Thinking Anglicans

mid-August opinions

Updated Monday evening

Catherine Fox writes in the Times Credo column that The Virgin Mary can test everyone’s assumptions.

Hillel Athias-Robles writes in The Guardian that Gay-friendly congregations can provide a nurturing spiritual community.

Also in The Guardian Andrew Brown writes in Heartbreaking progress that “the slow and painful progress of gay rights at the expense of traditional evangelical understandings can’t be stopped, because so many gay people are Christians”.

update
In his article Andrew Brown refers to a book review at Fulcrum. This review is well worth reading for its own sake, so here is a direct link.
Review of Andrew Marin, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community

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Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

Some interesting commentaries. I wonder if any of our conservative brothers and sisters would care to comment on the two pieces that speak pretty clearly to the pain caused by their attitudes towards gay people. And if any of them would realize that the goal of gay celebacy might be attainable without all that pain if they would just change their approach. I won’t hold my breath.

john
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john

“because so many gay people are Christians”. In the context of taking the fight to ‘the enemy’ (on the particular issue), I think this obvious truth merits exploration. It’s clearly the case that the proportion of gays in (at least some) church contexts is higher than among the population at large. Why? (1) Because gays get more love and support in church contexts? True of some church contexts, emphatically not of others. (2) Because ‘camp’ gays (no offence intended – translate it somewhow) like certain sorts of religious ritual/churchmanship? Obviously true in some contexts (again, no offence to anyone). But… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Thanks to ABrown for passing news from FOTF. The damage this self-described family outfit is doing to real parents and real gay children is nearly indescribable; and the only thing that keeps it from being -cidal is that overt and hidden Freedom Trains exist with tracks running all over the place, threaded through the USA Bible Belt and related networks. Many of these families will suffer for years – about a nice solid decade in my own personal extended family case – before adopting mixtures of change towards more positive views, plus coping patterns that vary from agreeing to disagree… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Hillel AR puts it succinctly and beautifully:

Just as I couldn’t repress my sexuality, I couldn’t repress my spiritual self either.

Bravo, and many thanks HAR.

The worst thing about the traditional negative thinking its is falsifying of the larger, whole religious or spiritual truth.

BillyD
Guest

“(3) Gays are in some deep sense closer to God.”

The chaplain I used to work for in the Navy noted that surveys of men in active ministry found that a high proportion are gay or have personality attributes that might be characterized as “feminine” (whatever that means). He theorized that it was easier for most gay men to love our neighbors (stop that snickering out there!) because we weren’t trying to keep up the walls of machismo at the expense of our empathy, and that therefor we would be more attracted to Christianity.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

At this time when Catholics (Anglican, Roman and Orthodox – real Orthodox, not the ACNA variety) around the world have been celebrating the Assumption, or the Falling asleep, of the BVM, it was refreshing to read Catherine Fox’s article, in the Time’s ‘Credo’ column, headed: ‘The Virgin Mary can test everyone’s assumptions”. Intrigued by the title (and expecting the worst – especially when the opening paragraphs spoke of the author’s Baptist upbringing) I became very taken with her story of her own journey from scepticism (about the place of Our Lady in God’s plan of salvation) to admiration of the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“Transitioning from a conservative religion to an inclusive one is not easy. Yet the bliss felt by being at peace with oneself and being welcomed into an accepting community outweighs the cost. If you take the leap, there will be many to catch you. Trust me, I was there. (Hillel Athias-Robles is assistant rabbi of the Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue) Rabbi Hillel demonstrates the difference between an ‘ultra-Orthodox’ Jewish position and that of the newer ‘Liberal’ Jewish school of religion. He needed to graduate from the ‘ultra-Orthodox’ before being able to find a religious community where his being gay… Read more »

Soapy Sam
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Soapy Sam

To Ford Elms: I don’t know if gay celibacy is a ‘goal’. Perhaps it is for him. Jesus said celibacy was a gift some people have and most don’t (I paraphrase). But wait! Let’s think about what Andrew Brown said. A parallel case: The church is full of adulterers, like me. I can’t help being one, because I was born that way. John A.T. Robinson thought the church would get past its opposition to adultery; but up to now preachers are still preaching in favour of faithfulness–exceptions are trivially few. In brief, almost everyone knows adultery is wrong. Adulterers like… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

I seems that the late John Paul I was an ardent defender of gay couples and gay adoption. See the link at my website. This is a painful reminder of what might have been…

Simon Robert Dawson
Guest

John wrote “I conclude therefore: (3) Gays are in some deep sense closer to God.” I hesitate to use the phrase closer to God, which asks the question closer than whom, but if you look in the wider literature on gay spirituality (as opposed to writings on homosexuality from inside the /Jewish and Christian traditions) there is much discussion of whether homosexuality may have as, one of its traits, a strong drive to the spiritual. This leads to gay people being over-represented in the structures of all religions. See http://www.edwardcarpenter.net/ecpf1.htm for one (very old but accessable) source. The discussion of… Read more »

perry butler
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perry butler

The fact that the number of gay men and women in the clergy is relatively high is a fact that the Church seems reluctant to study in any depth. I would suggest it raises interesting theological questions in relation to what God is doing in regard to vocation and also how priesthood has developed.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“The church is full of adulterers, like me. I can’t help being one, because I was born that way. John A.T. Robinson thought the church would get past its opposition to adultery; but up to now preachers are still preaching in favour of faithfulness–exceptions are trivially few. In brief, almost everyone knows adultery is wrong. Adulterers like me can be Christians–but by repenting and believing the gospel (and stopping committing adultery). So, what if we agree that it’s the same for homosexuals?” One big difference you conveniently ignore: An adulterer is, in a sense, a triple sinner. He is not… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“The church is full of adulterers, like me. I can’t help being one, because I was born that way. John A.T. Robinson thought the church would get past its opposition to adultery; but up to now preachers are still preaching in favour of faithfulness–exceptions are trivially few. In brief, almost everyone knows adultery is wrong. Adulterers like me can be Christians–but by repenting and believing the gospel (and stopping committing adultery). So, what if we agree that it’s the same for homosexuals?” One big difference you conveniently ignore: An adulterer is, in a sense, a triple sinner. He is not… Read more »

RosemaryHannah
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RosemaryHannah

Soapy Sam, it is not a parallel case. Adultery is built on lies, deception, and it harms the marriages of those who take part in it. Same sex relationships promote growth and harm nobody and nothing. Besides, I doubt how whole heartedly anybody is an adulterer. Is it that you simply want sex with more attractive people? or do you in fact desire to deceive your partner, and reduce the life of the one with you have an affaire? It seems unlikely that you do – yet to actually BE an adulterer THAT is what you would have to want.… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Soapy Sam “Adulterers like me can be Christians–but by repenting and believing the gospel (and stopping committing adultery). So, what if we agree that it’s the same for homosexuals?” Presumably, your adultery means you are breaking your marriage vows to love, cherish and honour another human being exclusively until the end of your life. And if your spouse were to discover this, she would be devastated and deeply hurt. So I suppose we could argue that you are doing genuine wrong, causing actual harm and breaking a vow you made before God. It would help if you could show me… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“So, what if we agree that it’s the same for homosexuals?” You were born adulterous? Is it linked to male heterosexuality in some way? I ask because I have never heard partnered gay people complain of the problem. Now, if it’s an innate thing like being gay, if you are born adulterous, then the Church has to be merciful to you. I mean, unlike homosexuality, adultery reveals a deep disrespect for one’s partner, for the sacrament into which one has entered, one might even say disrespect for God Himself, since you vow before Him something you are unwilling or, so… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

It is an interesting issue. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence, but it does strike me that, in the UK at least, many gay people have had enough of the church, and that younger gay people are not at all attracted to religion because of the open homophobia, which they are unwilling to put up with.

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

Rab Hillel’s article is terribly moving. My history and experience was similar. (Though Evangelical (PBrethen), had psychiatric treatment in teeens-aversion ‘therapy’, engaged at 19, , had break-down , and realized I could not marry.

glad to see him happy and fulfilled now — and how bright and lively his shul looks !

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

But wait! Let’s think about what Andrew Brown said. A parallel case: The church is full of adulterers, like me.

Perhaps you need to get a grip on yourself Soapy Sam ! And not just your genitals it would appear !

No parallel. Maybe start to grow up ? Instead of betraying both a woman and gay people ?

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

seems that the late John Paul I was an ardent defender of gay couples and gay adoption. See the link at my website. This is a painful reminder of what might have been…

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 17 August 2009 at 8:28am BST

No wonder he was murdered. But his spirit is undampenable, as he reaches out to us today. Death has not supressed his Apsotolate …. as we begin to see and hear …..

BillyD
Guest

” A parallel case: The church is full of adulterers, like me. I can’t help being one, because I was born that way.”

Only a parallel case if you don’t know, or refuse to acknowledge, what the words “sexual orientation” mean.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“All God needs are willing hearts to extend his unconditional love for all of his children – gay and straight. This is our blessing. This is our bold calling. This is our orientation” – quoted by Andrew Goddard from ‘Love is our orientation’ by Andrew Marin – I must confess, I never expected Andrew Goddard to write so affirmingly of a publication (from an Evangelical perspective) which seeks to encourage conservative Evangelicals to hold back on their criticism of the LBGT Community. The sentence head-lined here, which appears at the end of the book, seems to summarise what the author… Read more »

Soapy Sam
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Soapy Sam

I admit the horrible character of my sins (Pat O’Neill and Ford Elms). ‘Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me:’ this doesn’t, I don’t think (Ford Elms), need to be confirmed by further research. I’m resolved with God’s help to turn from those sins and live a better life. Here’s my point: adultery is wrong, and homosexual sex is wrong. This is the premise of the whole conservative case. Conservative Christians, especially those who are better people than me, want to show empathy and want to reach out to homosexuals who say, ‘I… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“Liberals have been a victim of their own success, they are ensconced comfortably in the Church of England, they’ve dominated the hierarchy for decades and they’ve had it too comfortable. Furthermore, they now preside over mostly moribund churches and they don’t believe anything terribly much. If you’re really going to make a difference you have to believe in it as though it’s a matter of life and death, even eternal life and death.” – Andrew Carey, C.T. – In my curiosity about the fundamentalism of the ill-named ‘Virtue-on-line’ Amercian website, I came across the above article by one ‘Andrew Carey’… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“… as opposed to writings on homosexuality from inside the Jewish and Christian traditions… “

Outside. Hellenism is definitely outside. Always was. Always will be.

One might even argue that the Bible is assembled to counter and reject Indo European Ideas of Creation, Emmanation & cetera.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Hillel A-R’s article is indeed very moving.

Hurrah to him for having found Love and Peace at last.

clairejxx
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clairejxx

The variation in human sexuality seems to be natural and to say some manifestations of it are sinful does not make sense. I understand Jesus’ teaching to be about how we relate to each other and God and not eclusively in a sexual way. I have only read the review of this book but it seems to be about these important relationships. I am disturbed by the inaccuracy of using lgbt to describe trans people because trans is to do with gender and sex not necessarily sexuality.

MikeM
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MikeM

Ford, I sort of understand where you are coming from but I find your post a little too churlish to be taken very seriously. It *may* be that adultery is part and parcel of who we are, which is why I find the rather regular and over-the-top professions on this site about gay relationships being good only to the extent they constitute ‘faithful loving bonds’ just a tad too unrealistic. Our nearest living relation in the animal kingdom is the Bonobo chimpanzee, whose own social and sexual organization seems to preclude permanent partners: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonobo For me, it is the quality… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

To hear an see Mr Marin start here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heh1Np6oUyw

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Soapy: have heard your ‘warning’ – endlessly and repeatedly – but you don;t appear to be hearing the responses. Which are that we disagree and will continue to disagree.

MarkBrunson
Guest

*But the evidence that homosexual sex is wrong is overwhelming.*

No. It isn’t.

That’s a ridiculous statement.

There’s no reasoned argument with it because it is completely delusional. You might just as well say, “The evidence that there are monsters under my bed is just overwhelming.”

I’m afraid there’s no insanity plea in reasoned discussion.

badman
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badman

Soapy Sam writes: “Here’s my point: adultery is wrong, and homosexual sex is wrong. This is the premise of the whole conservative case.” You may be right that this is the premise of the whole conservative case. But “homosexual sex is wrong” has to be a conclusion, not a premise. That may be why the whole conservative case (if framed as you frame it) is so utterly unconvincing to those who don’t accept it without question. It seems to be based on nothing but prejudice. It assumes the conclusion without demonstrating it and it responds very badly to challenge.

Christopher
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Christopher

And yet, there is this: “That means we must see we are not the solution and let God be God and seek to build our credibility with the GLBT community even if we face criticism from other Christians who think this is compromise or affirming the GLBT worldview.”

Which “the GLBT worldview?” More listening is clearly needed as this sentence is itself a reductionism.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“adultery is wrong, and homosexual sex is wrong.” The first does not equate with the second, and the current debate revolves around whether or not the second statement is an accurate interpretation of seven verses of Scripture. Jesus was quite clear that we should follow the spirit, not the letter, of the Law, I think you should try to do that. And there’s a lot more to being gay than sex. “Conservative Christians, especially those who are better people than me, want to show empathy” At best, this is a conservative self delusion. Their behaviour makes it pretty clear. I… Read more »

Simon Robert Dawson
Guest

Goran, In response to my comment “as opposed to writings on homosexuality from inside the Jewish and Christian traditions… “ You wrote “Outside. Hellenism is definitely outside. Always was. Always will be.” In fact I was not referring to Hellenism or ancient texts at all, but to the modern academic literature on gay spirituality, and modern Christian texts on the homosexual issue such as the one Goddard refers to here. To expand a bit – because I think this is an important point that has been missed – the original point at issue in this thread was whether gays were… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“a little too churlish to be taken very seriously.” Well, I was aiming for “dripping with sarcasm”, but ‘churlish’ is pretty accurate as well, I guess, and that word HAS been a favourite of mine for a while. And darned right I was being churlish! Yet another conservative presumes to pronounce on my life, reduce me to nothing more than a sexual act, revealing a lack of understanding of what it is to be gay that should disqualfy him from commenting at all. And tries to pretend that acting on that level of ignorance is somehow “compassionate”? What do you,… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Simon Robert Dawson, An astonishing answer. It seems to me that my reference to Hellenist anti Procreation, but still Procreation only, Gnosticism and Philosophy passed over your head entirely. The Western Academic tradition embraces enough Hellenist ideas from Ancient Alexandria, become Byzantine and later (cf Swedish 17th century Absolutism) State Ideology, to distort all Academic, including Church, teaching for the last 1500 years. What is spewed in late Modern times as “the Christian Tradition” on Sexuality is nothing more than Europe’s Hellenist tradition from Ancient Alexandria: the black painting of Life as a Gaol for the Soul, as a Valley… Read more »

RosemaryHannah
Guest
RosemaryHannah

I can see that there are statements Soapy Sam might read as a blanket condemnation of homosexuality.

I cannot think of any other evidence at all that it is in any way immoral or harmful. If he knows of any such, he might like to share them.

Sue
Guest
Sue

” Gays are closer to God.”

To face hostility and rejection from the Church but reach a place where you have assurance of God’ love and acceptance, gives a deeper knowledge of the nature of God’s love. Gay peoople are not loved more, but often have felt and known more the tenderness of God.

Simon Robert Dawson
Guest

Goran, Thanks for your reply. Your Hellenism comment did not pass over my head (I was reading Plato’s Symposium only last night) but perhaps we should agree to disagree over the links between Hellenism and Biblical texts. I suspect we are talking at cross purposes. I respect your obvious deep knowledge of the learning and traditions you mention but I was not actually addressing that area. I was simply making the point that if we wish to understand and resolve the issue of homosexuality within the Church then there is one specific area of learning and tradition – gay spirituality… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

This polemic against Hellenism puzzles me. Yes, a certain Platonism underlies the early Church’s excessive cult of virginity etc. But really the sexual tragedy of Christianity — what Nietzsche called “the poisoning of Eros” — has as much if not more to do with a rejection of Hellenism. Plato celebrates homosexual love in the Charmides, the Phaedrus and the Syposium, and even if he turns sour in the Laws his work is the principal plateau of gay-friendly thinking in the Western world. Then you have the very gay classical poets such as Sappho and Hellenistic ones such as Theocritus (carried… Read more »

Soapy Sam
Guest
Soapy Sam

I don’t believe I can offer new evidence to which Ford Elms, Rosemary Hannah and others haven’t given full consideration; so I’ll confess my inability to contribute innovatively to debate, and respectfully record my disagreement. The point of posting a third time, then, is to say a word about what Ford Elms calls ‘this very liberal argument’, meaning my comment that ‘we don’t refer back to the law of Moses’. I acknowledge his point that the law of Moses is indeed used in the relation to this question, too often in my view, by people with whose conclusions (but not… Read more »

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Soapy SAm, If you indeed believe that we are bound by Grace, rather than the Law, it is time for you to do some serious reading on the Bible in translation and in historical context. Do not concentrate on the issue of homosexuality, and don’t look for articles on the internet. Buy some books written by scholars who do not share your view. Then tackle a book like Tobias Hallers’ “Reasonable and Holy.” This approach has its risks. Some people, like me, emerge with a greater respect for the Bible and its role in the church, society and individual lives… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Look for Grace in the lives of others, not sin. Our Lord Jesus so commanded, and it’s a rather nice way to live your life and faith.” – Lynn – Lynn, bless you! What a graceful and gracious reply to Soapy Sam’s negativity about LGBTs. If only some of our conservative brethren and sistren could take your advice – which, after all, is true to the inclusive spirit of the Gospel – perhaps they would be less cavilling and more honest in searching for what the Scriptures may really be saying to us on these important matters – forsaking fundamentalist… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Dear Soapy Sam, The 10 Commmandments are very much the Law in Synagogue and Church, though much changed by the Scholastics for instance. The laws of men (Ezraic/Mosaic) not so much.

john
Guest
john

Pluralist has recently signaled a response to Williams and Wright by the ‘Modern Church People’s Union’: http://www.modchurchunion.org/resources/mcu/2009-1.htm

He is right to do so. It is a spanking piece which one makes one proud.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“The general principle ought to be common to all Christians, and I don’t see it as a ‘liberal argument’.” Nor do I, but your conservative counterparts disagree. We are not under the Law. That is not to say the Law has no value, but if we follow Christ we cannot help but follow the Law “Love God, love your neighbour” “On these two commandments…..” But, it is conservatives seeking to find some justification for their dislike/hatred of homosexuals who routinely seek to claim that Christians ARE indeed bound by the “moral” Law, though not the ritual one. You really should… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

Pluralist has recently signaled a response to Williams and Wright by the ‘Modern Church People’s Union’: http://www.modchurchunion.org/resources/mcu/2009-1.htm

He is right to do so. It is a spanking piece which one makes one proud.

Posted by: john on Thursday, 20 August 2009 at 8:21pm BST

Yes, absolutely ! Gave me fresh hope and encouragment.

Good to be reminded of the thought of HR McAdoo too

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Goddard’s review of Marin’s book is certainly worth the read. Marin is about where I was about 25 years ago. But some of us have worked in areas where people felt more freedom to be out (or semi-out) for a long time. Also, I was a young woman in a large Metro area, determined to find a church home that had a reasonable number of people about my age yet not of the fundamentalist genre. Perhaps that is what confounds me sometimes – it doesn’t seem that the battle should be raging at this level now, so many years later.

MikeM
Guest
MikeM

Ford, I absolutely agree that someone has shown their ignorance. I do not know you, I am not qualified to judge what to “expect”, though I’d hope for a higher level of discourse. To run the risk of sounding like a bore – I was posing the question; how would we deal with such views if adultery were itself also to be understood scientifically as being as congenital or inherent as being gay, say? There is already research out there that even examines whether being conservative itself could be genetically determined: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15534009/ns/technology_and_science-science/ Would you show the same restraint or compassion… Read more »