Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 24 February 2021

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News It’s Time to Talk About…Sex!

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Some Reflections on Vocation and the Ravi Zacharias story

Georges Staelens Blogue de Georges Tiny dioceses and bishopped subdeans / Diocèses minuscules et évêques-doyens.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
49 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
5 months ago

Dr Bell gives a splendid example of what I might call the “anarchist” position. I take the description from Chesterton’s Man who was Thursday. The outer ring—the main mass of their supporters—are merely anarchists; that is, men who believe that rules and formulas have destroyed human happiness. They believe that all the evil results of human crime are the results of the system that has called it crime. They do not believe that the crime creates the punishment. They believe that the punishment has created the crime. They believe that if a man seduced seven women he would naturally walk away… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Richard Pinch
5 months ago

Would you care to spell out the supposedly dire consequences that would arise were it not for the imposition of Issues on the CofE’s clergy? And how is it that the Scottish Episcopal Church has managed to avoid them (or have they happened and no-one realised)?

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jo B
5 months ago

No, I wouldn’t. I’m pointing out that Dr Bell writes as if it goes without saying that there are no such consequences, dire (not my word) or otherwise. I would be more impressed by an article that addressed the reasons behind Issues and refuted them, rather just ignoring them, or proceeding as if there had never been any.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Richard Pinch
5 months ago

If you maintain that there are consequences then it is up to you to outline them, otherwise it is reasonable to assume that there are none of any significance. Issues appears to me to be nothing more than a piece of can-kicking by the CofE, one of a long line, whereby they try to placate both gay folk and homophobes and fail at both.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jo B
5 months ago

If you maintain that there are consequences Well, I’m not sure that I did maintain that. My comments were largely about Bell’s article and argument, or lack of it, not primarily about Issues. What I did say was that Bell apparently “takes it for granted that nobody believes in the doctrine it advances, that nobody should believe in it; that nobody is going to abide by the restrictions it requires, and that nobody should abide by them” and my comment was that this is “obviously not so”. I don’t think that requires elaboration. If you disagree with my analysis of… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard Pinch
Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Richard Pinch
5 months ago

You can suggest all you like. I don’t consider straightforward matters of justice “difficult” or “delicate” and if folk don’t like being called homophobes then they can stop being homophobic.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jo B
5 months ago

You say that you consider this a “straightforward matter of justice”. I hope that most people contributing to this discussion here and elsewhere, consider it a “matter of justice” and are looking to do what is just, at least within the limits of human endeavour. There are three groups of people, though. There are those who believe that doing justice is straightforward, and that that the straightforward answer is to do the same thing that you want; there are those who believe that doing justice is straightforward, and that that the straightforward answer is to do the opposite thing to… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard Pinch
Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Richard Pinch
5 months ago

I would use the same formulation about racism, sexism, sectarianism, ableism or transphobia. The handwringing about whether to treat our LGBT brothers and sisters as valued children of God or not has gone on too long, and moaning about language use while backing continued discrimination and mistreatment borders on obscene. There are not two equal and opposite points of view that can be held in good conscience here. Fence-sitting and prevarication in the face of injustice are not Christian responses. Challenging injustice is. I doubt the Pharisees took kindly to being called whited sepulchres either.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jo B
5 months ago

There are not two equal and opposite points of view that can be held in good conscience here.

I disagree: I think it unwise for any of us to assume that we know for certain what another person’s conscience looks like, so on the issue of conscience at least, as Oliver Cromwell said, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.”

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard Pinch
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
5 months ago

Mr Pinch is being otiose. He could say whether or not he agrees with Dr Bell in much simpler terms, who is expressing his opinions, not devising a formula.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

Since “otiose” means, according to my dictionary, “not required, serving no practical purpose”, I’m at a loss to understand the remark, unless of course, it’s simply intended to be an expression of generalised disapproval of me as a person rather than to convey any useful information about me or about my comments on Dr Bell’s argument. I set out to criticise Dr Bell’s article in terms of the argument he presented, and did so. I believe his argument, as far as I understand it, to open the door to fallacious and indeed dangerous views. I drew attention to what I… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard Pinch
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
5 months ago

I don’t disapprove of you personally Dr Pinch but you do have a tendency to be sesquipedalian.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

A discussion of my shortcomings is probably not of great interest to the other readers of this forum: indeed, I’m surprised that you have found them worthy of note. Speaking for myself, of course, I will give your view of them the attention it deserves. The topic under discussion was, as I have said several times by now, Dr Bell’s argument in favour of the abolition of requirements on the clergy relating to sexual conduct. Perhaps we could to return to that? Do you support the argument, and do you think it would be a valid extension to generalise it… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard Pinch
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Your shortcomings are neither here nor there Dr Pinch. You are trying to create a straw man objection for Dr Bell’s support for same-sex marriage. No one – except you – is imagining that clergy should be free to engage in any sexual activity whatsoever. Why won’t you say if you agree with Dr Bell’s conclusions which are more important than dissecting his article to pick an argument which isn’t there?

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

Your shortcomings are neither here nor there Dr Pinch. Quite so. How unfortunate, then that you have found it necessary to refer to them in three consecutive comments. No one – except you – is imagining that clergy should be free to engage in any sexual activity whatsoever. Well, all you have to do to make that case is to identify that part of Dr Bell’s argument which rules that out, either explicitly, or by necessary implication. I think you did not quite understand my comment. Dr Bell’s argument, in my view, would apply equally well, or equally badly, to… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jo B
5 months ago

A supplement, if I may. Another way of looking at Bell’s argument might be as follows. He characterises the Church’s position as being that there are rules about where and when sex is regarded as permissible, and where and when it is not. But, he continues, it is impossible or ridiculous to try to lay down rules about what “sex” actually is, so as to know what it is that is or is not permissible. Since it is impossible to make such a dividing line between sex and not-sex, therefore it is absurd to pretend that there is such a… Read more »

Everard Bone
Everard Bone
Reply to  Richard Pinch
5 months ago

I agree largely with what you say but I would add that Dr. Bell argues, though not in any detail, against a certain view of sex which he sees as underlying issues. Namely the view that sex within a romantic relationship is an add-on and not one of the natural means with which two lovers demonstrate love, commitment and generosity to one another. I wonder if you may appreciate reading the Body of Grace, a beautiful theological essay of Lord Williams which focuses precisely on the meaning of sex as means for God’s grace and its implications for same-sex couples,… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Everard Bone
5 months ago

I think you’re right that Bell is implicitly rejecting that position, and it’s fair to say that Issues takes that view, although “add-on” isn’t quite the word they use. One thing that’s rather odd is that both Issues and Bell pay so little attention to the procreation of children. After all, it’s the first thing we hear about in the BCP service. And I think it’s a point that ought to be more uncomfortable for both the traditional and the new-style view of marriage than it is usually taken to be.

Everard Bone
Everard Bone
Reply to  Richard Pinch
5 months ago

Yes Helen, thank you. I am sure Richard will appreciate it. Re Richard: I must disagree, procreation is a traditionally important element in natural theology and, as you note, it is one of the central aspects of the BCP service and because of this it has had plenty of space in this discussion. It is one of the reasons why Milbank, Blond and the recently passed Scruton – also an admirer of Chesterton as you are – wished for the church to acknowledge the sacramentality of same sex faithful unions with a service to bless them, while keeping marriage traditionally… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Everard Bone
5 months ago

I don’t think we’re disagreeing about the importance of procreation in the theological view of marriage at all: my comment was about the small part it seemed to me that it plays both in Bell’s article and in Issues.

Everard Bone
Everard Bone
Reply to  Richard Pinch
5 months ago

Yes, I think that what above is stated for conservatives is also true for the authors of Issues, that it is worth remembering is a truncated version of a more ‘liberal’ document composed by people who had greatly different views. What I said was: “I think to make a case from procreation is harder for a church that since the 1930s allows for the use of contraception; that has a timid to agnostic position on abortion; and that already officiates marriages between a trans-woman/man and man/woman ‘by birth’ as long as they self identify as straight men and women. Something… Read more »

Jeffrey John
Jeffrey John
Reply to  Everard Bone
5 months ago

The description of marriage as a sacrament derives from Ephesians 5.32, where Paul (or possibly a later Pauline author) calls it a ‘mystery’ (mysterion, later translated into Latin as sacramentum). In Ephesians, as in Colossians and 1 Corinthians, Paul views marriage as holy and a special means of grace because the relationship of totally committed love is an image of the covenant between Christ and the Church. Jesus implies a similar understanding in Mark 10.2-12 and in the parallel passages in Matthew and Luke, though without using the word ‘mystery’ or sacrament’. What makes marriage sacred for Jesus and Paul… Read more »

Everard Bone
Everard Bone
Reply to  Jeffrey John
5 months ago

Thank you for the honour of gracing this conversation. I made my point thinking of the thomist prospective which generally is the one used by the Catholic Church, rather than evangelicals, to argue both against ‘transgenderism’ and against same sex marriage. I do not espouse such a view. At any rate hopefully in a year or so the church will allow us to disagree and stop holding Issues as the greatest thinking on human sexuality ever produced.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jeffrey John
5 months ago

I find the words of Jesus in Mark 10 quite challenging. I remember discussing a report (I forget which) in around 1980 on divorce and being baffled then that the plain words of verse 9 and again verses 11-12 could be explained away, as it seemed to me. In this current argument, again, the plain meaning of verse 6 preceding 7-8 seems to be discounted in the current argument. There’s an increasing tension, too, it seems to me, between the notion of “signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church” and various aspects of a… Read more »

Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Everard Bone
5 months ago

Do you mean ‘The Body’s Grace’, Everard? Online at https://www.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/the-bodys-grace.pdf

Everard Bone
Everard Bone
Reply to  Helen King
5 months ago

Thanks 🙂

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago

Bell’s sex piece. I’ve said it before and I say it again … At the back of the English Book of Common Prayer the Table of Kindred and Affinity sets out who may not marry whom. We need a similar document giving precise details of those anatomical structures which may be apposed in the pursuit of delight and pleasure giving precise details of the maximum acceptable speed, frequency and periodicity of fondling without incurring episcopal censure. The anatomical structures could be listed from head to toe, for example ears, lips, buccal cavity, nipples … down past cloacal derivatives all the way to the… Read more »

Fr Andrew Welsby
Fr Andrew Welsby
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago

I wish there was a ‘like’ button, Stanley. TA seems to have become dreadfully hard going in the last couple of weeks as a handful of newer contributors have (pseudonymously) begun to flood the usually good-hearted exchanges with what are at least tediously contentious (if not quite otiose) comments. (I’m not referring to Froghole et al…)

Father David
Reply to  Fr Andrew Welsby
5 months ago

Yes, a Like button for Jeffrey John’s contribution – which, to my mind, is the most helpful comment on this entire thread. Paris’s gain is St. Alban’a loss.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Fr Andrew Welsby
5 months ago

I suppose it depends on what you want a blog entitled Thinking Anglicans to be. If it’s to be a mutual support club for like-minded people, with a moderator proposing topics for regular readers to voice their unanimous approval or disapproval as an act of group solidarity, then that’s one thing. But if you want it to be “a website for thoughtful contributions to the proclamation of the gospel message”, then that’s another. Surely “a tolerant, thoughtful and understanding exploration of Christian faith” will want to find room for constructive challenge, debate, exploration and better mutual understanding. I quite agree,… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard Pinch
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

In the three or four years or so that I have been acquainted with TA it has been anything but “a mutual support club for like-minded people, with a moderator proposing topics for regular readers to voice their unanimous approval or disapproval as an act of group solidarity”! In fact, more than once things were so personally unpleasant that I decided to take sabbaticals from contributing. I did wonder, however, whether you and Rod Gillis (apologies for not seeking prior permission to say this!) were pulling the legs of the rest of us in your exchanges! Three of our regular… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
4 months ago

Rowland, I cannot speak for Rod Gillis, but I am able to assure you that I said what I meant and meant what I said: there was no element of coordination!

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
4 months ago

Your contributions, Rod, have always been lucid and theologically stimulating and are always a fine example of a ‘thinking’ anglican. New contributers add to the mix, even if their arguments are sometimes utterly incomprehensible!

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

I try not to be offensive, but my initial reaction was to reply to the two gentlemen in question that their erudition was only exceeded by their prolixity – then I thought better of it, and also realised that I had created a red herring in confusing discussion on this thread – actually none involving Rod Gillis – with an earlier one.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
4 months ago

I don’t think you have commented on this thread until now. In my twilight years I confused this with your discussion with Richard Pinch on an earlier thread where others commented – I have to say less gently and without receiving a rebuke. I think we have met before on TA, in the context of a discussion of the real meaning of the miracle of the Wedding at Cana, but if my memory has failed me about that as well, I apologise.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fr Andrew Welsby
4 months ago

TA has been rather ill-tempered for some months past. I’m not the only one who has considered leaving because of it – and some have actually left. More courtesy and good humour would be welcome.

Stanley’s ‘Modest Proposal’ above is a good example of making a point without attacking someone personally.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Janet Fife
4 months ago

Please don’t leave, Janet! Let the pompous be pompous, the naughty be naughty, the prefects be prefects – and have a good laugh. If I’ve not attacked anyone personally it’s only because I’ve managed to restrain myself – and I am not given to poise and moderation. In the end the silly business of the C of E is of absolutely no import to the affairs of the world, or even the English except to provide something to laugh at or marvel at (in the wrong way) or – as the vast majority do – ignore. Comfort the disturbed and… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

Let me add my plea to Stanley’s. Please don’t leave. I find your contributions both here and elsewhere of great value. I don’t post very often and I am more reluctant to do so at the moment. Your point about courtesy and good humour should be noted by all of us. Stanley, I think you meant ‘Modest’. An important and powerful work. Many years ago I taught it to a group of students who were outraged by Swift’s savage irony. They didn’t like tricks being played on them. Swift would have been pleased by their outrage. I think the ill-temper… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
4 months ago

Daniel, I did of course mean modest not most. Dratted autocorrect and my failure to check before posting. Swift was an angry man, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with anger – indeed it’s laudable when directed aright. When it’s not, if turned inward for example, it leads to cancer, heart disease, neurosis, psychosis and much more. I am not a physically violent man, too cowardly, but God knows I sometimes wish I were. As you say, there is much to be angry about at present, and what really sets me alight is the bare-faced hypocrisy of those in power… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

there is absolutely nothing wrong with anger

And yet Wrath is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Or the Seven Merry Peccadilloes, as I suppose we must learn to call them. What were they again? Ah yes, Pride, Greed, Lust, Avarice, Envy, Wrath, Sloth. The true foundations of modern society.

I wonder whatever happened to the Seven Cardinal Virtues, Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Fortitude, Faith, Hope and Charity? Living quietly in a Home for the Old-Fashioned, I suppose, together with their relatives Patience, Diligence and Humility, and their friends, Truth and Beauty,

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Pinch
Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

Professor Monkhouse, perhaps clergy whose services have been dispensed with as priest and pastor could apply to be constables in the diocesan pleasure police. Presumably there will be a lot of nightshifts involved observing the rustling of the flannelette sheets in parsonages and curates accommodation from the Scilly Isles up to Pity Me in Co. Durham. As you know Stan I am as gay as a daisy, but I’m also a delicate petal and I fear that I do not have the stomach for a job in this new constabulary. If I may, I think I’ve also spotted a flaw… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
4 months ago

Splendid suggestions Fr. I’m a complete innocent in these matters, but I’m sure that those more worldly than we will see even more holes in my cunning plan and suggest suitable strategies for plugging them. I omitted to consider how offences might be penalised (one can’t cover everything, as the actress said to the purple headed mountain), but Holy Scripture is a repository of surgical procedures that could be models. Two particular favourites are (1) those mentioned in Deuteronomy 23, and (2) that used by Jael whose anatomical knowledge of the pterion is noteworthy. Readers may be interested to read… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
4 months ago

From a Roman Catholic perspective, we seem too to have similar hang up about Sex and focusing on Sexual Sin, Recently I was looking at the Guide the Administrator at the Cathedral I worship has prepared to help people prepare for Confession on the back of the guide is a List of Questions for self Examination and two questions are asked 1.” Have I entertained Sexual thoughts about women?” 2. “Have I Masturbated?” I was telling a friend of mine about this in a phone conversation and she was horrified and felt it was stepping back in time to the… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
4 months ago

Do you think there might be a connexion between the question about sexual thoughts and Matthew 5:28?

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

I think you are right here Richard! However I think in Drawing up self examination lists for Confession, especially in public places, like a Cathedral or a large Parish Church , Parish Priests, need to act with pastoral sensitivity and not in a prying way, otherwise it could have the affect of putting off people from going to Confession, or making them decide to shop around for their Confessions and avoid our Cathedral as a Place of Confession, one of the self examination Questions for Confession on this same Self examination list I mentioned gets even worse and too close… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
4 months ago

I’m not familiar with the practice of any church around personal confession, but would have assumed that self-examination as a preliminary to confession, whether personal or general, was an entirely private function? Looking at a couple of lists provided, I found one with 99 questions, 11 of which referred directly to sexual matters. Is that so disproportionate?

Incidentally, on “‘Have I ever lied to a Priest in Confession by not disclosing Mortal Sins?’ (ie certain Sexual Sins)” — are all Mortal sins sexual? Or all sexual sins Mortal? That wasn’t my understanding.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Just to follow up with a statistical summary: sexual matters account for 13% of commandments (VII and part of X) and 14% of Deadly Sins (1 out of 7). Occurring in 11% of pre-confession questions seems quite in keeping.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

In my own Church Richard, the Roman Catholic Church, we generally preferer to call Confession, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the emphasis being not just on Reconciliation with God and his Church but also with a neighbour too. In Modern Practice since Vatican 2, the penitent coming to confession has a choice of either using the Box for anonymity or doing a face to face Confession with the Priest, The Church has tried to move away from Legal Repentance to Evangelical Repentance that is a response to the Love of Christ in the Gospel. A lot of Priests too are trying… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
4 months ago

Ah, that’s very interesting, thanks.

49
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x