Thinking Anglicans

After Grantham

There has been a lot of media coverage of the news about the Bishop of Grantham, first reported here.

This news report by Madeleine Davies in the Church Times incorporates many of the responses to the news from other people or groups: Bishop of Grantham: ‘I hope to be a standard-bearer as a gay man’.

The full text of the letter from the Bishop of Lincoln to his parishes can be found here.

The full text of the GAFCON statement can be found here.

Statements from LGCM and LGBTI Mission are also available.

ACNS has Secretary general clarifies view after gay English bishop “outed”

Anglican Mainstream has a convenient compendium of links to responses from a variety of perspectives.

Some other viewpoints from the blogosphere:

Vicky Beeching The first openly gay bishop is a huge step forward – but it’s not enough

Beth Routledge The Church of England, and The Sex In Sexuality

Kelvin Holdsworth Sexuality, Celibacy and Bishops

Savi Hensman A gay bishop and loving everyone: the dilemma of church leaders

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cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

K Holdsworth says he wants to know what the good Bishop thinks about Issues. But hasn’t he already clarified that? The Guardian certainly has him and the others involved say he is declaring himself within the present teaching.

Don’t shoot the messenger here. Just read his own comments.

Kelvin Holdsworth
5 years ago

The Bishop of Grantham has declared himself within the present absurd teaching of Issues.

I am indeed interested in what he thinks of Issues which is very different. But, as I said, not until every other bishop has been publicly asked if they agree with it too.

Diocesan Synods provide an ideal environment for the question to be asked and answers recorded.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
5 years ago

Christopher Seitz: not attempting to shoot you at all, but, the remarks by the bishop simply repeat what the present situation is and confirms that he abides by it. It simply doesn’t report what he thinks about the present situation. But we are very aware that, with perhaps one or two exceptions, we have little idea what bishops think about the present situation as there is a rather obvious agreement of silence about the whole matter. The number of questions that the bishops comments beg are considerable

Susannah Clark
5 years ago

“…what the good Bishop thinks about Issues… he is declaring himself within the present teaching.” Christopher, obeying teachings and agreeing with them are two different things. I’d suggest the bishop may have ‘put up’ with the rules imposed on him and all other gay and lesbian priests, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he endorses them as the permanent ‘best outcome’ for the future. He, of course, and other bishops, must state their own views on gay sexuality. And so must all priests and lay members of the Church. I hope we’re not so infantilised that we think the bishops ‘know… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Read two good essays now by Ian Paul and also Wes Hill. The latter describes himself as a Gay Christian and is opposed to sexual relations between members of the same sex. He is probably known to this blog. He surmises that the good Bishop thinks about celibacy as he does: as a way to avoid conduct that Christ has not warranted. I can’t say that we have read that thus far in this particular case, but who knows what will be said in time.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
5 years ago

cseitz,
I understood the bishop to say he complied with Issues, not that he agreed with it.
Our current sexuality debate proves that it is perfectly allowed to have different opinions about this.

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

Kelvin Holdsworth might do well to read the Wikipedia article on celibacy before he claims pedantic – and inaccurate – distinctions between celibacy and abstinence. The Wikipedia article, drawing on authorities, observes that celibacy means either refraining from marriage or refraining from sex, and not the narrow meaning Kelvin tries to ascribe to it.

The rest of his article is equally muddled, indeed so muddled I find it impossible to say anything sensible about it.

Lorenzo
Lorenzo
5 years ago

cseltz

I comply with Issues, I certainly do not agree with it. Actually, I cannot think of anything else I resent quite as much.

Susannah Clark
5 years ago

“I found it impossible to say anything sensible…” Kate, I’ll leave that assessment to you. Personally I found Kelvin’s article intelligent and coherent. Intercourse, blow jobs, sex toys, kissing, sexual embrace, cuddles, masturbation in private… what constitutes ‘celibacy’? In biblical terms, none of the above are envisaged as ‘being celibate’: celibacy is setting oneself aside for God, instead of another close personal relationship. But the Church is only fixated with what people do with their bits, and for the sake of its rules for priests, if you’re not having intercourse, and you keep the rest of it quiet and hidden,… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
5 years ago

I read Kelvin Holdsworth’s post carefully and didn’t find it anywhere near as muddled as Kate does and my view seems to be shared by other commentators on his blog page. It would be helpful if Kate would spell out just why she finds it so muddled.

Brian Ralph
Brian Ralph
5 years ago

Kate, As a teacher-librarian, I always told students to take Wikipedia with a pinch of salt and NEVER to use it as a reference. As usual I find Kelvin Holdsworth’s article to be spot on. The Church of England is a laughing stock and the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot lie straight in bed. To ask any person, bishop, priest or layperson to divulge what they do in private is insulting and demeaning. After 65 years declaring I was a Christian to the amazement of most of my friends, straight and gay who almost never enter a church, I have recently… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
5 years ago

“The Wikipedia article, drawing on authorities, observes that celibacy means either refraining from marriage or refraining from sex, and not the narrow meaning Kelvin tries to ascribe to it.” Not sure Kate that you have interpreted the Wikipedia article correctly. The key differences between celibacy and abstinence have to do with celibacy being a voluntary state, the result of a sacred vow. Others would add, as I do, that it is a response to a calling from God, and is based on religious conviction. If you regard celibacy as only meaning abstinence from sexual activity, then the question is what… Read more »

Kelvin Holdsworth
5 years ago

I am content to be compliant with neither Issues nor Wikipedia.

Nathaniel Brown
Nathaniel Brown
5 years ago

“…a way to avoid conduct that Christ has not warranted”

Flying in airplanes? Investing in the stock market? The list could go on and on, but it seems an odd way to judge the value of something, to say Christ has not actually warranted it. There are many things He did not mention, and homosexuality, with all the power any sexuality has for good or ill, is one of them.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

People seem to know exactly what the bishop thinks about Issues. Here is what he said. It sounds closer to Wes Hill and Ian Paul’s take on the matter than what one reads here.

Chamberlain said, “I don’t think we’ve reached a position where the church is going to be marrying same-sex couples,” he said. He declined to express objections to the C of E’s celibacy rule for gay clergy. “My observation of human beings over the years has shown me how much variety there is in the way people express their relationships. Physical expression is not for everyone.”

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
5 years ago

“Declined to express objections” is wonderfully diplomatic.
I think at the very least we’d need some further clarification of whether that meant that he agrees with it or that he simply refuses to criticise it in an interview with the Guardian.

MarkBrunson
5 years ago

“I am content to be compliant with neither Issues nor Wikipedia.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between a writer and a social media pundit.

Thank you, Kelvin.

MarkBrunson
5 years ago

I’m sorry, but the more I see of conservative Anglicanism, the clearer it is to me that they really, really, really, really *hate* (a word I use very rarely and with full emphasis on its actual content) GLBT’s, even if they are GLBT, and consider us a sort of lower life form from which neither wisdom nor sense can come.

So, why are we worrying about communion with them, again?

S Cooper
S Cooper
5 years ago

Mark Brunson – institutional unity ….why? Because the big wigs want to be part of a big global thing with air travel to poor places….to look concerned?

Daniel Berry, NYC
Daniel Berry, NYC
5 years ago

good lord. when did the gospel become a rule book?

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

Issues teaches that sodomy is un-Scriptural. It doesn’t impose anything (nobody knows what gay couples do in private). Gay clergy are expected to though to publicly affirm the teaching of the Church – just as straight clergy are expected to affirm the teaching against sex outside marriage even though we all know of clergy who don’t feel bound by that teaching either. And while some disagree, Scripture is surprisingly clear in its prohibition of sodomy. The celibacy provision in Issues doesn’t stop same sex couples engaging in any other form of sexual intimacy. Stretching the definition of celibacy to include… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

“Kate, As a teacher-librarian, I always told students to take Wikipedia with a pinch of salt and NEVER to use it as a reference.” Brian, with respect you are wrong in your emphasis. Wikipedia is part of Web 2.0 and is a primary reference in relation to the common understanding of the meaning of words which is necessarily something best reflected by social media. At best dictionaries are a lagging authority and most students don’t consult (or have access to) the latest addendums to the OED but rely on what are, in essence, outdated references. This is the way in… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

“Not sure Kate that you have interpreted the Wikipedia article correctly. The key differences between celibacy and abstinence have to do with celibacy being a voluntary state, the result of a sacred vow. Others would add, as I do, that it is a response to a calling from God, and is based on religious conviction. If you regard celibacy as only meaning abstinence from sexual activity, then the question is what is the basis for this state. IIHS compels abstinence from sexual activity. That is not celibacy, although it does produce the same goods as celibacy in terms of denying… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
5 years ago

S Cooper: With you, I think that the desire for unity facilitates some less-than-admirable “wants.”

But I would include among them the desire of the UK and its Monarch to be at the centre of a worldwide Commonwealth.

Surely the Communion is part of that post-imperial project.

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

“To say to a whole group of people: you must remain celibate and obey our views on sex… and gay sexuality falls short of heterosexual ideals…” This is yet another aspect of the muddled thinking. It’s why I struggle so much with Kelvin’s article which is an amalgum of such muddles – a veritable muddle of muddles. Firstly recall that Anglicanism has a history of creative ambiguity. If you go back to Elizabethan times, the parallel was the Presence in the Eucharist. Physical but not metaphorical transubstantiation was ruled out but the rest was left vague so people made of… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
5 years ago

Kate, I still don’t understand why you think that Kelvin Holdsworth’s post is muddled but we will hav to disagree. Given that some commentators on this blog are, for example, members of the US Episcopal Church(TEC), the Anglican Church of Canada, the SEC, in whch church Kelvin Holdsworth is a priest, it is worth remembering that ‘Issues in Sexuality’ is a specifically Church of England document which was a statement made by the House of Bishops to Synod in 1991. It has no force outside that church unless it has been adopted by another member of the Anglican Communion

Father Ron Smith
5 years ago

“He surmises that the good Bishop thinks about celibacy as he does: as a way to avoid conduct that Christ has not warranted.” – cseitz – Nor did Christ deny its possibility, Christopher! One of the problems now is that many rigorous conservatives do not believe that it is possible for anyone to live together in a same-gender committed relationship without having sex – despite Bishop Nicholas’ testimony to the contrary. I guess we who are more liberal about all this just can’t win this argument anyway. I personally, can at least testify that it is indeed possible for a… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Ron Smith–my comment was a digest of what Wes Hill said. He is a Gay Christian. He does not believe sex between two men or two women is what Christ allows. I thought that was clear.

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

“I personally, can at least testify that it is indeed possible for a homosexual to live in a loving partnership with a heterosexual partner, in a marriage without sex. Now, what do you think of that possibility, Christopher?”

That is one of the most wonderful things I have read on TA in many a month. Someone who has been able to look past their own sexual orientation when choosing a partner and testimony that sex is not an essential for a loving marriage.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
5 years ago

“Scripture is surprisingly clear in its prohibition of sodomy.”

and

“but the hypothetical bishop himself might just mean he refrains from anal sex.”

Kate, you seem to have a more interesting Bible than mine. Can you point me to where anal sex and /or sodomy appears in the scriptures?

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Mr Gillis — you made the exact same comment at another blog. I responded there.

I didn’t see +Josiah I-F passing on quotes from the Guardian, but perhaps I missed something.

Jo
Jo
5 years ago

My recollection is that sodomy, i.e. the sin of Sodom is condemned. The tricky bit is that the sin of Sodom is that her people were haughty and well fed, and did not help the poor and needy (paraphrasing Ezekiel).

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
5 years ago

“My recollection is that sodomy, i.e. the sin of Sodom is condemned” Jo, you are correct the sin of Sodom is condemned and that sin taken to be variously haughtiness, violation of hospitality norms or forced sex with angels. ‘Sodomy’ with its specific meaning in English i.e. anal intercourse – is not mentioned in the Bible in either hetero- or homosexual contexts. Quite how the Scriptures can be ‘surprisingly clear in its prohibition’ of something they don’t actually mention I don’t know. Some parts of the scriptures are arguably not very happy with same-sex intercourse though to suggest that this… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

“Quod scripsi, scripsi”.

Thank you Pontius Pilate. But what was your point? Lots of people have similar views — Ian Paul, Wes Hill, +JI-F, myself and on it goes. That we would respond similarly means only that we haven’t changed our minds recently. Selah.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Ezekiel 16:50a refers to committing to’evah. This isn’t inhospitality and it isn’t sex with angels. I think it is wiser to say the Bible is wrong than to try to make it say something else.

וַֽתִּגְבְּהֶ֔ינָה וַתַּעֲשֶׂ֥ינָה תוֹעֵבָ֖ה לְפָנָ֑י

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
5 years ago

“Ezekiel 16:50a refers to committing to’eva’

A word which is without a good English equivalent (though often translated as ‘abomination’) In the hundred or so times it appears in the Hebrew OT it most often refers to foreign cultic practices (e.g. Deut 7: 25-26; 18:9-12) particularly iIdolatory (Ez. 5:11, 6:9, 6:11, 7:20, 14:6, 20:7-8, 22:2, 44:6-7, 44:13) etc.

Not in a single instance does it refer to anal sex.

Jo
Jo
5 years ago

So how are you translating that word and on what basis?

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

Abomination: to’evah.

As I said, it is a wiser move to reject the Bible when it says things like this than to try to make Sodom about bad table manners and inhospitality.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Dear Mr Gillis

I have known +JI-F for many years and count him as a friend. He helped run a conference on Islam we sponsored a couple years back. He is on the faculty at Wycliffe in Toronto.

Since he took up this office he seems very busy. I do not have any even informal “surrogacy” vis-a-vis the Communion Secretary. As I said, that many people share a common view on the character of marriage ought not to be a surprise. Even Gay Christians like Wes Hill.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
5 years ago

“Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, … Abomination: to’evah. As I said, it is a wiser move to reject the Bible when it says things like this than to try to make Sodom about bad table manners and inhospitality.” Fairly feeble logic here, surely you can’t be proposing this? Leviticus says and lying with male is to’evah; Ezekiel says Sodom was to’evah therefore the sin of Sodom was male on male sex? If man lying with male is to’evah in one verse it doesn’t mean that every time to’evah occurs in the OT… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Fr Andrew

Read any commentary on Ezekiel written from time immemorial. The reference to to’evah in Ezekiel is taken to mean what it means in Leviticus and in a vast array of other places.

You seem to be saying it has some special exotic meaning in Ezekiel: they committed sex with angelic beings or had inhospitable halitosis.

As I say, better to just reject Leviticus and Ezekiel and say these texts are wrong.

Tobias Haller
Tobias Haller
5 years ago

While it is clearly possible to apply the use of to’ebah in Ezekiel 16:50 to sodomy via a selective transition from Leviticus, that seems unlikely to be the author’s intent for a number of reasons; most importantly the larger context of the chapter. The address is to the many abominations of Jerusalem, which have exceeded those of her sister Sodom. Note two things: Jerusalem and Sodom are portrayed as women throughout, so a suggestion of a link with males lying with males seems unlikely. Nor is there any suggestion in the text that Jerusalem is guilty of that particular activity… Read more »

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
5 years ago

Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

In 21st century Anglicanism, on whom does this verse impose the requirement to kill all gay men violating this verse? Archbishops? Bishops? Seminary professors? Archdeacons? Priests? Any person in the pew?

It seems to me you can’t require a literal reading of the first half of the verse without requiring a literal meaning of the second half as well.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

I think the main point is that if Ezekiel said

“they acted haughtily and engaged in same sex activity and even had marriage equality blogs”

surely it wouldn’t matter in this discussion. If one is in favor of LGBTI causes, he or she is not going to change their view no matter what Ezekiel or Leviticus says. “Sodomite” may be a term rooted in history, and it may be how Ezekiel 16 has been consistently read–of course to make the point that Jerusalem’s sins were greater–but in the face of today’s cause, these are irrelevancies.

Father Ron Smith
5 years ago

Thank you, Fr. Tobias, for demonstrating your ability on this blog to exceed the qualification to get past Christian Ethics 101. Also, thank you for your knowledge of both Greek and Hebrew – as well as showing a lot of common sense and Biblical compassion and proficiency in interpreting.

The proper use of the Bible is surely to inform us on God’s relationship to us; not to ‘clobber’.

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Surely wouldn’t want Ezekiel around. His entire vocation was to tear down and clobber! He is given a scroll so terrible to eat that God provided the means by which at least for him it would be sweet. So that thereafter he and Israel and the whole world could lean into visions of utter loveliness and new creation!

Susannah Clark
5 years ago

You want to talk about Ezekiel and use it as a proof text for the condemnation of gay sex? The Book of Ezekiel is astonishing. Different people will draw different things from it. For myself, three things: 1. The catatonic reaction to the presence of the living God and God’s message. A state of shock, awe, surrender of power. (3:15) 2. Warning of the judgment of God: this is hugely needed in every age. “Give them warning from me” (3:17 and 33:7)). Without recognition of judgment, each of us risks remaining recalcitrant, each of us risks losing out on the… Read more »

Susannah Clark
5 years ago

What comes across so strongly in Ezekiel is the distress of God, and the love of God for God’s dearly-loved people (15:8-14) – and the sheer wastage God sees as they harden their hearts and turn from God. All that wasted blessing, all that lost potential, turning the internal and the external to waste. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and God weeps over us, when our hearts fail to open to the compassion, the grace, and the love… because of so much waste, and the prostitution of the much-loved bride (16:25-6). Ezekiel 16 is about sin far deeper than Sodom’s. It… Read more »

cseitz
cseitz
5 years ago

Ms Clark — the question was whether Ezek 16 has in view sexual crimes, and so uses the same term as Leviticus. Typically scholars note the close proximity of Ezekiel to soi-disant “P”. This was being denied. Sodom was about bad hospitality, failure to honor the weak. Etc. The prophet referenced Sodom and to’evah but meant just inhospitality. I hope this won’t be taken as anything but a small observation, in the sociology of knowledge if you will. I have taught Hebrew for 35 years and Ezekiel as well. The blogosphere has flattened all claims to something like expertise or… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Tobias Haller
5 years ago

Thank you, Fr. Ron. As to consistent — or largely consistent and traditional — readings, one of the reasons we continue to study the Scripture is the awareness that traditional readings, however consistent, may be mistaken, and are subject to review. If they weren’t, there would be little reason for continued study. The Hebrew word to’evah means “hateful” — it describes the reaction towards the object of hatred. In Genesis it is applied to shepherds and food (and is not used in reference to Sodom). In Leviticus to a long list of forbidden sexual practices and relationships (including males lying… Read more »

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