First an article at ABC Religion and Ethics by Christopher Craig Brittain:
The Primates’s Dilemma: Game Theory and the Anglican Communion
…For a “Game of Mitres” is unfolding within and among the churches of the Communion. It is a contest over power and influence and over the future course of the international family of churches. It will determine who has the legitimacy to define the very nature of the Anglican tradition.
In essence, this is not a dispute over homosexuality, the authority of Scripture, or the uniqueness of Christ: it has become a power struggle over how the Communion is to be governed….
Second, another article by Martyn Percy:
Sexuality and the citizenship of Heaven
…But the problem we now face, as an Anglican Communion, is the eliding of ‘lazy’ labels that no longer do justice to the complexity of the issues and debates. ‘Inclusive’ has come to mean ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’; ‘exclusive’ has come to mean ‘conservative’ and ‘traditionalist’; and ‘orthodoxy’ now claimed by all. So there is no escaping the need for some serious theological work in moving the Communion forward.
It simply won’t do to try and re-organise the Communion on an ‘Orthodox’ model, in the hope that this will somehow give Anglican Provinces more space to continue to be un-resolved and un-reconciled. Such a proposal may be politically expedient in the short term. But the longer term consequences – planting churches in one another’s Provinces to promote ‘traditionalist’ or ‘progressive’ causes, for example – would spell the end for worldwide Anglicanism in all but name. Episcopal oversight – to be authentically catholic – needs to be local and provincial for the care and cure of souls. We cannot have Archbishops presiding over congregations several continents away, planting at will. It would result in an ecclesial and legal catastrophe.
In some respects, the current proposals being touted – namely loosening our ‘bonds of Communion’ – are a collapse of confidence in the internationalism of Anglicanism. The so-called ‘Orthodox’ model of polity being propositioned for the Communion represents a failure of theological vision, ecclesial comprehension and moral leadership. Adopting the proposed ‘Orthodox’ model would be a disaster of epic proportions for the church.
As such, it is has some equivalence to the Munich Agreement of 1938, where Neville Chamberlain secured an armistice, with his famous piece of paper. But this was a ‘peace at any price’ – and the fee, ultimately, too costly. Chamberlain’s championing of his ‘concord’ transpired to be a weak political fix, born out of fear. It did nothing to challenge the cruelty and coercion that stalked Europe. Chamberlain’s ‘fix’ just gave the oppressors and aggressors further licence to act with impunity…
There have been several criticisms of Martyn Percy’s writings from conservatives, including
Martyn has written a response to Martin Davie’s criticisms and you can read that here, below the fold.
I found this an interesting response, Martin. You appear to concede that human sexuality is part of our identity, so a ‘given’ in a person, and not something that is their deliberate conscious choice. That said, I fully agree that the occurrence of ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ phenomena and behaviour in the mammalian genus does not necessarily mean it is ‘good’. Warring species of apes rape and kill each other. As humans, we have a language of sin and criminality for such behaviour. We don’t aspire to copy that. Other species of mammals can conduct internecine violence between themselves, and as you say, this can mean eating your prey (i.e., cannibalism). We don’t accept that either. And to pick up on your footnote 11, above, yes of course we have ages of (sexual) consent [though these vary from culture to culture, as they have across histories], and we have sensible prohibitions on incest.
But the vast majority of developed countries have ceased to criminalize lesbian and gay relationships between consenting adults. They have done so for two simple reasons. First, these relationships are consensual, between adults, and do no harm to the persons involved; they are not regarded as problematic, disordered, damaged or socially damaging. And second, these relationships are regarded as normal and healthy expressions of love and fidelity in society; albeit that such relationships are clearly a small minority across cultures.
Left-handers are a minority too – 10% of the population, anywhere in the world. Both my parents were left-handed. Both were beaten at school – literally, knuckles rapped – for writing left-handed. Now there are over 60 Bible verses that affirm God’s preference for his right handedness, and for ours (see Exodus 15:6; Psalm 118:16). Alas, left-handers don’t do so well in the Bible: see Genesis 48:13-18 and Galatians 2:9. How do we account for left-handers? What can they do to change their orientation or behaviour? Are they equal in God’s eyes, or part of our fallen creation – or just deliberately sinful?
The question on human sexuality is this: why is a negative value (i.e., ‘sinfulness’) still being allotted to what we now know to be normal, natural human behaviours/orientations that occur across the mammalian genus, and do no harm to anyone? The principle of ‘harm’ here is crucial. Incest and rape are harmful. A same-sex relationship of fidelity that has been going for decades harms no-one.
I guess your answer here is that whilst these relationships don’t cause anyone any harm (and they don’t), God has told us he really doesn’t like them. As you know, I don’t find the (Conservative Evangelical) exegesis of biblical distaste for same-sex relationships at all convincing. But even if I did, I have to ask how we are to manage with the reality that God’s not fond of left-handers either, it would seem. And of course, as I have argued elsewhere, this is all going to get very Pelagian if we start telling Lesbian and Gay Christians in faithful loving relationships that they are either not really Christian, must be treated as second class, or are perhaps not even fully human…when the law of this land fully affirms their full and equal rights and citizenship.