:55pm BST

I think we're still talking cross purposes.
Or maybe I don't understand your theology of suffering.
Are you suggesting that God wills every illness and disability people suffer?

Because my understanding is that he does not, but that he does not prevent them.
Jesus himself healed suffering.
So the idea that people are born perfectly capable of loving and committing themselves to exclusive relationships, but that God requires that they must not enter them, knowing it will cause suffering, is completely against what we know of God's character.

Usually, when I have this conversation with conservative evangelicals, they accept that there is no obvious reason for the prohibition of same sex relationships and that the resulting suffering does seem to be cruel and is inexplicable.... but that it is an axiom of faith that we must trust God that he knows what he's doing.

To which my answer is that this is clearly not something God is imposing but a case of serious misunderstanding on our part. Because in the case of every other Christian moral requirement we can see very clearly why it is necessary. God does not require unnecessary or harmful things from us.

I do, of course, completely agree with your argument about temptation.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 26 August 2016 at 6:36pm BST

"One of the key differences between Anglicanism and Catholicism is that we have presbyters, not priests. Priests intermediate between man and his god; presbyters are shepherds." - Kate

That's your definition, not a definition accepted by all Anglicans. Many, perhaps most, Anglicans around the world (and indeed all my friends in the CofE) refer to members of the second order of ordination as priests, not as presbyters.

For what it's worth, presbyters are elders, not shepherds, as any good Presbyterian will tell you, or any etymological dictionary. The idea that presbyters are shepherds and priests not is simply an opinion with no basis that I know in theology.

And for that matter, making a different between the two it is based on a misunderstanding about language. Priests and presbyters are not different -- they are the same, linguistically, since "priest" is simply the was English chose to naturalize the word "presbyter" from the Greek. Latin uses the word "presbyter" for holders of that office, and to this day, the residence of the priests at an RC church can be called a presbytery (unlike the presbyterian equivalent, which is called a manse -- but I digress). For that matter, the portion of a church formerly reserved to the ordained -- the sanctuary and the chancel -- is referred to as the "presbytery" in some cases, at least in some of the CofE cathedrals I have visited.

I must add, that in recent posts, I have found your idea of what constitutes Anglicanism pretty far removed from what I know in Canada and experienced in England when I lived there. It reminds me far more of what I read about in attitudes of the very Conservative (upper case C quite deliberate) parts of the CofE in the 1920s and 30s. AS always, however, your mileage may differ (as it clearly does). Its just that your definitions and description are not universally accepted. That's all.

Posted by John Holding at Friday, 26 August 2016 at 10:00pm BST

Kate, once again you are making dogmatic statements here that do not hold up in reality. When you state, categorically, that "Marriage is created when one first loses one's virginity, not in Church" is, demonstrably, not the case in every circumstance. Your argument here is neither traditional nor liberal, and suits neither side of the argument.

I can instance for you an actual situation where a gay male priest has actually entered into a Church Marriage ceremony with a woman - within the context of the Eucharist and conducted by the local bishop of the Anglican Church.

The couple and the presiding Bishop were aware of the specific circumstances (That there would be no expectation by the Marriage Celebrant or the couple, of sexual congress between the two and, therefore, there was no real expectation of progeny.

That marriage has lasted more than 30 years, and the children of the Bride (a former widow) have known the circumstances of their mother's re-marriage - as soon as there were old enough to understand. They are now, themselves, both parents, and are respectful of the situation of their mother and her second husband, who had become their beloved substitute father.

Another situation, of course, that would constrast with your blanket statement; that marriage occurs on the occasion of lost virginity; is simply not correct - either by Civil or Church Law. There is further commitment required - otherwise, anarchy!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 27 August 2016 at 4:40am BST

Kate, as the liturgy states, marriage is made by the mutual consent of the couple, before witnesses, indicated by pledging of troth, exchange of rings, and joining of hands. The officiant declares this quite clearly. The marriage exists from this moment forward. The officiant does not create the marriage, but certifies it by this declaration.

Consummation does not make the marriage, but renders it indissoluble -- in theory though not in practice, and even then only in some legal systems and circumstances. But the marriage itself exists prior to the wedding night -- and it is the marriage that distinguishes licit sexual intercourse from fornication.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 27 August 2016 at 3:40pm BST

Liturgy also speaks of husband and wife yet many here think liturgy is wrong on that. Until Recently, a wife had to vow obedience but that has changed. Liturgy is hardly a certain guide.

I prefer Mark 10:7-9. That makes clear that a joining of flesh is the essence of marriage and is definite that it is God who joins the couple together, not the couple making vows, not a minister or priest, not civil authorities but God. Whatever liturgy says, and whatever view of marriage is presently in vogue, on this I believe I am simply reflecting what the Gospels teach on marriage.

Posted by Kate at Saturday, 27 August 2016 at 5:58pm BST

Kate, Mark 10:7-9 clearly indicates that they are man and wife prior to becoming one flesh. That is the point of what I was saying, and what the liturgy points out. It is consent that makes the marriage a marriage. What happens on the wedding night makes the married couple one flesh; it doesn't make them married. It renders the marriage indissoluble; which is what Jesus is addressing.

Sexual intercourse without the commitment of marriage is fornication. See 1 Cor 6:16-18 for Paul's explanation.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 27 August 2016 at 11:32pm BST

Dear Kate, I've been reading back through your comments and am wondering why you are intent on the negatives. Being anti-clerical is one thing - and I suppose most of us A.C. clergy have become used to that - but I'm afraid I find your general comments to be less than inspirational. I know that some Anglicans find solemn liturgy and vestments a problem. However, there is only one way to accommodate your dislike of them. Just move to another parish that perfectly suits your needs. This might reduce your obvious stress level.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 28 August 2016 at 4:44am BST

Kate, the argument - and distinction - you advance about meaning and use of the terms "presbyter" and "priest" strike me as eccentric at best. The fact is that regardless of tradition, those whom we call priests are technically ordained to the presbyterate by their bishop. Also technically, they are "vicars" of the bishop in that their ministry is the exercise of the priesthood of the bishop. Meanwhile, the word "presbyter" has no necessarily sacramental content: it simply means, "elder," and therefore is open to use in the variety of ways seen in other polities and traditions. As to the word, "shepherd," that word manifestly refers to the pastoral office exercised by many (although by no means all) priests, as well as by persons ordained in many or most Christian. traditions. The Lutherans in the US have rather painted themselves into a corner by demurring at the use of the term "priest" for their pastors, although the ministry they exercise in congregations is clearly sacramental.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Sunday, 28 August 2016 at 9:11am BST


The Bible is clear. In the Old Testament we have priests who make sacrifices to God; in the Epistles we have presbyters who led the church. They were not priests because Jesus had made the ultimate sacrifice and forever removed the need for priests to make sacrifices.

This was understood in the Reformation and Protestants moved to the word presbyter instead of priest. Anglicanism arose as a sort of compromise between Calvinism and Catholicism, some sort of middle ground. In true English tradition it thrives on ambiguity and ambivalence.

The use of the word "priest" is a prime example. It can be used to simply mean presbyter but it also retains its meaning in Catholicism and it's meaning from the OT. It is highly ambiguous. What you should ask yourself, I suggest, is whether those who strongly advocate the term "priest" are using it entirely synonymously with presbyter or whether they are harking back to those earlier meanings of the word?

Equally of course, if Anglicanism incorporated certain concepts from Catholicism such as the use of the term priest as an alternative to presbyter, equally Anglicanism also incorporated the views of people like me who believe that it is blasphemous to use the term priest (and for those priests to style themselves Father). That's the thing. Anglicanism is a big tent. It might include Anglo-Catholics but it also includes people like me whose views are Protestant, even Puritanical. If Anglo-Catholics can say that things like sane sex marriage are sinful or non-Scriptural, why am I not equally free to say that styling oneself as priest or father is sinful too?

Posted by Kate at Sunday, 28 August 2016 at 5:17pm BST

As I said to Daniel, Anglicanism also includes people like me. I am not anti-clerical. I just don't believe clerics should be paid a stipend or given houses or pensions. Ordination is its own reward.

Posted by Kate at Sunday, 28 August 2016 at 5:21pm BST

Dear Kate; not to prolong the conversation here but to engage with your anti-clericalism as best as I can on this thread.

Most Anglicans accept that the priesthood is one of the foundational elements of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that even Reformed Anglicanism would claim to be part of.

In your objection to Anglicans being part of that heritage, you are merely echoing the disregard of a onetime Pope of the Roman Catholic Church - Leo - who uttered an anathema against the idea of the Anglican Church retaining the historic priesthood - an opinion you seem to share.

Most Anglicans I know disregard that papal injunction, believing that the catholic priesthood is part and parcel of Anglican identity. Of course, in its early beginnings, the Church of England did contain an element of puritanism (which you claim for yourself) that found the priestly heritage incompatible with the Reformation 'Sola Scriptura' ethos. However, there has always been a strong catholic tradition - re-emphasised by the Oxford Movement and revived in the Parish Mass Movement, which brought the Celebration of the Eucharist into the forefront of worship practice into the life of the Church of England. The time of the 'Huntin', Shootin', Fishin' Parson was truly over!

Without going into the historical facts of the retention of the priestly office - and its establishment in the Church of England and its later constituent Provinces in Commonwealth countries; I can say that it has seemed necessary to continue in the liturgical and pastoral tradition of the Church Catholic - of both Eastern and Western cultures - in order to maintain the sacramental life of the Church.

re your comment about stipendiary clergy, the reality is even more complicated than that which obtained at the time of St.Paul, who declared that "The labourer is worthy of his hire", though he - a person who did tent-making for a living - could hardly have been privy to experience of the extent to which the organisation of the Church has grown into today's world-wide and complex situation.

Paul speaks also, of course, of the shared 'priesthood of the laity', which does not do away with the need for the sacerdotal priesthood, but is meant to be exercised in conjunction - thus making up the Body of Christ. Priesthood is neither the highest nor the only function of the Church catholic - just a necessary part of its sacramental ministry.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 29 August 2016 at 12:21am BST

"Most Anglicans accept that the priesthood is one of the foundational elements of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that even Reformed Anglicanism would claim to be part of."

The majority of Anglicans know that we have vicars who are unlike Catholic priests in that they are allowed to marry, but also see vicars as being somehow different to, say, Baptist ministers. So I think the majority of Anglicans see vicars as being one of the the ways in which Anglicanism is distinct from other denominations, not an aspect of One Holy, Catholic and Aspostolic Church. Moreover, if you asked many Anglicans why they are Anglican not Catholic, I suspect many would say they believe in the more direct relationship with God than Catholics have with their priests and Pope. (Some would probably add that they are concerned by the Cult of Mary but that's for a different thread.)

So I strongly disagree with you. I think the majority of Anglicans want vicars / presbyters not priests but don't get too exercised about vicars calling themselves priest while they pretend it's just a more common word for presbyter. If pressed, however, when faced with priests who use the term to mean something different than presbyter as I think you do, then I think the majority of Anglicans would agree with me.

We won't know of course. As someone pointed out on another thread, a lot of the problems around same sex marriage in the Anglican Communion only started when Gene Robinson was consecrated. I think the same is true of priesthood. While everyone in public pretends priest is just another word for presbyter, no fuss will be made. Individual priests who use priest to mean something different than presbyter will get away with it too. But if anyone tried to suggest that Anglicanism has priests in the Catholic or OT mould, then I believe there would be an upswept of protest.

So I disagree with your statement very much, although I think many Anglicans would agree in terms of Bishops.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 29 August 2016 at 11:34am BST

Kate, you might do well to ask what order the Church of England thinks it's doing at ordinations. The language there might help to move things beyond your increasingly strained impressions. Have a look at the ordinal:

You will find the same language employed in the BCP ordinal:,-ordaining-and-consecrating-of-bishops,-priests-and-deacons/the-ordering-of-priests.aspx

Posted by Victoriana at Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 1:57pm BST

"The majority of Anglicans know that we have vicars..." - Kate

This is not your actual point, but the phrase above points to the root of our differences. Most Anglicans throughout the world wouldn't have a clue as to what you mean by "we have vicars...", as opposed to priests. Use of "vicar" as you use it here is unknwon outside the CofE. It is sometimes (but rarely used) as the title of a priest who is acting in place of a bishop or dean, but that's it.

So in anything you write, I have to assume that you are not talking about Anglicans generally, as the term is usually used, but about members of the CofE. (And those I know in the Cof E would disagree with you, though they are hardly Anglo-Catholic, but that's a bit of a tangent.)

Posted by John Holding at Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 3:00am BST
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