Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 2 July 2022

Helen King ViaMedia.News “Sickened by our own Magnanimity?”: Good Disagreement, Bad Ecclesiology

Jo Stobart ViaMedia.News Gatecrashing God’s Party: Parish Ministry Today

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Testimony of Witnesses. How do we find the Truth in Safeguarding Cases?

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David Runcorn
David Runcorn
1 month ago

‘I could never have predicted just how much I would love this role.’ How wonderfully refreshing to read of a parish priest, in today’s church, who is so clearly blessed and fulfilled in her ministry. Thank you.  

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

Very helpful article by Helen King, looking at the comparisons in process between the movement towards the ordination of women and LLF.
I think the conservative evangelical constituency will want to claim that ordaining women is not a salvation issue but that permitting same sex acts is. This is the ground upon which the final debate will be conducted.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

It is also the case that SSM revisionists are condemnatory in the language addressed to conservatives in a way that is entirely different to the language used to criticise conservatives who opposed the ordination of women.

Revisionists want people like me put in jail. If you are a reasonable person you can see how that would colour my sense of trust

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Peter I think you over generalise but it is also important to remember that not all that long ago those who engaged in same sex acts were actually put in jail and/or chemically castrated. There are some of the conservative persuasion who wish to re-criminalise same sex acts and/or use illegal means to ‘persuade’ those who are same sex attracted that they are actually no such thing. Reasonable people will see how that colours any sense of trust.

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

Peter is not over generalising. Having a general synod member calling for the prosecution of those who state their support for the Church of England’s current teaching on marriage is hurtful, harmful and damaging. It would be helpful to see other prominent supporters of SSM distancing themselves from such hateful comments. So far I have seen none, so I suspect that they too support such views.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Claiming all ‘revisionists’ want to put all conservatives in jail for their views reads to me like a bit of an over-generalisation, Bob.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

That is obviously not what I was saying.

You have added the category term “all” in order to support a false claim about what I actually said

Bob
Bob
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

I haven’t claimed ‘all’. Please apologise.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

I didn’t say you did Bob. It was Peter who wrote: ‘Revisionists want people like me put in jail.’ The most natural reading of that is a collective viewpoint – hence ‘all’. I am relieved if he didn’t mean that, but he could have made that clearer.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

“Scientists want overweight people to exercise more”. Nobody would interpret that to mean “all” scientists.

My meaning was perfectly clear

You disagree with me and changed what I said to suit your critique.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Peter you wrote. ‘Revisionists want people like me put in jail.’ I am a revisionist (accepting your label). So are many friends and colleagues. I also work within networks supporting the moves toward SSM. None of us even discusses jailing people who disagree with us. Your statement as it stands is simply not true and actually ascribes to people like me opinions I totally reject. For what it is worth Susannah here expresses my own views with her customary grace and clarity.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

I am delighted to hear you do not want those with whom you disagree jailed. You need to tell your MP what you think and encourage all your friends to do the same.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Very hard to comment without knowing to what you are referring.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

“So far I have seen none, so I suspect that they too support such views.” I do not (not that I am prominent). In fact, I’ve heard few people call for prosecution or locking up socially conservative Christians. They (and their conscientious views) have a place in the Church of England. However, they cannot impose those views upon everyone else. Or should not be able to in the future. I think very few people want to lock up socially conservative Christians, just because they disagree with gay sex. Opposition to gay sex is a legitimate theological position which can be… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

The legislation creating the indictable offence to which I referred is currently before parliament.

If you disagree with it – as appears to be the case – then you need to write to your MP and tell him or her to vote down the planned oppressive law. You should also encourage others to do the same.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Peter, please would you clarify exactly which draft UK legislation you are referring to.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

At the time I posted my comment, nobody had mentioned that they were specifically referring to the law with regard to conversion therapy. To be plain about my position, I believe that Christians are entitled to believe that gay sex is wrong (and a sin) and they should neither be criminalised nor removed from the Church of England for those beliefs in themselves. I even believe that a priest/minister should be allowed to preach that gay sex is a sin, in the pulpit. However, with regard to conversion therapy, I am opposed to Christians trying to persuade people – on… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I appreciate your grace and generosity of spirit. For the avoidance of doubt, I believe the only conversion we need is conversion to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. I think the term and the concept of conversion therapy is deeply unhelpful.

My fear is that it has been adopted as a broad and ill-defined category that will do immeasurable harm.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Thanks Peter. Well, I’ve expressed my misgivings about trying to change a person’s sexual orientation if it’s done for doctrinal reasons. However, I take your point about the term ‘conversion’ being used, and I also think things are a bit vague in definition, and I’m not sure the ban will be defined, imposed, policed etc. Can someone pray for a fellow Christian, and ask God to switch their sexual orientation? I can’t see how that can be legislated against. Or… say someone opens up in a house-group: can people join in prayer with the person and openly pray together (presumably… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Susannah, I think perhaps the greatest struggle for many Christians is the strain and cost of singleness and celibacy. It is surely a road we all walk for a time and for many the journey lasts a lifetime. It can and often does involve failure, guilt, shame, self doubt or worse. Grace is the consolation that keeps all of us going on that journey and the certain hope that each morning is a new beginning. I believe there is no distinction between any of us as we travel that road – sometimes for a season, sometimes for a life time.… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Peter, I think you’re absolutely right that much grace is needed if a person leads a celibate life. Grace from God, and grace and appreciation and inclusion from that person’s community. To your list of what that can involve, I’d add loneliness at times but, I suppose, living in community can help? Though even then, seeing others enjoying the privilege of intimate relationships, must also, I suppose, need grace as well. To be clear, I deeply respect those who feel called to a life of celibacy. My own spirituality is rooted in convent life, and what I am given by… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Susannah,

Thank you for your kind and affirming words.

I wish you every blessing.

Peter

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Sorry, you don’t get to be homophobic and then pretend you’re the victim. What’s hateful is the homophobia, not the response to it.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

I haven’t seen homophobia so far in this thread, Jo. I hope we all agree that you can be opposed to gay sexuality on grounds of conscience, based on a theological position that it’s sinful, without being ‘homophobic’. I don’t know Bob from Adam: consequently I have no idea if he is homophobic or not. Nothing posted in this thread so far seems homophobic as far as I can see. Of course, in venn diagram image, there can be an overlap of people who both theologically oppose gay sex, AND are homophobic. But the two are not in my opinion… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I applaud your concern to see everybody treated with respect – including conservative evangelicals. However, your notion that anybody is asking for “violins” demeans the discussion.

We are talking about the indictment, prosecution and potential imprisonment of people for no other reason that their private practice of the christian faith.

That has not happened in this Country for approaching four hundred years.

Its a serious matter and liberals are delusional if they think that once the principle of imprisonment for belief is established it will only ever be applied to people with whom they disagree.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Peter, why do you think that any future legislation that may be tabled by the present government in consequence of the consultation to which you just linked (which is not draft legislation) will lead to imprisonment for anyone on account merely of their holding a particular belief? As opposed to their having taken some specific action.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

The Queen’s Speech delivered (by her eldest son) on 10th May 2022 specified that the Conversion Therapy Bill was part of the government’s legislation for the session. The creation of an indictable offence has also already been specified. In any event, there is no legally restrictive definition of the term “draft legislation”. You are surely “straining on a gnat” if you want to claim there is no substantive issue at stake here. The draft legislation (or legislative proposal if you prefer) establishes no clear boundaries to the definition of what would constitute an offence. I actually agree with you that… Read more »

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

Someone else’s sexuality or gender identity is their own affair and neither you nor anyone else has any business trying to change it.
Doesn’t seem difficult to me. Stick to that and you won’t have a problem.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

I have said not a single word to the effect I think anything should be changed – other than our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

What is your response to someone who is made unhappy by their sexuality or gender identity and wishes to change it?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 month ago

An important question in relation to recognising that some people are troubled by such matters. I wonder if the true answer is that we should find every aspect of our identity in Christ. Whilst life can be an enormous struggle in regard to celibacy and singleness, there can be a false hope in believing the answer lies in gender and sexuality definitions. It is said that “Success is an empty room – when you arrive there is nothing there”. Perhaps the same is true for any and every identity – other than the one we find in the Person of… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 month ago

They need to understand that they cannot change their sexuality or gender identity.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

What you do in private is of course your own business (something conservatives have struggled with as a legal principle over the years). When you enact abuse on another person, which is what conversion “therapy” is, then that is quite rightly the business of the state. That’s not punishing you for your beliefs, you’re free to believe and even say that same-sex sexual activity is sinful. It’s not punishing you for acting on your beliefs either – no-one is going to (legally) force you to have sex with someone of the same sex as you or indeed prevent you either… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

You utterly mis-represent me. I have not said a single word to the effect that conversion therapy should be supported.

The only conversion known to the New Testament is conversion to newness of life in Christ

The term and concept of conversion therapy are pernicious. The issue is its adoption as a completely undefined weapon to outlaw literally anything

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

So you’re jumping at shadows and imagining that support for a ban on conversion “therapy” means something else entirely.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

“Jumping at shadows” ??

Read the Queens Speech and the subsequent legislative proposals.

An indictable offence is a real thing

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Can you provide a link to these subsequent proposals? I’ve missed seeing them.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

You wrote:
Having a general synod member calling for the prosecution of those who state their support for the Church of England’s current teaching on marriage is hurtful, harmful and damaging.

There are thousands of CofE members who support the church of England’s current teaching on marriage. Surely nobody is calling for the prosecution of all these people. Do you mean rather “those who oppose the introduction of new legislation regarding conversion therapy”? The two categories are clearly not identical.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

I think in the end, as I suspect Helen is implying, the outcome of 50 years of logjam on these issues may only come about between people of all views who are willing to be ‘magnanimous’, and exercise the patience of love in relation to one another. In my view the heart of our way out of this endless logjam boils down to one question: “Do I have the right to impose my own conscientious beliefs on somebody else’s conscientious beliefs in a Church of England which is (as a fact) deeply divided on the issues of human sexuality?” And… Read more »

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Unfortunately the proposed solution you suggest (two integrities) will not work. Those in favour of SSM will not be satisfied until all those who disagree with them are driven from the Church of England, and in todays cancel culture those holding a different view will not be tolerated.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Well that hasn’t happened over women priests. And the solution I and others propose *CAN* work. It’s being introduced in the SEC and the Church of Scotland. It’s coming in, in Wales. It can work in England too. Just as the women priests divide accommodated 2 integrities, so ‘Unity in Diversity’ can work over sexuality as well. Stay in the Church if you want to, as long as you don’t think you can impose your views on everyone else. That’s what will not work.

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

It hasn’t worked over women priests. There have been no appointment of bishops who hold to a different theological position. So no mutual flourishing.
As to your comment about imposing my views on everyone else, I am not. I am merely supporting the current teaching of the Church of England. Like any organisation if you don’t like what it stands for, believes or teaches you don’t have to join.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

I don’t understand what hasn’t worked over women priests. There are four suffragan bishoprics (Fulham, Oswestry, Richborough, Beverley) whose sole reason for existence is to provide for traditional catholics, and there are currently three other suffragans (Wakefield, Burnley, Lewes) who are also traditional catholics.There is now, I accept, only one diocesan bishop (Chichester) who is a traditional catholic. As for conservative evangelicals, I accept there is but one bishopric specifically intended to provide for them (now to be renamed Ebbsfleet). And there is the newly announced Standing Commission on the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles.

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

So you finally agree that it’s fine for Anglo Catholics but not for conservative evangelicals! Hence mutual flourishing is NOT working!

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Maidstone was revived specifically for conservative evangelicals. So far that seems to be working, though perhaps you think a second bishopric is justified by the level of demand. What is it that is not working?

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

If mutual flourishing was evident then there would be evidence of conservative evangelicals being appointed as bishops, not just having a post created for them. The evidence you present shows that is not the case. Furthermore you appear to suggest that creating one bishop is enough. A classic case of a token gesture.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

I find myself slightly in agreement with Bob on this subject (though coming at it principally from the catholic male-only priesthood situation)… my understanding was that opponents of women priests would continue to be welcomed and accepted at all levels of Church life… but I felt the treatment of Philip North was frankly harsh, when he was first invited to be Bishop of Sheffield, and then pressured to decline the post. I say that, although I strongly support and recognise the gifts of priests who are women.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Appointing a believer in male headship to lead a diocese where there are female clergy exercising leadership seems like a non-starter. How are women supposed to deal with a boss who doesn’t think they should be allowed to preach, much less be ordained?

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

I have struggled to square the circle of how diocesan bishops who will not ordain women and do not recognise their orders can, with any integrity, share their cure of souls with ordained women. Can anyone explain this to me please? The case is different (probably) with suffragans who do not accept that woman can be ordained.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Mary Hancock
1 month ago

There’s only one such diocesan currently (Chichester) and he chose a woman to be one of his suffragan bishops. That’s even more complicated.

John Sandeman
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

Supporters of some form of male headship do not necessarily believe that women should not preach. An example of this is the Diocese of Sydney where women are licensed to preach.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

There is no draft legislation of the kind you describe that would criminalise SSM before Parliament.

The equivalence your seem to claim exists is entirely spurious

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

I used to be intimidated by the conservative evangelical claim that same sex acts are a salvation issue, and that this somehow had ancient authority and power. No longer. I now realise that claiming same sex ‘acts’ (or ‘making love’ as it is coyly put by those heterosexuals who don’t know how lucky they are to have been created by God in this way) are not a salvation issue. What is an issue, and one that people mostly dare not name, is that homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, racism, etc, are salvation issues, and that people holding these abusive, deeply prejudiced views… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

In short, then, you take the position that people who hold views on sexuality that differ from those you now espouse are “not following the life and teachings of Jesus Christ” but that you are? In there any significant way in which your position is not simply the mirror image of those “prejudiced groups”?

Last edited 1 month ago by Unreliable Narrator
Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 month ago

homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, racism, etc” are demonstrably damaging and drive people from the church when practised by it. Two men or two women expressing their love for each other does neither. That seems a pretty significant difference to me. It’s not enough to say “oh, there are two different views so they must be equal and opposite”, you have to actually look at the substance of the disagreement.

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

“you have to actually look at the substance of the disagreement” … which is exactly why I asked the question. What can be said, for and against, the opinion put forward by Revd Coward on sexuality (I did not ask about gender, women or race) that does not have an exact mirror image in the eyes of those of the opposite opinion? If we can identify those points of difference, then perhaps the discussion can move on. I’m not asserting that the arguments are equal and opposite, I’m asking for details beyond mere assertion that would demnstrate that they are… Read more »

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 month ago

Unreliable Narrator, that some people believe that when two men or two women demonstrate their love for each other sexually it damages them, in my Christian perspective, such people have a very unhealthy, prejudiced view of love and intimacy between people. I do not believe such people should be driven from the church. I do believe that such people have had a very unhealthy impact on my life as a Christian and continue to do so. The Church will not become a more healthy and Christ-like body until it helps people overcome their prejudices and develops a more humane, holistic… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 month ago

Indeed, the opinion has been expressed in these columns that people unable to accept such demonstrations ought to be driven from the church.

By whom? All the evidence is that a small minority will flounce out if not allowed to impose their views on their LGBT siblings. Nobody, in any church that I can think of, expels people for their opinions on LGBT issues. How they treat LGBT people might have consequences, but that’s by no means the same thing.

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 month ago

No, Unreliable Narrator (your pseudonym is well chosen), I did not take the position that I am following the life and teachings of Jesus Christ when others are not. I am suggesting that in the evolution of Christian theology, teaching and practice, which has always evolved in response to human learning and cultural evolution, we are living in a time when Christian teaching is being radically questioned by new understandings of what it means for us to be sexual, gendered persons. This questioning has changed my perspective and understanding of Jesus, his life and teaching. My understanding has been evolving… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

I don’t disagree Colin but was simply trying to discern where the debate will centre when it comes before General Synod.
I suspect we would have been in a very different position had the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading gone ahead. The unhealthy power exercised by Conservative Evangelicals and the turmoil in the Anglican Communion could both have been avoided.

Ann Reddecliffe
Ann Reddecliffe
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

I agree with what Colin says about the effect of the current disputes on LGBTQ+ people. He and I both believe that we do not want a settlement that drives those who think differently from us out of the church. Different views must be respected. One matter that does need to be considered is the current power imbalance between the different views. Currently, those who hold non affirming views can impose their views on others. Those who hold affirming views are not able to be treated equally in living out their understanding of the Gospel. The specific example I will… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Ann Reddecliffe
1 month ago

Referring back to Andrew Godsall’s comment earlier (‘I think the conservative evangelical constituency will want to claim that ordaining women is not a salvation issue but that permitting same sex acts is. This is the ground upon which the final debate will be conducted.’) I am not sure that the power being exerted by those in authority stems from their views of human sexuality but from the CofE’s doctrine. As I see it the ability to ‘control’ others does not reside in the view that a person in leadership has, but in the doctrine from which liturgy and church discipline… Read more »

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