Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 18 September 2021

Giles Fraser UnHerd Only chaos can redeem the Church
“God save our parishes from people with MBAs”

Church Times The love affair with the parish — has it ended?
Madeleine Davies, in part two of her study, looks at the forces for its retention and abandonment

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Purposeful Sexuality – naive, dangerous ideas about LGBTIQ+ and straight identities

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Helen King
Helen King
1 month ago

I’m with Giles here: the parishes as “small, semi-independent pockets of half-organised goodness”.

Last edited 1 month ago by Helen King
Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Giles Fraser’s article is pertinent and timely. As a Church we are operating at the end of a 50-year period where a highly contentious issue – human sexuality – has been kept in an imposed top-down ‘status quo’… an imposition of one group’s conscience upon another group’s conscience… and the issue has fungated and grown more and more divisive, and yes, the ‘top’ assumes that ‘control’ must be maintained from above, but in actuality, control has been spinning out into spontaneous communities of conviction in the parishes, and where organic community has just increasingly shrugged off the LLF initiatives, and… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
1 month ago

It is shocking that churches are allowed to teach the mumbo-jumbo outlined by Colin Coward. We are bidden to love our neighbours as ourselves. When self-hating gay men are placed in positions of responsibility in evangelical parishes, they can only spread hatred towards others they dislike as much as themselves To despise one’s sexuality based on the example of an imaginary couple in the Book of Genesis is bizarre. It is hoped that if this dangerous nonsense is widespread in the Diocese of London, and beyond, the numerical decline of the CofE is hastened without delay.

Last edited 1 month ago by FrDavidH
Kate
Kate
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

I am one of the few TA regulars who is willing to entertain the possiblity that the Genesis creation story can be read literally, so it is perhaps appropriate for me to take issue with Ed’s argument (as stated by Colin Coward). If Adam and Eve’s marriage is a model of virtue to the exclusion of homosexual relationships, then equally incestuous marriages (Cain and Abel married their sisters – and Eve is Adam stripped of a Y chromosome) are, by the same logic, the ideal to the exclusion of non-incestuous marriages. Reductio ad absurdum. Even if Genesis is read as… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Kate
Richard
Richard
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

Are you confusing “immaculate conception” with “virgin birth”?

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Richard
1 month ago

I am indeed.

Bob Edmonds
Bob Edmonds
1 month ago

Colin Coward writes: “Those of us who dare to enjoy sex in our youth, dare to enjoy sex outside marriage, dare to enjoy sex as LGBTIQ+ people, married or unmarried, are inflicting on God pain time and time and time again, according to Ed, because of our sexual unfaithfulness. This idea, of course, arises from infantile, ignorant Christian teaching and creates guilty, neurotic, unhealthy and often abusive personalities.”

The 10 commandments says:
“You shall not commit adultery.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭20:14‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Bob Edmonds
1 month ago

They also say we shouldn’t covet another man’s ox or donkey. Do you think clergy should bring this to everyone’s attention?

Bob Edmonds
Bob Edmonds
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

Yes! Covetousness is as much as sin. I would hope that all clergy do along with all of God’s commands and promises. Although the Bishop of Manchester thought that the adultery of a government was just a fling!

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

At a church where I played the organ some years ago, the Vicar did, every Sunday, included in all ten.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Bob Edmonds
1 month ago

Bob, I think one needs to exercise care and precision when critiquing an article. You raise the issue of adultery, but nowhere does Colin mention adultery. Also, it’s likely that 95-99.9% of men have committed adultery, based on Jesus’s definition that you commit adultery if you even look at a woman with lustful feelings (or fantasise about her). I think Bob, let the one who is without sin throw the first stone? And yes, adultery is serious, not merely because of any sexual issue, but because of fidelity and trust in covenant relationships. Nor will I climb any moral high… Read more »

Bob Edmonds
Bob Edmonds
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I was asked if I would draw to people’s attention other commandments. Which of course the church should. I mentioned adultery to highlight the fact that a bishop in the Church of England clearly believes that breaking a commandment was no big deal, thus illustrating the fact that some church leaders have a low view of God’s commands. Just because we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, it does mean that I should not comment on an article. Commenting on an article is not “casting the first stone” although you clearly have judged me.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Bob Edmonds
1 month ago

Bob, at the point that you posted your comment, you had not yet been asked that. You initiated the reference to commandments (and specifically adultery) in this thread. No-one else had raised it. And I was responding to your post, not to any subsequent comments by others. Colin’s post is about the Church’s handling of gay and lesbian sexuality. It has nothing to do with adultery (fidelity) which is a different issue. Clearly, gay and lesbian people are just as capable of fidelity as straight couples. Therefore I was confused why you (out of the blue) chose to bring adultery… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Actually Colin does encourage adultery, even though he doesn’t use the word. As you rightly point out, even looking at someone lustfully if you are not married to them is adultery. There is a separate conversation to be had as to whether sex outside of marriage is acceptable, but I think it is unhelpful to conflate that debate with the discussion as to whether same sex marriages are acceptable.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kate
David Keen
David Keen
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

‘let the one who is without sin thrown the first stone’ – agreed, but that has to cut both ways. Either nobody can critique anyone’s ideas or points of view (which isn’t what Jesus meant), or Colin Coward’s piece is as open to critique as Ed Shaw’s book. We perhaps ought also to critique a culture which is so sex obsessed that lifelong celibacy seems unthinkable and repressive.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  David Keen
1 month ago

Life-long celibacy, freely chosen, can be liberarating and fulfilling for a minority. But Ed Shaw thinks that for ALL LGBT people it should be compulsory. That’s repressive.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  David Keen
1 month ago

It’s not that lifelong celibacy is unthinkable, but that imposing that way of life, requiring people to repress their sexuality, is by nature repressive. The fact that it is only ever advocated for gay people (as opposed to taking such a vow as a choice on entering religious life) makes it blatantly homophobic.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  David Keen
1 month ago

“We perhaps ought also to critique a culture which is so sex obsessed that lifelong celibacy seems unthinkable and repressive.”
 
I agree. I suspect Sigmund Freud would have observations to make as to why some people bridle at lifelong celibacy but see monasticism (which incorporates celibacy) as virtuous. There is, however, a distinction to be made between celibacy as a joyous sacrifice to the Lord and abstinence because a gay person sees homosexual sex as sinful. The reason for conduct matters, I suggest. Sacrifices are supposed to be our best, not something we don’t value.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kate
Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  David Keen
1 month ago

David, I was commenting on Bob’s introduction of adultery, which seemed to me to be irrelevant the rightness or wrongness of gay and lesbian sexuality (what Colin was focussing on). To be clear, I absolutely believe Bob has a right to his opinions and comments. That doesn’t, of course, mean they are always given a ‘free pass’ and zero response, but yes – as you say – anyone has a right to critique an article. We are not living in North Korea. With regard to our culture being incapable of respecting celibacy, I suggest to you that many people may… Read more »

Helen King
Helen King
1 month ago

Re Colin’s blog, I’ve never really understood Living Out. Ed Shaw goes for no sexual relationships and backs this up by some unusual theology in which he is somehow getting a sense of what God feels like when we reject him. Others say they are same-sex attracted but have chosen to marry someone of the opposite sex. How does that differ from being bi? Am I missing something?

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Helen King
1 month ago

Being “post-gay” is a phrase fashionable in some evangelical circles. They believe their belief in God’s Word defines them as men, not their homosexuality. They reject the labels (such as bi) being placed upon them. Thus a gay man can, in reality, marry a woman in accordance with God’s Word Written. It’s sad for the wives, of course, whose husbands continue to fancy men.

Andy
Andy
Reply to  Helen King
1 month ago

If you are interested, then let those in living out explain. There are many articles and videos on their site which explore these and other questions for example https://www.livingout.org/resources/articles/41/isnt-the-christian-sexual-ethic-harmful-and-repressive

Living out would not use phrases like ‘post gay’ as they are against the concept of a ‘gay cure’.
https://www.livingout.org/resources/articles/7/does-living-out-support-gay-cure-or-reparative-therapy

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Andy
1 month ago

Post-gay does not refer to a “gay cure”. Post-gay is a perspective whereby someone with same-sex attraction decides not to form their sexual identity around their sexual orientation. Peter Ould, of Living Out is “post-gay” , having married a woman despite being homosexual. https://www.peter-ould.net/2012/04/14/post-gay-faqs/

Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Andy
1 month ago

Thank you Andy. I went on to the site a while back but it didn’t answer my questions. Is this about choosing the label one thinks best fits one’s own sexuality – gay, same-sex attracted, post-gay, bi – with some of those, but not others, being acceptable to a Christian?

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Andy
1 month ago

Firstly, Andy, I respect your right to hold the view you do, and to do so in fidelity to God, based on your understanding. Secondly, *some* people are indeed called to lives of celibacy. I have close association with 2 convents and I assure you I respect celibacy as something some people feel called to. I have visited your first link and these are my thoughts: You say people’s “fear for me is that the Christian sexual ethic will do me harm and cause me to be repressed.” In your individual case that may or may not be the case.… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Thank you Susannah. You have said what I would like to have said but with much more clarity and compassion. Perhaps I could add one thing from my own experience, having lived a celibate life myself (as a gay man in the Royal Navy when homosexuality was illegal). Living celibately is possible for many years, especially when young. Then, unless you have a real vocation for celibacy, it is after a decade or two, when you see your friends and colleagues moving into a marriage and companionship denied to you, that the loneliness kicks in, followed by a risk of… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Very interesting about age. (1) How are people defining celibacy? There are at least two definitions, one of which does not necessarily imply abstinence. (2) I note that the enthusiasts for abstinence on the various evangelical websites are nearly all young(ish) males. My impression is, as Simon implies, that as one matures, one becomes less censorious about what people do with their genitals and more enthusiastic about compassion and companionship. (3) Sex is the driving force of us all, despite what some commentators say. We sublimate this innate animal urge into myriad forms, some of which are harmful to individual… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
1 month ago

As I reflect on this discussion I am struck by the absence of one specific word, and that absence reflects the paucity of most Christian debate on sexuality That word is “love”. In this thread the word love appears only once, in the context of love thy neighbour. The word sex appears 32 times. Similarly in Andrew Blunt’s webpage linked elsewhere in this discussion, the word sex appears 67 times and love 4. I would argue that there are two separate but interlocking human drives, the drive or need to love and the drive or need to have sex. The… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Simon Dawson
Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

I think part of the problem is that the opponents of lesbian and gay relationships have ‘uber-sexualised’ the sex part as if it exists in isolation when two people are attracted to each other and grow in relationship. In arguing against these relationships, ‘sex’ is isolated and then ruled out because it is for the mechanical purposes of reproduction only. In millions of relationships, this is clearly not so. It’s just not a reality. Most people get married because they love each other, and want to share their lives together, to love, to cherish, to sacrifice, because of that mutual… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Thank you, Simon.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Thank you for what you have written here.

Michael
Michael
Reply to  Richard
1 month ago

My thanks also, Simon. I married in my mid sixties just before Lockdown One. We met through the generosity of a priest who organised church holidays in his spare time. The Principles of the Anglican Franciscans (TSSF) define the spirit of chastity as seeing others as belonging to Christ, rather than as a means to self fulfilment. The Principles come from a form of radical Churchmanship which had tired of preaching colonial Anglicanism in Poona, India, in the 1930’s. The result was a set of ideals based on showing love and living in faithful fellowship to make Christ real to… Read more »

Andy
Andy
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

First off, I am not Andrew Blunt … I directed to the living out site as often people talk about living out in these comments without reference to what they actually believe and live out. I would agree that there are issues but think that the solution is to be found elsewhere, the issue I believe is that singleness has not been celebrated and valued as it should be and single people have not been recognised and supported within the church community. Society has spent years telling people that sex is a requirement for a happy fulfilled life which become… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Andy
1 month ago

Andy, many thanks for your response. I agree with nearly everything that you say. The church has not been good at promoting singleness as chosen vocation, and such people can feel a bit left out in many churches where the family is the primary lifestyle offered. So I applaud any move to improve that. But I believe that singleness is appropriate for only certain people. Those who can flourish following such a vocation. It should not be imposed on others for whom a same sex relationship would be much more appropriate, simply because of the church’s disapproval of same sex… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Andy
1 month ago

Why on earth would any reasonable Christian look for guidance about singleness to a website run by fundamentalist extremists who believe physical relationships are confined to married, straight men and women? Of course single people are equal to everyone else. That is not the issue. A ‘straight’ single person has the possibility of marrying someone if the opportunity arises. And they remain ‘valued’ if they don’t. According to Living Out, that choice is closed to gay people, and remaining single is imposed upon them. Living Out is inhabited by gay people who have to remain single because they haven’t accepted… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Andy
1 month ago

“the issue I believe is that singleness has not been celebrated and valued as it should be…” Fair point. The trouble is the article is not just saying that singleness should be celebrated. It’s saying that intimate gay and lesbian sexuality is sinful, and all gay and lesbian people MUST be celibate for the rest of their lives. At least, if they don’t, then they are doing wrong in the eyes of god and the Church. Andrew Bunt (and I apologise that I, too, mistook you for this fellow) is defending his own sense of call to celibate life (something… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Andy
1 month ago

Looking again at that ‘Living Out’ website, and specifically at the latest blog post by Ed Shaw, giving guidelines for youth workers, I admit I feel dismay when he tells them to “articulate the Christian view that a same-sex romantic or sexual relationship is morally wrong and harmful”. I think of Lizzie Lowe, by all reports a lovely caring Christian teenager… who was a committed Christian and also lesbian in her sexual orientation… but the Church taught her she was morally wrong and at odds with God… and tragically, she could not resolve that conflict and took her life. So… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Susannah Clark
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Are churches like these even safe places for children and formative youth to attend? I think they are, from experience, but it does concern me deeply.”
I couldn’t disagree, more Susannah. When young people are being taught that their very self, as sexual beings, is morally wrong and sinful, it is a horrible form of child abuse. Any evangelical minister spreading such harmful propaganda should be brought to the attention of Safeguarding Officers and barred from preaching forthwith. Any other organisation – a school, for instance – would be reported to the police, prosecuted and closed down.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

I admit I may be wrong to be so hesitant, Father David. You know I have expressed the reasons it worries me. I have said enough about that. It’s just that my family and my children have been so well-served by our local evangelical church – my children brought up with so much love from that church community – that I hesitate to be black and white, even though I believe the teaching is gravely mistaken. It feels like a very extreme thing to brand them ‘unsafe’. But I guess you could counter that that is a case of ‘I’m… Read more »

Nigel
Nigel
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

Always sceptical of those who can’t win the argument intellectually, but resort to law or regulation to do so – what an unsatisfactory and easy way out?

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Nigel
1 month ago

Don’t be silly, Nigel. Harming children should be illegal. That is not intellectually unsatisfactory.

Paul
Paul
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

Hi Fr David,

Do you think that any churches using the Book of Common Prayer have ever been or could ever be safe?

(Given BCP’s teaching regarding sexual morality.)

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Paul
1 month ago

I agree that Living Out members haven’t heard that human knowledge and understanding has progressed since 1662. Evangelicals attending a 1662 Eucharist are quite safe since it’s not about gay sex.. People tend not to opt for the BCP Marriage Service which compares the bride and groom to “brute beasts”. Why would any bride getting married like being compared with a cow?

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

Sentamu did not shy away from that comparison IIRC.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

Quite right. He compared our future Queen with a cow. But he is a conservative evangelical.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

If you describe Bishop Sentamu and people like him as ‘conservative evangelicals’, you will need to admit that there are many conservative evangelicals who rejoice in the ordination of women. But I would think that would be a blow to your narrative of oppression and hatred.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Paul
1 month ago

I have often been to churches which use BCP and have never felt endangered by it.

Father David
Reply to  Kate
26 days ago

This morning I attended a 1662 celebration of Holy Communion in a small country church. The celebrant was an 88 year old retired clergyman with wonderful diction. It felt as though God Himself was presiding at the altar – absolutely wonderful.

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