Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 28 November 2018

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Entitlement. Power and its shadow in the Church

Mark Vernon Christian Today The idea of a male God is deep-rooted – but wrong

Jeremy Morris ViaMedia.News Spinning the Stats – Are We Too Defensive to Really Listen?

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity Listening with love: sex, gender and mutual flourishing with Evangelicals

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Chip ChillingtonStanley MonkhouseLaurie RobertsJayKay8peterpi - Peter Gross Recent comment authors
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dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

Peers talks about going to an evangelical conference in the UK. One of the speakers was Professor Stanton Jones of Wheaton College in the US. (Peers’ academic work apparently largely deals with his disapproval of gay and lesbian people.) Peers says, “In the questions afterwards one member of the audience asked about the apparent unfairness by which heterosexual people have two choices, marriage or celibate singleness but lesbian and gay people (in common with everyone at both events, and conservative Evangelicals generally, he spoke of people ‘who experience same-sex attraction’ rather than use the identity language of gay, lesbian or… Read more »

Neil Jeffers
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Neil Jeffers

Though Vaughan Roberts, who hosted the day and gave the opening address, is in exactly that situation: a man who says he experiences exclusively same-sex attraction but is committed to living a celibate single life, because he believes the Bible’s teaching requires that: not expecting anything of others that he is not doing himself.

Laurie Roberts
Guest
Laurie Roberts

This is surely, something of a non sequitur- so a celibate gay man expects other gay men to be celibate too- so what ? Lgbt are mainly oppressed by straight men in positions of power in Church and State – who are anything but celibate !

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

Sorry. I misspoke in one respect. In the first paragraph, I meant to say that Jones’, not Peers’, academic work apparently largely deals with his disapproval of gay and lesbian people. My apologies to Peers.

Laurie Roberts
Guest
Laurie Roberts

I feel this item I am linking in, is so relevant to various discussion and contributions here, and perhaps particularly to Fr. Peers’s piece and dr.primrose’s : schools, education, sexuality and faith. So here it is – thank you :

https://www.advocate.com/youth/2018/11/27/gay-teens-coming-out-catholic-school-assembly-goes-viral?fbclid=IwAR1vtQyP6h-MKrktdYU-o1iys6l3k0L_E0aBmFRO2SixCRtr0q7IZrl4vCw

Susannah Clark
Guest

My views on why an exclusively male understanding of God can be harmful: http://www.godde.com/goddeandgender.htm

And following on from Saturday’s thread, for anyone who would like to read more on this subject, I’ve written a summary/review of Elizabeth Johnson’s ‘She Who Is’: http://www.godde.com/shewhois.htm

Kate
Guest
Kate

If femaleness was part of God, then Mary would have been unnecessary. It is important to remember that when Jesus spoke of God as Father he was speaking literally. The only Biblical support for divine femaleness is Genesis 1:27 but that avoids saying that God made men and women in his image; it says mankind was made in his image and that mankind includes both male and female. The Pope is human and humans are male and female : that statement doesn’t say that the Pope is female. The reading of Genesis 1:27 to suggest femaleness is part of God… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

“There is no harm in God being male, nor in us seeing Him as exclusively male.” I strongly disagree.

http://www.godde.com/shewhois012.htm

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Mary was necessary not because there is no ‘female’ in God, but because is not a human. Without Mary Jesus would not have been a human being. Without God as his father he would not have been divine. Jesus was speaking literally when he called God his father, but God is not our father in the same sense; he did not sire us.

How could God create females if there was no ‘female’ in God? Where would the feminine come from?

Simon Kershaw
Admin

I have some difficulty with the idea that God the Father is “literally” the father, the “sire”, of the first-century human Jesus. Are we talking here of literal physical sperm that fused with a Marian egg to create the human zygote and embryo that became the infant Jesus? At what point does God the Father become *literally* the biological father of the incarnate Son? Is it heretical to think, rather, that God the Father is the begetter of the eternal Son, the Word, begotten outside time (“before all worlds began”)? And that in the person of Jesus, the eternal Word… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

What’s the difficulty in accepting God as the physical father of Jesus? Take a look on isna.org where intersex conditions are listed. To appear male (did He have a beard?), Jesus must have had a Y chromosome at conception. Mary had other children by Joseph so she wasn’t intersex. So where did Jesus’s Y chromosome come from if not from God? Of course, it is meaningless if one doesn’t believe in the virgin birth, but if one does then God by some miraculous means must have provided the Y chromosome and is literally the biological father of Jesus. I don’t… Read more »

Sara Gillingham
Guest
Sara Gillingham

Point of information: you can be born with intersex traits (variations in sex characteristics) and still be fertile. We are a diverse bunch.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

“Experts tell us that first-century biological supposition was that the father begat the child, but the mother provided all the physical material,” “Sperm” and other words in European languages describing the male contribution to a fertilized egg, is derived from the Latin word for “seed”. My understanding from what I’ve read is that, for millennia, once humans domesticated animals, after people figured out what was happening during sex, the (male?) assumption was that sex was equivalent to planting seed in a field. The male injected the seed, the female was the fertile field. The woman was just a vessel for… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

Cf. the relationship between “mater” and “materiel”.

Matthew
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Matthew

Hi Kate very interesting, I can see your point to some extent, but I’m curious as to what you mean by saying that God is male? God the Father has no bodily form so this cannot be a sexual identity as it would be for humans. It seems to me that God was traditionally believed to be male because male identity intrinsically carries authority, but presumably you don’t agree with that either. So in what sense is it still meaningful to call God male?

Kate
Guest
Kate

How do we know that God has no bodily form?

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

I can’t believe that is a serious question.

Kate
Guest
Kate

According to 1 Corinthians 15, we will have bodily form. We are made in God’s image so isn’t it likely that He too has bodily form?

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Perhaps Kate has a suggestion about where God’s body might be located. Is He up in Heaven? Or in another Galaxy? Perhaps the new Mars probe might find His footprints. And presumably He has male genitalia to enable Him to impregnate Mary. I can’t believe I’m writing such nonsense!

Simon Kershaw
Admin

“Far removed is the Father of all from those things which operate among men, the affections and passions. He is simple, not composed of parts, without structure, altogether like and equal to himself alone. He is all mind, all spirit, all thought, all intelligence, all reason . . . all light, all fountain of every good, and this is the manner in which the religious and the pious are accustomed to speak of God” (Against Heresies 2:13:3, Irenaeus).

Richard
Guest
Richard

I can’t believe it either. The 1st century knowledge of human reproduction permitted notions that today we know are not possible. In my opinion, we can accept some stories (e.g. the Creation) as “true” without believing them to be scientifically factual.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

The history of embryology is interesting. It’s worth reading Joseph Needham’s book (1934) and then exploring from there. It was held by some that the menses were an embryo ‘in waiting’, simply needing the stimulus of a spermatozoon to start the process of development. Another well-known school of thought was that of Aristotle who held that a spermatozoon was a miniature human and simply needed an oven in which to incubate. I have the impression that some in the Vatican still believe this: it has led the church astray in its attitudes to, inter alia, masturbation and birth control. As… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“Don’t worry about the Y chromosome – go for a walk instead.” Sound pastoral advice.

Early on the thread moved into a literalism comme théâtre de l’absurde. Reminds me of the old joke about Jean-Paul Sartre’s voice mail greeting, Jean-Paul is not here, there is no answering machine, there is nothing. ( :

A blessed St. Andrew’s Day to all. As we say in Cape Breton, slàinte !

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

Intriguing idea. I don’t take the virgin birth literally but even if I did I wouldn’t accept the inference that God provided the Y chromosome in the sense of biological conception. It would have been a transcendent act of his creative power, more like creation from nothing than like a transference from a physical body. On the other point, I don’t believe God has an individual physical form as he is essential being and a physical form would be contingent and so cannot be attributed to God in himself.

Kate
Guest
Kate

The mechanism doesn’t matter. The important point is that if there was a virgin birth, then when Jesus spoke of His Father, He was speaking literally.

JayKay8
Guest
JayKay8

It seems much more plausible to me that Mary was raped and those in positions of power – who controlled the narrative – called her rapist an angel. It’s really not so different from the disbelief that we’ve been seeing in recent years (and emerging at IICSA) about priests and bishops who have abused, just that in Mary’s case the cover-up has been going on for 2000 years.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Raped? See Wessels C. 1964. The Mother of God, Her Physical Maternity: A Reappraisal. River Forest, Illinois: Aquinas Library. There was a Roman garrison at nearby (to Nazareth, that is) Sepphoris. If so, it would be a powerful pre-affirmation of the Magnificat. But all this, as many scholars hold, is midrash, fiction, poetry.

Chip Chillington
Guest
Chip Chillington

Actually, as Raymond Brown et Alia have been saying for years, the Gospels & the creeds affirm a virginal conception not a virgin birth.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Peers describes the well-known evangelical reluctance to use the words ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’. Instead, these bible-believers admit only to suffering from same-sex attraction, presumably to distance themselves from those dreadful people who are gay and proud. It seems that evangelical gays would rather live a life of lonely suffering than compromise their mistaken and fundamentalalist view of scripture whilst being unable to admit to themselves the love that dare not speak it’s name.

Richard
Guest
Richard

Perhaps because Mark Vernon’s article was actually a (brief) radio talk, there’s not much being added to the current discussion about God-without-gender. The photo of a Lenten chasuble does not illustrate the statement that “bishops dress in imperial purple”.

I would be interested in knowing more about the idiom “as a son knows his father.” Vernon says “what’s forgotten” but doesn’t tell me what it is that I forgot.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

“Though Vaughan Roberts, who hosted the day and gave the opening address, is in exactly that situation: a man who says he experiences exclusively same-sex attraction but is committed to living a celibate single life, because he believes the Bible’s teaching requires that: not expecting anything of others that he is not doing himself.” I am happy that Roberts has found a life-style that he believes brings him closer to God. Perhaps he has a Spirit-given gift of celibacy. Perhaps he successfully manages to live a celibate life even without that Spirit-given gift. But many Christians have found that the… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

“Ironically enough, the director of the ‘conversion’ program afterwards admitted that he was gay and married a same-sex partner.” This sounds like what happened to the co-founders of Exodus International, a so-called “reparative therapy” group that even after the two co-founders left the group because they had an attraction to each other, continues to push the concept that gay people can be made straight through Jesus and proper gender role models: Football (of any variety) for men and make-up for women. Thank you for your last paragraph, it is spot on. Years ago, I read a book about the clashes… Read more »

Sylvia
Guest
Sylvia

Someone asked me this week what “Fr” meant before the name of a chaplain she had met “does it stand for Friend?” she asked. Would that it did.

Laurie Roberts
Guest
Laurie Roberts

I like that Fr. as friend – I’ll remember that ! I remember when I was a curate, my parish priest telling me, ” the (parish) priest must be a friend to everyone ….” I tried and keep trying. He went to great lengths to realise it, and I have done my best, including as a chaplain to 3 hospitals carrying a bleep; and later, training as an analytical psychotherapist. I am more and more aware despite all of those efforts, of grace at work, ‘within’ and ‘beyond’ the Catholic Church.

Charles Clapham
Guest

Richard Peers’ admirably charitable and irenic piece is very positive about Vaughan Roberts’ exposition of Daniel 1, which he describes as brilliant and engaging. Not having the text of Robert’s exposition to hand, of course, it is difficult to dispute this, and I have no doubt that Vaughan Roberts is a compelling and powerful speaker. But I would instinctively doubt the soundness of Roberts’ exegesis. The presenting issue in the first chapter of the book of Daniel is the unwillingness of Daniel and his friends to eat or drink food or wine provided by the Babylonians for fear they will… Read more »

Laurie Roberts
Guest
Laurie Roberts

This is very helpful to me, in seeking to understanding and light on this Daniel text. I did refer to the Orthodox Study Bible, based on the LXX., but, of course, it was too basic in the short space available. I find myself wondering if the Greek version of Daniel (LXX) sheds new light on this passage, and the issue in question.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

I really enjoyed your comment.

I have Orthodox Jewish relatives. One of them told me once that as far as he was concerned, the commandments in the Torah (especially Leviticus) regarding food, clothing, ritual cleansing, and sex etc. applied to devout Jews and not to anyone else.

Sometimes, with certain passages of Leviticus, and only those passages, I feel that conservative Christians are more interested in them than Orthodox Jews themselves.