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Debating the Pemberton Tribunal

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 07.07.34At the end of last week I cancelled my planned writing schedule in order to enter what felt like a parallel universe as I was invited to debate with Jeremy Pemberton on BBC 2’s Victoria Derbyshire programme regarding the tribunal ruling that Jeremy had not been discriminated against by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. I offer here some reflections on the nature of the discussion, since I think it sheds important light on where we are heading as a Church. A recording on YouTube is linked at the end of this piece.


Jeremy’s opening comment was that the verdict was no surprise to him. This was interesting, since it contradicted the confident comments of his supporters prior to the judgement being announced, and suggests that Jeremy initiated the case not because he would win, but because it would gain publicity. Presumably the same will be true of his planned appeal.

Jeremy then cited Article XXXII on clergy marriage as warranting his entering a same-sex marriage against the current teaching of the Church and the explicit direction of the House of Bishops.

In our rules we have an Article which says priests can marry who they want to marry. You can’t marry people if it is not legal to marry them but it was legal for me to marry. Article 32 of the 39 Articles says it’s up to me to choose who it is I marry ­ not for anybody else to tell me. I think the bishops were wrong to put out guidance that said you can’t marry people. That’s against our rules.

The Article runs as follows:

XXXII. OF THE MARRIAGE OF PRIESTS

BISHOPS, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God’s Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.

In its historical context, it is of course directed against the Catholic requirement of clerical celibacy—its concern is not for clergy to go against their bishops on a matter of conscience, but that the ordained are not a caste apart from other Christians. The reference is the teaching of Scripture (‘God’s law’), and this is in a context where homosexual acts were a serious offence. The idea that this article provides any grounds for clergy to enter same-sex marriage requires setting aside any normal rules of reading, and using the text as a kind of cipher. It is similar had we found a 16th-century text permitting clergy to leave their carriage in front of the house, and on the grounds of that deciding we had permission to build a railway—since trains have ‘carriages’. The Tribunal commented on this explicitly:

168. It was … inconceivable … that the authors of the 39 Articles would have had in their contemplation that this provision permitted same-sex marriage.

Jeremy’s position on wanting to conform to ‘the rules’ seems to run against everything that he later says. (For more detailed discussion of this point, see Peter Sanlon’s piece.)


Thirdly, Jeremy then misappropriates the word ‘discrimination’; the Church had discriminated against him (though the Tribunal said it was allowed to) and people are ‘disgusted’ by this. Jeremy accurately captures the majority of public response, but to do so again ignores the actual judgement. The Tribunal was very clear that Jeremy had not been discriminated against because he was gay, and that the ‘discrimination’ of judging whether someone was defying the teaching of the Church was an important one to make.

270. … we accept as already stated that the Claimant was clearly distressed and felt humiliated and degraded by what had occurred. As to whether his dignity was violated, we are with Mr Linden [the diocese’s lawyer]. Despite the valiant efforts of Mr Jones [Pemberton’s lawyer], the claimant would have never been in this position had he not defied the doctrine of the church. In this case, context is all.

Jeremy goes on to cite a common accusation, that the Church has changed its understanding of marriage. Formally speaking, that is not the case; remarriage after divorce is a concession in the light of a failure to live up to biblical and Church teaching. (I think there could be an interesting conversation as to whether same-sex marriage could be considered under the same kind of rubric, as a concession in the light of human failure. I am not sure that Jeremy and others would welcome this though.)


At 7.02 on the YouTube video Jeremy makes perhaps the most extraordinary claim: that there has been ‘no discussion in the appropriate form of whether the Church has a doctrine of same-sex marriage or not.’ Only a hermit, hidden in the remotest mountain, could think that this subject has not been discussed to death. The Shared Conversations, which have prioritised the inclusion of active gay clergy and laypeople, will have cost the Church something like £350,000 and involved people from every diocese. The conversation might not have been on the terms of Jeremy’s choosing—but that is another matter. The Church does have a position on this question; the debate is about whether it should change that position.

He then claims that ‘all we have had is pastoral guidance from the bishops’ which oddly sets aside the explicit understanding of Canon Law and the marriage liturgy.

He goes on to say that he is a ‘priest in good standing in the Diocese of Lincoln’. That is an odd comment to make, given his diocesan bishop has said to him:

You have acted in a way which is inconsistent with your ordination vows and your canonical duty to live in accordance with the teachings of the Church of England. (cited in para 74 of the judgement).

He also claims that no complaint has been made against him; clergy in Lincoln diocese have been in touch with me to say that that is not the case, since they did in fact complain to the bishop at the time.

Jeremy then asserts that action under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) is simple, and the fact that none has been taken means no-one has a problem with his situation. Again, anyone familiar with CDM knows that it failed to be such a simple measure, that it was never extended to include doctrine, as was intended, and that it has turned out to be not much better than the previous system of using Ecclesiastical Courts. The threshold for CDM action remains very high.

Finally, Jeremy rejects that accusation that he does not live within the teaching of the Church as ‘a fearful slur’ and ‘outrageous’. Since that is what both his bishop and the Tribunal judge have concluded, then he must presumably think they are both guilty of such a slur.


The reason for highlighting these things is to identify the strategy of debate. Rather than engage in what has happened, the strategy appears to be to simply ignore the facts. It is a strategy that works quite effectively in media interviews, since no interviewer is going to know enough about the Articles, Clergy Discipline, the legalities of licences, or even the state of the debate in the Church to contradict them. This strategy will never work within the Church of course, since Jeremy’s comments will be called to account. The strategy, then, involves having a quite different discussion outside the Church from within. Jeremy must have had considerable financial and personal support to pursue this case, presumably from gay lobby groups such as Stonewall and people like Peter Tatchell. But I suspect these are people who would also welcome an end to the Church’s wider role in society. [Having written this in the original post, I have been told this is not the case in relation to funding; some of the cost of the case appears to have been borne by the legal team pro bono. See Laurence Cunnington’s comments and my response below.]

Perhaps more worrying for the debate within the Church is the separation of fact from emotion. Jeremy was clearly upset by the end of the discussion, and walked off without speaking to me afterwards. On the Changing Attitude Facebook page, Jeremy observed that, unlike him, I have never been an incumbent, and so ‘actually know nothing at first hand about the business of leading a church, of managing the volunteers, of pastoring the flock…’ This contains the interesting idea that, in being an Associate Minister of a church with a USA of around 650, overseeing small groups of 250 people, being for a decade on the staff of a theological college, all this leaves me ‘knowing nothing’. It also assumes that evangelical and catholic orthodox clergy are either in denial, or are about to come out as changing their minds in the light of ‘the realities of pastoral ministry.’

This is not good news for the future of this debate. The assumption of superior insight, detachment from the actual facts involved, and the valorisation of emotionalism suggests that there is little prospect of further constructive conversation, let alone good disagreement.


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146 Responses to Debating the Pemberton Tribunal

  1. LF Buckland November 10, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    The absolute sadness attached to this report on the debate, is that it is concerned with being ‘right’.
    The Church, in upholding its Position, stands on the eye of a needle.
    Where – as we must all ask, in wretched despair – where is any trace of compassion?
    For those claiming Biblical exactitude, answer this: Jesus repeatedly accepted those outside the standards of his day and dined with them.
    Where is the plain statement anywhere in the NT – given his own acceptance of all sinners (as we all are) – that anyone is utterly condemned?
    The arguments advanced – being concerned with ‘being right’ – hold nothing of Christianity in them. Jesus would indeed weep.

    • Marcus Honeysett November 10, 2015 at 10:21 am #

      Are you saying that compassion is a strong enough reason to alter true doctrine if it hurts our offends feelings?

      Or if someone’s feelings are hurt then compassion necessitates that the doctrine by which they perceive themselves hurt must be ditched?

      Why then would personal hurt not trump truth on all matters? Where would you draw the line?

      It seems to me that Mr. Pemberton knowingly and well supported deliberately put himself in this position knowing what the outcome would be. Those who do that have to accept the consequences. Playing the hurt feelings card afterwards is disingenuous

      • Jeremy Pemberton November 10, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

        Marcus,

        I knew that what I did went against the Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance. That much of what you assert is true. That I knew what the consequences would be is not true, and attempts by me to get any clear indication of what the consequences would be were met with a fog of obfuscation (“all cases are different” – “yes, but what about my case?”) or silence.

        Ian has said that I was told the consequences by the suffragan bishop. This is a lie. That bishop asked me to ponder the consequences, and then, when I asked him what the consequences would be, completely failed to give me an answer and all communication with him ended.

        Secondly, I was not “well-supported”, as you put it, when I married. That makes it sound like a plan that was known to a lot of people who have an interest in forwarding the case for equal marriage in the community. In fact, the only people who knew we were going to marry were the people we invited to our wedding. That was our family and friends. We contacted no media at all, and until someone else rang the Mail on Sunday and we were doorstepped the day before the wedding we had no contact with the media.

        However, what happened to us was that we discovered quite how much support we have got over this matter subsequently. After the event, and more and more as time has gone on, we have been moved by the range and age and contexts out of which people have contacted me to offer their support.

        Lastly, you don’t know me. Ian spoke to me as we walked towards the studio. I did not speak to him afterwards as I had nothing to say to him and was in a hurry to see my family. You know nothing about my feelings – your last sentence is a disgusting insult to someone who has had to endure all kinds of public judgements about their most private and intimate relationship. You should be ashamed of writing it.

        • Ian Paul November 10, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

          Jeremy, thanks for being willing to contribute to the discussion to help clarify things. Can I come back to you on three points.

          First, you say ‘I knew that what I did went against the Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance.’ But of course the guidance wasn’t mere opinion. As you will be aware https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2014/02/house-of-bishops-pastoral-guidance-on-same-sex-marriage.aspx the letter came with an appendix–do check it out in case you have forgotten. It cites the long list of official documents which make absolutely plain what the Church clear and consistent teaching has been:

          ‘The Church of England’s long standing teaching and rule are set out in Canon B30: ‘The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman…’

          ‘The Book of Common Prayer introduces the Solemnisation of Matrimony by saying, ‘Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony;…’

          ‘The House of Bishops teaching document of 1999 noted that: “Marriage is a pattern that God has given in creation, deeply rooted in our social instincts, through which a man and a woman may learn love together over the course of their lives.”…’

          The list goes on. So if you knew the Pastoral Guidance, you must also have been aware of the clear teaching of the Church, and that (contrary to what you claim in the discussion) your position is clearly contrary to the Church’s teaching.

          Secondly, I can understand your frustration at lack of clarity from Christopher Lowson. But surely you had the opportunity to ask him about this at the events for Canons that happen several times a year, or perhaps at the annual Renewal of Ordination Vows that no doubt takes place in the diocese? He has made it clear that you are in breach of your ordination vows and your oath of canonical obedience. As this is such a serious charge, you would surely have wanted to clarify with him the consequences?

          Thirdly, marriage is not just about our private lives and our feelings. as is made clear in the marriage liturgy, it is a communal thing and part of our public life, not just a private choice. This is especially true for clergy, who are (in the words of the ordination service) ‘to fashion your own life and that of your household according to the way of Christ, that you may be a pattern and example to Christ’s people.’ So your marriage is a proper subject of public concern, in particular of Christians and fellow clergy.

        • David Shepherd November 10, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

          Jeremy,

          There is a difference between consequences being described as a detailed catalogue of likely sanctions as opposed to a simple recognition that an adverse disciplinary outcome for your career would ensue.

          For such a novel situation, I doubt that your Ordinary or anyone else could provide the former. Despite this, that the latter should result was very clear to you, the Employment Tribunal and everyone else here.

          What you described as being of ‘doubtful legality’ was cleared by the Employment Tribunal.

          Nevertheless, as Laurence has said, ‘the EAT has no interest in the motivations of litigants…’ So, perhaps, it would be good prep for you to abandon attempts to explain or vindicate your motivations here.

          Doubtless, a refreshing well-spring of sympathy and martyr affirmation is in ample supply on Thinking Anglicans.

        • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

          Jeremy, I am aware of the difficulty for you in returning to this—but I am honestly interested in your reading of all these documents.

          Do you genuinely believe they are in error, or do not represent the ‘teaching of the Church’—or what?

    • Tom Mason November 10, 2015 at 11:16 am #

      Mark 10:21-23 NIV
      [21] Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” [22] At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. [23] Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

      Here is how I think Jesus would respond to the question of where is compassion. Jesus looked at the rich man and loved him, but the rich man went away sad because he loved his wealth more than the promise of heaven.
      Jesus loved and accepted sinners of all kinds, but he always called for repentance from sin, and someone who was unable to do that seems to be outside the kingdom of God, loved or not.

      • David Beadle November 12, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

        I’m not aware that many Christians sell all their possessions and give all their money to the poor.

    • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      LF Buckland, are you seriously suggesting that Christian faith has no connection with ‘what is right’? So we pay no attention to any of the texts which talk about the holiness of God? We pay no attention to Jesus’ teaching—often concerned with discerning what is right from what is wrong? No attention to Paul’s concern for understanding what God has done in Christ?

      Really?

    • Christine Quinn-Jones November 12, 2015 at 8:53 am #

      It seems to me that Jeremy is more concerned about his entitlement (‘right’) in secular law to marry a same-sex partner than with being ‘right’ in his response to church doctrine about this.
      Ian, thank you for another fine post, and for your lucid and informed words on your TV interview.

      • David Beadle November 12, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

        Christine Quinn-Jones, Jeremy Pemberton has actually posted on this thread, so perhaps you could ask him directly rather than speculating about what concerns him?

        • Christine Quinn-Jones November 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

          David Beadle – My comment was an observation, not speculation, and it was an observation based on conversations here and in the TV debate between Ian and Jeremy.

          • David Beadle November 14, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

            So what evidence do you have for this observation?

          • Christine Quinn-Jones November 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

            David Beadle,

            The tribunal decided that Jeremy did not have a case against Bishop Inwood.

            I understand that Jeremy plans to exercise his legal right to appeal against the decision of the tribunal.
            If Jeremy is less concerned about exercising this legal right than he is about appreciating the reasons why Bishop Inwood made the decision he made, and why the tribunal upheld Bishop Inwood’s decision, then I am not aware of it.

          • David Beadle November 16, 2015 at 10:21 am #

            The point of an appeal to a tribunal decision, Christine Quinn-Jones, is to challenge the view of the tribunal. So Jeremy Pemberton must believe it – and therefore by extension Richard Inwood – to be wrong. A legal right is a necessary part of making this challenge; I don’t think he’s exercising it just for the hell of it.

          • Laurence Cunnington November 16, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

            “I don’t think he’s exercising it just for the hell of it.” David Beadle

            That’s correct. In any event, one can’t appeal against the decision of an Employment Tribunal just because one doesn’t like the decision it’s made. My lay-person’s understanding is that, in order to be granted Leave to Appeal, sufficient grounds have to be present – for example, that the original decision was based on an error in the interpretation of the law. If the Employment Appeal Tribunal does not believe there to be sufficient grounds for an appeal to be heard then that will be the end of it. If it does believe there are sufficient grounds, the case will proceed to an EAT hearing some time in 2016. We await developments.

          • Christine Quinn-Jones November 16, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

            Laurence Cunnington – thank you for your comment.

            I pray the God’s truth, justice and mercy will prevail.

  2. Dave McCarthy November 10, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    At the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church in June this year, a group offered the concession “in light of human failure” – it was overwhelmingly rejected, in favour of a change of canons which eliminates any definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Even if it had been accepted, it would not have been the end of the matter. Those who need change would have kept bringing it back until they get what they want. Be careful, dear friends in England!

    We must not be surprised when church leaders come out as favouring change in the light of pastoral or missional need. That is going to happen, and soon. The pressure to do so is huge and will be driven by personal temperament, internal struggles in congregations and even wooing by diocesan leadership.

    • Penelope November 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

      “in light of human failure” is, perhaps, true of all marriages, since they are a remedy for fornication, but why, particularly same-sex marriages?

      • Ian Paul November 10, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

        Not if you read either the creation narratives, or the doctrine of the church as expressed in the Marriage Liturgy, which describes marriage as a ‘gift of God in creation.’

        Neither Scripture nor the liturgy describe same-sex sexual unions in the same terms.

        • Penelope November 11, 2015 at 11:22 am #

          I agree that neither the liturgy nor the 39 Articles describe same-sex marriage. However, neither do they describe or expect the presiding minister to be a woman (indeed, they do not encompass the use of contraception, access to divorce, the freedom to marry one’s deceased wife’s sister). Such things would have been as unthinkable in the 16th and 17th Cs as same-sex marriage. However, liturgy and Canon Law have been ‘tweaked’ to accommodate them. Article 32 and B30 could be ‘tweaked’ likewise.

          BTW, in arguing (rightly) that Article 32 was concerned with the clergy not being seen as a ‘caste’ apart, I think you may have undermined your own case. ‘Issues’ clearly does see them as a caste apart which is why it prescribes different guidelines for clergy and laity. If clergy aren’t a caste apart, then there is no reason to prescribe different moral standards.

          • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 11:52 am #

            The question at hand in the ET wasn’t what Article 32 might be interpreted to mean in the future if other aspects of Canon Law changed, but what it meant right now in 2015. On that the Tribunal was absolutely clear (and it ruled that the CofE was absolutely clear).

            If you want to continue to argue otherwise you display a level of legal naivety that is downright dangerous. I suggest reading the Tribunal ruling with preconceptions removed.

          • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

            Penny, thanks for the comments—and in particular thank you for agreeing with me, the bishops, the Tribunal ruling and common sense in noting that Article XXXII does not mean what Jeremy claims. Yes, it could be changed—but that in itself shows how broad and deep is the Church’s consistent teaching on the nature of marriage. To accommodate Jeremy, *everything* would need to be revised.

            Thanks too for your observation about priestly castes and Issues. I did think of that whilst I wrote it, and was quite impressed that someone picked up this question on the CA FB page—thanks for reposting it here (I cannot remember if it was you or someone else who first mentioned it).

            This was the key reason why, when Issues was published in 1991, I thought it had made a serious mistake in setting out a different standard for clergy and lay, and said so in our debate in college (in which Simon Butler was also a respondent.) I later returned to the question, and I think Issues says something more nuanced: the same standard holds true for both clergy and lay, but that same standard is not yet demanded of all.

            The reason for that is simply that we do not demand perfection, or, better, maturity, for the newly baptised. Baptism involves a clear commitment and change of direction, but it does not demand maturity. Leadership responsibility falls into a different category; we would expect evidence of mature reflection, awareness, and change of life in our leaders in a way which we would not expect of all church members. This is really clear in the ordination liturgy: clergy should offer a pattern of life which is a good example to the flock in quite a distinctive way.

            In previous generations, same-sex relations were such a scandal that they might be included in the baptismal requirement for change of life. In our social context, they have a different significance.

            Does that sound at all coherent to you (whether or not you agree with it)?

          • Penelope November 11, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

            Ian, before I answer your new comment, what happened to the one that commented on my downright dangerous level of legal naivety?

          • Penelope November 11, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

            Ian, please accept my apologies. I now see that it was Peter Ould who insulted me, not you. I am very sorry.

          • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

            Penelope,

            I didn’t insult you, I just pointed out that carrying on making an argument that the Tribunal had rejected (and that indeed, the main proponent of which within the Tribunal hearing eventually withdrew) is “legal naivety”.

            If I wanted to insult you I would call you a disingenuous hypocrite who complains about having their poor arguments pointed out but is more than happy to “Like” a Facebook post that attempts to insult and demean someone without knowing any of the circumstances of his personal life and ministry experience, that life and experience which completely contradicts the alleged “facts” about what he was and wasn’t responsible for and did or didn’t do, and whose life and experience explains why he might have made the career choices he did. If I wanted to insult you I’d point out that you joined in the hating on a man who gave up everything for his wife, a hating which was instigated by someone who, if I wanted to be insulting, couldn’t even give up his libido for his wife.

            That’s what I would have said if I wanted to insult you. I would have pointed out very clearly that in another place you were more than happy to insult someone. But I didn’t point it out because actually, contrary to what you might assume, I don’t like insulting people. At times though it’s good to point out the utter hypocrisy of your claim of “insult”.

            And before you get on your high horse about how “rude” I am, I suggest you read a bit of Scripture first to see how the Prophets and our Saviour sometimes spoke to people.

          • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

            Hmmm…the temperature here appears to be warming up, and perhaps it would be better to run a little cooler.

            But Penny I think I need to suggest a couple of things:

            1. To be called naive is not really an insult. To be told that, because of not holding a particular post I ‘know nothing’ about pastoral ministry comes a lot closer.

            2. I hope you will see a very real contrast between debates on this blog, and the comments on the CA FB page, some of which could really only be described as vitriol.

            So there might be some putting in order of one’s own house…?

            Either which way, let’s be neither insulted or disgusted too quickly.

          • Penelope November 11, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

            Ian, sorry I have been at a seminar. I wanted to reply to your comment on Issues, but I must say first that I did find Peter’s first comment insulting; it went further than simply calling me naive. Now I see he has gone ven further. I have no idea which comment on CA impugning him I am supposed to have ‘liked’, but his response goes much further in vitriol than anything I have seen on the CA page. I have had this sort of hysterical stuff from him before and I find it unbecoming. I will respond to your interesting question later.

          • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

            I think it might be a little intemperate; it is hardly ‘hysterical’…

          • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

            Well let’s look at that comment shall we?

            “The question at hand in the ET wasn’t what Article 32 might be interpreted to mean in the future if other aspects of Canon Law changed, but what it meant right now in 2015. On that the Tribunal was absolutely clear (and it ruled that the CofE was absolutely clear).”

            This is a statement of opinion on the ruling.

            “If you want to continue to argue otherwise you display a level of legal naivety that is downright dangerous.”

            Are you seriously suggesting that if you continue an argument that (a) the Tribunal ruled against and that (b) the person who presented it (Alan Wilson) himself withdrew upon cross-examination is not being legally naive?

            The only other words here that you might take exception to is “downright dangerous”. Personally, if I was planning to appeal on a point that the Tribunal had so clearly ruled on with so much evidence being input, I would be endangering my whole case.

            “I suggest reading the Tribunal ruling with preconceptions removed.”

            Do you think it’s unbecoming of someone to suggest that one might read a legal document without preconceptions clouding one’s interpretations.

            As to the longer post, read it VERY carefully and tell me where I actually insulted you (as opposed to you being offended by it).

          • Penelope November 11, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

            Peter might I suggest that you read my original comment VERY CAREFULLY. I did not mention the Tribunal ruling. I was reflecting that the liturgy and the 39 Articles might be flexible enough to accommodate changes in ‘teaching’ although their wording hasn’t changed. I used women’s orders and divorce as two examples. There are others.

          • Penelope November 12, 2015 at 10:20 am #

            Ian, to return to the original question. I am glad that we agree on ‘Issues’, (the point about the priestly caste and ‘Issues’ was originally put by my friend David Beadle on the CA page, but I had been thinking the same thing when I read your reflections).
            But I wasn’t thinking of the Tribunal or what X or Y concluded when I made my observation about the liturgy and the 39 Articles. Perhaps ‘tweaked’ was the wrong word. I think what I was trying to say is that the Articles and the BCP have been flexible enough to accommodate many changes in teaching and doctrine and understanding over the centuries (+Alan mentioned yet another one the other day: the Table of Kindred and Affinity), that it would not be impossible for them to accommodate a different, a broader, understanding of marriage

          • Ian Paul November 12, 2015 at 11:36 am #

            Penny, I am not sure we do agree on ‘Issues.’ You commented that it was wrong in creating a different ‘caste’; I said that I had originally thought that, but realised on reflection that was not the case. It holds the same standard, but holds different people accountable in different ways.

            In relation to the Articles, Jeremy claim that they sanction his decision without amendment; you propose that the could sanction his decision were they to be amended.

            I think you are saying two different things. I think you are right (though I doubt the Church will ever do this); ipso facto, you appear to agree with me that Jeremy here is wrong.

  3. Jonathan Tallon November 10, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    Ian, Jeremy said it was a ‘fearful slur’ that he doesn’t live within the teachings of the church and with integrity. You didn’t mention ‘integrity’ in your comments.

    Did the bishops and/or judges say that Jeremy did not act with integrity? Because if they didn’t, then it is not them that he is accusing of a fearful slur and of being outrageous, but you for impugning his integrity.

    • Ian Paul November 10, 2015 at 10:58 am #

      Jonathan, if I make a vow to uphold something, and then I do not uphold that, and take to court someone who criticises me for not upholding what I have promised to uphold, does that lack integrity?

      • Jonathan Tallon November 10, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

        Disingenuous at best. Jeremy has stated, and the arguments in the tribunal showed, that he acted in the clear belief that he had the right to marry his partner (hence article 32 being cited) and that the bishops had no right to order him not to. He therefore acted believing that he was upholding his vows.

        He did not take someone to court for criticising him. He went to court because he lost a job offer because of discrimination – the issue is whether it was legal or not. To characterise it in the way you have is simply unfair and untrue.

        Let me put it this way. If Jeremy wins his appeal, will his integrity suddenly, magically, be restored? Or is it something that he had all along.

        This is part of a wider pattern – there seems to be a keenness to attribute bad motives to opponents, either without any evidence, or against what they actually say. For example, you attribute Jeremy’s action to a desire for publicity, on the basis of his saying that he thought he might lose. There are a hundred other possible motives, but you have suggested a negative one.

        • Peter Ould November 10, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

          I disagree. It is beyond belief that Jeremy did not know that the position of the Church of England was that Canon B30 qualified Article 32. If he wanted to challenge such a reading, he was / is perfectly entitled to do so, but let’s put away the childish idea that somehow he had no idea he was perceived by the hierarchy as breaking his ordination vows.

          • Jeremy Pemberton November 12, 2015 at 6:43 am #

            Peter,

            You say two rather different things here. The second one I agree with. I agree that I was perceived by the hierarchy as having broken my ordination vow (a bit like all those evangelicals who never say morning and evening prayer). However, I do not agree with the notion that the Article was qualified by the Canon. Where is this explicitly said? When was this decided? I have had to affirm my faith set forth in the 39 Articles all through my ministry and have done so without reservation – the Articles allow of a very wide range of interpretation as we know from our 19C church history. I don’t think I was doing more than taking the plain sense of an article seriously, and in fact, interpreting it in the purposive sense for which it was written, in other words to protect the clerical right to marry without interference. So I was not twisting its meaning to make it do something obscure. And, and this is a new bit of information for you all, when I put this to various bishops at the critical meetings and correspondance in the first half of 2014 I did not get any response to this. They were not able to explain to me why my understanding was defective, nor did they explain why the Article could not or should not be interpreted in the way I was interpreting it. You might have wished them to have rebutted my claim in all kinds of ways, but as a matter of fact, they either could not or did not.

          • Peter Ould November 12, 2015 at 8:04 am #

            ” However, I do not agree with the notion that the Article was qualified by the Canon. Where is this explicitly said?”

            In the Valentine’s Day Statement for starters, which laid out very clearly the doctrinal basis for the Bishop’s decision. Given that we are ultimately an Episcopal Church, we take what the House of Bishops says very seriously. They (not Synod) are the ultimate guardians of doctrine.

            Without having view of all the correspondence / transcripts of conversations between you and Inwood I can’t come to a position as to whether they did or did not adequately respond to your concerns. That said, if what was communicated to you was referring to the same documents that the Valentine’s Day Statement referred to, that would have been enough IMHO.

            But what I would be interested in hearing from you is a response to the Article 32 question that I put to Ron (who has singularly failed to engage with it). If your reading of Article 32 is correct, are you suggesting that a priest should be allowed to enter ANY marriage that the State permits without discipline? Polygamy (if the State permitted it)? Consensual incest? Marriage in a Temple to Baal? Where would you draw the line and why? How would your line be anything but special pleading if it encompassed the forms of marriage you thought were acceptable but excluded others? And how would that line drawing be any different to the way the CofE currently draws a line?

          • Ian Paul November 12, 2015 at 8:17 am #

            ‘They were not able to explain to me why my understanding was defective, nor did they explain why the Article could not or should not be interpreted in the way I was interpreting it.’ I think there are plenty of people who could! I will post on this next week.

          • Ian Paul November 12, 2015 at 8:19 am #

            Actually, Jeremy, you are not simply required to affirm the articles; your ordination vow is of canonical obedience to your bishop.

        • Ian Paul November 10, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

          Jonathan, one has integrity not by saying loudly ‘I have integrity’ but acting honestly in accordance with what one knows.

          As I point out in a comment above, the Pastoral Guidance came with a appendix that included a quite long list of official documents which set out the Church’s current teaching position with utmost clarity. Do check in case you have forgotten.

          https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2014/02/house-of-bishops-pastoral-guidance-on-same-sex-marriage.aspx

          The list includes:

          ‘The Church of England’s long standing teaching and rule are set out in Canon B30: ‘The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman…’

          ‘The Book of Common Prayer introduces the Solemnisation of Matrimony by saying, ‘Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony;…’

          ‘The House of Bishops teaching document of 1999 noted that: “Marriage is a pattern that God has given in creation, deeply rooted in our social instincts, through which a man and a woman may learn love together over the course of their lives.”…’

          and it goes on. If you believe Jeremy has acted with integrity, then you are claiming that Jeremy has read all these things, and yet somehow still believes that his action which contradicts all these somehow ‘agrees with the teaching of the Church.’ Those looking on can hardly believe his argument about Article XXXII. It is a bizarre and implausible claim—as the Tribunal found.

          If I say ‘Black is white—I believe this with integrity’ do I have integrity?

          • Jeremy Pemberton November 12, 2015 at 6:51 am #

            Ian,

            You are terribly keen on the judgment in this case. Perhaps we can agree on this: the judge said that I, like everybody else involved, was a person “of the utmost integrity”. He had the advantage that he saw me being cross-examined for seven hours, and he had read all the papers in the claim. You did not.

            I think it is a terrible slur to say publicly that I lack integrity. You have never had the opportunity to explore with me the reasons I did what I did and why I did them. You have no window into my soul. The most you can honestly say is that you do not understand how I could have acted like that with integrity. That I can accept. But I would ask you to think about how you speak of another person and their actions and motivations. Your determination to think the worst of me does you no credit.

          • Ian Paul November 12, 2015 at 8:01 am #

            Thanks for the response, Jeremy. But, as I have said above, I am not determined to think the worst of you—I am genuinely interested in your thinking here.

            I have twice here set out a number of the documents which were appended to the bishops’ Pastoral Letter. If you are able to explain how it is possible to read all these, and then claim that your action has been ‘in line with the teaching of the Church’ then I am open to that.

            Otherwise, it looks like the Tribunal’s other main conclusion is correct: that as your bishop has said, you are in breach of your ordination vows and not living in accordance with the teaching of the Church. In *that* regard, given the vows you have taken (and renew each year…?) it is hard to see how this is a position of ‘integrity’.

            The alternative position, which others have taken, is to say ‘No, I am not living within the teaching of the Church, because I think the teaching of the Church is wrong.’ That appears to me to be closer to what you are actually doing, and that has a kind of integrity to it.

        • Peter den Haan November 11, 2015 at 8:10 am #

          Jeremy will have studied the history of the Church of England during the Reformation as part of his training. It is not credible for someone with his background that he would come to the honest opinion that Article 32 ever meant what he now makes it out to mean. And should he genuinely have wondered about the precise meaning of it, any number of commentaries would have been at his disposal, as well as of course the wider context of canon law and so on. He did not avail himself of such resources. Why not?

          Article 32 is being seized upon using the sort of prooftexting that only works if you strip all the context.

          • Jeremy Pemberton November 12, 2015 at 6:58 am #

            Peter,

            You will know, if you have studied church history, that the Articles are not required to be interpreted in their original context. Indeed, they are specifically not consigned to history and the situation which they originally addressed, but remain foundation documents of our church. The Church of England has taken the decision that it does not want to try and rewrite them or update them as it goes along, but simply adheres to them in the form in which we have them. The consequence of this is that they have therefore been cheerfully subject to re-interpretation throughout their history. The Oxford movement version of this was perhaps the most radical attempt to read against their original meaning, because of the determination to read Articles written with a clear anti-Catholic and Calvinist bias in the most Catholic way possible.

            My own reading of the Article in question at least has the merit that it is not reading it against its original intention but with it: the Article was intended to permit clergy to marry or not as they chose. That is all I did.

          • David Shepherd November 12, 2015 at 8:00 am #

            Jeremy,

            So, according to your interpretation, in South Aftica, where polygamy is recognised as part of customary law, Article 32 authorises polygamy.

            Ofh, and what does your interpretation mean for The Episcopal Church of South Carolina, a US state where cousin marriage is perfectly legal?

            The only issue here is the universal Anglican implications of your Article 32 interpretation

  4. Father Ron Smith November 10, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    The big problem here is that, as you yourslef, Ian Paul said: “The Church is legally allowed to discriminate – against clergy same-sex marriage”. This is the problem that many of us Anglicans have with the Church of england’s legal powers to discriminate against clergy marrying – according to one of the 39 articles clergy are free to marry whiom they choose. The Church, therefore, DOES have a change of understanding!

    Another problem is that the Established Church chooses to operate under its own law, rather then the law of the land. Double-minded or not?

    • Ian Paul November 10, 2015 at 10:57 am #

      Ron, so you are proposing that the Reformers either did welcome or would have welcomed same-sex marriage, even though they agreed homosexual acts were punishable by death? We have moved away from that understanding, have we?

      • Jeremy Pemberton November 12, 2015 at 7:02 am #

        Ian –

        Minor but significant point: homosexuality is a social construct unknown until the 19C. The 16C was concerned with buggery. Lots of gay men never have anal intercourse. There is a lot of elision going on in these debates.

        • Peter Ould November 12, 2015 at 8:12 am #

          Not quite, Modern homosexuality is a more recent form of social construct around male to male sexual / emotional behaviour, but other social construct in this area have existed in the past. Whilst the Christo-centric period in Europe pretty well outlawed (by implication) such constructs, they existed in earlier societies (Greece and Rome for example in a myriad of forms). Other forms of homosexual social constructs exist around the world today.

          Some Papua New Guinea tribes demand of teens active homosexual behaviour as part of a lengthy rite of passage. These boys manage to quite adequately bugger younger boys for a number of years before leaving the “teen hut” and moving onto adult heterosexual relationships (and the younger boys move up from “buggered” to “buggering”). The modern western notion of “gay” wouldn’t apply to them (they all manage heterosexual marriage adequately and homosexual behaviour once you leave the teen hut is severely frowned upon), but to a man they are perfectly capable of “getting it up” to fulfil the socially expected norms of behaviour.

          • David Beadle November 14, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

            The more I think about this, the clearer it seems that Article XXXII neither affirms nor denies same-sex marriage. There were the anti-sodomy laws on statute since Henry VIII, and that was it. Same-sex marriage was not considered at the time just as, for example, matters on embryology were not considered in biblical contexts. This is an open question, and the matter of same-sex civil marriage must, I think, be addressed, without the Bishops claiming wrongly that we have always held a doctrine on it. Neither was Canon B30 formed at a time when the matter of same-sex marriage was under consideration. We have an understanding of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Does this mean we can not *also* understand marriage, for instance, as between a man and a man? Similarly, Canon B30 describes marriage as a lifelong union – the church continues to teach this, but has also accepted that in some circumstances it is not (where remarriage after divorce is permitted). Also comparable is the BCP statement on the place of rearing children in marriage, with the corresponding acknowledgement that this is not always the case.

            I think, Rev Peter, the problem with the question you have been asking as to whether the principle of the Article – that an ordained minister may marry lawfully without a Bishop preventing it – means it should include incest, bestiality, polygamy etcetera were they legal can be answered from two perspectives.

            First, incest and bestiality are categorically different. They are illegal anyway, and so they are totally outside the principle that seems to be developing in this country that two adults who may legally have sexual relations with one another may choose to marry.

            Second, the only example which might be categorically similar is the example of polygamy or polyandry – that is, if polygamy were legal in England, should a priest in the Church of England be allowed to marry more than one person? It is, after all, theoretically possible that such marriage might be legalised, as having multiple sexual partners is legal under English law. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, I don’t think the situation is quite the same. The fact is that the Bishops have made it clear that those who enter same-sex marriages should not be excluded from anything that is part of their calling as members of the laos theos, that they should not be denied the Sacraments: that is, that they should be fully welcomed and included in churches. The Bishops have made no such statement on those who enter into polygamous/androus or bigamous/androus marriages. Such a marriage, contracted in England, could surely be grounds for a priest to withdraw the sacraments. And so the principle of Article XXXII, priests should not be denied a marriage permitted to the laity holds good on same-sex marriage. However, unless there are some CofE statements on multiple concurrent marriages of which I’m unaware, it does not hold good in the matter of marriages involving polygamy/polyandry/bigamy/bigandry.

            This is a very important principle. The idea invented in Issues in Human Sexuality (which is, indeed, only a consultation document that throws out this particular idea for discussion and says further debate is needed on it) that the ordained are held to higher standards than the laity is, imho, not only contrary to Article XXXII, but frankly an idolatrous view of priesthood. Priests are ordained from the laity, to model the priesthood of all believers. If they are called as examples for the rest of us, not as some pedastalised class-apart to whose behaviour the rest of us are not expected to aspire.

          • Clive November 15, 2015 at 9:37 am #

            David,

            Jesus said, and it is recorded in the gospels, that “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (see for example Matthew 19 verse 5).

            Clearly a man marrying a man cannot possibly fulfill these words.

            So when you suggest that “… without the Bishops claiming wrongly that we have always held a doctrine on it” … then actually in the gospels Jesus HAS spoken about marriage being between a man and a woman. So you are actually disregarding Jesus’ own words as an irrelevance in your opinion.

            There is a large group of Christians for whom Scripture really does matter and Scripture CANNOT be ignored.

          • David Shepherd November 15, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

            David,

            The CofE has no more a doctrine of same-sex marriage than it has a doctrine of polygamous marriage. The church has a doctrine of marriage, which explains its nature as intended from creation by God.

            The Church’s teaching from the Genesis archetype is that marriage is ordained from God as a binary relationship.

            That precludes the notion that polygamous marriages are equally ordained by God.

            If adherence to the Genesis archetype had been merely optional, Jesus would not have corrected his Jewish hearers for their divergence from it and the licence with which they exploited Moses’ provision for divorce.

            Christ challenged divergence from the enduring Genesis archetype. It’s a special pleading to consider that the opposite sex aspect of marriage is optional.

          • David Beadle November 17, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

            It’s not special pleading, Clive and David. It’s pointing out that marriage has *already* been extended to some who have previously divorced, and some who are infertile. This is an extension of so-called “biblical” marriage.

            I’m not sure these precedents are even necessary however. Of course I’m not disregarding Jesus’ words, I’m happy to acknowledge that a man and woman can marry one another. The matrilineal implications of Clive’s quotation are, in my experience, almost always discarded by Christians (though perhaps not in Jewish readings of Gen. 2:25), though this is another matter. There is nothing in the Bible that refers to men marrying men – that would be totally anachronistic. In the absence of such a statement we can – as Jesus frequently did with passages from scripture – seek to apply the particular to the general, which developed as a common rabbinic technique. As for gender binaries, David, I’d be interested to know if you could show me this argument being made in Church of England doctrine or in literature relevant to the formation of CofE doctrine. Or, indeed, in any literature antecedent to twentieth century debates about “complementarity.”

            Finally, Clive, I find your claim that I don’t take scripture/Jesus words seriously because you throw a biblical quotation at me somewhat facile. How about if I were to throw at you, from the New Testament “slaves submit yourselves to your masters” or “there is no man and woman” or “you are… to abstain from blood” and then, without any attempt to understand you interpret those passages, telling you that you probably disregard

          • David Shepherd November 17, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

            David,

            If you’re arguing for a pastoral accommodation, the House of Bishiops advice to clergy contains questions for the divorced seeking church re-marriage, such as:
            Do the couple understand that divorce is a breach of God’s will for marriage?

            Under a pastoral accommodation, how would the comparable question for same-sex couples be framed? Or are they exempt from the scrutiny of previous ‘extensions’.

            My guess is that the ‘extension’ for which you arguie is not a pastoral accommodation at all. You actually want something very different, which is to gender-neutralise the canon law on marriage. And that requires a change of doctrine.

            In terms of doctrine, you claim that ‘There’s nothing in the Bible that mentions men marrying men – that would be totally anachronistic’.

            So, let’s apply your reasoning to the enduring precedence that Jesus gave to the Genesis archetype.

            The parallel counter-argument to His position actually mirrors your own assertion: There’s nothing in Genesis 1 or 2 that mentions divorce – that would be totally anachronistic.’

            Your argument fails because neither the lack of an explicit divorce prohibition in the Genesis quote, nor even Moses’ subsequent accommodation, prevented Christ from inferring inductively (and, according to you, anachronistically) from Genesis 2 that, bar the exception of porneia, divorce contradicted the will of God.

            If Christ could quote Genesis 2 regarding divorce that was anachronistic to it, I can’t see why we should only hesitate in respect of the respective sexes of spouses, but not in inferring that marriage is intended by God to be between two people and permanent.

            Only a special pleading would explain that exception.

    • Peter Ould November 10, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

      Here’s the problem with your argument Ron. The fundamental issue at stake in the Pemberton case is NOT the right to enter into a same-sex marriage but rather the ability of the Church of England to determine it’s doctrine without the interference of the State AND to have the ability to make sure it’s clergy abide by the doctrine. This is why the Equality Act (as amended by the Same Sex Marriage Act) gives religions the ability to demand of their employees / clergy a requirement that might otherwise be a violation of the Equality Act, in this case the requirement not to be in a same-sex marriage. The specific requirement (not to be in a same-sex marriage) is just a working out of this deeper fundamental principle.

      Your argument about Article 32 is specious. If you really believe that the 32nd Article permits all clergy to marry who they want without any qualification elsewhere in Canon Law (Canon B30 for example which qualifies marriage as between a man and a woman) then you are in effect arguing that if in England we legalised incestuous marriage or polygamy that a priest should be allowed to enter such a marriage without any form of discipline. Do you really believe this? If you don’t then the Article 32 argument is just special pleading for a particular form of relationship you want to grant special rights to.

    • David November 10, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

      Ron, you should be fully aware that the CofE believes that truth is revealed in the scriptures, not determined by a vote in parliament. And the CofE’s clear understanding is that the Bible teaches that marriage is heterosexual – the idea that article 32 can be interpreted otherwise is ridiculous. So a clergyman who chooses to live outside the church’s doctrine can expect sanctions, as clergy are supposed to be examples of Christian values and teaching.

      By the way, would you read article 32 as allowing a clergyman to marry his sister? I doubt it. So article 32 does not amount to a free-for-all on marriage – as Ian and others have said, it is a rejection of the catholic celibacy rule and nothing else.

      • David November 10, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

        Oops, I just said something very similar to Peter O. Serves me right for breaking off a comment to do some work!

      • David Shepherd November 10, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

        David,

        Just be prepared for the fit of pique that will predictably ensue from your example of prohibited sibling marriage. It will be highlighted as another ‘demeaning’ comparison following closely on the heels of enduring years of disgraceful homophobia!

        Also, when orthodox theologians, like Ian Paul, cite prohibitions in Romans against homosexual acts, same-sex marriage supporters insist that NT writers would not have been aware of the kind of permanent, faithful and stable same-sex relationships that we see today.

        Fast forward from the first-century to 1563 and Pemberton dispenses with the historical context of clerical celibacy in order to claim that Article XXXII completely exonerates his same-sex marriage.

        Another breath-taking double-standard!

  5. Phill November 10, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    Thanks for this Ian. A few months ago, for a number of weeks I was involved in a Facebook group discussing same-sex marriage and good disagreement. (Not Jayne Ozanne’s group, a similar one). It struck me then, and it still does, that there will never be any progress on this because both ‘sides’ listen to and value very different things. It’s not a discussion which can happen without one side radically changing their whole worldview.

    In our church at the moment, we’re going through a series on the ten commandments, and this week we’ve reached “You shall not bear false witness”. It seems characteristic of these debates that the issue is not truth but feelings. Jesus said “You shall know the truth, and the truth set you free.” It’s sad to me that many seem to be less concerned with truth than feeling hurt, and that even within the debate truth and facts are downplayed or ignored.

    • Andrew Godsall November 10, 2015 at 11:16 am #

      Hmm..the ‘truth’ is that those who oppose what Jeremy has done feel ‘hurt’ isn’t it?
      It was very unclear from the programme what Ian thought *should* have happened once Jeremy got married. Ian has talked about ‘discipline’ on a number of occasions, but despite repeated requests for clarification has never said what he thinks this discipline should be.

      • Ian Paul November 10, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

        I don’t feel ‘hurt’ by what Jeremy has done. I believe he has been dishonest.

        He should lose his licence through the usually disciplinary process. I think he would agree that that would constitute consistent action on the part of the Church.

        • Mathew Sheffield November 10, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

          Ian, should that process begin before or after the appeal (assuming said appeal goes ahead)?

          Less succinctly; If you believe that the bishops have sufficient cause to initiate one now, on the strength of this ruling alone, what do they (the church) stand to loose or gain by waiting (or not waiting)? Would a disciplinary process be strengthened by an established legal precedent? Does that matter? Etc.

          Apologies if the question reads poorly, I hope you can understand what I’m asking.

          Mat

          • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 6:59 am #

            It’s the other way round. An EAT win for the Church would set a precedent in law which might make it much easier to remove from office a priest who entered a same sex marriage as the doctrine involved would have been clearly established and recognised in a court of law.

          • Mathew Sheffield November 11, 2015 at 9:59 am #

            “An EAT win for the Church would set a precedent in law which might make it much easier to remove from office a priest who entered a same sex marriage as the doctrine involved would have been clearly established and recognised in a court of law.”

            We agree then Peter, I must not have been clear in what I was asking.

            My question was not about weather a failed appeal would bolster the churches case (I think it clearly would, as would Ian) but rather about if it should actually matter when it comes to the prospect of further action…

            I’ll try and ask the question in a better way.

            If I understand correctly, this tribunal ruling explicitly says the church would have had the right to pursue disciplinary action, but chose not to on “compassionate” grounds. This seems a fair and reasonable pastoral judgement on the part of the bishop.

            Therefore, if the mechanism for disciplinary already exists (flawed though it may be, I confess to knowing little to nothing about it) then what is stopping the bishops, following this case, from pursuing said action immediately? This is what I took to be implicit from Ian’s above response.

            So, my question is, if the case is already very strong, strong enough that it could potentially have been pursued prior to the tribunal (as is implicit), what do people stand to gain from waiting until after an appeal? Why not initiate the action now?

            I understand that the appeal could be used to set a legal precedent in English law, but legal matters are broadly different from disciplinary ones, and the canon law has been upheld in the strongest possible terms already.

          • Mathew Sheffield November 11, 2015 at 10:01 am #

            “what is stopping the bishops, following this case, from pursuing said action immediately?”

            I meant to add; “other than continued compassionate grounds.”

          • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 11:27 am #

            Good question,

            I think there has been a desire to avoid a CDM case so far just in case the Bishops lose it. An EAT ruling similar to the first round ET strengthens the complainants’ hand (archdeacon in this case) because it demonstrates a secular court precedent that understands (i) that this is a clear and unambiguous doctrinal issue for the CofE and (ii) that the Church has a right to discipline its clergy in this area.

            So that’s why I am of the opinion (after chatting to others more knowledgeable) that an EAT strengthens the position of the Church. Even it did though, the next question to be asked is whether the CofE would want the publicity that surrounded removing a licence from Pemberton, Foreshew-Cain and others (yes, there are others). That is a completely different consideration. It is perfectly possible to win a battle and in doing so to position your forces in such a manner that defeat in the war is actually made much more likely.

          • David Shepherd November 11, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

            Peter,

            Two years ago, in my comment to your blog post: CDM or EJM?, I suggested that the more likely ‘disciplinary’ route would be the denial of preferment.

            If you consider the withdrawal of Rev. Kit Chalcraft’s PTO after his third marriage and his eventual reinstatement by the Bishop of Norwich, I doubt since then the CofE has found the stomach to subject a gay vicar to what will be widely viewed as disciplinary martyrdom.

            Instead, denial of preferment would provide a safer route for the Church to discipline those who defy canonical obedience and the due process for amending canon law through General Synod.

        • Andrew Godsall November 11, 2015 at 10:07 am #

          I don’t agree that Jeremy has been dishonest. But let’s see how consistent you might want to be. Do you think anyone who is dishonest at all should lose their licence?

          • Jeremy Pemberton November 11, 2015 at 11:52 am #

            As a matter of fact it is not now possible to bring a CDM action against me for having got married. The time during which a complaint could have been laid and any action taken under the CDM had the bishop been so minded to pursue it ran out on 12th April 2015.

          • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

            Jeremy I think you are correct. However, it has only just come into the public arena that your bishop has declared to you that you are living in breach of your ordination vows.

            I could imagine that someone in your diocese could see this as a new situation which does have a material impact on their continuing ministry, and so perhaps the clock has started again.

            As a matter of interest, at what date did you initiate the tribunal case?

          • Jeremy Pemberton November 12, 2015 at 7:06 am #

            I think any attempt to do that would be even more catastrophic for the C of E’s PR than this last effort has been. If anyone is daft enough to try it, then bring it on. I can’t think that any bishop will look on such an attempt kindly.

          • Ian Paul November 12, 2015 at 8:06 am #

            I agree with you on the PR. What date did you start proceedings by the way?

          • Bernard Randall November 12, 2015 at 11:48 am #

            Jeremy,

            I am happy to accept that you believe that Article XXXII can reasonably be construed in the way that you do. Your position has integrity, therefore.

            On the other hand, I will agree with others here that your interpretation looks so unlikely to be sustainable that I find it hard to work out why you believe what you do. Which is a way of saying that I don’t see this as a question upon which people can ultimately agree to have differing views on account of some manifest ambiguity. I think it’s the kind of matter where it is reasonable to say that some interpretations, having been examined and tested, are wrong. And we are, surely, at the stage of examining and testing your interpretation.

            So then the question of integrity arises in this way: if all avenues of appeal are exhausted, and each time your interpretation is rejected as not one which can reasonably be held, at least within the Church of England’s discipline (and I know that’s a big, long-term “if”), do you then resign your Orders? For having reached that stage, to insist that your understanding of Article XXXII is reasonable looks eccentric at best, or worse deluded, and at worst self-serving .

            Which is a long-winded way of saying that I think you’re entitled (with integrity) to your opinion, but having gone to law to test it, what happens if/when the law says you are no longer entitled to that opinion as an ordained priest in the Church of England?

            What alarms me much more, as regards integrity is for a representative of the Church (which is at least part of what ordination entails) to say that a CDM complaint would be disastrous for the Church’s PR, and to go on to say any kind of “bring it on.” Are you wishing a PR disaster on the Church? Do you want the Church held up to the court of public opinion/ridicule? I cannot see integrity in that.

  6. Thomas Renz November 10, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    LF Buckland, where is the statement anywhere on Ian Paul’s blog that Canon Jeremy Pemberton or anyone else is “utterly condemned”? And from where do you get the idea that a concern with truth and integrity, that is for the church to be pursuing what is right, is incompatible with showing compassion? Do you see any hint in the words or acts of Jesus which suggest that sometimes abandoning any concern for what is right is the more compassionate thing to do?

    It is undeniable that many have pursued what is true and right in ways that are incompatible with Christian love but yours seems to be a concern not with how the church upholds its teaching but a criticism of the mere fact that she does.

  7. Andrew Godsall November 10, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    “He also claims that no complaint has been made against him; clergy in Lincoln diocese have been in touch with me to say that that is not the case, since they did in fact complain to the bishop at the time.”

    I think it begins to look as if the ‘Rebuke’ that was given to Jeremy WAS given under the CDM, but that the process followed was not at all clear. I don’t see how a rebuke can be issued in any other way.

    • Jeremy Pemberton November 10, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

      No it wasn’t. The bishop gave it me as my Ordinary – it was definitely NOT under the CDM process.

      • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

        Yes, that must surely be right. I am not sure that the bishop himself could initiate CDM.

        • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

          It would have to be an Archdeacon who raises a CDM on behalf of the Diocese.

      • Andrew Godsall November 11, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

        Yes – of course to all of that. But you are missing the point. The point is that I’m not sure that a bishop can now just ‘discipline’ someone by giving a ‘rebuke’ WITHOUT it being part of the CDM process. Unless it’s just a fancy term for a pastoral slap on the wrist. In which case it has no real standing or bearing on this or any case – it’s just a pastoral conversation in writing and is not discipline. If bishops want to adminster discipline, I think they have to use CDM.
        If I’m wrong, please point me to any guidance which says a bishop can just administer discipline without using the CDM…..

        • Jonathan Tallon November 11, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

          I hadn’t noticed this before. I assumed there must be some sort of parallel process for those who are chaplains. But if there is, I can’t find it. I suspect you are right, Andrew – the ‘rebuke’ cannot formally be a rebuke, because that would require CDM (and the opportunity for the respondent to either agree to the rebuke or appeal). Jeremy clearly didn’t accept the ‘rebuke’ (the tribunal notes that he objected to it in detail (p.17 of the judgment)). But it remained anyway.

          This is weird – has some new disciplinary process just happened? Or does the ‘rebuke’ have no status at all (in which case Jeremy is completely correct in asserting that he is a priest in good standing in Lincoln diocese)?

          One for the ecclesiastical lawyers to comment on?

        • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

          You’re wrong. A rebuke can be issued by an Ordinary for anything he perceives as being incorrect behaviour (for example, breaking the doctrine of marriage of the Church as in this case). That rebuke will be recorded, though that recording of the rebuke could equally be challenged by the person rebuked.

          A rebuke in this manner is simply the Bishop saying “I believe you acted incorrectly in doing X” and making that observation publicly available (for example, to other Bishops). A CDM is someone saying to the Bishop “I believe that Person Y did X wrong” and the Bishop (eventually, perhaps) saying “Yes, I do believe you are right that Person Y did X wrong and I am going to do Z to Person Y”.

        • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

          It’s best to think about this rebuke business in the context of the matter at hand. The rebuke simply exists to record the Bishop’s opinion on an action that Pemberton undertook (getting married to someone the doctrine of the Church of England states he shouldn’t get married to). Any other Bishop can use that rebuke as a material input into deciding whether to licence Pemberton in the future, but it is the material act that was rebuked that is the deciding factor, not the rebuke itself.

          Or to put it another way, Inwood might have had regard (amongst other things) to the rebuke Lowson gave Pemberton for his marriage in making his decision to withhold a licence. But the rebuke only had force in as much as it recorded an action which was incompatible with Holy Orders. If Lowson had rebuked Pemberton for voting Tory (for example) then that would still be a rebuke from an Ordinary but it would be a ridiculous rebuke and if anyone used it as an argument not to licence then they would very likely find themselves on the end of a successful ET case.

          • Andrew Godsall November 11, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

            And where would the guidance notes about this be? Where can clergy read about this in the same way they can read about the CDM process?

          • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

            You continue to misunderstand. It’s NOT a disciplinary process. It’s a publication of an opinion of the Ordinary. The Ordinary can say what he wants to whoever he wants, he just has to be prepared to accept the consequences of whatever he says.

          • Andrew Godsall November 11, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

            Peter, you are just agreeing with what I have said all long: the rebuke is not actually a piece of discipline at all.

          • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

            I’m not sure that is what he is saying. A rebuke is discipline, but not under the formal discipline process.

            I’ve no idea how we can have become so detached from the meaning of words to think that a bishop saying ‘You are in breach of your ordination vows’ can be regarded as something other than very grave. What on earth is going on?

          • Andrew Godsall November 12, 2015 at 7:34 am #

            “I’ve no idea how we can have become so detached from the meaning of words to think that a bishop saying ‘You are in breach of your ordination vows’ can be regarded as something other than very grave. What on earth is going on?”

            Oh Ian this is very simple and I’m not sure why it needs spelling out but it’s probably a good time to do so. What’s going on is that for several decades we have had bishops who say one thing privately and another thing publicly. Rowan Williams and Nick Holtam are just two examples of bishops who are quite open to clergy in openly homosexual relationships but have been forced into silence about it. And there are others. We even had an archbishop who had accepted a suffragan in an openly homosexual relationship but then forced him to stand down for fear of pressure from conservative evangelicals at home and abroad. That’s what is going on. Once what seems to be hypocrisy is institutionalised there are bound to be consequences. You can’t express acceptance of married gay and lesbian clergy on the one hand and then attempt to discipline them with the other. Something is going to give.

          • Ian Paul November 12, 2015 at 8:09 am #

            Andrew, yes I am aware of that, and have written about it more than once.

            And of course is has primarily been liberal bishops who have been guilty of this hypocrisy, which I agree with you should end.

            But that is not the question I am asking. Christopher Lowson’s approach is now public, and he appears to have been both consistent and acted in line with the bishop’s stated position.

            I am wondering how there is any debate about the fact that, although not part of a formal process, this is a serious act of discipline. That is what the Tribunal observed it to be, and correctly.

          • Jonathan Tallon November 12, 2015 at 10:31 am #

            Peter: “It’s NOT a disciplinary process. It’s a publication of an opinion of the Ordinary.”

            Ian: “I am wondering how there is any debate about the fact that, although not part of a formal process, this is a serious act of discipline.”

            To call it a serious act of discipline is, if Peter is correct, inappropriate. And rightly so – if it was a serious act of discipline, it would have rights of appeal and consequences. In other words, it would look like CDM.

            Ultimately the rebuke tells us what the bishop thought – not whether he was right to think that (which would require the potential for it to be challenged under an impartial process).

          • Peter Ould November 12, 2015 at 10:47 am #

            “Ultimately the rebuke tells us what the bishop thought – not whether he was right to think that (which would require the potential for it to be challenged under an impartial process).”

            Exactly. A rebuke of this form expresses the Bishop’s opinion. It can be referred to in any consequential disciplinary action (for example, the removal of a PTO, the refusal to grant a licence) but it is not in and of itself “discipline” in the strictest sense.

          • Andrew Godsall November 12, 2015 at 10:56 am #

            Yay! Peter Ould and I agree about something! Is this a first?! Let joy be unconfined!

  8. Laurence Cunnington November 10, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    I will confine myself to observations of a factual nature:

    “Jeremy must have had considerable financial and personal support to pursue this case, presumably from gay lobby groups such as Stonewall and people like Peter Tatchell”

    Though not an unreasonable presumption it is absolutely wrong. The source of funding for Jeremy’s litigation has no interest at all in LGBT issues nor in the Church of England. It does not even have an interest in the outcome of the litigation. Obviously, he has received ‘personal support’ from a wide range of people.

    “and suggests that Jeremy initiated the case not because he would win, but because it would gain publicity. Presumably the same will be true of his planned appeal.”

    Thankfully, for all concerned, the English Courts system is completely blind to the motivations of civil litigants. The case was accepted at a preliminary hearing as falling within the jurisdiction of the Employment Tribunal and held to be of sufficient merit to be listed for a five-day hearing. Likewise, Grounds for Appeal will be submitted to the Employment Appeal Tribunal for consideration. If the EAT believes those grounds to be sufficient it will give ‘leave to Appeal’ – if it doesn’t it won’t. The EAT has no interest in the motivations of the litigant be they publicity-seeking or otherwise.

    • David Shepherd November 10, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

      Laurence,

      You’re not completely right about the English Courts system having no interest in the motivations of civil litigants.

      Our system of litigation is based equity, a corollary of which is that ‘He who comes to equity must come with clean hands’

      This is alternatively expressed through the maxim: ‘A court of equity will not assist a person in extricating himself or herself from the circumstances that he or she has created.’

      In this case, the maxim was vindicated in the Employment Tribunal’s judgement of Jeremy’s complaint.

      It’s an interesting contrast that when Ladele went to Tribunal and the ECtHR, the secular equivalent of unyielding canonical obedience was vaunted by supporters of civil partnerships as the reason that she should never be reinstated. They also rejected any interference of religion in areas of civil jurisdiction.

      Now the shoe of authority is on the religious foot, they wince as it inflicts a tight and doctrinaire ‘pinch’. Oh, and now it’s okay for civil authorities to limit religious exemptions.

      Now that self-serving double-standard *is* hypocrisy!

      • Laurence Cunnington November 11, 2015 at 8:47 am #

        “It’s an interesting contrast that when Ladele went to Tribunal and the ECtHR, the secular equivalent of unyielding canonical obedience was vaunted by supporters of civil partnerships as the reason that she should never be reinstated.”

        Not that I am one of those supporters.

        I think ‘reasonable accommodation’ or a conscience clause could have been the flexible solution for registrars already in post, such as Ms Ladele (though I still find it odd that, as a Christian, she should want to conduct any civil marriages – but that’s her business). Registrars appointed subsequently would not have been afforded that protection.

    • Peter Ould November 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

      I think it’s fairly clear that because this is such a significant case the employment tribunal was never not going to hear it. Where an EAT will hear the appeal is down to the grounds of the appeal, but the EAT will have the significance of the case in mind as well.

      Remember, an EAT can set precedent. The EAT may permit the appeal, even if they think it is weak, in order to “settle” the matter as conclusively as possible (at this stage).

    • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

      Laurence, can I thank you for your courage and graciousness in being willing to contribute to a discussion which you have every right to consider is not yours. I appreciate it.

      I am very happy to be corrected on the question of support, and have added a note to that effect in the text above. A lawyer friend of mine who knows the team believes that much of the work has been done pro bono, and in fact the comment from one of the team on the CA FB page confirms this.

      So I stand corrected. It is too easy to lapse into paranoia in these debates! (Mind you, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean that they are not out to get you…)

      • Laurence Cunnington November 11, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

        You are correct. A proportion of the work done by Jeremy’s lawyers was on a ‘pro bono’ basis.

        • Laurence Cunnington November 11, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

          I’ve just read your note in the original post. The word ‘most’ is incorrect and should read ‘some’.

    • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

      “I will confine myself to observations of a factual nature”

      If only everyone else would

  9. Mark Vasey-Saunders November 10, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    Hi Ian, I read your blog post with interest, just as I watched the discussion between Jeremy and you with interest. I was impressed with the courteous way in which that discussion was conducted, the clarity with which you both expressed your positions, and I am glad to hear you affirming here your desire that there can be good disagreement (though clearly you are concerned that this interview suggests otherwise). I would suggest that a key element of enabling good disagreement is attempting to make charitable interpretations of the statements made by our ‘opponents’, in the hope that they would do the same for us. I am a little concerned that you may not have done so here.

    You suggest at the end that Jeremy responded to the accusation that he did not live within the teaching of the church as a ‘fearful slur’ and imply that this shows his contempt for the bishop and tribunal judge. Having watched the interview carefully, I think it is actually the suggestion that he is not a person of integrity that he states is a slur. The tribunal ruling itself explicitly states (point 13) that they found all the witnesses (including Jeremy) to be persons of the utmost integrity. Whatever you may feel about Jeremy’s integrity, it is hard to argue that in defending it he is speaking against a tribunal ruling that explicitly commends him for it.

    • Ian Paul November 10, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

      Mark, thanks for your observations.

      It is worth listening carefully to what Jeremy and I both say. I didn’t actually say that ‘Jeremy lacks integrity’; what I did say is that I know others who, out of integrity, because they have sworn an oath of canonical obedience, have not entered same-sex marriage because they know that goes against the teaching of the Church.

      Jeremy then immediately responds ‘I do not believe I have gone against the teaching of the Church.’ The tribunal commends Jeremy for his integrity, but it concludes very clearly that Jeremy has gone against the clear teaching of the Church, that he was warned that this would be the case if he went ahead with his marriage, and afterwards that this had been the case.

      So I think I am on safe ground on this point!

      Though I did not claim it in the discussion, I don’t understand how anyone can commit to uphold the teaching of the Church, then clearly disregard it, and then claim to be acting with integrity. It just does not add up.

  10. Jeremy Pemberton November 10, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    Dear Mark,

    You are completely correct.

  11. Daniel Moody November 10, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

    ‘The valorisation of emotionalism’. Yup.

    When we believe in the existence of Truth, we can debate the meaning of things. We can accept both a) that things have meaning and b) that the meaning is knowable through our mind precisely because the meaning exists independent of our mind.

    But when we suppose Truth to be a property of each individual’s mind (“this is my truth”) we can no longer acknowledge independent/universal meaning. We cannot then debate X, since X has no meaning around which to debate. The nihilist can never lose an argument because, according to his own terms, there is nothing to lose; no wrong answer to give. The flip side (which usually goes unmentioned) is that he can never win an argument either. In that respect the Church of England is ahead of the curve (towards nihilism) since the Shared Conversations are not concerned with asking whether the word Marriage represents something of which we can say “this is true” ie that marriage truly is something, and nothing bar that something.

    • Don Benson November 10, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

      Spot on!

  12. Paul November 11, 2015 at 5:39 am #

    I don’t have time to address a single issue within this debate. Just wanted, at the thought of ever being in that sort of situation myself, to thank you Ian for your willingness to take part publicly in all this. May you have strength to continue to seek the honour Jesus Christ, engaging with tact within the social rules of contemporary society- what you can and can’t say. The emotional toll must be enormous.

    • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

      Thanks for the support, Paul. Appreciated.

    • James E Pennington November 11, 2015 at 11:37 pm #

      Agreed.. Thanks Ian for giving a gracious and robust defence of the Church’s position on this matter. It is appreciated and I hope you will be given further opportunities to do this really vital work, defending the Church’s position through the sometimes hostile media, to a secularised world (though I don’t think public opinion is half as liberal on these matters as some polls would suggest).

  13. James Byron November 11, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    “I think there could be an interesting conversation as to whether same-sex marriage could be considered under the same kind of rubric [as divorce], as a concession in the light of human failure. I am not sure that Jeremy and others would welcome this though.”

    Ian, in return, are you offering to drop your opposition to English clergy contracting same-sex (civil) marriages, and also drop the requirement that all gay clergy be celibate for life? ‘Cause if so, that’s exactly what I’ve suggested on here for months, and I strongly suspect that a majority of affirming Anglicans would jump at the offer.

    • Ian Paul November 11, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

      James, yes you have suggested this before. It is a theoretical discussion, since I don’t think revisionists would consider this for a second.

      But your ‘deal’ is the wrong way around. First, I have never suggested that gay clergy should be celibate. I have gay friends who are married—to women.

      Second, the pattern in relation to divorce and remarriage is that remarriage is granted as a concession in the light of failure—lifelong commitment is still the norm and the Church’s belief about marriage. So the parallel situation would be that same-sex marriage was still prohibited. But allowing it would be a pastoral accommodation in the situation of a failure to live by the Church’s teaching. As in the case of remarriage after divorce, the doctrine of marriage would not be revised.

      I think this is the idea behind Oliver O’Donovan’s idea of ‘pastoral accommodation’ which I think has been misapplied by Robert Song.

      • James Byron November 11, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

        Ian, if a gay person has consummated a marriage to a person of the opposite sex, they’re either bi, or having sex with someone they feel no attraction to. For many gay people, neither’s an option. Realistically, they are being asked to remain celibate for life.

        As for divorce, the “pastoral accommodation” accommodates a marriage that is, according to Jesus in the beatitudes, no marriage at all; and according to Paul in Corithinans, the resulting adultery’s as much of a “salvation issue” as homosexuality. That the marriage is heterosexual is, by biblical standards, irrelevant: what matters is that it’s illicit.

        If one ongoing, unrepentant sin can be accommodated for pastoral reasons, why not another, of equal gravity?

        • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

          “Ian, if a gay person has consummated a marriage to a person of the opposite sex, they’re either bi, or having sex with someone they feel no attraction to.”

          I think that’s a very narrow view of sexuality. As Lisa Diamond has shown in her research, a lot of people who describe themselves as “exclusively gay” tend to have much less exclusive sex lives (and potential for sex lives). There are also plenty of gay men who, whilst pretty well exclusively homosexual in attraction, find one particular woman is actually a perfect and desirable sexual partner for them.

          If we treat sexual attraction as being only valid if it is experienced at the beginning of a relationship we sell ourselves very short as holistic relational beings and we reduce sex to a physical act rather than a spiritual and emotional union enacted through the physical.

          • James Byron November 11, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

            Peter, unless you’re claiming that we’re all bisexual to some extent (even if it’s an extent of one), you must accept that, for some gay people, the traditional teaching demands lifelong celibacy.

            Given that Christianity’s emphasized self-denial right out the gate, and given that setting aside self-gratification for God is a major plank of evangelical arguments against homosexuality, you and Ian would presumably be OK with that exacting standard.

          • Peter Ould November 11, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

            No, it demands life long chastity, not celibacy. The difference is crucial, Chastity is the self-sacrifice in the sexual realm that we are all called to. A vow of celibacy is something entirely different.

        • David Shepherd November 11, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

          James,

          St. Paul himself distinguishes those deserted by their unbelieving spouses by saying: ‘But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.’ 1 Cor. 7:15.

          Paul did not see this as a pastoral accommodation of unrepentant sin.

          The apostle’s declaration that spouses have no further marital obligation towards unbelievers who desert their marriage sets a scriptural precedent for permitting General Synod to affirm that ‘there are circumstances in which a divorced person may be married in church’.

          Your comparison of re-marriage after divorce with same-sex marriage is simply ‘flogging a dead horse’.

          • James Byron November 11, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

            A horse the beatitudes record Jesus thrashing with gusto, David: either divorce is banned outright (Mark); or there’s a narrow exception on grounds of sexual immorality (Matthew). Abandonment isn’t mentioned; even violence isn’t mentioned.

            Paul may be adding an additional exemption for unbelievers who abandon their wives, but even if he is, a) it plays merry, erm, heck with biblical authority, and b) the church doesn’t restrict remarriage to divorces issued on grounds of sexual immorality or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.

            Objection stands.

          • David Shepherd November 11, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

            James,

            Now, when we’ve discussed this scripture about divorce before, same-sex marriage supporters have restricted its applicability to its specificcontext and audience. We are not, they say, to infer anything else from the Genesis archetype, including same-sex marriage, since they are ibeyond explicit issue addressed by Christ.

            Instead, let’s apply the ostensible context to the gospels and recognise that St. Paul was responding to a wholly different situation to that addressed by Jesus.

            Oh, but now, Christ’s pronouncement against divorce transcends the context of his Jewish hearers, eh?

            Guess what? You can’t have it both ways. Either we can make inferences beyond the immediate context of the question posed to Jesus, or we can’t.

            Objection overruled!

          • James Byron November 11, 2015 at 10:01 pm #

            Agreed, David — but whichever position we take, we must be consistent.

            There’s nothing in Jesus’ words to indicate limited applicability; therefore, if Paul’s pronouncements in Corinthians and Romans bind us today, so too does Jesus’ command on divorce. (A command repeated by Paul, a few lines above the passage you quoted.)

          • David Shepherd November 12, 2015 at 12:02 am #

            James,

            And if we were limited to deductive inferences, you might have a point.

            Instead, Christ’s own words tackle the root cause of sexual sin, which is selfish faithlessness. He declares thst even a married man’s roving eye is tantamount to adultery of the heart.

            On that basis, we can infer that desertion is al similar act of selfish faithlessness. St. Paul says of the effect of such dereliction: ‘if any man provide not for his own, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel’.

            An expansive understanding of porneia (that includes desertion, rape, etc) is consistent with Jesus’ expansive prohibitions against adultery and should include desertion.

            Therefore, desertion triggers the Mattthaen exception, which is exactly as St. Paul explains in 1 Cor. 7.

          • James Byron November 12, 2015 at 8:48 am #

            This is a gem, David: an all-inclusive definition of “sexual immorality” that makes the affirming “Paul was talking about orgies and was totally OK with loving gay relationships” exegesis look credible.

            Sexual immorality now means, variously, abandonment, domestic violence, and, apparently, no-fault divorce. A definition so wide you could march an army through it, and you have done.

            It also renders Jesus’ command on divorce meaningless: if he in fact meant, “Divorce all you like,” why exactly did he contrast his position with the Mosaic law; and why, in the very letter you quote, did Paul repeat the command to reconcile or remain unmarried?

            Alternatively, Jesus’ “sins of the heart” were about requiring moral perfection, not churning out decrees nisi with an enthusiasm that’d put a Vegas chapel to shame.

          • David Shepherd November 12, 2015 at 9:44 am #

            James,

            Your penchant for hyperbole has got the better of you. How is it ‘all-inclusive’ to harmonise the Matthaen exception, ‘for the cause of porneia’ with what Christ himself said about sexual sin?

            Given that we know that the question to which Christ responded was whether divorce was permissible for *any cause*, his stringent line with a specific exception for porneia makes sense.

            Within that scriptural exception, I made no mention of ‘no-fault divorce’ and scripture supports no such inference. But don’t let that stop you putting words in my mouth.

            Of course, your reference to it simply bypasses Christ’s own exception to set up a false dichotomy of either ‘no exceptions’ whatsoever or complete permissiveness.

            Ultimately, St. Paul distinguishes married believers from those married to unbelievers, his command to reconcile or reman unmarried being addressed to the former.

            In respect of an unbeliever’s marital desertion, what part of ‘not bound’ do you not understand? Oh, but let’s follow your ‘logic’.

            It’s, of course, all part of your deductive ‘proof’ that St. Paul teaching was an inconsistent diatribe ever at odds with earlier pronouncements and more especially Christ. A consequence of which is complete licence to affirm a special pleading for same-sex marriage.

            This aside, it’s your attempt to insinuate falsely that my argument gives tacit approval to no-fault’ divorce that demonstrates your desperation. Most here wouldn’t resort to that. Nevertheless, it’s all part of the James we know and love: making another paltry attempt at reductio ad absurdum. which, once again, fails miserably.

          • James Byron November 12, 2015 at 7:07 pm #

            David, the Church of England currently allows remarriage after no-fault divorce: short of requiring its priests to remarry divorcées no-questions-asked, it’s impossible to get more permissive than that.

            Now, if you’re not defending Church of England policy, fair enough — but if so, your comments are irrelevant to a discussion about said policy. If you are defending Church of England policy, you presumably claim biblical warrant for remarriage after no-fault divorce, alongside your, well, let’s say liberal interpretation of sexual immorality.

            Which is it?

          • David Shepherd November 12, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

            James,

            It is as I said: ‘The apostle’s declaration that spouses have no further marital obligation towards unbelievers who desert their marriage sets a scriptural precedent for permitting General Synod to affirm that ‘there are circumstances in which a divorced person may be married in church’.

            The CofE has simply devolved the scrutiny of those exceptional circumstances to the discretion of the local officiating priest. Also, the House of Bishops has provided detailed guidance, https://www.churchofengland.org/media/37453/mcad1.doc which, in particular, asks: ‘Would the effects of the proposed marriage on individuals, the wider community and the Church be such as to undermine the credibility of the Church’s witness to marriage?’ And ‘Would permitting the new marriage be tantamount to consecrating an old infidelity?’

            There is no difference between this ‘allowing’ divergence and any other recent pastoral guidance. Short of rigorous policing, did the pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage ‘allow’ Jeremy Pemberton to marry Laurence Cunnington? Of course not!

            Now, I’m not suggesting that the Church has got it completely right, but I am saying that even St. Paul admitted that desertion was an exceptional circumstance for which a prior marital obligation to an unbeliever could be set aside.

            The point is that there is no similarly explicit scriptural authority from which we can extrapolate biblically grounded theology in support of same-sex marriage.

          • David Beadle November 14, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

            The problem, David Shepherd, is that the CofE’s teaching on this is still at odds with Matthew and Paul. The exception under porneia (presumably to be read in 1 Cor 7:15 if it refers partly to marriage to a non-believer) is a specific term referring to specific kinds of marriage. And the CofE’s exceptions are much broader.

          • David Shepherd November 14, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

            David,

            My aim was to challenge the faulty and unqualified attempt to equate the ‘pastoral accommodation’ of re-marriage after divorce with the potential affirmation of same-sex marriage.

            You’re right that, absent testing every case against the biblical exception, the CofE’s ad clerum permits the local vicar to exercise wider discretion than the explicit marital circumstances mentioned in 1 Cor. 7:15.

            This may be down to sheer pragmatism.

            The key difference is that the CofE’s authorisation of exceptional circumstances starts from a biblically grounded precedent, even if the specific exceptions are not defined for the clergy’s adherence prescriptively.

            Nevertheless, nowhere does the ad clerum itself connive at what James described as ‘on-going, unrepentant sin’. Therefore, comparing church re-marriage after divorce to a potential accommodation of same-sex marriage is faulty.

    • Mathew Sheffield November 11, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

      I find it fascinating (perhaps that’s the wrong word) that we are even able to have this debate at all.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t provision of a working linguistic and theological framework in which people can discuss these complex matters of sexuality, gender and marriage (my wording) precisely the point of the Shared Conversations?

      Therefore, in short, the very fact that you (the seasoned debaters on this issue, Ian, Peter, Jeremy etc) are able to have this discussion at all, and that each knows broadly what everyone else means, and why it is meant, is testament to the success of said conversations?

      We can all disagree, but at least we can agree on why we disagree. This is surely a situation that would have been far harder to create a decade ago?

  14. Deborah Salmon November 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

    I think my mind always gets a little confused on the area of discrimination because anyone who sets a standard of living be it at home ( hearing yells of children “Its not fair”) in the workplace ” I am entitled to a raise” in the wider community ” these buses should be running on time as i am late for work” Next seasons dresses are not done in size 16 and above” and the church “it doesn’t give me everything i feel i am entitled to” in the manner of Lord of the Manor or Queen gimme! We all feel we have entitlement and many feel aggrieved if these things are not met! In a sense the minute we are born life and god discriminate! For one he places in a home where there is wealth another in poor country where food is scarce and hunger commonplace! One is born with a healthy body, another with limbs missing and limitations for the rest of their lives! For one is given an intelligent mind which will take them far others may have learning difficulties but be gifted in simplicity and being a friend to those in need! in this debate some are given the ability to marry others ( not a human right) will not be ever able to marry or have children! I don’t think it comes as any surprise to say life and god discriminates! We all have different stories, abilities, homes, incomes,history, pain , difficulties!

    In this case I don’t understand Jeremy’s reasoning ( although I do have some sympathy with his confusion over the CofE and the outworking of this) that he entered into something well knowing the teaching and goes against it and yet questions the integrity of the church! If this was a company that he was working for and he went against policy and proceedure and the basis of his contract agreement( and maybe affected others within the company he would be reprimanded and if he still refused would lose his job? I am also sure ( or not so sure?) That Jeremy realises that sexuality is not just LGBT and that and people in position are there to serve all people not just the ones we have a vested interest in!
    Just a few posers and questions?

    • Chris Bishop November 11, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

      I think you have nailed the issue Deborah!

  15. Bob Stephens November 11, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

    Ian ,just let you know you are thoughts and prayers over this issue

  16. Peter Waddell November 11, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    From the original post:

    Jeremy goes on to cite a common accusation, that the Church has changed its understanding of marriage. Formally speaking, that is not the case; remarriage after divorce is a concession in the light of a failure to live up to biblical and Church teaching.

    Without wanting to get into the whole SSM question, or even to the relationship between that and the remarriage after divorce question…

    I don’t understand in what sense Ian thinks the Church’s understanding of marriage has not changed as a result of its decision to allow remarriage after divorce in certain circumstances. Either marriages are indissoluble (except by death) or they’re not. Until really rather recently, the Church of England was committed to the first view; now its practice assumes the second. That’s a fairly important shift in understanding, is it not?

  17. Andrew Godsall November 12, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    “I’ve no idea how we can have become so detached from the meaning of words to think that a bishop saying ‘You are in breach of your ordination vows’ can be regarded as something other than very grave. What on earth is going on?”

    Oh Ian this is very simple and I’m not sure why it needs spelling out but it’s probably a good time to do so. What’s going on is that for several decades we have had bishops who say one thing privately and another thing publicly. Rowan Williams and Nick Holtam are just two examples of bishops who are quite open to clergy in openly homosexual relationships but have been forced into silence about it. And there are others. We even had an archbishop who had accepted a suffragan in an openly homosexual relationship but then forced him to stand down for fear of pressure from conservative evangelicals at home and abroad. That’s what is going on. Once what seems to be hypocrisy is institutionalised there are bound to be consequences. You can’t express acceptance of married gay and lesbian clergy on the one hand and then attempt to discipline them with the other. Something is going to give.

    • Ian Paul November 12, 2015 at 8:11 am #

      Andrew, yes I am aware of that, and have written about it more than once.

      And of course is has primarily been liberal bishops who have been guilty of this hypocrisy, which I agree with you should end.

      But that is not the question I am asking. Christopher Lowson’s approach is now public, and he appears to have been both consistent and acted in line with the bishop’s stated position.

      I am wondering how there is any debate about the fact that, although not part of a formal process, this is a serious act of discipline. That is what the Tribunal observed it to be, and correctly.

      • Andrew Godsall November 12, 2015 at 9:47 am #

        Sadly Ian I don’t think it is at all as clear as you are trying to make out. The current Bishop of Lincoln’s approach is now public – that much is true. As to what Chris Lowson thinks privately – well we don’t know that. We can suspect that the current bishop of Lincoln took that approach because the hurried private meetings of the House of Bishops forced them all to take a line. But we know the previous Bishop of Lincoln didn’t think that. And we still know that the private views of bishops differ. But we also are aware of bullying tactics from conservative evangelicals. So I suspect we may never know what some of the private views are.

        As to the discipline question. The only serious discipline the C of E can bring to clergy is under the CDM. Anything else is ‘pastoral’ – which is no less serious of course – but that the bishop chose not to use CDM tells us a lot; he didn’t think the matter was all that serious and Jeremy remains a priest in good standing with nothing very ‘official’ in terms of discipline because the only official discipline is under the CDM.

        • Peter Ould November 12, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

          “We can suspect that the current bishop of Lincoln took that approach because the hurried private meetings of the House of Bishops forced them all to take a line.”

          Deliberations over a number of days have now become hurried meetings.

          “But we also are aware of bullying tactics from conservative evangelicals.”

          As opposed to the self-indulgent eisegesis of theologically illiterate liberals? Or is not acceptable to make wild assertions about those we disagree with?

          “The only serious discipline the C of E can bring to clergy is under the CDM.”

          You still don’t understand what a rebuke is. It is not “discipline” but it is a clear opinion from a Bishop which a clergyman should have regard to. If he objects, he can challenge actions based upon that rebuke (for example, the refusal of a licence). In the particular case we are discussing the rebuke in question was found to be completely in line with the doctrine and practice of the Church of England and therefore could be acted upon in order to inform future decisions around employment / licencing.

          “he didn’t think the matter was all that serious”

          On the contrary, he thought it WAS serious and that’s why he issued a rebuke. You are engaging in a very poor eisegesis of both Lowson’s rebuke AND the Tribunal’s understanding of it.

          “Jeremy remains a priest in good standing”

          On the contrary, since Jeremy is unable to obtain (read that word carefully) a licence anywhere in the Church of England he is clearly NOT a priest in good standing. At most he is a priest in impaired standing. Again, this is eisegesis on your behalf.

          • Andrew Godsall November 12, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

            Thanks Peter. I understand entirely what the rebuke is. We have already found agreement on that point. It is Ian who keeps insisting on calling it ‘discipline’ and I was challenging that view.

            You seem to be speculating a good deal…..

          • Andrew Godsall November 12, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

            To be absolutely clear for those who have not read it; the tribunal commented that the rebuke was a ‘minor punishment’ – and it is for that reason that I comment that the ‘rebuke’ is not all that serious. Major=serious. Minor=not all that serious.

          • Jonathan Tallon November 12, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

            Peter, as someone who seems to have much more legal knowledge etc than me, can I check something? Having a licence suggests that you are in good standing (otherwise, the diocese would be derelict in allowing him to remain a licensed Church of England chaplain). Being refused a licence suggests you are not in good standing. Jeremy has a licence in Lincoln, but not Southwell & Nottingham.

            To go further, is it right to say that no priest is declared to be in good standing with the Church of England, only within their own diocese, as it is the bishop of a diocese who issues the licence (acting, according to the tribunal, as a qualifying body).

            Is it therefore most accurate to say “Jeremy is a priest in good standing in the diocese of Lincoln, but not in Southwell and Nottingham”.

            If another bishop licensed him for a new post in that diocese, he would then become a priest in good standing in the new diocese (and presumably, on return of his old licence, cease to be one in his own diocese).

            In other words, is the status ‘in good standing’ something that can only ever apply at a diocesan level?

          • Peter Ould November 12, 2015 at 8:52 pm #

            “Having a licence suggests that you are in good standing (otherwise, the diocese would be derelict in allowing him to remain a licensed Church of England chaplain).”

            No. It is perfectly possible to not be in good standing whilst maintaining a licence. For example, you could be rebuked by your Bishop but retain your licence.

            I guess you need to get the CofE to define “good standing”.

            “Being refused a licence suggests you are not in good standing.”

            It’s a good sign of that, yes.

            “To go further, is it right to say that no priest is declared to be in good standing with the Church of England, only within their own diocese, as it is the bishop of a diocese who issues the licence (acting, according to the tribunal, as a qualifying body).”

            This indeed correct on the Diocesan front. As we have discussed above, one can not be in good standing with your Bishop but still hold a licence.

            “Is it therefore most accurate to say “Jeremy is a priest in good standing in the diocese of Lincoln, but not in Southwell and Nottingham”.”

            No. He is clearly not in good standing in Lincoln as he has been rebuked. If he wanted a new licence in Lincoln he might find it a problem.

            “If another bishop licensed him for a new post in that diocese, he would then become a priest in good standing in the new diocese (and presumably, on return of his old licence, cease to be one in his own diocese).”

            Yes, but that would involve a Bishop breaking the collegiality of the House. No Bishop is going to do that because the consequences would be far reaching.

            “In other words, is the status ‘in good standing’ something that can only ever apply at a diocesan level?”

            Yes, in that it is at the Diocesan level that good standing is found but no in that a priest not in good standing in one Diocese is highly unlikely to get a position in another Diocese.

          • Jonathan Tallon November 13, 2015 at 9:09 am #

            Peter, I am now getting more confused.

            I guess part of the issue is what we mean by ‘in good standing’. To be accused of being a priest ‘not in good standing’ sounds like a major, serious accusation. But from what you say, this can be done entirely arbitrarily by a bishop, with no right of appeal. To take your earlier example, a bishop could ‘rebuke’ someone for voting tory/labour. Does that clergy person then become a priest ‘not in good standing’?

            I always assumed that there would be some protection from this for clergy, and that the CDM procedures were designed, in part, to provide this.

        • Jeremy Pemberton November 12, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

          When the meeting I was having with Christopher Lowson on 5th March was ending, he said, “This is not for the minutes”, and then shook me warmly by the hand, and said “Can I say, I hope it all goes very well”. You must interpret those words how you will – but I took them as indicating his private approval. I am not telling you anything that was not in the witness evidence at the Tribunal. So I think we do know that he is personally supportive of the idea and the reality of same-sex marriage, but like a number of other bishops, somehow feels constrained from saying how he feels about it.

          This was never the case in the past until the time of Archbishop Carey; before that bishops felt free to say what they truly felt about all kinds of things (perhaps the greatest of them being Hensley Henson of Durham) quite unconcerned about whether their brother bishops (as it was then) would all agree, and sometimes knowing very well that they all would not. The Church of England was confident enough in its foundations of faith that it didn’t need to behave like there was a species of thought police at work ensuring uniformity. The latest GS document on the selection of bishops and what candidates might have had to say about “human sexuality” is only the latest and most egregious example of this frightful trend.

          • Andrew Godsall November 12, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

            Thank you Jeremy. Your observations about Christopher Lowson confirm what I have heard from others who know him. I am not surprised.

            It is indeed extremely sad that the bishops feel so constrained. I agree that it was certainly not always that way. It was a very much more attractive Church of England under Bob Runcie – and a very much broader one. We have lost something very important.

          • Ian Paul November 12, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

            I think it is much sadder that bishops don’t actually believe the teaching they are committed, by their own vows, to uphold. That is the real problem.

            I don’t think diversity in the past was a sign of health; it was hardly a sign being either one, or holy, or apostolic.

  18. Don Benson November 13, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    We in the CofE have always preferred a ‘light touch’ approach to discipline; we don’t believe in a papacy and we don’t want overbearing bishops who will pursue their own line of churchmanship with unyielding harshness; we regularly (foolishly?) congratulate ourselves on being a broad church. But this light touch absolutely depends upon integrity – which firstly means total honesty (clarity) and secondly the humility to recognise the greater good when weighed against one’s own particular interests. And this integrity has to apply equally to all who hold office within the church, whether archbishop or curate.

    Without integrity mistrust, non compliance and ambiguous communication are almost guaranteed to result in the breakdown of relationships within the church; and the very worst case, which we now see, resorting to the secular courts in order to defend one’s position. For church members to feel they have no choice but to embark on legal action in this way is seriously to undermine the Gospel message, and that is shameful for all of us.

    In any organisation it is those at the top, whose responsibility is to lead, to whom one must look when things go wrong. Our archbishops regularly remind us that they do not have papal authority but, unless they are totally ineffectual communicators, people will listen when they speak. Happily they are both talented communicators, and we need to know where they stand and why they have full confidence in our doctrine and what is their vision for our church as it ploughs through the present troubled waters. We need to know that they view it as basic to the position of all bishops and clergy that they believe in and will uphold the doctrine of the CofE – without crossing their fingers. I cannot agree that a self imposed purdah (on the basis that ‘shared conversations’ are taking place?) is a helpful or sufficient way to uphold the discipline and integrity which clearly needs to be restored. The positive change within our church, were they to speak in this way, could be a game changer.

  19. Deborah Salmon November 13, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    Ian
    This has saddened both my husband and I over the years and it does tend to lean towards lack of integrity where even the basic tenets of the faith and core doctrine is not even believed! I I do have to point out he regularly challenges me and i him to get back to core biblical teaching) 🙂 Sometimes its not nice to observe our disagreements so much as when going on date night my daughter said “For god sake steer clear of politics and religion tonight” as we have had full on arguments in Nando’s 😀
    That aside i do wonder why many go into ministry and seek those positions if they don’t believe what they are called to teach and preach! You can not teach and preach what you dont believe and are attempting by gods grace to live out!
    My husband went on retreat a while ago and landed up on retreat with a clergy wives ( spouses) retreat at the same time! He came home actually quite saddened because he was told to sit next to such and such a person as they were married to xyz bishop and then he could use his influence to get ahead?
    One of our regular church goers came to faith ( more fully) after she had watched a 6 week documentary on cathedrals and minsters and at the end said “not once did they mention Jesus”! She became more fully committed because she said ” My vicar talks about Jesus alot” 🙂
    It is good to be open with where we are at and our thinking because in that way we can encourage each other into the way of faith, we all need further teaching as we are not the completed article yet! Things that are hidden can not be challenged but also there needs to be a culture of teachableness to listen to those who are older and wiser and mature! Sometimes we dont have that in our leaders who seem to be at the starting point of faith! This is a challenge to me as much as anyone else to mature in faith 🙂

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