Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 29 January 2022

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Annual Report 2021 National Safeguarding Panel

Andrew Goddard Psephizo Can the C of E ever bridge its differences on sexuality?

Pete Broadbent Mixed Ecology
“2030 Vision: People Strategy: Models of Church and Models of Ministry”

Janet Fife Surviving Church The Liberty: A meditation on Romans 8:19-21
‘One day the whole creation will know the glorious liberty of the children of God.’

James Walters Church Times Anglican Communion requires a rotating presidency
“Abandoning a colonial paradigm requires more than tinkering the CNC’s composition”

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FrDavid H
FrDavid H
3 months ago

Janet Fife’s meditation on Liberty is an eloquent expression of Christian living from which no reasonable believer could dissent. It contrasts with the strangulated nonsense of Andrew Goddard who places needless burdens on others and creates problems where there needn’t be any. As Ms Fife shows, Jesus came to bring “liberty”. Goddard brings oppressive legalism.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  FrDavid H
3 months ago

I like the contrast you make between liberty and legalism and absolutely agree that Jesus came to bring liberty.

RobT
RobT
3 months ago

I am rather concerned with the hand-wringing that has happened on the Psephizo blog about the new Archbishop’s Appointments Secretary. Those commenting there seem to have forgotten the Equality Act. The church cannot just go round stopping gay people working for it unless (Sched 9 Para 2(6)) “because of the nature or context of the employment, the requirement is applied so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.” A decision has clearly been made by someone (probably) HR that the exemption does not apply to this post. Does the… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
3 months ago

Andrew Goddard demonstrates yet again the obsession of some evangelicals and others opposed to equal marriage with sexual activity in relationships. They really ought to have got beyond this after 50 years of discussion. Even in the BCP marriage service sexual activity is only one out of three reasons as to why marriage is a good thing to be encouraged. Why are they so obsessed by sex?

Bob
Bob
3 months ago

Andrew Goddard articulates well the fundamental division in the Church of England when he says: “For some, the root problem is the current teaching of the church. This, for them, is what leads to bad practice and we can only achieve good practice once that teaching is changed. For others, the root problem is not the current teaching but the failure to articulate that teaching positively and well, to let it shape and guide our practice as a church, and to be a church which enables people to live out that teaching. To change the teaching, for them, will therefore… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Bob
3 months ago

As far as I’m aware the only prosecutions advocated are for those who torture LGBT folk in the name of that teaching.

Phil Groves
Phil Groves
3 months ago

I agree with James Walters that the addition of four more representatives from outside the Church of England to the group selecting the next Archbishop of Canterbury is a well meaning step that does nothing to address the issues. He is absolutely right that ‘Significant cultural and legal obstacles would continue to prevent the CNC’s nominating someone who actually reflected non-Western identity and experience. But that would not stop future Archbishops of Canterbury being able to see the new CNC composition as justification for greater global authority.’ However, the context is more complex than he imagines. The Anglican Communion has never… Read more »

Phil Groves
Phil Groves
3 months ago

Further to my last comment – James Walters is wrong to assert that ‘Tensions between Provinces have become starker’ over recent years. Of the four provinces entirely or nearly entirely boycotted the 2008 Lambeth Conference, three of them may do so again this year, but provinces have continued to work together in Africa and Asia across differences. The deep divisions are within provinces and between alliances of groups in different provinces. So I have been asked by senior bishops in one African Province to stop the divisions between the minority GAFCON group of bishops and majority non-GAFCON group. Please remember… Read more »

Phil Groves
Phil Groves
Reply to  Phil Groves
3 months ago

Sorry a correction – I have been asked by bishops in one province to help THEM stop division in their province. They take the responsibility. My words may have caused confusion. The division is being driven by outside players.

Dave
Dave
3 months ago

I found Andrew Goddard’s article long and involved, but it accurately points out the mess the church is in and how the leadership and guidance from the bishops is, at the least confusing and weak.

I suspect if people were to ask many of the bishops in writing what he or she thinks on these sexuality issues one would get a convoluted answer which says very little indeed, but if one asked the same bishop on a one to one basis a very different answer would be given.
Such is the hypocrisy of the bishops at present.

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

Andrew Goddard is being disingenuous portraying it as an equal tension between conscience / understanding of Scripture. It isn’t. We know that conversion therapy is common in religious settings. We have all seen material from evangelicals encouraging people to put aside their same-sex attraction. As a matter of safety, and to stop people suffering abusive ‘treatment’, we need to radically change the way the whole Church of England portrays homosexuality. And it should be done without delay.

Andy
Andy
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Conversion therapy has never been well defined but according to the EHRC response to the conversion therapy consultation “Encouraging people to comply with religious doctrine that requires refraining from certain types of sexual activity should not fall within the definition of conversion therapy “

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Further to Andy’s comment the EHRC goes on to say that “conversion therapy will need to be carefully defined in any legislation in order to ensure that harmful practices are caught whilst mainstream religious practices such as preaching, teaching and praying about sexual ethics or gender roles, including in relation to children and young people under 18, are not criminalised.”

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Bob
3 months ago

The EHRC is out of step with most nations including Canada and France which understand the need for blanket bans on conversion therapy. A large number of charities have broken off all contact with EHRC because of its perceived anti-LGBT stance   The Council of Europe recognises how badly rights in the UK are now behind other European countries, saying, “The Assembly condemns with particular force the extensive and often virulent attacks on the rights of LGBTI people that have been occurring for several years in, amongst other countries, Hungary, Poland, the Russian Federation, Turkey and the United Kingdom.”.  … Read more »

Andy
Andy
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

The view of EHRC is important as they are not an activist group with an agenda to push but a group who are interested in maintaining/balancing the legal rights of everyone.

If the teaching of the national church has a great influence on hate crime as suggested, have such crimes fallen in Scotland and Wales since those church changed their teaching ?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Andy
3 months ago

Recent evidence suggests that the EHRC has been stacked by the tory government to support its culture war agenda.

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Jo B
3 months ago

Can you share this evidence with us?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  David Exham
3 months ago

The leap to investigate (and assume prior to investigation) alleged anti-semitism in the Labour Party while ignoring alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. Appointments of Conservative donors and people with a history of denying the existence of institutional racism. Even the former head of the EHRC, David Isaac, said recently that it was becoming a “political instrument” for the tories. The current head has spent more time defending transphobes than trans people. Other current appointees to the board include anti-feminist, anti-immigration, and card-carrying tories (including one who sits for them in the Lords). It has ceased to be a credible… Read more »

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Jo B
3 months ago

Thank you for this reply.

Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

re Andrew Goddard; I noticed this reference to him being an ‘Assistant Minister’ “Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico“.

One wonders; Is he a priest or a deacon in the Church of England?

From his article, it is obvious he is a Protestant. But of what Church provenance?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

Ron, Andrew Goddard has been well known for a number of years as an evangelical Anglican, a faculty member at several Anglican theological colleges, and a member of the leadership group at Fulcrum. You can find out more about him on his website here.

Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

Can the Church of England bridge its differences? Well, yes it can, but it is entirely contingent on one “party” accepting and living with difference. The “conservative” party in other words. Its actually fairly straightforward. There needs to be a realism that the only real question is how we manage or facilitate difference. Are we prepared to do so openly, transparently, and honestly? That’s actually the question.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

Precisely. Unity in Diversity. Along lines of the Scottish Episcopal Church. However, it needs to be added, that although ‘socially conservative’ members of the evangelical wing of the Church of England may be some of the most reluctant to accommodate parishes/priests opting for affirmation of gay sexual relationships… there are also those on the so-called ‘liberal’ wing who take an absolutist view, and demand gay affirmation to be imposed on all parishes as a C of E default. Neither version of absolutism is workable, and my view is that ‘unity in diversity’ – allowing priests and parishes together to decide… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Susannah Clark
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

There is an alternative; level the playing field by teaching that ALL Christians should remain single (and therefore celibate). Removing the discrimination would take a lot of heat out of the situation.
1 Corinthians 7:20 says this:
“Each one should remain in the situation he was in when he was called.”
So everyone staying unmarried IS Biblical. (There is an exemption for people for whom that is too onerous but there is no reason why the exemption should only apply to straight couples.)

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

I don’t see Andrew Goddard et al wishing to facilitate difference. They reject it. Presumably the end of the LLF process will see some proposals taken to Synod by the H of B which will be fought over. No doubt a ” war” of attrition will follow until at some point something “will give”. Meanwhile parish life will soldier on against a background of significant financial problems and numerical decline ( the collapse of much rural Anglicanism in the next decade). Am I being gloomy?

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

It isn’t just the conservatives who are unwilling to live with difference. For example:
Sorting out the disagreements about homosexuality — Unadulterated Love

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

Sad. Makes me even more gloomy.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

The “living with difference” is that we all live with some people being gay, not that gay people have to endure a lottery on moving to a parish as to whether they will be treated as second class Christians or not, or run the risk of encountering homophobic cant if they seek to get married in their parish church. A system where only some people are welcome in their parish church undermines the parish system.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Jo B
3 months ago

I agree that anyone, regardless of gender, should have a right to be married in their own parish church. However, I also think that any priest or local church community (as represented by their PCC) should have the right, on grounds of conscience and religious faith, NOT to affirm or celebrate gay and lesbian sexual relationships. The key issue is to acknowledge a reality of diverse views in the Church of England, and afford respect for the consciences of individuals and local church communities. Attempt to impose a ‘liberal’ uniformity on all churches, and the theological rigidity will drive schism.… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

What’s wrong with schism? You assume it is a bad thing, but is it? Surely it is better to have 10 people proclaiming the unconditional love of Jesus than to have 100 who refuse to accept gay couples.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

There could be a grandfather clause to allow those ordained prior to the change to opt-out, but the CofE shouldn’t be ordaining those unwilling to marry same-sex couples on an equal basis with opposite-sex ones any more than it should continue to ordain those opposed to the organisation of women.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Jo B
3 months ago

It might be argued that the enormous range of churchmanship, liturgical style, alternative episcopal oversight, mixed ecology etc already undermine the parish system. The C of E now is very different (and much smaller and often more tangential to local life) from the church of my youth ( the 50’s). I often feel it’s a good time in the modern history of the C of E to be retired!!

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Perry Butler
3 months ago

Me too, Perry. Having been ordained in 2006 when I was 56 I wonder if I wasted the last 16 years of working life. People tell me not, but …

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

After 48 years as a priest, I am delighted to be retired. The Church into which I was ordained no longer exists. I don’t really like being associated with the rather silly, sometimes hateful, organisation which has gradually emerged.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  FrDavid H
3 months ago

And I feel likewise, the pace of the CoE’s destruction having accelerated alarmingly since 2006. Maybe I was a naive fool and it was ever thus, but the hypocrisy and corruption are startlingly clear when viewed from inside the institution. The Wesleys were right.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  FrDavid H
3 months ago

I think there are still oases in the desert but I wonder for how much longer.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

What kept/ keeps us going Stanley is day to day parish worship and life and the people we have met and served. It gives a lot of satisfaction. But I agree the pace of change/decline has been remarkable. Lots of initiatives etc. But I would have appreciated more discussion and theological thinking about the “product” the C of E is meant to be offering; it’s distinctive charism and what we corporately think the C of E is for NOW.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Perry Butler
3 months ago

Oh, I certainly agree that the anti-women Bishops undermine the parish system, and think their positions should be abolished. It’s all very well to talk about avoiding schism but when you have people who refuse to take communion from certain priests or who won’t allow certain priests to function as priests in “their” churches, or indeed who will only allow certain bishops to ordain “their” clergy then the schism ship has long since sailed.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

Personally I think it depends what sort of conversion therapy ban we get. If it is watertight for both sexuality and gender identity, and without an exception for religious settings, then maybe some sort of compromise is possible. As things stand, however, or if the Government is persuaded to exclude religious settings, then as matter of safety we need to ban teaching which negatively affects LGBT+ Christians in ALL parishes.

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