Thinking Anglicans

Sexuality news and comment

While the General Synod conversations are proceeding behind closed doors, a chance to catch up on various recent items of news and comment…

Harry Farley ChristianToday No compromise: Die-hard conservatives walk out of Anglican talks on gay relationships

Harriet Sherwood reported in the Guardian that C of E hardliners to boycott synod talks on same-sex relationships.

Andrew Lightbown Julian Henderson and ‘the case for a conservative approach.’
The Church Times article being critiqued is here, but behind the paywall. However, there is another article in the comment section this week which is available: ‘I’d love the consensus to change, but it’s a dream’.

Lucy Gorman just retired as chair of Changing Attitude wrote Going anywhere nice?

Tracey Byrne of LGCM has published URC Assembly and General Synod – thanksgiving and hope.

Andrew Nunn published Prorogued but not ended.

Meanwhile, over at the Canadian General Synod (and yes, we will report on this later) the Secretary-General has been speaking: Sexuality not just an issue in the West, says Idowu-Fearon
The full text of his address is here.

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Katerobert ian williamsFather Ron SmithSusannah ClarkNJ Recent comment authors
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James Byron
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James Byron

Given that the talks appear to be designed to entrench current teaching and shut down any possibility of changing it (instead of debating a change in policy, LGB Anglicans are expected to learn to “disagree well,” i.e., not make a fuss about suppressing their sexuality for life), talk about an own goal. It’s a special kind of fanaticism that can’t even see when it’s winning.

Anne
Guest
Anne

James, I am so sorry that you feel like this. You say ‘given that the talks appear to be designed to entrench current teaching and shut down any possibility of changing it…..’. Surely the point is that what is going on now are not ‘talks’ but ‘conversations’. Conversations when we listen to each other and try to understand each other. Conversations can indeed change minds. My mind was changed as a result of a number of conversations as well as wide reading. We now know so much more than we did about sexuality, its biological and psychological factors and insights.… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

James if the conversations were so designed and intended, how do you account for the fact that it is (only) conservatives who are unwilling to take part? They seem to be quite clear that the intention is the exact opposite.

Whereas the majority complaint seems to be that the conversations have *no* objective at all.

I haven’t met anyone on the ground who thinks as you do.

Tobias Haller
Guest

The really odd thing about all of this is that the hard line “Evangelicals” choose this point at which to make what seems a last stand. There are plenty of things about which Scripture is unequivocal, but marriage is not one of them. This is demonstrated by Jesus himself, who overturns one part of Scripture concerning marriage (the law given by Moses, but presumably from God, concerning the writ of divorcement) in favor of another — a creation ordinance to permanence (not heterosexuality, by the way). If one part of Scripture can be set against another, on dominical authority, then… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

My heart goes out to David in the Church Times — and ALL the Davids, Dewis, Dafydds, and the Marys and Mairs. But who cares about them, and more to the point, – FOR them ? ‘Sure, spout your views from your armchair, sat next to your loving wife.’ This isn’t just an intellectual matter . David’s ‘story’ is a terrible indictment of the cruelty and impotence of the Church. It implies that he will not end his own life, but there are many ways to terminate one’s life, many ways to waste and drain away down the decades. The… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

In James’ defence, I think it’s fair to say that the actions of the Primates, and the collectively sanctioned actions of the English bishops, have not exactly been even-handed during the period that the ‘Conversations’ project has been running. Rather than approaching the ‘Conversations’ period with an open agenda, this period has been characterised by a Pastoral Letter threatening (and imposing) sanctions, and a Primates meeting that tried to impose sanctions too. This lends weight to the impression that the leadership agenda might be partisan, and set on imposing a uniformity rather than the right of diverse and conscientious expression… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Of course James is correct. How would the conservatives have felt if the House of Bishops had said, “Theologically the church should recognise and conduct same sex marriages. We will hold three days of shared conversations so that evangelicals can share their experiences. It is presently unclear whether their views can be accommodated and if people don’t feel that they can accommodate them after these conversations that will be good disagreement. We might consider, but are not yet committed, to some sort of pastoral accommodation which would allow evangelicals to worship in the Church of England but their beliefs are… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Simon, I agree that the conversations have no objective, which is, of itself, the objective: they’re a delaying tactic.

It’s possible that they may lead to a fundamental change in teaching, but with the bishops united around ‘Issues …,’ that appears unlikely in the extreme.

As for the ultra-conservatives walking off in a sulk, well, they’re purists, that’s what purists do. There’s no liberal equivalent of con-evos. The pragmatic “open evangelical” conservatives are staying exactly where they are.

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

Please forgive me for focusing on a trivial issue when such important matters are under discussion, but can anyone think of a precedent for a request at General Synod level for clergy NOT to wear clerical collars?
I know there has been much debate over the decades about the significance of clerical dress, including when collars should be worn, but an official request not to wear them is a new one on me.

Daniel Berry, NYC
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Daniel Berry, NYC

Are the so-called “hardliners” as intransigent about divorce (which Jesus specifically addresses) as they are about same-sex love – which Jesus doesn’t allude to?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

In the light of URC’s bold pastoral measure – to allow parishes willing to support Same-Sex couples in their Christian pilgrimage by facilitating the exchange of Marriage Vows before God and the local congregation – they are surely outstripping the State Church of England in their desire to disciple ALL people into God’s loving Kingdom.

No doubt the general public – if they are at all interested in the Church of England’s attitude towards the reality of Same-Sex Marriage – will again be set to wondering about the relevance of the C. of E. in today’s world.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

If the ‘conservatives’ want to absent themselves from the ‘Conversations’ being conducted in camera by the General Synod then surely, by this action, they are saying they see no part in continuing their relationship to the governing body of the Church of England. This seems very much like the hubris of the GAFCON Primates, who have refused to share the Eucharist with some of their colleagues.

With no agreement, there can be no fellowship. This is generally called ‘schism’.

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

We asked the church for bread, and they gave us not perhaps a stone, but still more “listening” and “conversations.” But it is not listening, if it is listening to answer rather than to learn; nor is it a conversation if one group has made up its mind.

Perhaps just give LGBT’s the stone, and be done with it.

NJ
Guest
NJ

Daniel Berry, yes they/we are. Within the Reform movement you would probably find a majority of churches which would not permit divorce at all. The rest would permit divorce in the very limited circumstances found in the New Testament, eg adultery. As one example, they would not find many (if any) divorced ordinands, clergy, wardens, PCC members. You would also find them equally ‘intransigent’ about sex before marriage. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea at TA, but there is a lot more consistency in the Reform constituency than they are often credited with here.

Susannah Clark
Guest

There is a little more I’d like to add. It’s recognised that these conversations are not about everybody ending up with the same view of human sexuality. That’s obvious, and the process is more about listening than converting. Since people are going to continue to disagree theologically, the main goal of the ‘Conversations’ is not “Who is right” but “How can we achieve good disagreement?” However, the bishops and primates really have not modelled a convincing example of ‘good disagreement’ during the period the conversations process has been carrying on. It is not ‘good disagreement’ to sanction people with different… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

The concern that James and Kate and others have raised in this thread, is that while we are all being exhorted to listen (which is good), the signs and indications are that there is a continuing agenda to appease conservative opinion; and to impose conservative opinion; and (in my opinion) to oppose true unity in diversity – which would involve respecting all parties’ consciences, and finding unity not in uniformity but in Jesus Christ. The outcome is therefore likely to be continued delay, which in real terms means the continuation of a skewed and partisan control of the Church along… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” ‘I’d love the consensus to change, but it’s a dream’.” – Church Times Comment – For the young man concerned, it might rather be a nightmare.One wonders how many other young Evangelicals who happen be intrinsically gay have been inhibited from celebrating their true selves by the prejudicial attitudes of those with whom they share common worship? Older members of the Church will readily recognise the dilemma of this young man, whose reality as a same-sex attracted person has had to be submerged under the camouflage of their seeming adherence to the sexual ‘norm’ in society. This dangerous double-life… Read more »

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

NJ…no Reform congregations are split on divorce , and it reflects a fissure within evangelicalism as to biblical interpretation. Its the fundamental flaw in sola scriptura and led to my conversion to the Catholic Church. there has to be a definitive interpretation.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“It is not ‘good disagreement’ to sanction people with different views to your own. It is not ‘good disagreement’ to impose a uniformity on everyone, yet that’s what the leaders have tried to do. It’s not ‘good disagreement’ to impose your conscience on someone else’s conscience. And it’s certainly not ‘good disagreement’ to misrepresent other people, as the Archbishop did after the ACC gathering a few months ago.” I don’t agree with the bishops that good disagreement is an acceptable outcome but you have correctly pointed out that their conduct is, any any event, not compatible with good disagreement.