Thinking Anglicans

Stephen Bates weighs in on the American bishops

The Comment is free website is carrying an article by the Guardian’s Religious Affairs Correspondent, Stephen Bates. The title is Bishops to primate: drop dead.

The original on which this headline is based can be found here.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
44 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Steven
Steven
14 years ago

Bates continues an error that I have seen repeatedly in numerous less informed sources. What is striking is that he has good reason to know better, as opposed to a casual reporter with a nominally secular “beat”. The issue is not whether to ordain homosexual bishops, or even whether some of the primates are homosexuals. There have always been many faithful Christians, in orders or lay, that were homosexuals — and God bless them. This is not the issue. The issue is whether to ordain bishops actively and openly engaged in homosexual sex. There is a world of difference between… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
14 years ago

Jeffrey John, honey.

Jeffrey John.

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
14 years ago

Steven – I don’t recall this distinction being made by those who stymied the consecration of Jeffrey John as bishop of Reading. Clearly at this time it carries no weight with the “Anglican” gay-bashers.

Pluralist
14 years ago

Very witty article and to the point.

Remember Mikhail Gorbachev, a man who understood the need for progressive reform and (unlike this Archbishop) practised it. When the going got very rough, he became more conservative. When he did that, the actual conservatives nabbed him and cut him off. Then a liberal reformer got on a tank, protected the White House from the old guard, had him freed, restored him and changed the system to autonomy – and it blew Gorbachev away (constitutionally). That’s what will happen here.

stephen bates
stephen bates
14 years ago

Goran has made the point better than I could. If Steven reads my book A Church at War he’ll find a full discussion of this. Yes, of course, Anglican bishops (when they remember) make a distinction between orientation and practice but when it comes down to it, they don’t tend to make the distinction themselves. Remember, the conservative CofE bishops said in their letter after Jeffrey John’s appointment as Bishop of Reading that if he was celibate they would rejoice. He gave assurances that he was and did they rejoice? No they didn’t. The trouble is that this distinction leads… Read more »

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
14 years ago

I’m asking this as an American with a strong interest in British politics. How close is Rowan Williams to being in political hot water in the UK? I know that the British public in general has less interest in religious issues than the American public. Williams has placed his bets on the wrong horse in the gay rights legislation currently before parliament. He just got backhanded from across the pond. He’s being seen as getting cozy with various African human rights nasties. As one of the central figures in the British establishment he’s looking like a right prat. Does anybody… Read more »

Neil
Neil
14 years ago

It would help if Stephen Bates told the truth and owned up rather than pretending. Clearly he must have received info from a reader which disputed the provenance of the press report from the Daily News. THEN he wants to be the FIRST to say ‘oops’ I got it wrong (and tell us he noticed before anybody else)…but didn’t bother checking the accuracy of the info. Next a reader confirms it was right the first time, and HE says ‘Yes, I was right first time: it WAS the Daily News. Teach me to have second thoughts’ I don’t believe he… Read more »

Byron
Byron
14 years ago

Gosh Steven, to be “openly engaged in homosexual sex” sounds so perverted. I don’t think anyone in this debate is talking about anyone openly having sex of any kind (that still remains behind closed doors, doesn’t it?) Get a grip!

Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

Stephen Your reply reminded me of the witch hunting days. If the woman flies away/escapes – then she is a witch and you should pursue to destroy her. If she drowns/burns at the stake, she wasn’t a witch; but you don’t have to worry about an apology because she is dead anyway. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Plus the demands of predatory bullies never end. The abusive parent who promises you won’t be punished if the kitchen is clean, but then violates you because they found dust somewhere else (that they have never inspected before). Sometimes,… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
14 years ago

“The issue is whether to ordain bishops actively and openly engaged in homosexual sex.” And how would you know that? I know a lot of gay folks. I know a lot of gay folks who are in committed relationships. I know some who are dating. I sure don’t know any who ‘openly engage in homosexual sex.’ Now, being a college faculty member in the US, I am aware that a fair number of heterosexual undergraduates have a sense of privacy about sex that is less than Victorian. I sure would like to know about photos of bishops openly engaging in… Read more »

Steven
Steven
14 years ago

Stephen: Tut. Now you are merely adding confusion onto confusion. Local issues in the COE related to the Jeffrey John appointment are not causing the AC to break-up, nor are they what was under discussion by the prelates, in the Windsor Report, what was under discussion in General Assembly this past Summer, discussed in the HOB, etc. The issue under discussion both on a world-wide scale and specifically in TEC has to do with non-celibate homosexuals being consecrated as bishops. There is no general ban on (celibate and non-celibate) homosexual consecrations under consideration in the communion. To represent the situation… Read more »

Anglicanus
Anglicanus
14 years ago

If the distinction between orientation and practice is accepted and applied, why do not ALL homosexual bishops declare themselves? Thus could His Grace the Archbishop of Nigeria learn that there are men (and women) of good Christian standing in faith and morals who minister God’s grace and proclaim the Gospel. He might then find it in himself to withdraw his support of the legislation about to come into force in his own country which would stigmatise such honourable people. Sadly, as I do not expect His Grace to respond so logically, neither do I expect such personal honesty and courage… Read more »

stephen bates
stephen bates
14 years ago

Neil would do well not to accuse others of not telling the truth. No one in fact “reminded” me of the right newspaper before I posted my erroneous correction. I read my blog when it was put up on the Comment is Free website and I immediately doubted my memory of it being the Daily News. This was partly because a couple of weeks ago I watched a documentary about the 1970s crisis in New York in which Rupert Murdoch was interviewed about the part his paper, the Post, played in events and that caused a doubt in my mind.… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

Richard: I think the truth of the matter is that no-one really cares all that much about what the Church thinks any more. Their opposition is certainly not enough to see legislation overturned, as the recent debate over anti-discrimination legislation displays The CofE is simply viewed by most English people as the convenient organisation to carry out some events eg funerals, weddinge etc, but I don’t think their opinion on anything really makes very much difference. 72% of people in Britain describe themselves as Christian, but that’s largely the same as saying you are English! Recent research has suggested that… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Hi Stephen Bates The objection to Jeffrey John among orthodox Christians was and is, so far as I am aware 0% to do with past sins (of which we all have plenty) and 100% to do with teaching contrary to the church. That is, it’s not what he’s done, it’s what he approves. There’s an additional point. Our twenties are a formative time. Can we honestly believe that JJ can distance himself psychologically from the milieu of his oxford theological college in the late 1970s (or whenever)? Yet what was normal ethos there then may have been (in fact was)… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
14 years ago

You’re playing with words Christopher.

Your first point is see-through Evasion/Denial/Werenohomophobes,
your second is the customary Changing the subject.

Won’t fly.

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
14 years ago

“The objection to Jeffrey John among orthodox Christians was and is, so far as I am aware 0% to do with past sins (of which we all have plenty) and 100% to do with teaching contrary to the church.”

Total, fornicating crap!

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

Then why do Bishops with similar views, who are not gay, not receive the same sort of organised opposition?

The answer is starkly obvious.

Kurt
Kurt
14 years ago

Cheryl Clough: It’s spelled: E-P-I-S-C-O-P-A-L-I-A-N

Steven
Steven
14 years ago

Cynthia and Byron: I don’t think your respective posts’ descent into banality advances discussion of the issue, which in this case is: (as Anglicanus phrases it) the distinction between orientation and practice. Anglicanus: You make an excellent point. There is certainly bias against those who admit to orientation as well as those who admit to practice. This is one of those things that the “listening” process can possibly help to overcome. However, the fact is that the issues under debate internationally and in TEC focus on the consecration and blessing of “practice”–this should remain clear in the debate. Stephen: You… Read more »

William R. Coats
William R. Coats
14 years ago

I cannot understand how many of you (mostly English?) continue with this impossible distinction between orientation and act among homosexuals. This distinction is wholly unknown in Scripture and tradition where homosexual activity is understood as willful and wayward acts by heterosexuals on other heterosexuals. Such activity was either idolatrous or, since it involved the wrongful “spilling of the seed,” was tantamount to murder (since until the 1800’s it was believed that the male sperm contained in nuce the entire child – the woman merely housed it). The lated invention of this distinction between orientation and act was a halfway measure… Read more »

Neil
Neil
14 years ago

Stephen Bates – thank you for your explanation and I apologise.

Steven
Steven
14 years ago

William:

As you may discover after a while, the type of “ultimate” argument on the “homosexual issue” you are attempting is generally pointless around here. All the “reappraisers” already agree with you, and the “reasserters” find such arguments to be, at best, merely bizarre and absurd rationalizations. The sides are fixed and immovable.

Thus, most discussion (aside from some inevitable grumbling) relates to ancillary issues, such as whether it is possible (given the presence of irreconcileable differences) for the two sides to remain in the same church/communion in some form or another.

Steven

William R. Coats
William R. Coats
14 years ago

Thank you Steven. I am aware that in this climate only political maneuvering gets the spotlight. However, even if reappraisers already agree It is fair to say, I think, sthat those of us on the “pro” side have not given terribly good reasons for what we uphold and we have allowed Scripture to be hijacked. Our arguments about “love” or Jesus’ acceptance of the marginalized are not terribly convincing to many even on the pro side. That is why I insist upon claiming agains thte conservatives that their presnet day reading of the Bible, namely their distinction between orientation and… Read more »

Prior Aelred
14 years ago

With all due respect to Stephen Bates, I believe that he erred in describing Fr. Ephraim Radner as being involved in the pastoral scheme — I believe that the (now rejected) primatial vicar plan was restricted to bishops. Fr. Radner is a member of the committee charged with drawing up the Proposed Covenant (which probably also ought to be rejected by those who don’t want Anglicanism to be a RC Church manque).

Byron
Byron
14 years ago

Steven I’m always happy to be called banal (smile). The reality is that orientation and action are one in the same for all but 99.9% of human beings. Yes, there are some who have been successful (for periods of time) with celibacy and this can be a good spiritual practice (for all orientations), but done in moderation please! Every single person of whatever orientation, with few exceptions, practices their orientation in one way or another. That’s reality. To make a distinction between open or “closeted” or active or celibate is pretty darned false. Most gay people know this – most… Read more »

Steven
Steven
14 years ago

Byron: Thanks for seeking to engage the issues. My point is only that the question of whether one can have a heterosexual or homosexual orientation and not actively engage in extra-marital sex pursuant to that orientation is a separate question, and should be discussed as such. It is not the question directly before the HOB or the AC at the present moment. Mr. Bates may agree with you that, as I understand you, this is impossible. He is welcome to say so and back up his position with arguments. I disagree and believe that it is quite possible for both… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
14 years ago

You are humbling us with your humility, Steven ;=)

Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

Kurt Thanks for the spelling tip, I’ve sticky taped it to my computer until I get it right (once a name is mislearnt, it takes a while to get the correct one in place). My apologies to anyone whose feelings were hurt. Steven Yes. Both homosexuals and heterosexuals can be celibate. Personally, I would rather like it if those who demanded celibacy for homosexuals prescribed the same standard for themselves. It would only take a generation to weed them out. But if they are not going to demand celibacy for themselves, then they are cruel to impose it on others.… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

Thats the point, Cheryl. Its perfectly possible for people to be celibate if they so wish, and some see that as an important part of their spiritual lives

Its the assumption that everyone who is gay must be celibate whereas heterosexuals have other options. And few heterosexuals choose celibacy.

I have no intention of becoming celibate and if the church doesn’t like that, tough.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Er Goran

If you disagree with 100% of what I say I might start thinking that you have decided to do so before ever reading it. An honest dissenter could certainly disagree with 80%, but if people disagree with 100% then one begins to suspect that their disagreement is a foregone conclusion, personally motivated, and therefore without foundation.

Steven
Steven
14 years ago

Cheryl:

“Yes. Both homosexuals and heterosexuals can be celibate. Personally, I would rather like it if those who demanded celibacy for homosexuals prescribed the same standard for themselves.”

An interesting personal opinion and personal preference. However, sorry, your personal opinions and preferences are irrelevant except insofar as they reflects the mode of thinking prevalent in revisionist circles, where personal preferences and opinions consistently trump Biblical truth.

Steven

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
14 years ago

Christopher Shell,
“An honest dissenter could certainly disagree with 80%, but if people disagree with 100% then one begins to suspect that their disagreement is a foregone conclusion, personally motivated, and therefore without foundation.”

That’s exactly how I feel when I read your replies to any and all liberal postings.
Glad we agree on something!

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
14 years ago

Steven reprimanded Cheryl’s plea that those who demanded celibacy for homosexuals prescribed the same standard for themselves by saying: “An interesting personal opinion and personal preference. However, sorry, your personal opinions and preferences are irrelevant except insofar as they reflects the mode of thinking prevalent in revisionist circles, where personal preferences and opinions consistently trump Biblical truth.” Nice ignoring of some key biblical texts there, Steve old boy. Congratulations on an ‘A’ in self-serving reading. I’m not a text-hurler by naqture, but you might like to consider words about equal standards from (eg) Amos and Jesus, about the superiority of… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
14 years ago

“I could also point to the complete ban on non-procreative sex in Christian tradition, but that’s non biblical – it’s just from the folk who wrote and selected it!”

Slightly off topic: and it only ever applied to sex before/outside marriage and to contraception. No church has ever refused to marry knowingly infertile or post menopausal couples or told them they have to be celibate.

NP
NP
14 years ago

anyway – getting back to the subject, what value would there be in the ABC flying over to hear the same old, same old about inclusion etc ? – we have all been LISTENING for years and it does not become more convincing when repeated – the ABC knows the facts and the people and he knows it is time for decisions and action now even if it would be more convenient for subverters to have the “let’s agree to disagree” model imposed ……. Bates can go listen to the old, tired arguments TEC bishops can trot out so pompously… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Malcolm French+
14 years ago

NP asks: “what value would there be in the ABC flying over to hear the same old, same old about inclusion etc ?” Perhaps there would be value in the Primate of All England hearing from the American bishops themselves what they actually think. After all, to date he has only deigned to listen to their enemies like Duncan of Pittsburgh and Akinola of Nigeria. It should also be noted that it is not only the “radical liberals” among the American Bishops who have objected to this attempted coup d’etat by foreign prelates. The Mind of the House resolution, while… Read more »

Tim
Tim
14 years ago

Hmm. I see talk of “distinction” between homosexual orientation/nature/tendencies, and practice, as though the distinction were a good thing. Now, it makes sense, I can understand that someone may be celibate regardless of orientation; but for the purposes of producing laws/canons that forbid people being appointed to certain roles in the church hierarchy, why does the distinction matter? If you think “must be celibate” is some kind of moderate compromise, then is that not imposing a restriction on people that you would not do to a heterosexual? Of course I fall back on my other thought: why produce rules &… Read more »

NP
NP
14 years ago

Malcolm – this ABC wrote stuff years ago, far above the heads of most TEC bishops, actually agreeing with their position on VGR – they cannot persuade him of the case he made better than they. The issue is not what the ABC thinks or what the TEC HOB thinks……the “LISTENING to everyone endlessly process” is just a STALLING process – but what TEC misses again and again is that the issue is not TEC but how to save the AC. The issue is how to get a functional, united, working AC. (we do not have that at the moment,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
14 years ago

NP
I know we will never agree on anything, but please tell me why you say that the listening process is just a stalling process.

Are you saying that all positions are fixed from the beginning and no listening is ever helpful? Are you saying that no-one ever changes their minds, or develops more understanding?
Or that there is only ever one truth and only one right and one wrong?

Or is it just this particular listening process you say has come to and end (or has never been useful in the first place)?

NP
NP
14 years ago

Hello Erika

I say “listening” has become “stalling” because “listening” has been defined as talking until the majority agrees with the liberal position – while all the time people are hypocritically teaching, doing and blessing behaviour which is not officially condoned.

Do you see TEC “listening” to the Primates’ views or Lambeth 1.10? No – because “listening” just means stalling as the organisation is further subverted.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
14 years ago

Well, actually, I did see TEC listening to the primate’s views or Lambeth 1.10. They continued a conversation they had already concluded internally and started the whole process again. You can’t actually blame them for coming to the same conclusions as before – they had taken the whole process very seriously all along and had reached their decisions over a period of many many years. Still, they listened and replied again carefully to all the points made by the primates and in the Windsor report. You may not agree with their conclusions – but they devoted incredible time and effort… Read more »

NP
NP
14 years ago

Hi Erika I think the same is true the other way round. The arguments coming from TEC are not new. They have been heard for years. People have listened and most in the AC are not persuaded – not because of geography but because of the implicit jusgments one has to make on the authority of scripture to agree with the “liberal” position. But I call the process “stalling” because while the “conversation” continues, more and more who openly disobey the teaching of the church and teach against it are put into positions of leadership – this is not what… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
14 years ago

Well….. isn’t the continuing of the conversation what Lambeth 1.10 and Windsor require of us?

44
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x