Thinking Anglicans

LLF: a paper on the Doctrine of Marriage

A new document has been published today, signed by the following bishops

The Bishop of Fulham, Jonathan Baker
The Bishop of Horsham, Ruth Bushyager
The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth
The Bishop of Woolwich, Karowei Dorgu
The Bishop of Lancaster, Jill Duff
The Bishop of Rochester, Jonathan Gibbs
The Bishop of Hereford, Richard Jackson
The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcombe [sic]
The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow
The Bishop of Islington, Ric Thorpe
The Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner
The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson
The Bishop of Sheffield, Pete Wilcox
The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, Paul Williams

The full document can be read here.
The paper begins this way:

Since the publication of the Bishops’ LLF Proposal for the consideration of General Synod, a range of lay and ordained people from across the church have asked for some guidance in understanding why many Christians in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, together with Christians from across the churches of world Christianity, continue to believe that marriage is given by God for the union of a man and woman and that it cannot be extended to those who are of the same sex. 

We felt, therefore, that it would be constructive to make available a relatively short theological summary of the doctrine of marriage as the Church of England has received it, and how it relates particularly to changes in society around same-sex partnerships. This paper does not seek to repeat what is set out more comprehensively in chapter 3 of the LLF Book but rather to build upon it. 

This paper emerged from study and conversations in recent months among a number of bishops, evangelical and catholic. It was helpful not only to us but also to other bishops of the same mind, in clarifying some of our own thinking and prayerful discernment on these important matters as we contributed to the LLF deliberations in the College of Bishops. We now offer the paper below to clergy and congregations at this important time in the life of the Church to inform their understanding, recognising that for some it will be welcome support while for others it may clarify points of disagreement. In offering this paper we are committed to continue to listen and learn from those with whom we disagree. 

Few readers of this paper will feel neutral about it. Some will be instinctively grateful for it, while for others it may compound their sense of disappointment. Without seeking to diminish the value of many committed same-sex relationships, for which there is much to give thanks, we find ourselves constrained by what we sincerely believe the Scriptures teach which cannot be set aside. We pray this will be a constructive contribution to the life and ministry of the Church while the work of discernment continues in General Synod and elsewhere. 

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Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
1 year ago

Where the bishops say near the beginning of their paper, and after quoting the goods of marriage from the BCP “Over recent decades, the gift of sex and the bearing of children have largely become severed from marriage in secular understanding” they perhaps should acknowledge that from 1549 onwards the marriage services of the Church of England direct that prayers for the fruitfulness of the marriage in the bearing of children be omitted when the woman is past child-bearing age. So marriage in Church has long been possible without a complete set of these “goods” being attainable. It seems to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
1 year ago

Quoted from these ‘conservative’ bishops who are holding gay and lesbian people hostage to their domination and imposed ban on gay marriage in church:

“The BCP goes on describe the goods of Christian marriage in Anglican teaching:…

“It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such
persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled
members of Christ’s body.”

Okay, so those who are excluded from Christian marriage are “defiled” unless they don’t have sex?

Have I got that right?

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

Have I got that right?

No, because you only quoted parts of it.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 year ago

Good grief. People can look at the second and third ‘goods’ of Christian marriage for themselves via the document link provided. I was specifically complaining about the first:

It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such
persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.”

So I repeat my questions:

Those who are excluded from Christian marriage are “defiled” unless they don’t have sex?

Have I got that right?

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 year ago

correction: people can look at the first and third ‘goods’. The one I was quoting was the second. My questions remain.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

My understanding is, you definitely have that right. Mark Bennet makes reference to eschatology. IMO, Jesus of Nazareth referenced the coming of the Realm of Heaven as if it were happening NOW. Not being a Christian, I believe that Jesus of Nazareth had “one foot in the door”, already, that he was one of the “12 Just Ones” that Jewish folklore (perhaps grounded in the Talmud) travels the Earth at any given time.. For him, it WAS imminent. For Christians who believe that Jesus of Nazareth was fully human and fully God, since God occupies all time and space, any… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
1 year ago

I understand that at least one of the bishops signing this document is divorced and remarried. Perhaps they could have commented on Jesus’ explicit teaching on the adulterous nature of such marriages.

Tina Beardsley
Tina Beardsley
Reply to  God 'elp us all
1 year ago

Many thanks for this link – for me it’s the late Fr Geoffrey Kirk’s comment which highlights the paradoxical/selective nature of the current ‘traditionalist’ position: “Promoting divorced bishops is a far more serious matter than homosexual bishops because it is undermining one of the fundamental teachings of scripture.”

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  God 'elp us all
1 year ago

The bishops will always find exceptional pastoral circumstances for straight people – straight people are ‘nice’. They’re happy for a blanket ban on church marriages for queer people because they see us as inherently inferior and less than ‘nice’. Their warm words about us being equally welcome are insincere not least because they know it to be untrue. The reality is we have limited acceptance and entirely on their terms.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

Thank you Fr. Dean!
Spot on!

Susannah Clark
1 year ago

“Any change to the doctrine of marriage as a union between a man and a woman would therefore not only unravel the Scriptural story of salvation, but risk undermining our understanding of the nature of the Church…”

I absolutely refute that.

John T
John T
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

I agree. They have a very strange idea of the church if it founders with any change on the understanding of marriage, especially as marriage has not been a fixed thing in history over the last 2000 years.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

Yes, it’s tosh. I’m not sure there even is, or should be, a ‘doctrine of marriage.’ Theological thinking, yes, but not a fixed doctrine. That would imply that marriage is always and everywhere the same, which clearly isn’t true.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 year ago

It is tosh at so many levels but I think it is written for their echo chamber who will no doubt lap it up, and that is sad.

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

I sometimes wonder whether there are some deep-seated fears underlying some of psychological motivations for those opposing same-sex relationships: Firstly, from those who themselves have felt same-sex attracted at some point, but found the framework of, and societal pressure toward, traditional marriage (and its prohibition of same-sex relationships) to be a factor that influenced them into straight relationships> Therefore the inaccessibility of marriage to anyone but male-female relationships is, for them, the societal guarantor (or at least influence) that guarded them against what they perceive to have been incorrect relationships. Secondly, those who are same-sex attracted but have self-denied at… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  NJW
1 year ago

I think those are good observations, very likely to be attributable to some, NJW. We all probably know the psychological impulse to project negatively onto other people some of the repressed characteristics we dislike or fear about ourselves. And the second impulse – sense of envy and unfairness if you’ve lived a life of celibacy only for people to be told in the end that actually gay sexuality is an acceptable option. But that second impulse does seem particularly disagreeable in some ways… wanting to deprive others of a joy you wished you could have yourself. All the more reason… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

The second impulse comes out in many other situations as well. Here in the States, when President Biden proposed forgiving some student debt, a frequent objection was, “Hey, *I* had to pay back all my loans, why should *they* not have to?”

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
1 year ago

At least one of these bishops has not apparently encountered the bits in the Bible which proscribe remarriage after divorce in at least as strong terms as in the ‘texts of terror’ which they deem to proscribe same-sex marriage. How hypocritical is that?

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
1 year ago

‘ …we find ourselves constrained by what we sincerely believe the Scriptures teach which cannot be set aside. …

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ Luke 4:23 NIV

Any stones being cast e.g.from Fulham?

Bob
Bob
Reply to  God 'elp us all
1 year ago

No stones being cast, just a theological explanation of the position on marriage and human sexuality that the bishops hold.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Bob
1 year ago

Explanation or justification?

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

Explanation, with which you are free to disagree.

Alfred
Alfred
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
1 year ago

Matthew 19:9 might be said to countenance the Bishop of Fulham’s second marriage, surely?

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Alfred
1 year ago

It might but, like so many passages in Scripture, its meaning can be argued over or contradicted by other passages. Even as it is, claiming it as justification for +Fulham’s remarriage would require a knowledge of the circumstances of his divorce, into which I would not want to pry. And, of course, when referring to unchastity or sexual immorality, one has to assume that is referring to the woman’s behaviour, but why not that of the man also? It is very much of its age, two millennia ago, or even that of Moses, several millennia earlier. I like to think… Read more »

Paul
Paul
1 year ago

As from a similar stable, my problem is twofold. 1. What did anyone think this process would end with other than some change. I appreciate generally TA people are angry that it falls short of marriage but it was surely never just going to affirm the 98’ position (which this document basically is). 2. As my wife often says to me, you are either conservative on it all or not at all. I happen to believe that you can’t remarry after divorce, been ordained as a woman, and therefore in a same sex marriage. Conservatives have played down those three… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

you can’t remarry after divorce, been ordained as a woman, and therefore in a same sex marriage’

I don’t understand this statement: I’ve been ordained as a woman but am not therefore in a same sex marriage. Perhaps you could clarify?

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 year ago

Apologies, I meant that a real conservative approach to scripture make all three positions not possible. Yet many evangelicals ignore the first, accept the second whilst retaining the third as unacceptable based on scripture.

Philip
Philip
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

Most evangelical churches that I know do in fact reject all three. Mine does.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Philip
1 year ago

Most conservative evangelical churches perhaps, but certainly not most evangelical churches.

It’s perfectly possible for people with equally high views of scripture to differ on all three of these matters. And note that the evangelical George Carey said as long ago as 1992 that to reject women’s ordination is a heresy.

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 year ago

Ah yes, and what a glittering record of discernment he has in matters of practice and theology.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

The point is that he was and is an evangelical, former principal of an evangelical theological college, and has written on theological arguments for women’s ordination since the early 1980s. And he is far from alone; Elaine Storkey, Mary Evans, Catherine Kroeger, Charles Read, Graham Cray, et al.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Philip
1 year ago

{ conservative }evangelical churches in the Church of England? surely not many?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
1 year ago

I have never understood how allowing same-sex marriage changes the doctrine of marriage of heterosexuals one iota. Allowing LGBTQ people to be married in no way affects ‘straight’ people’s marital bliss. Rather it simply widens the institution which has evolved over centuries. If a pleasant, married gay couple moves to live next door to one of these bishops, what are they so terrified about? Their own marriages won’t be affected one iota. Sadly, they seem to think their relationships are more ‘Christian’ than lesser mortals.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

Somehow, to opponents, allowing same-sex marriage is the one brick that, if pulled, causes the entire edifice of Western Civilization to crumble into the dust and be as defunct as the Babylonian Empire.
To which, I say “Bah, humbug!”.
Marriage has changed in countless ways over the centuries.

David Runcorn
1 year ago

Two things about this document.
It feels like a starting point for the discussion. But here it is at the end. It is written as if the points they make have not been engaged with anywhere?
But secondly, the signatories appear to have learned nothing from the LLF process. There is total absence of the inclusion of all voices in the discussions, of not ‘othering’ or speaking about ‘them’. They do this throughout. The result is very patronising – ‘Same-sex relationships can, of course, be lifelong, loving, committed, faithful …’ Well thanks for that.

Philip Groves
Philip Groves
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 year ago

Absolutely.

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts
1 year ago

It’s worth noting that this is not a House of Bishops document – just a document by some bishops in the CofE. The LLF HoB document makes it clear that the House, as a whole, is not united on the matter. I wonder whether we will get another document, looking at the theology from the other side of the discussion. I rather hope so.

Philip Groves
Philip Groves
Reply to  Paul Roberts
1 year ago

Paul, do you think they feel they are answering +Steven Croft? I suspect they think the ‘other side’ has had its say.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Paul Roberts
1 year ago

HoB divided, but according to the Bishop of Coventry the majority believe in church marriage only for one man and one woman.

As for these arguments for and against, weren’t 5 years of LLF and 50 years of discussion before that enough?

Doctrinal change is a write-off, and it’s not only these 14 bishops who are to blame for that. Conservative doctrine continues to dominate everyone else’s consciences and views. HoB decided that collectively. Didn’t even offer alternatives.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

I usually feel irritated by comments like the one I am about to make, but no one seems to have read, or at any rate felt the need to comment on, the College of Deans’ response to LLF on the next thread immediately below – also posted today!

I expect someone will analyse the signatories – and those omitted! – of both documents.

Tina Beardsley
Tina Beardsley
1 year ago

I’m intrigued by this document’s use of ‘The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self’ by Carl R. Trueman – who does concede that ‘we are all expressive individualists now’ – and troubled by the proximity of the sentences about gnosticism to the one about trans and intersex people (I’m deliberately avoiding the terms used by the paper) due to the recurring charge of gnosticism as far as trans people are concerned in conservative theological literature. To adapt the words of Billy Elliot: ‘what’s wrong wi’ gnosticism?’ Answer: ‘it functions as a vague implication of heresy.’ I’ve critiqued the lack… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

Oh dearie me! Just when one might think it can’t get any worse, it does. I understand that episcopal consecration has at its critical juncture the imposition of invertebrate status by avulsion of the vertebral column, but I hadn’t until now appreciated that this is accompanied in many cases by extirpation of those parts of the frontoparietal cortex that in us apes are responsible for ratiocination. It’s a curious thing but it seems that natural-born invertebrates like octopuses are more intelligent and compassionate than creatures that have invertebrate status thrust upon them (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s0LTDhqe5A). Octopuses also have an interesting though sombre… Read more »

Philip Groves
Philip Groves
1 year ago

These arguments will convince no one except those who want to be convinced. However, what is interesting to me is who has not signed. There are 9 Diocesans (a mix of Catholic and Evangelical) and 5 Suffragans. That is 25% of Diocesans which is not enough for a blocking minority. Some will not have signed who may agree with this because they don’t want the controversy in their dioceses. But, I still find this hopeful, perhaps a tide has turned? I suspect Stephen Croft could have written this 5 years ago, change is going one way – perhaps there are… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Philip Groves
1 year ago

Well in the Bishop of Coventry’s Ad Clerum he wrote that the majority believed (like him) in church marriage only for one man and one woman. That would imply a lot more bishops who still believe in the ‘conservative’ status quo, but have chosen to keep their heads down for a variety of reasons. Bottom line: HoB collectively decided to continue imposing the conservative status quo on everyone else. Domination of other people’s consciences. And as for 5 years of further exclusion from church marriage. If there’s no consensus then, that may carry on indefinitely. They have firmed up the… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Philip Groves
1 year ago

This really is the hard core going public in a typical breach of collective responsibility. They will simply argue that they are free to do so because the College of Bishops has clearly stated it is not agreed. Of the five suffragans who signed, three are members of the House of Bishops (+Woolwich, +Islington, and +Lancaster). There are 42 diocesan bishops, with four vacancies; nine suffragans, with one vacancy, and two others, +Dover (ex-officio) and +St Germans (Forces Synodical Council). So, if all show up, that makes a House of Bishops of 48 next week; so this little list represents… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Anthony Archer
Flora Alexander
Flora Alexander
1 year ago

The argument here seems to me to be not entirely coherent, especially in its discussion of procreation. Like Susannah and others, I have great difficulty in seeing these ideas as ‘the doctrine of marriage as the Church of England has received it.’

Charles Read
Charles Read
1 year ago

There is an argument that goes roughly like this: we think marriage is by definition heterosexual but we want to affirm same-sex partnerships as equal to / with marriage so we need to find something parallel to marriage. This was the position which Michael Vasey hinted at in Strangers and Friends in about 1996. It was a position held by many bishops not that many years ago. In this light, one might see that statement as a positive and hopeful sign – except that things have moved on in the last few years such that I have not heard anyone… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Charles Read
1 year ago

In a fondly remembered conversation over drinks at Sarum College, Michael Vasey remarked wryly, “Attitudes are indeed shifting; we’re now at the ‘uppity n****r’ stage – gays are fine as long as they keep their heads down and don’t make a fuss.”

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 year ago

If we were uppity in the late 1990’s I’m not sure where we are now. I think most queer people have washed their hands of the CofE in the way that Susannah who posts on TA has. I have such low expectations that I’m barely beyond ambivalence. LGBTQI Christians are moving on to less hostile pastures.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

I should like to return to the Church of England (as the Church of my childhood) when gay and lesbian marriages are treated equally with all other marriages, and I can take my wife with self-respect and psychological safety. Meanwhile, I still post here as an Anglican (there are provinces that don’t discriminate). And my two spiritual mentors (both Anglican) are most precious.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 year ago

Gays are fine as long as they keep their head down, don’t make a fuss — and make routine and generous donations of cash, and all their worldly goods of value upon death.

Pete Sandford
Pete Sandford
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 year ago

I am puzzled at why, especially since the murder of George Floyd inter alia and Black Lives Matter, anyone might still remember fondly conversations over drinks at Sarum in which wry comments were made by privileged white folk about “uppity n-words”. Let’s not forget that the bishops were divided at times on the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade which is now rightly held as evil and a crime both against humanity and against the image of God. The document’s setting of Enlightenment values of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity against supposedly Christian values of Paternity, Reproductivity, and Family glosses over… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Pete Sandford
1 year ago

Michael Vasey and “privileged white folk”? Not a pairing I would want to make, Peter. As an openly gay priest and campaigner for an inclusive Church in the 1990s, I suggest Michael’s position – far from being privileged – came at no small personal cost. My choice of “wryly” was perhaps infelicitous, for which apologies; “bitterly” or “sardonically” would have caught the mood rather better.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 year ago

Also, remember that this was in the 90s when the phrase “uppity n*****r” was deliberately employed by both black and white activists to describe society’s often begrudging and highly qualified progress towards achieving racial equality: “they’ll treat me as an equal as long as I keep quiet and don’t make waves.” Today, although Barak Obama has been heard to use this ugly phrase, most white people, not least Michael Vasey, would I suspect put it differently. But at the time it made the point concisely and with force.

Pete Sandford
Pete Sandford
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 year ago

The lesson from Black Lives Matter has surely been that we should check our privilege. Whilst Michael Vasey’s gay identity brought with it a cost, his ethnicity, background, and education brought with it a degree of privilege that makes the racist epithet at least infelicitous, however current it may have been at the time. Concisely and with force should not be the only justifications for our speech.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Pete Sandford
1 year ago

The epithet was designed to shock – shock this particular privileged heterosexual white male out of his comfort zone. If it it has worked – and I pray and hope it has – then I feel it was justified.

Blair
Blair
Reply to  Charles Read
1 year ago

“There is an argument that goes roughly like this: we think marriage is by definition heterosexual but we want to affirm same-sex partnerships as equal to / with marriage so we need to find something parallel to marriage.” Interesting that you go on to refer to Michael Vasey in your comment. I’m not meaning to knock him, but isn’t the above what Robert Song tries to do with some theological depth in ‘Covenant and calling’? I’d be curious to ask the authors of this paper what they think of his work. After all they do say that same-sex relationships should… Read more »

Ronnie Smith
1 year ago

Perhaps it might benefit the C. of E.’s discussion on the theology of marriage if the authors of this paper were to be given access to the ‘St. Mchael’s Report’ produced by the Anglican Church of Canada’s theological commission some years ago – which allowed that Church to open up to the prospect of Same-Sex Marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada. There is spiritual insight available in the Provinces of the Anglican Church outside of the Mother Church of England – proven by earlier movement on important matters like Lay Membership of Synods and the Ordination of Women. If… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
1 year ago

The bishop of Fulham’s name is surprising given he did not dissent from the Pilling Report. I wonder how many of the Fulham clergy are of his mind?

Flora Alexander
Flora Alexander
1 year ago

I’m wondering if these bishops realise that in medieval England marriages did not take place inside the church

Kate
Kate
1 year ago

Procreative Marriage is an aspect of the curse of the Fall. It’s disappointing to see it raised on a pedestal.

Ian Hobbs
Ian Hobbs
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

Kate: I don’t see where you get that from (the curse of fall/ procreation..). It’s Genesis 1, before the fall…

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Hobbs
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
1 year ago

I assume you mean Genesis 2? Eve was made as a companion for Adam, depending on how one reads it, possibly as a sexual companion. [Since there were only the two of them, no inference can be drawn as to whether two men or two women could also be companions.]

But I am referring to Genesis 3:16 and Eve is cursed with painful childbirth – there was no mention of procreation in Genesis 2. I can only read that as procreative marriage being part of the curse of the Fall.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

I think we can all agree that procreative marriage is a good thing, but that doesn’t make non-procreative marriage a bad thing.

It doesn’t make gay and lesbian marriage wrong.

Besides, were Adam and Eve ever married (apart from the fact they never existed)?

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

We disagree on Adam and Eve being real people but that’s not the point. If a theological position is being based on Genesis (as this document does), care should be taken to base it on the ideal situation before the Fall, not on the cursed position after the Fall.

Ian Hobbs
Ian Hobbs
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

On the literalistic view “they never existed”… then your use of Genesis 2 is unfounded.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
1 year ago

I haven’t used Genesis 2, Ian!

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

But Genesis 3 builds on Genesis 2.

John N Wall
John N Wall
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

One would think they did not have navels, either. Which helps in another way to make them unique.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  John N Wall
1 year ago

Oh my, I’d never thought of that! At least Jesus had a belly button.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

I always think it pointless arguing about non-existent persons.

Ian Hobbs
Ian Hobbs
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

Nope… Genesis 1..27&28.. “Make and female he made them… Be fruitful and increase in number”. Procreation is part of the creation purpose… and, explicitly, man and woman “done”.

Graham Watts
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
1 year ago

If only it was that simple! But none of that really happened.
I admire that you can have such certainty
I am grateful that I am scientifically rooted

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
1 year ago

It’s a big, big jump to argue that because most people are procreative in marriage, therefore non-procreative marriages have no blessing, goodness, or purposes of companionship and loving expression.

There’s no logic. It’s like saying most people have brown eyes, therefore those with blue eyes can’t be people.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

If you read the conservative bishops’ document you will see that they elide over intersex conditions to assert a strict binary which doesn’t exist upon which they then build their arguments. Since the foundation isn’t secure the arguments are fallacious. I believe in a literal Genesis: you don’t. Either way Genesis isn’t a secure foundation for arguments about marriage. If Genesis is myth, then that’s obvious, but if Genesis is literal then two facts ruin the argument they are making. 1. Adam was both male and female in Genesis 1 before Eve was later made as his helper. Was the… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

By stating you believe in a literal Genesis, you have destroyed the foundation of any rational discussion to be had from such a ludicrous premise.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
1 year ago

Procreation is possible through IVF for straight and gay married (and unmarried) couples. Homo sapiens have moved on since they descended from Neanderthals. Done

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

Just one niggle: Homo sapiens did not descend from Neanderthals Both descended from a common ancestor and, indeed, probably co-existed and intermingled for thousands of years.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
1 year ago

No. In Genesis 1 there was no Eve yet. Just Adam who embodied both male and female.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

In Genesis 1, God created “adam” (which, in Hebrew, is a play on the Hebrew word for “soil” or “ground” (adamah)) in God’s own image, male and female God created them. So unless “adam” was non-binary and used the pronouns “they” and “them”, I am assuming “adam” in this context means “people”, “humanity”, or “humankind”. Virtually all translations after KJV refer to “adam” as humanity in one term or another. I believe God tells adam to go forth and multiply. Unless God handed “adam” a calculator or abacus, I assume God created more than one human being and is commanding… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 year ago

I think to avoid the non-binary explanation walks away from the main point. Adam was not “humanity”. Adam was, specifically, male and female combined. I would argue this is about the nature of God as both male and female, and the nature of humanity in God’s image. In the third decade of the 21st Century I think scholarship has advanced enough to accept that Genesis is not a standalone document dropped down by God from heaven, but an act of human creation from a certain time and in a certain place. And that perhaps if we look at similar texts… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Dawson
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

Could you put a date on this strange era?

Ian Hobbs
Ian Hobbs
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

It’s clearly implicit in the “they” of multiply… and worked out with the creation of the first couple… a man and a woman.

As for those who constantly say “it didn’t happen”. I didn’t say it did… Someone else was raising Genesis as “proof” of their point but missing the flow of the story.

Does also show how out of touch some people are with handling scripture… Bad as flat earthers…

José Ribeiro
José Ribeiro
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

Biology tells us that human males are a modified version of human females – not the other way round. Femaleness is the fundamental hardware. Of course, the Bible was written by men and at Times gone by. But now we know better.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  José Ribeiro
1 year ago

I find this naughtily hilarious, because it’s such a dent to masculine pride and traditional assertion of Eve as a spin off of Adam. Someone please tell me this is recognised biological fact. Professor Monkhouse perhaps…

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

I refer the right honourable lady to the reply I gave Mr Ribiero, and to this: https://ramblingrector.me/sexuality/. Of course it’s hilarious. I think I must be stupid to let myself be associated with a group of people who deny it. Pity the poor medical student who was appalled in anatomy classes to discover that men and women had the same number of ribs. So much doctrine and dogma is risible: though some is of great beauty, a great deal is toxic. I have never made any secret of my view that if biology and theology conflict then theology must change.… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

It’s something to do with chromosomes, so I suppose that’s regarded as old-fashioned anyway.

To be precise, a gene on the Y chromosome expresses a protein SRY which activates the male developmental pathway. Without it, the female developmental pathway is followed. I don’t quite see why this should be a cause for hilarity, but then my sense of humour is probably old-fashioned too.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  José Ribeiro
1 year ago

Thank you, Mr Ribiero. It is a truth universally acknowledged that for “Bible-believing” Christians to confuse an issue with biological fact is reprehensible, so we can’t expect them to wake up to this truth of mammalian biology known for well over a century. The earth is flat, stars are holes in a black dome that appears at night, it rains cats and dogs, and the dish ran away with the spoon. Here is a summary I prepared for my congregations back in the day: https://ramblingrector.me/sexuality/

What a hoot!

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
1 year ago

God made them in God’s image. In God’s own image God created them. Male and female God created them. (emphasis emphatically mine)
The first two clauses are implied in the third — something conservatives ignore.

Graham Watts
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 year ago

And who was it who was also present to witness and document these events so that we have a reliable record?

Cynthia
Cynthia
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 year ago

Male and female God created them. And gay and straight, black and white, etc.

Ian Hobbs
Ian Hobbs
Reply to  Cynthia
1 year ago

“And gay and straight, black and white, etc.”
But nothing to do with procreation…

Cynthia
Cynthia
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
1 year ago

The procreation argument, regarding marriage, is profoundly dishonest. Marriage is not mentioned in the Creation story and once there is talk of marriage, it is definitely women as chattel, that’s your “traditional marriage” and it is NOT a sacrament. Others have pointed out to the flawed nature of the procreation argument when it comes to childless marriages, whether it’s by choice, age, or infertility. Of course, the greatest hypocrisy is that the teaching on divorce is far more clear, but divorced and re-married straight people get a free pass. That is sheer brute force power over others being exercised when… Read more »

Mark
1 year ago

Quite apart from the staggering hypocrisy of the Bishop of Fulham signing this, when as a remarried divorcee he has benefitted from the liberalism (or good pastoral sense) of the Church of England in being permitted to continue in ministry after his remarriage, is it not the case that ALL of these silly bishops allow the remarriage of divorcees within their jurisdictions? How can they then have the gall to trot out the phrase that marriage is limited to the union of one man and one woman for life when they clearly neither believe nor practise it? This is English… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Mark
1 year ago

And Bishop Bushyager not so long ago apparently gave a platform to those advocating gay conversion therapy when she was an incumbent in Dorking. Her inclusion in the collective apology for the appalling treatment meted out to LGBTQI people by the CofE in the recent HoB document doesn’t ring true.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

Neither does the ABC’s in my opinion, when he apologizes and then says the discrimination will continue.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Mark
1 year ago

I would add the signatory women bishops in to the hypocrisy. “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” – 1 Timothy 2:12. It’s crystal clear that women can’t be ordained if the Bible is read literally in the way they want to do for same sex relationships.

In all honesty, they should have asked those like the Bishop of Fulham and the Bishop of Lancaster not to sign the document. The inherent contradiction is so obvious that it undermines the document.

Brenda H
Brenda H
1 year ago

We no more have a ‘doctrine’ of marriage than we do a doctrine of the Eucharist, or any other ‘sacrament’. All we have is differing understandings of these mysteries of God’s grace, of which we are recipients and not gatekeepers.

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Brenda H
1 year ago

This sounds like saying that marriage, or eucharist, or baptism, is whatever anyone thinks it is. That’s a doctrine in itself, of course. I suggest that some people commenting here would indeed like the church to have a doctrine of marriage — that is, a common understanding which is taught and indeed enforced in practice — but that the current doctrine is not what they wish it to be. Some others, I suggest, would be content for the understanding of marriage to be a purely individual thing: in particular, each person should decide for themselves whether they are married. There… Read more »

Brenda H
Brenda H
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 year ago

I would suggest that the Church of England already operates in such a way. For example, there are differing understandings of the Eucharist – what it is, and what it brings about e.g. memorialism, consubstantiation, transubstantiation, sacrifice etc. Each of these understandings finds a home in the CofE tent and each can point to scripture, tradition or reason to support it. I wasn’t arguing for an individualistic approach. My main point that was that we are recipients of God’s grace in the sacraments, rather than gatekeepers, and a little more humility in the face of such mystery might help us… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Brenda H
1 year ago

Brenda and UN. I was about to post exactly what Brenda has posted, so she has saved me a task. Thank you. Across history there have been many and varied interpretations of what marriage is and has been. So to argue now that there is one single interpretation is like nailing jelly to a wall. And I would argue that one of UN’s possibilities, “marriage to be a purely individual thing: in particular, each person should decide for themselves whether they are married” has probably been the one followed by the vast proportion of the British populace for a large… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

If marriage is to be a purely solipsistic thing, so that anyone is married who believes themselves to be so, there’s no need for any of this fuss, of course. Equally, of course, there’s no justification for demanding that any other person agree with you.

What someone will have to deal with is the fallout from cases where two people disagree about whether they believe themselves to be married to each other.

Susannah Clark
1 year ago

Possibly significant developments in Parliament today. Do watch the clip below. The key part is Sir Chris Bryant addressing Penny Mordaunt the Leader of the House (who also supports gay marriage in church): “Will she allow time, because I suspect this [what follows] would be the view of the whole House. Would she allow time as leader of the House for legislation to push the Church of England into allowing same-sex marriages to be conducted by parishes and clergy who want to do that, if Synod doesn’t act?” Penny Mordaunt: “I know this is an issue that many members of… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

If the nation, and Parliament, are asking questions about (lack of) gay marriage. Then let us wait till next week when a few Youtube clips start appearing showing the “gracious restraint” of certain episcopal consecrations. I wonder what questions the MPs might ask then, and if the Archbishop is able to explain it to their satisfaction.

It is worrying that the automatic response was to keep the consecration protocol hidden away until pressure was applied. What have people got to hide?

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2023/3-february/news/uk/canterbury-cathedral-u-turn-over-livestreaming-particular-consecrations

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

I suggest this is no longer about same sex marriage and maybe it is time for people to stop talking about it in those terms. The issue is equality in the Church of England on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, disability and background. Maybe race too. That should be the new campaign.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kate
Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

… but not equality on the grounds of religious belief, it would appear.

Is the civil law to override religious doctrine simply because the CofE is established, or does this apply equally to all religions? If the latter, I look forward to hearing how successful are the attempts to enforce same-sex marriage in Islam and abolish matrilineal descent in orthodox Judaism.

José Ribeiro
José Ribeiro
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 year ago

Clearly, it applies ONLY to the established Church, as in Danemark and Iceland, where Parliament made it clear State Church wasn’t allowed to refuse ssm in church.
In England, the anglican religious doctrine is defined by Parliament. Since about a century, Parliament allows the Church to work out the matter – and reserves for itself the power to ratify (or not). What Parliament gave, Parliament can take back.
As a continental, I take this as puzzling and erroneous – one of your funny odities … But these are the rules.

Of course, disestablishment is the alternative.

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

It’s never been about same-sex marriage; it is about how the bible is viewed, read and interpreted. Same-sex marriage is just the presenting issue.

Mark
Reply to  Bob
1 year ago

I don’t think that can be true, though, because there are plenty of other areas in which Conservative Evangelicals are happy to interpret away the plain sense of Scripture. Throughout my lifetime, they have liberalised enormously in many areas affecting women and heterosexuals in which change was regarded as absolutely unthinkable for nearly 2000 years until recent decades. It’s only when it comes to gay people that a certain sort of man gets really worked up: that surely indicates that it is a pyschological, rather than a theological, issue. The other indicator that it is gay people, rather than interpreting… Read more »

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Mark
1 year ago

Moving in such circles certainly conservative evangelical anglicans are not frightened of homosexuality as oft said, rather the basic idea that you change the bible to make Christianity supposedly more attractive. That is the thread through all of the theological arguments since the 1900’s and one that they would argue never works. The slippery slope argument is far more worrying in this churchmanship and the culture war for authentic Christianity. Same sex marriage now is the latest front, and I would be rich if I was paid each time someone says “and then what?”. Whilst I appreciate the more nuanced… Read more »

Mark
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

But that cannot be true, because allowing divorcees to remarry and having women clergy are much bigger changes to the Bible to make it more attractive. No Evangelicals would have agreed with either of them when I was a child. Similarly, I remember the days when Evangelicals preached against “living in sin,” something they have completely given up on (indeed Abp Sentamu of York famously said that it’s a good idea to taste the milk before buying the cow, commenting on Prince William living with his girlfriend before marrying her – previous Evangelical bishops would have condemned that). I was… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Mark
1 year ago

Indeed. Your observations ring true.Thats why this matter is so intractable. More than probably any other issue homosexuality can never be discussed with doctrinal dispassion.Sadly many people don’t seem to have the psychological space to recognise this.Hensley Henson noticed in the 1920s when the bishops were considering contraception it was the celibate bishops who were most opposed to acceptance. Qué faire?

Mark
Reply to  Perry Butler
1 year ago

Yes, you’re right. I think that those of us who are theologically literate at least have the duty not to permit theology to be hijacked as a cloak for prejudices and fears that belong more correctly to the field of human psychology.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Bob
1 year ago

The gnat the evangelicals strain at having already swallowed the camel of remarriage after divorce.

José Ribeiro
José Ribeiro
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

At a private meeting with some MPs , Welby is reported to have said, he will rather have a disestablished Church than a splitted one on ssm. Obviously, he is not the brightest bulb in stock: Church will split anyway …

Paul
Paul
Reply to  José Ribeiro
1 year ago

Why are people bothered about establishment? It is not Christian!

José Ribeiro
José Ribeiro
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

Power.
Indeed, the illusion of it.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

Err…it has been a fact for most of the church’s history. From the time of Constantine to the French Revolution and well beyond.

José Ribeiro
José Ribeiro
1 year ago

Here, Portugal, when I try to engage a conversation on this topic with local anglicans, they turn pokerfaced, as in the early stages of Parkinson … Catholics (people and local hiearchy) are, by far, more open and gay-supportive. The oficial position of the Roman Church is “ignored”. Gay couples are routinely blessed by friendly priests and the bishops look otherwhere. This is a typical catholic solution, as in the case of contraception: nobody cares about doctrine. Couldn’t you, folks, adopt a similar atitude, a more relaxed one? Sometimes, I think you overworry about doctrine, bishops et al. Jesus matters –… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  José Ribeiro
1 year ago

Indeed so. “But we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own”.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  José Ribeiro
1 year ago

Hallo Portugal, Your post reminded me of the remark by a Jesuit when I was studying as an Anglican at the Gregorian in Rome. “God likes sex, after all his Son was born in the Mediterranean.” It was part of a seminar on marriage issues led by a White Father from Tanzania and a priest from San Francisco. Rather an eye opener re RC practice on the ground. ( And this was 40yrs ago)
I rather think whatever happens in Synod there will be rather similar local solutions here.After all it’s been quietly happening for a while

Kim Wright
Kim Wright
1 year ago

Hoping that any decent and open minded Anglicans will withdraw their financial support from the dioceses of these bishops.

John Bunyan
John Bunyan
1 year ago

It is helpful to have thoughtful responses but I have not been able to access the original statement of these bishops, either via the Church Times link or that of the Thinking Anglicans- only the newspaper summaries. (Only the vertical half of the 1st page appears.) Perhaps some gremlin in my ancient computer but any helpful suggestion welcome.

Peter Owen
Admin
Reply to  John Bunyan
1 year ago

I have found copies of the paper here and here. Perhaps you will have more success with one of these.

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