Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 19 January 2019

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Being who I am

Malcolm Doney and Martin Wroe Church Times Is Christian language to blame for falling church attendance?

Terence Handley MacMath interviews Natalie Collins, gender-justice specialist for Church Times
‘Christianity should be at the forefront of gender justice, but it isn’t’

Kelvin Holdsworth What’s in Kelvin’s Head How shall we pray for our elected representatives?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Survivors of Sexual Abuse in Churches – further reflections

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Tim Chesterton
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Re. the piece by Malcolm Doney and Martin Wroe, just a correction: It’s quite a while since Jonathan Merritt has been a pastor. He left the pastorate some time ago and now works exclusively as a writer and journalist. And a very good one, too.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Regarding Downey and Wroe’s article, I am reminded of the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel always; when necessary, use words.”

crs
Guest
crs

Except, as is commonly known, they are not his words. Franciscans, with Francis as model, were preachers and they used words. Many many words. More like Billy Sunday, wandering from village to village. The closest thing to this debunked bromide is “No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister … All the Friars … should preach by their deeds.” The concern was with proper authority and form. “Preach the Gospel always; when necessary, use words” is found nowhere in his writings. It is a bit… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
Guest
Michael Mulhern

Downey and Wroe’s article is very welcome and I hope it will encourage others to challenge the proliferation of ‘in-house’ speak that, ironically, invades our ham-fisted attempts at mission. Bonhoeffer, in his prison cell, warned us against retreating into a linguistic ghetto if we have any desire to see the Church renewed: ‘The time when people could be told everything by means of words, whether theological or pious, is over, and so is the time of inwardness…’ And more tellingly for our current context: ‘We all know that Christ has been eliminated from our lives. Of course we build him… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“the community where I met boys I fancied”

I fully support same sex marriage but when Coward says this he crosses a line for me..Accepting same sex marriage should not become an avenue whereby we make lust acceptable – for me the Bible is clear that it isn’t.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Kate can’t be serious. Many people have met lifelong spouses through attending Church. I remember a couple in my confirmation class who I could see fancied each other. I later had the pleasure of marrying them. Would Kate suggest marrying someone you didn’t ‘fancy’? A recipe for disaster I would think.

John Wallace
Guest
John Wallace

Sorry Kate, I don’t agree with the way you interpret what Colin has said. One of the reasons that many of us (heterosexual boys) went to church youth groups was that there were girls we ‘fancied’ who also attended. Nothing to do with lust but just what teenagers did (even in the early 60s!) – a safe place to explore making relationships. Occasionally these relationships developed into something long term, usually they didn’t. Colin is sharing the same experience from his gay perspective – not lust but equally the way in which relationships might evolve or not.

Kate
Guest
Kate

It’s just as wrong if heterosexual.

The reason for allowing same sex marriage is that all Christians should be gender agnostic in their choice of marriage partner, which should instead be based on personal, non-physical characteristics (eg the other’s love of God) and not ‘fancying’, lust, sexual attraction or sexual orientation.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

The human race would soon come to an end if sexual attraction was to play no part in our behaviour.. This argument is biological, sexual and theological nonsense.

David Rowett
Guest
David Rowett

Isn’t there something in the BCP about natural affections being directed aright…?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Good heavens! If the Lord didn’t want sexual attraction to be part of human nature, why did he give it to us?

Kate
Guest
Kate

He didn’t – sexual attraction was part of the Fall.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I’m sorry, I’m not a literalist when it comes to Genesis.

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

Without which, none of us human beings would be here, the worldwide population having been permanently fixed at two.
Without which, Christianity would not have the events associated with the ministry and execution of Jesus of Nazareth, Jews would not have the law, the prophets, and the writings, Islam would not have the revelation to Mohammed.
There would be no pollution — and no priceless paintings.
There would be no environmental pollution — and no scientific discoveries.
There would be no poverty — and no higher aspirations for ourselves and our posterity.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

er … ‘may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love’? So Proverbs 5.19 (and the Song of Songs presumably) is encouraging us to celebrate fallen passions?

Kate
Guest
Kate

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.“ Matthew 5:28 is very clear. Look at a woman (or man!) before marriage with sexual desire and that is adultery. Until married, sexual desire, fancying, sexual attraction and sexual orientation must be set aside. “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” John in 2:16 explains why. That sexual attraction or fancying is worldly temptation to distract you from what… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Whatever one thinks of Kate’s extreme views, she certainly has the ability to provoke outraged discussion on this site!

Jill Armstead
Guest
Jill Armstead

Kate is only reminding you what scripture says. Or perhaps like so many Anglicans, you interpret scripture to satisfy your lifestyle. Good for you Kate for speaking out. I go further and cannot agree that holy scripture, tradition or reason condones same sex marriage.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

If one is not attracted to another person by physical appearance, how does he/she ever get well enough acquainted with that person to even know “their love of God and how a union could improve your worship and service of the Lord”? Without physical attraction, every other person we meet is simply the same…we have no inspiration to know them better.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Good grief!

Richard
Guest
Richard

It’s not possible to “fancy” someone based on their love of God?

Colin Coward
Guest

Kate, I had no idea how to respond to your post when I first read it. I’m grateful to those who have reacted to your comment, and to your own further comments. Fancying people is something human beings do all the time. I’m simply astonished that you equate this with lust. I’m astonished at your biblical literalism (except when it comes to Jesus and lust, when it seems Jesus included men when he named women, and astonished that you expect people to fall in love rationally. There is nothing rational about love for another person or about love for God.… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I don’t agree, Colin, that it is Biblical literalism. I suggest it is in fact something very simple. Do we choose partners based on transient, earthly attributes such as their sex, whether they are physically attractive, whether they make us laugh or their social standing or eternal, heavenly attributes such as how much their lives are centred on God and their selflessness for the people round them. It is one of the most important decisions in our lives so it is one of the key ways we show the Lord whether we are His disciple or whether we indulge our… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

But until you get to know the person, how do you know any of that? And how do you choose which people, out of all the myriad random people in your life, to get to know well enough? You can’t just walk up to someone and ask, “Excuse me, how often do you pray?” and if the answer is sufficient, say, “How would you like to have dinner with me?” Physical attraction is how we make those choices, for the most part. And I don’t limit “physical attraction” to “Boy, she’s cute!” It might also be “Boy, she’s funny!” or… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

The Parable of the Feast at the start of Matthew 22 indicates that there are two stages to salvation. Simply responding to the King’s invitation and attending is insufficient: He requires us to show Him respect by changing. I think this is an hugely important passage because when Jesus here talks of salvation – and there can be no doubt that is the focus of the parable – there is no mention of sin. Indeed, the riff raff from the streets invited by the servants might include cutthroats, thieves and whores but all are equally welcome. But, rather than sin,… Read more »

RosalindR
Guest
RosalindR

I think George Eliot dealt brilliantly with marrying someone for their perceived mind and piety when she wrote about Dorothea’s marriage to Casaubon in ‘Middlemarch’. It was not a happy marriage.

Kate
Guest
Kate

According to some surveys, on average men have nearly 12 sexual partners and, for Scripture, the number of failed sexual relationships is what matter not the divorce rate per se.

So, when fancying rules the roost, there is over a 90% failure rate.

Susannah Clark
Guest

I fancy Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy). I fancy Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth). I fancy Mhairi Black (MP). When I am going shopping or travelling on a train, I often see butch women I fancy. The other day I met a lesbian woman who I fancied a lot, and we chatted and flirted for half an hour over coffee, and we both felt relaxed and happy. Sexuality is so lovely. It is a gift that God has given us. Being honest, I am not just attracted to people’s minds. Sometimes the attraction is strongly physical and a complete delight. Does… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

Hope you and Kate can work this all out.

Fr John Emlyn Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Emlyn Harris-White

I still remember 70 years ago in my early teens the joy and sadness of making relationships work. The attraction was made up of many reasons. Some took off, and then cooled for various reasons, and then my mother got a bunch of flowers. A sign that a relationship was over. From an early age I knew that relationships with my own sex was more satisfying, and safe. They lasted, and many became good friends, I could trust. Much later in life did I enter a Civil Partnership, which was God’s gift to each of us. He is reading down… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Fr John, that’s a very moving account. Thank you for sharing.

david Rowett
Guest
david Rowett

I suppose Gen 1:28 (‘before the fall’ if one is in to that sort of theology) is an instruction to see to the raspberry canes and take up mathematics as a past-time……

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Now THAT is a very good point.

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

Colin: ‘But did I believe? Did I not believe? No one asked. The question wasn’t of concern to the congregation or the vicar.’ This hits the nail on the head for me, and suggests that your childhood church was a much more positive experience than you sometimes seem prepared to admit! I suppose that I am a fairly traditional, ‘orthodox’ believer in many ways, but I have never felt that intellectual assent to any doctrine or creed is essential to being a Christian. For me, and I suspect for you, and probably the majority of Christians world-wide and millennia-wide, it’s… Read more »

Colin Coward
Guest

Ah David, we share a common interest in my childhood church! In the picture I found recently of me standing in front of the vicar of St Barnabas at the age of eleven or twelve, my face is shining brightly. I’m clearly very happy. St Barnabas was a very healthy second home for me for the first three decades of my life. Via St Barnabas I was introduced to personalities and ministries in the diocese of Southwark that added to the foundations laid by my home parish. Reading your comment that you ‘have never felt that intellectual assent to any… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I am in general sympathy with Doney and Wroe’s article; I do believe that we use too much jargon. But I would just like to raise another viewpoint, for the sake of good discussion. I just finished reading Alan Kreider’s excellent book ‘The Patient Ferment of the Early Church’. Alan (a Mennonite scholar at AMBS in Elkhart, Indiana and former director of the London Mennonite Centre, who died a year or two ago) describes in great detail how the early church did not go to a great deal of trouble to make it easy for people to become Christians. They… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

I have long described the process of sharing the faith (preaching, evangelism, raising children, all if them) as a “translation” issue. God is consistent. The truth of the Gospel is consistent. Human language changes, and we must regularly translate that anew for a different language and a different generation. That’s not simply across nations. I encourage considering the story of John Wesley and the Oysterman sermon (you can find that here), when the translation was across class and professional “languages,” and the Gospel was preached. Certainly, simply changing our jargon will not by itself bring folks streaming in. Speaking the… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“…whether we might be under the false impression that if we all just changed the language we used, people would come flocking back to church.”

AMEN. This simplistic idea haunts so much recent thinking in the light of decline in attendance. Thank you. The references to the early church are both factually accurate and true to the reality of Christian conversion.