Thinking Anglicans

InclusiveChurch responds to adoption debate

Press release from InclusiveChurch
An interactive network for the voice of liberal Anglicans
.

InclusiveChurch responds to adoption debate

The debate on gay adoption highlights an increasingly serious problem within the Church of England.

We have been called to bear witness to the gospel of generous, redemptive love and justice, but time and again we are perceived to be more concerned with rejection than welcome, with bunker-digging rather than dialogue.

The collective sigh of relief that was breathed and the profound joy that was felt across the country when women were ordained to the priesthood, from those outside as well as those inside the Church, has now been overshadowed.

Instead, the Church is now associated more and more strongly in the public mind with another form of discrimination – homophobia. We are now in a situation where, however carefully public statements are worded, the Church’s of England’s grudging response to the Equality Act, and to last year’s civil partnerships legislation, only encourages the belief that ‘the Church has a problem with gays’.

Meanwhile, the country has moved on. Civil partnerships have been warmly welcomed by gay and lesbian people and their friends and families, with uptake take-up far in excess of Government predictions. And around the country gay couples are getting on with the tough and uniquely valuable vocation of bringing up adopted children.

The Church is certainly called to be counter-cultural. We are certainly called, for example, to challenge trade injustice, to question policy on the international arms trade, to resist consumerism – not least its trivialisation of God’s precious gift of sexuality – in short, to try to work for the good of all people under the eyes of God.

But sometimes our resistance to lessons learned in the secular world appears to be a denial of the possibility of progress.

We cannot control God’s outrageously inclusive Gospel. We should, rather, be asking what God is teaching us through our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters who have heard the Gospel message of salvation and redemption, and become part of the Christian community.

To this end, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has organised a conference on “Faith, homophobia and human rights” on February 17th.

And the Church of England’s General Synod is preparing to discuss a motion on February 21st which includes the following:

‘That this Synod acknowledge the diversity of opinion about homosexuality within the Church of England and that these divergent opinions come from honest and legitimate attempts to read the scriptures with integrity, understand the nature of homosexual orientation, and respect the patterns of holy living to which lesbian and gay Christians aspire…’

We support these initiatives. As a church, we are in danger of becoming like sheep bleating in our little fold while real life goes by on the road outside. We acknowledge the diversity of opinion within the church. But it is our hope and prayer that the conference and the debate may be occasions to move away from rejection, so that we can jointly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s love for God’s world to which we are all committed, trusting that the Spirit will through dialogue and mutual respect lead us into all truth. .

Revd Briony Martin, Vice Chair, InclusiveChurch

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Main manFord ElmsGöran Koch-SwahneDavemynsterpreost (=David Rowett) Recent comment authors
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Tim
Guest

Well, that doesn’t say an awful lot of relevance, I guess. Fine, so inclusivechurch is inclusive; we might’ve guessed that. But what about the pending laws?

I’m minded to suggest that the `Sexual Orientation’ is fine, but to ask whether we want to be a country where such things are imposed by Regulation. Wouldn’t it be nicer if the church got there on its own steam (or even were seen as representative of part of the democracy in this country), rather than being kicked around by the Government?

laurence
Guest
laurence

Nicer ?

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

“Wouldn’t it be nicer if the Church got to opposing slavery under its own steam rather than being kicked around by the government.”

I rest my case.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

The surd of making antidiscrimination progress by nothing but persuasion and social-religios-ethical evolultion is just the difficulty that antigay folks are not content with being classically negative in their own personal, daily beliefs, attitudes, intentions, values, and practices towards any queer folks who might happen to cross their daily path. We are told that their innate breathing room for negative conscience about queer folks must go further. Antigay folks must be free to institutionalize – or reinstitutionalize in some instances – some piece of their negative beliefs, attitudes, values, intentions, and practices aimed at queer folks. And they must be… Read more »

Tim
Guest

Laurence writes: “Nicer ?”

Yeah. It seems to me as though all the government wants to do is throw weight around through legislation, which has led straight into a head-on collision with those who (correctly) think that moral choices trump law (even when those moral choices are wrong).

It’s not just the church that’s affected, either: wedding photographers and caterers are already worried that they’ll have to invent lies about availability to avoid doing what they don’t want to; and why haven’t we heard much from Muslims about this?

NP
Guest
NP

Not very inclusive this Inclusive Church! Why are you excluding materialistic, greedy people who do not want to give up their consumerism? What right does IC have to judge their understanding of scripture? How do you know the spirit is not telling them to buy more sports cars and holiday houses? Don’t be judgmental, IC! Include all that’s what it is all about, (eg Jn3:36?),right? (please, please do not respond with any verses re greed – the irony might make me fall off my chair and the logic of the statement above would not support the exclusion of the “prosperity… Read more »

Deborah
Guest
Deborah

‘the collective sigh of relief… when women were ordained to the priesthood’… if only. As a woman in ministry, I am still confronted by people (men and women alike) who do not ‘accept’ my ministry – and even among those who do, for the word accept you could say ‘tolerate’. My fear is that this will be the case if ever the Church of England is honest enough to witness to what has been reality for years – the Church of England accepts for training, ordains as Deacon, Priest and Bishop, those who are in committed and fulfilling relationship with… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

I won’t respond with verses re: greed, NP. The irony of you sticking to the “plain word of Scripture” on the issue of sexuality while being quite content to ignore those that speak against wealth, greed, usury, or to use the OT to justify war, all this made me fall off my chair long ago. You have said before that you won’t stand for people declaring not to be sin that which Scripture clearly says IS sinful. You left out the part where that only applies to the parts of Scripture that deal with sex.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

One day conservative Christians will have to recognise that their homophobia simply isn’t acceptable any longer

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

‘That this Synod acknowledge the diversity of opinion about homosexuality within the Church of England and that these divergent opinions come from honest and legitimate attempts to read the scriptures with integrity, understand the nature of homosexual orientation, and respect the patterns of holy living to which lesbian and gay Christians aspire…’

I wish someone would put the same motion in the RCC.

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

Andrew Sullivan sees more sides of the story than most commentators: “Religious Freedom in Britain: “It just took a hit from well-meaning but misguided attempts to force Catholic adoption agencies to be open to placing needy kids in the homes of adoptive gay couples. It isn’t the law yet, and the British parliamentary system means that, for the Tories at least, the vote will be one of conscience. My conscience tells me that denying needy children good and stable homes, just because their new parents will be gay, is morally wrong… but my political principles – specifically my belief in… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

The day of lessened fear, disgust, ignorance and bearing false religious witness against queer folks is already dawning. That is why the antigay religious folks are so often upset – they have been loudly preaching to us for about fifty to sixty years, all the legacy negative stuff, and the din of their preachments would be deafening if their sheer determined ignorance could only carry the day. Except that face to face with the decent, loving queer folks in our family, among our friends, and contributing mightily to our best work teams – the drumming din of these legacy negatives… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – how many times – you say we are excusing sins like greed but we are not….evidence for +Duncan preaching greed or being in favour of unfair trade? There is none

Easy to knock down straw men but pointless

JBE
Guest
JBE

The difference, NP, is that when I and (I believe) others of a liberal bent speak against the prevailing cultural mood of consumerism, materialism and me-me-me, I do so full in the knowledge that I am praching to myself as much as to anyone else. Consumerism is such a pernicious, insidious force that it manages to hold virtually all of us in its hypnotic gaze. Those of us who fall under its sway – self included, I say again, self included – are victims. What’s being held up as anti-God is not a human being, or group of them but… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

JBE – I agree with your concerns on consumerism etc – these are serious problems and damage the world and most importantly, human beings.

Conscience comes into it in relation to the scriptures and what they say and mean……for this reason, in all good conscience, I cannot accept the “prosperity” heresy nor any other teaching which directly contradicts the word.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Andrew Sullivan’s arguments once again focus on the competing rights of the agency and the prospective parents. This is the better story for journalists to get their teeth into. The service users here are the children seeking a safe and loving home. He tries to overcome this by saying that any child that might be suitable for placing with same sex parents should be withdrawn from the Catholic agencies. There are children whose histories make it impossible to place where there is a man or sometimes a woman in the household. There are children whose complex needs require a single… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I don’t agree with Sullivan. He tends towards a libertarianism which allows discrimination to be sanctioned as long as it is in the private sphere, because he is not in favour of government intervention from a right-wing perspective I think that the State should have the right to determine what is discriminatory in the public sphere, and the Church should be made to comply. What goes on within the Church is no business of Government unless it clearly breaks the law (such as child abuse within the Catholic church, or obeying employment laws), but as soon as the Church wishes… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

‘…long for the day when the ‘everlasting arms’ that reach out and support the world in love are allowed to do just that – love.’ Deborah I am really sorry Deborah to hear of the reception of your ministry, by some, and that of other ordained women. I regret it very much. I regret the hurt given to yourself and to them. I regret the hardness of heart which — I assume leads to such a response to you and other women in Ministry. I was over-joyed by the democratic decision to ordain women. It had been dear to my… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

Martin this is so clear, helpful, deep and spiritually real. Thank you.

You bring true authority to bear. Real authorship. True love. Inspiring.

May this creative opportunity be seized by RCC and us all.

laurence
Guest
laurence

sorry for my mistake in post above.

It should have read : —

‘in a hope against hope kind of way’ — ‘hoping agaisnt hope’

–hardly daring to hope that women would be ordained outwrdly, as they had already been inwardly and in their engagment with the world and individuals…..

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Plurality of interpretation of the scriptures? Regarding the said passages, there are thousands of possible interpretations. But no more or fewer than for any other passage of scripture. Or of any other writing. That is because possible points for debate are limited to minutiae. Regarding the big picture, namely a simple question such as Is the New Testament strongly in favour of, in favour of, neutral towards, against or strongly against same-sex sexual relations, there is not and never has been the remotest controversy among qualified NT scholars. Any more than there has been about lying, murdering and the other… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“evidence for +Duncan preaching greed or being in favour of unfair trade?” NP, it’s not about any one bishop preaching any one thing. These things have been accepted in society for hundreds of years, with the Church’s approval. No-one needs to preach in support of things that are accepted parts of how society works. We need now to preach against them, since the were, are, and always will be wrong, despite the Church’s having compromised Her principles centuries ago. We need to repent of these compromises. But, is Duncan going to preach against military service for Christians? Is he going… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Re: Greed versus the Common Good… Another interesting example of intentionally skewed reading is that of the word “all” in the Eucharistic Prayer. Aramaic does not have a word “all”, which has to do with the various ways some languages count: one… two… several… many… (all). So Aramaic hasn’t got “all”. Consequently, when Christ Jesus says “for all”, it is rendered as “for many” tò perì pollwn, because there is no “word” all. The meaning however is and remains all. But not in exclusionist “translations”. They translate all as “many” not to upset their narrow Soteriology, yet very well knowing… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Christopher Shell has a point — this notion that heterosexual activity between a man and woman who are married (to each other) is a good thing is a modern notion that must be corrected by the universal, traditional teaching of the Church that celibacy is to be preferred & that marriage is only for those unable to control their passions (but even so, they may only engage in sexual activity with the intention of having a child &, of course, abstinence within marriage is to be preferred & required in Advent & in Lent — beginning with the Gesima Sundays).

Right?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Inclusive Church talk negatively about non-liberal christians not being “witness to the gospel of generous, redemptive love and justice” and “the Church is now associated more and more strongly in the public mind with another form of discrimination – homophobia” and asserts that: “Meanwhile, the country has moved on.” All these allude to important factors, but avoid the real point…. Truth. Although same-sex partnerships have similarities with male-female, the truth is that there are also some massive differences – biologically, physiologically and sociologically. The two are not “different but equal”. Homosexuality has a dissonance between the psychological and the physical!… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

Christopher Shell, biblical hermeneutics is a far subtler matter than this. Remember that the BIble literally approves of divinely-sanctioned genocide — in far more numerous texts than the handful referring to same-sex activities. Look at Robin Scroggs and Walter Wink for a sense of the wide field of discriminating judgement that has to be embarked on if you wish to come to terms with the biblical doctrine of love, sheathed as it is in archaic patriarchal terms. See http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-bible-walter-wink Merseyside Mike, “I don’t agree with Sullivan. He tends towards a libertarianism which allows discrimination to be sanctioned as long as… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

You will find a scriptural case for same sex relationships by George Day on the Fulcrum Homosexuality and Scripture thread.

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – I do not mean to patronise you but your posts have been much more logical than some on TA (and I only read some posts given some from others are normally nonsense) but you seem to have lost it just now eg saying, “But, is Duncan going to preach against military service for Christians? Is he going to tell the wealthy to give all their money to the poor? (Oh, right, you don’t think that particular Scriptural injunction is directed at everybody). “ You are on weak ground claiming military service is always wrong – do you really… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

NP wrote: “… the logic of the statement above would not support the exclusion of the “prosperity gospel” heresy – but logic and consistency are easily sacrificed when there is an agenda to be driven”. Greed, that is to disregard the common Good of the Community for the benefit of one’s own individual benefit, is 10th Commandment epithumía and other Biblical words, nowadays generally sexualized in “translations”; “covet” and so on. So, where in the Biblical texts Greed is condemned, late modern “translations” driven by a Neo Platonist agenda condemns “sex”. Which, however, in Biblical times was an “issue” only… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Christopher Shell wrote: “Plurality of interpretation of the scriptures? … there are thousands of possible interpretations. But no more or fewer than for any other passage of scripture. Or of any other writing. That is because possible points for debate are limited to minutiae.” We have heard that one before. Claiming too much and too little at the same time… Rubbishing is the first defence of the ignorant. and “Regarding the big picture, namely a simple question such as Is the New Testament strongly in favour of, in favour of, neutral towards, against or strongly against same-sex sexual relations, there… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“the space of religious freedom and freedom of conscience, or conscientious objection”

Trouble is that one man’s “freedom” is another womans terror.

NP
Guest
NP

Laurence – thanks for the reference which I have seen but we need a CONVINCING case

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Dave ; that’s your version of ‘truth’ – not mine, and not the majority of people in the UK, either!

We don’t live in a theocracy. I wish you would remember that….and remember that as the Church can do as it wishes in its own sphere, the legislation (similar to that which exists across Europe) is perfectly legal, as much as conservative religionists may dislike it!

NP
Guest
NP

So Merseymike – the CofE should shape its beliefs on the basis of what the “majority of the people in the UK” think????

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Goran said Aramaic does not have a word “all”, which has to do with the various ways some languages count: one… two… several… many… (all). Are you sure about that? Haven’t got a Palestinian Aramaic dictionary other than BDB, but Payne Smith certainly gives k-[w]-l as ‘all, the whole’ (suggested root = complete, perfect, universal’) — would usage be so different between Peshitta Syriac and the Aramaic of a couple of centuries or so earlier? geek mode geek mode back . Just noticed that ‘kalba demaya’ in Aram means ‘an otter’ (lit. ‘sea dog’) but also metaphorically ‘a sodomite’. Does… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Prior Aelred- I would never take ‘the teaching of the church’ as necessarily being an authority. It is only the teaching of the leaders anyway (and usually of just one particular generation of them) – and who knows what motives they may have had? Hi Fr Joseph- I don’t see ‘The Bible’ as a unity. For example, if there were no NT I would have no inclination to become a Jew on the basis of the OT. The NT (which never remotely sanctions genocide) is where we are at. I am sure this makes me sound a total marcionite,… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

NP, you are missing my point. Christ calls us to follow Him, and sacrifice everything else in the process. In so far as we do not sacrifice everything, we sin. “Sin” is not breaking the Law, the word is better translated as “missing the mark”, in effect we put something ahead of our great Calling, and allow ourselves to be turned off the Path. “misinterpreting a passage”? Explain, please. How do you fudge this one away? I’m sure you don’t think it’s fudge, all the same. I have not given my money away, but then I’m not making the kinds… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford Thou shalt not kill clearly is about murder (animals are killd for food and sacrifices in the OT / the death penalty is even there in the OT etc etc). If you think the message to the rich young ruler applies to all, you should give all your money away….but don’t do that because the passage means something else – it means something like “whatever is your idol, are you willing to give it up because no idolatry is acceptable (including greed)?” For the rich young ruler, his idol was identified to him and it was hard for him… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

NP ; the CofE can shape its beliefs as it wishes, but to think that there is agreement on this issue is a mistake.

However, thats not the issue – because these are not about CofE beliefs, but the civil law, and as some of us keep reminding you,we do not live in a theocracy, but a liberal, pluralist country where discrimination in the public sphere is unacceptable. Thats why the RC’s haven’t got their exemption.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Merseymike wrote: “Dave ; that’s your version of ‘truth’ – not mine, and not the majority of people in the UK, either!” Dear Merseymike, You have confirmed exactly the point I was making. What I, you, or “people”, think does not define facts or truth (unless you think that majority opinion *is* truth.. which is a rather worrying definition, that I doubt you actually live by! 🙂 ). The Government seems to think that “Equality” legislation means them empowering themselves to decide which groups to include and exclude from the public square – rather than creating a space where *different*… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Mynsterpreost wrote: “Are you sure about that?”

Well not really – one should never be in this line of buisness – but that is how this is explained by the professors at Lund, for whom “al kol” is “the whole”, not “all” individuals…

But as I did not do Aramaic myself ;=)

Nevertheless… Píete eks autoû pántes definitely means Drink of it all!

(Not that I would be adverse to translating tò perí pollwn as “for about all”…)

Dave
Guest
Dave

Joseph O’Leary wrote: “I agree, the State should indeed penalized hate speech and bigotry, to some reasonable extent. What the State should not do is unreasonably narrow the space of religious freedom and freedom of conscience, or conscientious objection.” Dear Joseph O’Leary, The trouble is that that type of legislation sounds wonderful (who is in favour of “hate”?) but in fact we already have laws against incitement etc… “Hate speech” legislation isn’t aimed at stopping “hate”, it just defines who you can and can’t speak hatefully about! On religious freedom and freedom of conscience, I’m still struggling to understand why… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

‘And Martin Reynolds’ argument of a possibly less good adoption for some children, who might be better adopted by a gay partnership, is rather flimsy…’ ‘Dave’

so how many children are you adopting then, Dave ? That makes your argument so ‘un-flimsy’
How many adoption panels have you sat on ?

Is your expertise based on considerable experience (like Martin’s) ?

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Göran wrote
al kol” is “the whole”, not “all” individuals..

Ah! I get it now. Delete my previous comment as a waste of electrons. And of course I meant ‘water dog’ not ‘sea dog’ — I suppose the ‘hello Sailor’ implicitum derailed my thinking!

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Thou shalt not kill clearly is about murder… “ Geek mode on: Up to and throught the 19th century, in law there was a difference between “killing” (5th or 6th Commandment) and murder”, just as there was between “robbery” and “stealth” (7th or 8th Commandment). 2 different words, even… (when there seems to be more than 1 word for the same thing, this generally means it is not the same thing ;=) Killing and robbery were in the open, killing infact l e g a l for the Pater familias until the 6th century Novellae of Emperor Justinian (for considerably… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Laurence wrote: “so how many children are you adopting then, Dave ? That makes your argument so ‘un-flimsy’ How many adoption panels have you sat on ?” Dear Laurence, Now you are doing it.. avoiding debating the issues, by trying to attack me. Exclusion of agencies that do not wish to provide services to gay partnerships is a very serious matter. It is a very weak arguement to suggest that the only way to prevent an occassional hypothetical reduction in the benefit to an adopted child is to exclude whole groups of society from providing adoption services. As if there… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

A Poodle?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

addition to my previous: … which means, as some itinerant teacher or other once said (if my memory doesn’t quite fail me) that the Law (only the 10 Commandments are Law in the Church) is not yet adhered to… … adding that not a comma must be taken away from it before it is fulfilled… … which means that not only commas but whole Commandments (1st and 3rd) have been taken away from the Law and still are, and still will be taken away or altered beyond recognition, eg 6th or 7th Commandment moixeía; disloyalty, which is always in the… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Very good. NP, a fudge worthy of an Anglican. I can be wealthy as long as I don’t make an idol of money! Brilliant! The practice of centuries would speak otherwise. I guess I can be gay as long as I don’t make an idol of sex. And I agree, such commandments ARE about idolatry in some sense, see my previous post about “missing the mark”. One could make the same argument about sola scriptura, actually, making the Bible into an idol, the Words of God being made into the Word of God, thereby bumping Christ off His Throne. And:… Read more »

Main man
Guest
Main man

Revd Briony Martin’s comments about ‘real life’ going by ‘outside’ are emotive, but a poor argument. Any Christian church has a responsibility to adhere to the Gospel and is therefore frequently in a position to be counter-cultural – as for example they are in the matter of extra-marital sex. It is nonsense to suggest that any church ought to be led by the secular society in which it sits. Choose another argument, but not that one.