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Same-sex marriage and the second Jeremy

Jeremy DaviesAs most of the nationals reported (in fairly short articles), a second clergyman has had permission to officiate refused by the Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin, because he has entered a same-sex marriage. As with the previous case, this also involves a Jeremy. (What is it with Jeremys? Is there some nominative determinism at work?!) Jeremy Davies was Precentor at Salisbury Cathedral for more than 20 years (I knew him a little when I was in the diocese) and has been partnered with Simon McEnery, an opera singer, for around 30. They entered a Civil Partnership when these became available; it was on his birthday, and the party which followed the ceremony, and which the then bishop David Stancliffe attended, was said to be in celebration of his birthday rather than the partnership, to save episcopal face (or to add another one, depending on how you look at it). Jeremy retired from his role, and then in 2014 he and Simon married under the new marriage legislation.


The press coverage has been less extensive than of the case of Jeremy Pemberton, and less error-strewn; the sensational language of ‘senior clergyman BANNED‘ is the best that they can do to wring some drama out of it. This is perhaps because there are some important differences between the two cases.

  • Jeremy Davies (JD) has retired, whereas Jeremy Pemberton (JP) continues in employment.
  • JD therefore only has Permission to Officiate (PTO) in either diocese (Salisbury or Winchester) and so the complex differences between PTO and a licence are not relevant as they were for JP.
  • JD’s ministry relationship is directly with the Church, whereas JP’s was indirectly with the Church through the appointment process of a hospital trust.
  • JP had initiated a legal process through a tribunal, whereas JD has taken no such action (and is in no position to do so).
  • JD’s media response has has a very different tone from JP’s.

You can listen to the interview with Justin Webb on Radio 4’s Today from yesterday morning, starting 1 hour 23 minutes into the programme. Jeremy’s tone is modest and (to some extent) self-deprecating. When Webb reminds him of the Church’s teaching position, he talks of his own self-understanding, and the qualities of relationship that he has aimed to model. More importantly, when Webb suggests ‘It all makes the Church look a bit silly, doesn’t it?’, Davies first response is ‘No…’ rather than ‘Yes’, and he talks of the Church being ‘on the move’ in this area. The sceptical listener might then ask ‘If the Church has a process, why did you pre-empt it by marrying against the bishops’ explicit teaching’. But I didn’t think the interview was biased in its content, as some have suggested. If there was bias, it was in failing to hear comment from the side of the Bishop of Winchester or the central Church.

(I think at one level Jeremy does less well in his interview on BBC South Today; when challenged about the Bible’s ‘plain teaching’ about homosexuality, he responds with the Bible’s ‘plain teaching’ that if your hand causes you to sin, you should cut it off. To anyone who knows anything about reading texts, this is just silly—but only to anyone who knows anything.)


There are three reasons why something now needs to change, and they all come from rather surprising sources.

The first arises from a quick glance at the 1,728 comments on the Guardian report. I would normally expect these to be of a predictable kind: the Church is neanderthal and needs to get with it, probably be disestablished and preferably be obliterated. But there was a surprisingly persistent thread of comments along the lines of ‘Actually, the Church is not here to mirror society; it has said what it has believed; and if you want to join the ‘club’ then you need to follow the rules.’ Within that there was a frustration less with the decision and more that it has not been implemented consistently:

Absolutely right that he should be refused permission to officiate. What saddens and baffles me is that the refusal isn’t implemented in EVERY diocese. The Church of England’s official position is quite clear. It is not open to debate or variance depending on if a bishop feels like it….

Someone here has to get their act together…Whatever your position on the issue, all this vacillation is doing is hurting people to no real effect.

Do we know why one diocese says nay and another says yeah? What influences one diocese to follow the “Church of England’s position on same sex marriage, as set out in the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance” , and another to feel free to disregard it?

If the action here involves hypocrisy, then the fault lies not with Tim Dakin in Winchester, but with liberal Nick Holtam in Salisbury. At the time of the 2014 Bishops’ statement, Colin Coward of Changing Attitude accused bishops of ‘hypocrisy and dishonesty’. As has been the case for some time, this dishonesty has mostly been on the part of liberal bishops saying one thing but doing another (and those evangelicals who have gone along with it); for the most part, whatever else their faults, evangelicals have been consistent in opposition to same-sex sexual relationships in speech and action.


The second reason why Holtam needs to take action comes from Christina Rees of WATCH, who campaigned for women’s ministry and now wants to see the Church change its teaching on marriage. Although I disagree with her aim, I think she is spot on with her observation on the process. She doesn’t appear to have much sympathy with the ‘sob story’ angle:

When Canon Jeremy Davies married his long term partner Simon McEnery he must have known what he was doing. Neither he, nor anyone else, should really be surprised that he’s been refused permission to take services in one of the two dioceses (an area of church administration under the ward of a bishop and divided into parishes) in which he currently officiates.

She rehearses the reasons for this—that there has been a long succession of discussions, during which the Church has repeatedly stated its theological reasons for its current position. In doing so, she points out the depth of issues that would have to be untangled for the Church to change its position, and the consequences of that in every direction:

Jeremy Davies has also said that the bishops involved in the decision against him are hiding “behind the barricade of canon law”. Thank God for that. Canon law is passed in General Synod – an elected body that functions as the Church of England’s Parliament. The processes may be maddening and seem interminably slow, but it works. If it hadn’t been for canon law, we wouldn’t have the Church’s official and universal acceptance of women’s ordination – something I campaigned for, as chair of WATCH (Women and the Church) for 13 years.

In other words, the piecemeal approach of those who would want to continually test the Church and its bishops with individual cases like this, and see bishops adopting different practices, are leading us to canonical, theological and pastoral anarchy—and that is going to help no-one.


The third reason for action comes from an unexpected corner, and a connection only Tyson Fury would make. As part of revising its safeguarding processes, last July General Synod passed Draft Amending Canon 34 which revises Canon B 34 and C 8—essentially requiring much greater consistency and uniformity over who is allowed to minister where. In order to ensure proper safeguards are in place, those inviting someone from another diocese to minister must be sure that that person is ‘in good standing’, and the bishop in the diocese visited should be informed. So, for altogether unconnected reasons, it will simply be impossible for bishops to decide independently of one another whether or not a clergy person is ‘in good standing’.

This implies that these individual test cases which probe the bishops’ resolve will achieve nothing in the short term, and might even make the consistency of current practice clearer to those who are inclined to be sympathetic to it. It also implies that bishops are going to have to act more consistently with one another, in line with stated policy, even if individual bishops didn’t really agree with that policy when it was formulated.


I wonder whether this is also the moment for the Church to get its PR act together a little more convincingly on this issue. The one thing that was absent from all this media coverage was a live voice speaking on behalf of Tim Dakin or the Church’s position. All it needed to say was ‘We are not here simply to mirror society; we are thinking and listening; in the meantime we do have a position, and we expect clergy to adhere to that.’ In the light of the Equality Commission’s statement on the cinema and the Lord’s Prayer, defending the Church and criticising DCM, there seems to be a significant (growing?) number who don’t think that is unreasonable.


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305 Responses to Same-sex marriage and the second Jeremy

  1. Jeremy Moodey December 15, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    What nominative determinism do you have in mind Ian? Regarding the Today programme’s coverage, I do not agree that it was unbiased. By not allowing someone from the Diocese to respond, by referring to the church’s teaching as ‘guidance’ only (a word which Mr Davies used later in the interview) and through the leading question about whether the church looked silly or not, the BBC clearly displayed (or at least hinted at) its own corporate opinion on the matter. This is not permitted under the terms of its Charter which requires that ‘controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality’.

    • Ian Paul December 15, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

      ‘What nominative determinism do you have in mind Ian?’ Feeling sensitive Jeremy?!

      Guidance can be a strong word, and I suppose it is possible that the BBC did not ask for someone, or prevented them from coming. But on the other Jeremy case, that of Pemberton, I don’t think there was a single other sensible person in the C of E willing to say anything, which I why I think I ended up doing so.

      I think overall bishops and church don’t want to be associated with this issue—and I think it is leaving a damaging vacuum.

      • John January 15, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

        Ian, do you have a view on divorce for reasons other than adultery? The example I gave earlier was divorce due to domestic abuse. I know there are a lot of posts here, but I have asked you this question several times (first on January the 2nd) and you are yet to reply. I’d be grateful for a response.

        Chris Bishop has provided an interesting link below.

  2. Andrew Godsall December 15, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    Ian: your suggested response ‘We are not here simply to mirror society; we are thinking and listening; in the meantime we do have a position, and we expect clergy to adhere to that’ is a nice try but fails because it is simply not true. There have been clergy in active same sex relationships for decades, and there always will be. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was the way we coped with this once upon a time. Maybe you would prefer to return to that approach?

    It is not true because there is now a postcode lottery. It’s well known that the House of Bishops can’t actually agree about this.

    The major problem is hypocrisy – and Jesus seemed to say quite a lot about that, but almost nothing about clergy in same sex relationships. So the ‘Church’, if it needs to say anything, needs to say something about hypocrisy.

    I am, however, glad that your suggested response suggests ‘thinking and listening’. Christina’s piece is nicely nuanced and I am sure you read the part where she says:

    “At some point, the Church of England is bound to change its legal position on same -sex marriage too. But changing some people’s hearts and minds on the issue will take much longer.”

    That rather hits the nail on the head don’t you think?

    • Ian Paul December 15, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

      Andrew, the ‘we’ in that sentence is not the aggregate of all who might in some way identify with the C of E, since on those grounds it wouldn’t be possible to say ‘we…’ anything.

      The specific context of that comment was someone speaking for the current teaching position of the Church in general, and the action of the Bishop of Winchester in particular. So that is perfectly possible.

      If the House of Bishops issue a public statement, then individual diocesans need to decide how they are going to relate to that. If some decide that, because they themselves were unpersuaded or outvoted, they will then sabotage the statement by their practice, then as Christina Rees points out, the result will be chaos, and in fact that will in the long term be to everyone’s detriment.

      I would like to see an end to the hypocrisy of liberal bishops signing up to one thing, then disregarding it, or giving people tacit approval whilst suggesting public rebuke, yes.

      The point where I think she is mistaken is on her assumption that things will inevitably change. It is actually something of a *presumption* by her and you, and a way of simply side stepping any proper process.

      • Andrew Godsall December 16, 2015 at 10:38 am #

        “If the House of Bishops issue a public statement, then individual diocesans need to decide how they are going to relate to that.”

        Hmm..Ian you can’t have an Archbishop who talks about ‘good disagreement’ on the one hand but won’t actually permit it on the other.

        Individual diocesans will always act like individuals, and that’s why the C of E has always been a broad church and there has been a variety of practice. Unity is not the same as uniformity and it never has been. Acting differently does not imply sabaotge but, rather, integrity. The House of Bishiops is not some kind of governmental cabinet and the very idea that it needs to issue ‘statements’ is a rather sad reflection of a lack of generosity at many levels.

        You really can’t have an Archbishop who talks about ‘good disagreement’ on the one hand but won’t actually permit it on the other.

        • Ian Paul December 16, 2015 at 11:07 am #

          I am not sure Justin has ever said that ‘good disagreement’ is about agreeing to disagree on this. One option is to part company. To think that the current process is about accepting all views equally is to short-circuit the process.

          The idea that bishops say one thing and claim some sort of agreement, then in fact fail to act together is a really odd understanding of ‘integrity’. And I don’t think it is one that people outside the church actually understand. That is one of the things that causes a problem.

          • Andrew Godsall December 16, 2015 at 11:24 am #

            I don’t think the bishops claim agreement Ian, and that’s the issue. We *know* they don’t agree on this matter, and they have even said so publicly.

            The practice, actually, is that we do accept all views. That’s why people can stand up in General Synod and say, unequivoally, that they are openly gay and not called to celibacy and have no fear of what you call ‘discipline’.

            People outside of the church (which is the vast majority of people) simply don’t understand the way the church is at all. That is indeed what causes the problem.

          • David Shepherd December 16, 2015 at 11:50 am #

            It’s important to understand the basis upon which the CofE embarked on what some here view as the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach to sexually active homosexual clergy.

            The pastoral guidance on civil partnerships and same-sex marriage both refer to ‘Issues in human sexuality’. This statement concluded that: ‘we have, therefore to say, that in our considered judgement the clergy do not have liberty to enter sexually active homophile [sic] relationships’. (5.17)

            After expressing respect for the integrity of those in ‘active homophile partnerships, the HoB asserted its ‘duty to affirm the whole pattern of Christian teaching on sexuality see out in these pages and to uphold the requirements for conduct which will bear witness to it’.(5.18)

            Despite this, the HoB reluctance to ‘be more rigorous in searching out and exposing clergy in sexually active homophile relationships’ was due to privacy considerations (echoes of Wolfenden) and in order to ‘treat all clergy who give no occasion of scandal with trust and respect’.

            From this, it’s therefore clear that HoB will not discipline clergy in same-sex sexual relationships until a significant proportion of church members express a loss of confidence in specific ministers as ‘messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord’. I’m not sure whether the avoidance of intrusion on privacy until public scandal permits no alternative is hypocritical.

            Regardless, the HoB might well have ‘called upon all clergy to live lives that respect the Church’s teaching’. Yet, the HoB permits the initiation of church discipline for defiance of church teaching on sexuality only once it is determined to be scandalous.

            It’s the local discretionary determination of what constitutes scandal that has led to the uneven application of discipline.

            Is Ian arguing for a removal of that discretion in determining whether scandal has occurred?

          • Ian Paul December 17, 2015 at 9:33 am #

            David, thanks as ever for this judicious and insightful comment. I think it highlights two things.

            1. The various statements from HoB and others on this issue are, as is widely claimed, shabby, inconsistent and oppressive—until you actually sit down and read them.

            As you point out, the statements are in fact quite nuanced, holding as they do the tension between theological idealism and pastoral reality.

            2. No, I don’t think I do want to change this balance, nor demand unreasonable scrutiny. But here’s the rub: integral to this exposition is the assumption of trust between bishop and clergy, and it is this sense of trust and mutual respect which allows bishops to take the word of clergy without inappropriate inquisition.

            So what do we do when the trust is not there?

          • David Shepherd December 19, 2015 at 9:13 am #

            Thanks, Ian.

            I agree that episcopal oversight should not be intrusive, Nevertheless, I think in favour of privacy, the current conversation belittles the impact of scandal (in its original sense). As Christ himself said: ‘”Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal comes” (Matt. 18:7)

            The ministry of authority has a role in addressing scandal, as described by St. Thomas Aquinas: ‘a man may be disposed to a spiritual downfall by another’s word or deed, in so far, to wit, as one man by his injunction, inducement or example, moves another to sin…something less rightly done or said, that occasions another’s spiritual downfall’

            Clearly, both clergy and lay ministers are in positions of greater influence on parishioners than non-preaching laity. As Church doctrine currently stands, what example is set by a married cleric, who, in coming to terms with his same sex attraction, abandons his pledge of marriage and his role in the family which he co-founded, only to co-habit with and then marry his same-sex partner? Of course, the liberal answer (which is at odds with the recommended APA approach) prioritises the adoption of gay identity as a completely private matter of personal honesty. The only scandal is the PR impact of how the a church is perceived externally, not whether the abandonment of prior family commitment might encourage others to do the same.

            St. Paul highlighted the importance of protective leadership in averting such scandal as he made his farewell address to the Ephesians elders. He testified: ‘Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.’ (?Acts? ?20?:?26-32? NIV)

            Again, to Timothy, he instructed: ‘Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.’
            ‘Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers…The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching…Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favouritism’.
            (?1 Timothy? ?4:16; 5?:?1, 17, 19-21? NIV)

    • Clive December 17, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

      Andrew: Since when exactly simply go along with society?

      The Church tries to follow God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – i.e. the one God. The Church is NOT following society.

      If people don’t want to follow the one God then they should join some other organisation.

    • Clive December 17, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

      Andrew: Since when exactly did God simply go along with society?

      The Church tries to follow God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – i.e. the one God. The Church is NOT following society.

      If people don’t want to follow the one God then they should join some other organisation.

  3. Andrew Godsall December 15, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Oh p.s. the correct spelling is Holtam. Even if we disagree about interpretation of the facts, it’s good to get the spelling right.

    • Ian Paul December 16, 2015 at 11:04 am #

      Thanks–corrected, also your spelling of ‘interpretation’

  4. Jeremy Clark December 15, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    Andrew, I think you’ll find that ‘interpretation’ is spelt with an extra ‘t’. It’s really good to get the spelling right! 😉

  5. Penelope December 15, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    Just for information Ian, which Canons has the Canon broken?

    • Ian Paul December 15, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

      B30 which defines marriage as between man and woman, and reflects and is reflected in marriage liturgies. The relevant documents are set out in the appendix to the bishops pastoral letter.

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

      • Penelope December 16, 2015 at 10:32 am #

        What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? These are civil marriages.

        • Ian Paul December 16, 2015 at 11:03 am #

          What indeed? Clergy should be shaping their lives according to the Church’s understanding of Scripture, not according to civil law which diverges from it.

          • David Beadle December 16, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

            I have asked you this a number of times before, but unless I’m missing something, I don’t think I’ve received an answer. Should those many incumbent clergy who do not offer Holy Communion regularly in their Parishes, according to the rules of Canon B14 (interpreting our Lord’s Ordinance at his Last Supper) be disciplined for breaking that Canon?

          • Penelope December 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

            Given that the ABC keeps talking about ‘good disagreement’ and the breadth of the Anglican understanding of scripture (and who is the Church? The HoB?), I would argue that the Jeremies have modelled their lives on scripture in faithful Christian discipline and attempting to conform to Christ. Canon B30 does not apply to civil marriages, so they haven’t ‘broken’ Canon law. They have ignored Pastoral Guidelines (which were not issued by the Church) and I would also argue that they have every right to do so. I ignore ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’s’ teaching on male headship, because I think it’s poor exegesis (and immoral).

          • David Shepherd December 16, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

            Penelope,

            ‘Canon B30 does not apply to civil marriages’. On what possible basis are civil marriages exempted from its scope?

            Indeed, if that were the case, a person could have serially divorced only civil marriage partners with no prospect of ever being denied a fuure re-marriage in Church.

          • Penelope December 17, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

            David: As you will not doubt gather, I am not a canon lawyer! But the CofE made the breach between B30 and civil marriage when it insisted on the quadruple lock so that ‘it’ wouldn’t have to marry people of the same gender in committed and faithful partnerships who love each other. That being so, whatever, the legal niceties, ‘it’ has no moral ground for claiming that B30 covers civil marriage. The church has made this breach, not the State.

          • David Shepherd December 17, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

            Penelope,

            You’re wrong. The locks specifically relate to the Church’s historic responsibility to register marriages through the common law role of parish priests.

            The Church simply availed itself of lawful exemptions in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. Canon B30 remains lawful and it is applicable to civil marriages.

          • Penelope December 18, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

            David, I said moral, not legal ground. The fact that the quadruple lock exempts the CofE from equality legislation is my point. It is immoral.

  6. Phill December 15, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    Thanks for your blogging about this, Ian – somehow the ‘second Jeremy’ story had passed me by.

    I do think the majority of the church’s current problems come not from its position on marriage, but from its double mindedness in the past (which I think Andrew picks up on in his comment) – the church has had a clear position on marriage, but it has not been implemented or enforced at all clearly. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has ended up hurting people – who’d have thought it, eh? If the church and its representatives had conducted itself with honesty and integrity over these last years then we wouldn’t be in this position.

  7. Phill December 15, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    P.S. – your new comment CAPTCHA system is pretty fierce. I’ve had to fight it for the last couple of days to post a comment. You could maybe consider increasing the timeout?

    • Ian Paul December 15, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

      Sorry to hear that. I test it periodically and don’t have any trouble.

    • Ian Paul December 16, 2015 at 11:10 am #

      Tested is again just now. It asked me 7-2 and I said 5 without too much problem. What are you getting?

      • Andrew Godsall December 16, 2015 at 11:29 am #

        A recent issue Ian is that you type in the comments box for a few minutes, then you answer the captcha question correctly, but then it tells you that you have taken too long and asks you to go back only to discover that you have lost everything you typed in there. The only way that I have found of commenting since yesterday is to compose the comment in a word processsor, and then copy and paste and then hurriedly fill in the captcha question. Something has changed…..

      • Phill December 16, 2015 at 11:51 am #

        Hi Ian,

        Andrew got in before me but just to echo – I think if you spend a few minutes reading the article, then a few minutes writing a comment, you fall foul of the CAPTCHA timeout. I’d suggest maybe setting the timeout to 10 minutes, if you can? That should give time for reading and comment writing (unless you are an exceptionally slow reader / writing a very long comment).

        You might also want to make a note on the CAPTCHA input box to push the refresh button before posting a comment. (If I was the developer, I’d probably have it detect automatically when someone was writing a comment and refresh the CAPTCHA at that point, but not always possible. Sorry, recovering software developer here.)

        • Ian Paul December 16, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

          Is that better?

          • Phill December 16, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

            Yes, that’s about right – I think part of the problem others have had is that if you click the ‘Back’ button from a timeout, the CAPTCHA doesn’t refresh, so it’s good to remind people to reset it.

      • Ian Paul December 16, 2015 at 11:59 am #

        Aha, thanks chaps. Have reset the time to 8 minutes. Let me know if there are any further problems.

        • David Beadle December 16, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

          Thanks Ian, I’m still having the problem of timeout. I don’t think I’d taken very long.

    • Ian Paul December 17, 2015 at 9:06 am #

      I think you might find the Captcha has gone.

      • David Beadle December 17, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

        OK, I’ll make sure to refresh it next time!

  8. Jeremy Clark December 15, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    Sorry Ian, I forgot to leave my web/blog address….it’s http://www.tracingtherainbowthroughtherain.wordpress.com

    • Ian Paul December 16, 2015 at 11:17 am #

      Jeremy, thanks for this. Very moving. I loved Ben’s version of Amazing Grace. Incredible.

  9. Drew_Mac December 15, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    We have an Anglican discipline here which is ignored by quite a few Bishops, regarded as wrong by many clergy, seen as unfair by many if not most Anglican laity and ridiculed by the vast majority of the British Citizens who are major stakeholders in the established Church of England. Time for some honesty in allowing diversity of belief and practice here as over other matters. No-one needs to be discriminated against. No-one should be forced to conduct a same-sex marriage nor, at pain of discrimination (however legal!) fear for their ministry.

    • Ian Paul December 15, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

      Drew, thanks for commenting.

      I think I would question your estimation at each level. There some bishops who signed up reluctantly. There are quite a few clergy who disagree, but probably a relatively small number who don’t abide by it. I don’t know what evidence you would cite for your claim about Anglican laity.

      In what sense does the average citizen ‘have a stake’ in the Church of England? If they do, it is certainly not in determining its doctrine. Being a national church surely means having a responsibility and opportunity to preach the gospel to the whole nation, not to let the nation decide what it should believe?

      • James Byron December 15, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

        Ian, the British Parliament, elected by the people, ultimately sets Church of England doctrine: it’s merely delegated its role to General Synod.

        If the church digs in its heels, then soon enough, it’ll be pushed to change by Westminster, just as, in the aftermath of the 2012 vote, several MPs made barely-veiled threats to intervene over opening the episcopacy to women.

        • Ian Paul December 15, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

          James, excuse me, but that is as daft as saying that, because Parliament oversees the NHS, then the people of Britain decide which medicines are effective.

          The process in Parliament does have a role in holding the Church to account as being true to its identity. In the 1927 Prayer Book crisis, evangelicals in Parliament overturned Oxford Movement impulses in the Church to take a significant change of direction.

          SSM is I think a sufficiently contentious issue in society at large that it is much less likely to be a lever for disestablishment than women in the episcopacy.

          • James Byron December 15, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

            That analogy falls down both in the counter-examples, one of which you give, and the fact that, yes, ultimately, Parliament might decide to authorize or withhold a particular drug against recommendations (say on grounds of cost, or health concerns).

            Right now, yes, same-sex marriage is more contentious, but the times, they are a-changin’: what about in 25 years, or 50? Can you see England’s established church in 2050 teaching that homosexuality is a sin, and demanding lifelong celibacy or heterosexual marriage for those with “same-sex attraction”?

          • Pete J December 15, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

            GS is formally merely an advisory body to parliament. Parliament recently exercised its authority over the church with the quadruple lock. GS and the Hob were not consulted (at least not openly)

          • Ian Paul December 16, 2015 at 11:21 am #

            The idea of Parliament interfering on clinical issues on clinical grounds is bizarre. And GS is not ‘merely advisory’. Parliament cannot amend Synod legislation, only reject it.

          • Pete J December 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

            You seem to be changing your argument.

      • Drew_Mac December 16, 2015 at 8:55 am #

        It is hard to be precise about numbers in an atmospere of increasing intimidation and fear where we should have one of mutual respect and dialogue. It is a shame it has come to this because a listening atmosphere of understanding and respect would have been a great witness rather than recent examples of blatant discrimination at the excuse of out legal ‘license’ to do so. There was a way by supporting CPs but the majority of Bishops refused to see it and now we are down a cul-de-sac.

        My evidence is largely anecdotal. In a ‘conservative’ (socially not theologically) church and parish where I haven’t expressed a view on these matters in any sermon, I have been amazed at how understanding and supportive my own local folk are for LGBT people, even to the extent of allowing same-sex marriage.

        Being a national church means to me that we are a church largely in touch with the moral and ethical views of the quietly good majority rather than out of step with it. There is a place for strictly confessional, narrowly defined churches but I never thought the Church of England was intended to occupy it.

    • Peter Ould December 16, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

      I am unaware of a single Bishop who has not disciplined a clergy person that they know had entered a same-sex marriage. Perhaps you would care to enlighten us as to which Bishop you have in mind who is failing to exercise discipline on which marriage?

      • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 7:59 am #

        Peter the point here is that Nicholas Holtam did not withdraw the PtO of Jeremy Davies and that no bishop has caused a CDM to be actioned against any same sex married clergy. Or am I wrong about that? And because of things that Nicholas Holtam is on public record as saying, he would find it hard to withdraw the PtO. That’s what it means to have integrity.

        • Peter Ould December 17, 2015 at 8:31 am #

          Did Holtam or did Holtam not admonish Davies for entering a same-sex marriage? If he did then Davies was disciplined.

          The ONLY inconsistency in all three clergy so far to enter a same-sex marriage is that whereas +Inwood removed Pemberton’s PTO immediately, +Holtam did not do the same with Davies. I can see good grounds why that might happen. Where a problematic inconsistency might occur is if Davies’ PTO is renewed when the appropriate point arrives.

          There is a clear difference in practice and principle in the maintaining of a PTO or licence and the granting of a PTO or licence. If you can’t see that Andrew then I think you are wilfully attempting to confuse the issue.

          • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 9:21 am #

            Peter: the only genuine form of ‘discipline’ that we have in the C of E is the CDM. Anything else is basically a pastoral conversation that may or may not be recorded on the blue file and is a private conversation anyway. I have no idea whether or not the Bishop of Salisbury admonished any of the clergy under his care and it’s none of my business. All I know is what Nicholas Holtam is on record as saying about same sex relationships and same sex marriage.

            So I ask you again: has any bishop has caused a CDM to be actioned against any same sex married clergy? I think not.

            A PtO is not usually time limited, so the question of renewal won’t occur naturally.

          • Ian Paul December 17, 2015 at 9:27 am #

            ‘the only genuine form of ‘discipline’ that we have in the C of E is the CDM.’ That’s an absurd thing to say, and it is not surprising that it is hard to talk about theology when basic communication isn’t working.

          • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 9:51 am #

            Ian: you really need to read the rest of what I said before using words like ‘absurd’.

            We can’t have a ‘Clergy Discipline Measure’ and then actually use some other way of doing ‘discipline’. That would be absurd. The clue is in the title – a basic form of communication if ever there was one! I repeat – anything else is a pastoral conversation which is no one else’s business.

            Please do tell me what other forms of discipline the clergy are subject to.

          • Peter Ould December 17, 2015 at 10:39 am #

            If you don’t think that an admonition, a note in the Blue File and the inability to be granted a licence or PTO elsewhere does not constitute discipline then you are living in a fantasy land. The way you are yet again wilfully misinterpreting something that is actually so simple is staggering.

          • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 10:58 am #

            Peter: they are, as I say, a pastoral matter. They are between the bishop and the priest. No one else’s business. I’m not sure why you can’t actually engage with what I’ve written instead of what you *think* I’ve written. (Perhaps I am sure, on reflection)

            Now please do tell me which bishops have used the Clergy Discipline Measure against same sex married clergy.

            I am glad that you at least seem to agree that Nicholas Holtam is unable to withdraw the PtO and why, therefore, the inconsistency will remain.

          • Peter Ould December 17, 2015 at 11:53 am #

            “Peter: they are, as I say, a pastoral matter. They are between the bishop and the priest. No one else’s business.”

            Utter rubbish. When a priest asks for a licence or PTO in a new diocese the new bishop will ask the old bishop whether there are any issues with the priest in question. If said priest has entered into a same-sex marriage that fact will be disclosed to the new bishop and the new bishop will refuse the PTO or licence.

            So how then is the admonition a private matter?

            “Now please do tell me which bishops have used the Clergy Discipline Measure against same sex married clergy.”

            You didn’t ask this question originally. You asked which Bishops had disciplined their clergy. Now you are engaging in the typical revisionist activity of changing the meaning of words (ironic given what you are accusing me of) and then demanding that we all dance the tune to whatever vocabulary you choose to use today to serve your political purposes.

            “I am glad that you at least seem to agree that Nicholas Holtam is unable to withdraw the PtO and why, therefore, the inconsistency will remain.”

            Now who’s claiming to know what the other thinks? Holtam is perfectly able to withdraw Davies’ PTO at any time he wants. Perfectly capable. That he has chosen not to do so is entirely a separate issue. If you want to argue that Holtam cannot withdraw Davies’ PTO then you need to (i) evidence this from the Canons and associated law and (ii) explain why Inwood in Southwell was able to remove Pemberton’s PTO.

            It’s really pathetic Andrew, but carry on with this fantasy world where you make up the rules and decide what is or isn’t true.

          • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

            Peter you say: “You didn’t ask this question originally. You asked which Bishops had disciplined their clergy.”

            Ah please do check that carefully. I asked at 7.59am “no bishop has caused a CDM to be actioned against any same sex married clergy. Or am I wrong about that?”

            and at 9.21am: “So I ask you again: has any bishop has caused a CDM to be actioned against any same sex married clergy?”

            So there was no revision.

          • Peter Ould December 17, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

            You responded to a thread about “discipline” and you made “discipline” only refer to a CDM. You are the one who needs to support that contention, so get on with it.

          • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

            Well Peter you can clearly see that I asked the same question each time. There was no changing of the question, which is what you claimed at 11.53. Why did you claim that? So there is nothing for me to ‘get on with’. There is still the same unanswered question that I put to you at 7.59, which is:

            has any bishop caused a CDM to be actioned against any same sex married clergy?

            As to whether anything else is ‘discipline’ will surely vary from context to context and is a private pastoral matter between the priest and bishop. The bishop will, under some circumstances, disclose the pastoral conversations they have had with a priest to other members of the senior staff team, or to another bishop on a ‘need to know’ basis but I can assure you that those circumstances vary quite a lot and are done in strictest confidence. Sometimes things are removed from a blue file at the decision of the bishop. (The only reason I am aware of this is because, as you can see from my Crockford entry, I was a bishop’s Chaplain for five years and had to deal both with blue files and clergy discipline.)

            The reason that I think the Bishop of Salisbury will be really unable to withdraw the PtO is not to do with law. It is, as I have said previously to do with integrity and his previous statements about the matter.

            I hope this helps.

          • Peter Ould December 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

            You know the answer to your question and it’s a question that only makes any sense if you think a CDM is the only form of discipline there is.

            To be frank, I don’t give a damn if you have or haven’t been a Bishop’s Chaplain. Don’t try your “I’ve dealt with cases like this and you haven’t so I clearly know better” undertone with me. I really don’t care for it.

          • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

            Oh Peter there’s no ‘undertone’. Just as there was no changing of the question. It’s just fact.

            The only formal discipline *is* under the CDM. The rest is pastoral.

          • Peter Ould December 17, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

            So now we’ve changed again, this time to “formal discipline” once it became clear that your argument that CDM is the only form of discipline didn’t work?

            This is SO laughable and pathetic.

          • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

            Umm..no – I’ve not changed anything at all. You claim that I changed a question – but evidence obviously doesn’t support that.

            I’m very happy to have the world formal in or out. Makes no difference to me. Discipline is either under CDM and therefore it’s formal and has processes to be followed, or it is a pastoral matter, and therefore confidential. That’s the end of the story really.

          • Peter Ould December 17, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

            You carry on believing that

          • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

            it’s not a question of belief. It’s just the way it goes. The only reason we know what has happened in terms of the three clergy we know about who have entered same sex marriages is because they have been put in the public domain for a variety of understandable reasons. But there may be other same sex married clergy who have had pastoral conversations with their bishops that are entirely confidential. And there will certainly be lots of ‘pastoral’ conversations that might have a hint of discipline about them but they are not part of a formal disciplinary process. They are simply confidential pastoral conversations.

          • Peter Ould December 17, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

            I deal with facts, not fantasies. “There may, there may…” but until you have actual evidence there is nothing but the open precedents. If you want to claim the precedent is something other than the three public cases, put up or shut up.

          • Andrew Godsall December 17, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

            Yep – facts are good. Unless you were there during those private pastoral conversations you have no more access to facts than any of us. So putting up and shutting up is a good option. The only fact we know is that no CDM process has been initiated in any of these three cases, and that Jeremy Davies has not had his PtO withdrawn in Salisbury.

          • Peter Ould December 18, 2015 at 8:37 am #

            GIVEN that Davies has not had his PTO withdrawn, we have two options as to how the policy is being played out don’t we?

            i) The policy is that current licences are maintained and that current PTOs can be maintained or withdrawn at the Bishop’s discretion. New licences and PTOs however are not granted.
            ii) The policy is that each BIshop can do what they want

            If (i) then the crunch will come when Davies’ PTO is up for renewal. Clearly Holtam has pushed the crunch decision as far away as possible and I don’t blame him.
            If (ii) then there is no policy, it’s actually anarchy, and the Valentines Day statement is meaningless and impotent and collegiality is dead.

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 10:33 am #

            I am not sure I would go with the tone of Peter’s comments here, but I think factually he is quite correct.

            The idea that there is really only one form of discipline, the CDM, and that all else is ‘pastoral’ is unreal. Jeremy Pemberton was explicitly operating the same thing. He said on BBC2 that there was no CDM against him, therefore he was in perfectly good standing in the diocese. He also appeared to think that CDM was a simply admin process, with a low threshold, as part of this fantasy.

            CDM has turned out to be more complex than intended, I think to prevent its easy over-use by bullying bishops, and therefore the less formal processes of discipline have continued to be of importance.

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 10:34 am #

            Oh, and included in the ‘facts’ are that both Jeremys have been formally reprimanded by their bishops. That is not private; it has been stated publicly in both cases.

          • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

            Isnt the policy that priests are not allowed to marry, but if they do then the punishment is to be decided by their bishop? I probably haven’t seen the full document and would almost certainly not understand it anyway, but I don’t think it explicitly says that licenses must be withdrawn?

            I think part of the problem is, as I understand it, the issue of gay priests who marry has not gone through synod at all and there was a hurriedly rushed together statement by the hob instead (Ive heard it was only agreed to by a minority of bishops). It frustrates me a lot that there has not been more thought about this. The CofE has had pretty much my whole life to discuss this issue and now there are real problems because they left it until it was too late.

            Someone on facebook said that if all priests had to remain celibate until this thing was sorted then it would actually be dealt with with some urgency!

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

            Pete, I am not sure how you can contribute well to this discussion if you don’t understand anything about Anglican processes. The idea that ‘there has not been more thought about this’ is, well, just a bit laughable. It has been being discussed, seriously, for all my time as a Christian, which stretches back 35 years at least. My bookshelf is groaning as a result.

          • Andrew Godsall December 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

            Peter, you said “the crunch will come when Davies’ PTO is up for renewal.”

            We covered this yesterday. PtOs are not usually time limited. It won’t come up for renewal.

            Ian: we’ve had this debate about forms of discipline before. I’m afraid we will just have to agree to differ on this. It turned out, as you recall, that Jeremy Pemberton’s bishop had said one thing to him on the record and quite another thing off the record.

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

            ‘ Jeremy Pemberton’s bishop had said one thing to him on the record and quite another thing off the record.’ Oh right: that’s a model of integrity?!

            And the thing he said on the record was, er, a ‘rebuke’. Sounds like discipline to me!

          • Andrew Godsall December 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

            Ian: no, it’s a model of the mess we are in about this isn’t it?
            It’s a confidential pastoral conversation Ian. The only reason this has been made public is because Jeremy initiated the tribunal. The only process for formal discipline is the CDM. Anything else is pastoral. (yes, I know you disagree, but there it is – we shall have to learn to disagree well!)

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

            That’s not the case with Jeremy D. The rebuke has been reported in the press, and there has been no tribunal in this case. Even if it between the bishop and clergyman alone, it is still a form of discipline.

          • Andrew Godsall December 18, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

            Let me give you an example Ian. Above here you commented:
            “I am not sure I would go with the tone of Peter’s comments here…”
            And to me, on another thread, you said I was welcome to comment but asked me not to be so sarcastic…..

            Now, both of those sound like a ‘rebuke’ to me. You have even written it down. It is observable to others. And will remain written down for all time. But is it discipline? Or just a friendly ‘pastoral’ observation?

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

            It’s pastoral because I am not your bishop you have not sworn an oath of obedience to me. If I was, and you had, then it would constitute a form of discipline.

          • Peter Ould December 18, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

            “PtOs are not usually time limited. It won’t come up for renewal.”

            Incorrect. A PTO in Salisbury Diocese is usually renewed on a three year basis. If you don’t believe me, get an attributable quote from Holtam’s office that says otherwise.

          • Andrew Godsall December 18, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

            Well that simply proves that the policy is that each BIshop can do what they want.

          • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

            Ian – I was referring specifically to allowing gay priests to marry. If it has been discussed your whole life then why has the “guidance” on it been rushed together with no proper authority and frankly has led to what could easily be described as a shambles???

  10. James Byron December 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    Say the Church of England does rally around the traditional position, Ian. What then?

    PR is a band-aid on an open wound. All the mad men in the world won’t be able to change the fact that LGB people are still members of the church, and will still press for change. Even if a majority of those unwilling to submit to the church’s discipline left in disgust, new LGB members are being born every day, and will grow up in a society where, outside their church, being gay is absolutely normal. They’ll come of age expecting to be treated equally, and when they find they’re not, they’ll fight for change.

    All the while, the church’s position looks worse and worse to society at large. If it refuses to change, eventually, the Westminster Parliament is gonna find the pressure intolerable, and either disestablish the state church, or change canon law itself.

    The only way the church will hold out would be if society reverses course on accepting LGB relationships. Can you honestly see that happening, Ian? If not, why not work for a compromise now, while you’re in a position of strength, rather than hold out until change is forced upon you?

    • Ian Paul December 15, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

      James, your comment is based on the thesis that no church can ever really express an ethical position which is contrary to the surrounding culture and hold on to that consistently.

      That is contradicted by vast swathes of church history, including especially the first four centuries. so I’ve no real idea (other than ideological conviction) why you hold on to it.

      • James Byron December 15, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

        Ian, in its first four centuries, Christianity was marginalized, a superstitio by turns mistrusted and persecuted by Roman society. When it became the state religion, it adapted itself, such as by ditching pacifism for Just War.

        A state church can’t be at-odds with the society its supposed to serve.

        So yes, if the Church of England wants to become the Church in England, it can keep excluding LGBT people, just as the Catholic Church and independent protestant churches do, and will keep doing; if, however, it wants to remain the state church, it must change.

        • Ian Paul December 15, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

          But the established C of E is not a state church in that sense. Its bishops are not employed by the state and its buildings are not thereby maintained.

          That model is more evidence in some European churches, but the C of E is able to maintain a more distinct, and at best prophetic, position.

          It is clear that, so far, it is under no compunction to follow state dictation.

          • James Byron December 15, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

            So far.

            The Church of England aims to be, well, a church of England, acting on behalf not just of its members, but of all English people, and representative of the nation of a whole. It’s traditionally broad, and has been since the 19th century. Whatever its canons say, in reality, its own clergy and members are split on the morality of gay relationships.

            If you want it to become a confessional evangelical church, well, it’s an option, but it’ll put establishment under increased strain, strain that’s likely to snap the ties between church and state altogether.

          • Pete J December 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

            It is a state church in the sense that it should not be turning anyone away from pastoral care. Therefore I think there is a tension between the church’s current stance on allowing treatment of gay people to be decided at a local level and its remit to be the church for everyone in England. For example, the EA encourages expulsion for unrepentant gay people, but such an action shouldn’t be appropriate in the CofE.

            It is also the state church in that it is moderated in part by the state and therefore if the state considers it to be acting in an immoral way it can take measures to rectify that.

        • Clive December 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

          Dear James

          Saying, as you have, “A state church can’t be at-odds with the society its supposed to serve.” can’t possibly be right because throughout History Christians have been willing to die for their Christian faith. The state and society condemned to death and they accepted that death rather than giving in to society and the state.

          So, NO, Christianity and the Church CAN and IS at-odds with the society its supposed to serve … precisely because it saves people rather than simply serving their wants or desires.

  11. Pete J December 15, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    There’s only one bishop who is “liberal” on this issue and he doesn’t say one thing and do another!

    • Ian Paul December 15, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

      I think that is a significant underestimate by most people’s estimation.

      • Pete J December 15, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

        Can you name any other bishops who have stated that they are in favour of gay clergy being allowed to marry?!

        • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 10:28 am #

          Yes. If there was a free vote, then I think Chris Lowson in Lincoln, David Walker in Manchester, Alan Wilson Buckingham (of course, but not a diocesan), Nick Holtam in Salisbury and Chris Chessun in Southwark would all vote for this. All the recently appointed women bishops would probably be the same.

          Same is true for the recently retired bishops of Gloucester, Oxford and Edmonton (the latter was in a celibate same sex relationship). This is all pretty common knowledge.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

            With the exception of Alan, none of these have said so in public. They may well have a public view and a private view, but at the moment they all publically oppose gay priests marrying – two of them have even disciplined clergy for marrying. I am not “in the know” ( nudge nudge wink wink) and so I can only go with what is publically stated.

            The bishop of Liverpool has a niece who is lesbian and has been nice to gay people, so maybe he can go on your list too. Again he publically opposes the marriage of gay priests.

      • Pete J December 15, 2015 at 11:19 pm #

        NB being opposed to capital punishment is not the same as being “liberal” about murder!

  12. Andrew Godsall December 16, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    The idea that Nicholas Holtam would withdraw the PtO of Jeremy Davies is not very likely, and if it happened it would have consequences way beyond one retired priest in Salisbury.

    http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001966.html

    “It is bullying to assert the will of the majority of the Communion in ways that permit no disagreement. The majority is not always right. It is also theologically deeply flawed.” (Nicholas Holtam)

  13. Andrew Godsall December 16, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    The quite brilliant essay by Prof Martyn Percy also shows where the problems before us lie.

    http://modernchurch.org.uk/downloads/finish/818-articles/756-sex-sense-and-non-sense-for-anglicans

    “A theologically conservative church is not an attractive proposition to the emerging generation. The Church of England’s stance on sexuality is deeply alienating and quite incomprehensible for most young people in the UK. It confirms their view of religion as being backward-looking and bigoted. ++Welby knows that he won’t make much headway on evangelism and mission with a church that saddles him with an inherently homophobic polity. A non-inclusive church is an evangelistic dead-duck.”

    “The task is to appease conservative voices in the developing south of the Communion, yet at the same time not lose a whole generation of young people to the Church of England. He has to find a way forward – of squaring the circle, so to speak – such that progressive, traditional, conservative and liberal voices all have some sense that this beloved Communion can remain united, as one.”

    • Ian Paul December 16, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

      Thanks for the link Andrew. I think Martyn’s first comment you quote would be bang on if it weren’t for two things.

      First, evangelicals have never argued that a conservative position should be argued *because* such churches are attractive. They believe they are, but that is merely corroborative evidence to the more important question of the theological truth as found in Scripture.

      That leads to the second observation. Martyn’s comment would be pertinent if there were any evidence whatsoever that it were true. It is quite clear that a theologically conservative church is actually very attractive to a good number in the emerging generation. There is no attraction to costly discipleship for the sake of belonging to a group who look very much like society around.

      • Pete J December 16, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

        I disagree that such churches are popular because of their position on sexuality. In my experience churches that are growing are not teaching on sexuality at all and probably the majority of their congregants are unaware of their church’s stance on the issue. This Ofc has he potential to cause great harm because everybody then does as he or she sees fit!

        • James Byron December 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

          Agreed, Pete: megachurches like Willow Creek in Chicago, and HTB in London, play-down sexuality, and focus instead on religious self-help. Much of the attraction is, I suspect, stylistic and social, not theological: both run lively services and provide social support.

          Put it this way: thousands aren’t flocking to the impeccably biblical services of the wee frees, are they? 😉

          • Pete J December 17, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

            Yes I went to a church (not cofe, but part of another anti gay denomination) on Sunday that has been affirming since the 1960s(!) It has two Sunday morning services that are usually standing room only.

            I think the popularity of churches that preach against gay people is nothing more than a myth.

        • David Shepherd December 16, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

          Pete J,

          Despite your experience, the Pentecostal denomination with its roots in Africa has planted 296 new churches in the UK in the last five years, the largest number for any single denomination.

          Similar to other growing churches with a far younger average age than the CofE, the Pentecostal Church states: ‘It should be noted at the outset that there is absolutely no affirmation of homosexual behavior found anywhere in Scripture. Rather, the consistent sexual ideal is chastity for those outside a monogamous heterosexual marriage and fidelity for those inside such a marriage.’

          So, I’m not sure what experience undergirds your belief that ‘churches that are growing are not teaching on sexuality at all and probably the majority of their congregants are unaware of their church’s stance on the issue.’ It’s clearly at odds with the reality, which is far less flattering to declining churches’ assumptions of theological superiority.

          • Pete J December 16, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

            Even in these pentecostal churches (i was actually referring to Anglican modern Evangelical churches) I’m sure that you could be a long standing member of the community and never heard teaching on sexuality. BME Christians are ofc much more likely to be anti gay than white Christians and so maybe BME churches do teach on sexuality, but I’m unaware of such churches in the cofe.

          • David Shepherd December 16, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

            ‘ I’m sure that you could be a long standing member of the community and never heard teaching on sexuality’.

            No, you’re not. So, why not admit you’ve simply assumed a lack of church teaching on sexuality?

          • Pete J December 17, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

            Yes. That’s exactly what I am saying.

            Ive been going to church all my life and (definitions of “evangelical” will vary) for at least half of that time to evangelical churches (I should qualify non-BME). Ive never heard a sermon on sexuality. In the church I have just left I know that the vast majority of people have no idea what their local church or the Church of England believes about sexuality.

            I haven’t done a big survey, but I do think there is a trend of avoidance in this type of church. However Im aware of two large anglican CofE churches who have been forced to confront the issues and moved to a more accepting position as a consequence. I think churches are scared to tackle this issues because they know they will lose or enrage substantial numbers of their congregants by doing so.

      • David Beadle December 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

        Linda Woodhead’s survey in 2013 showed that only 21% of people in the UK think CofE churches are welcoming places for LGB people, falling to 17% in the 18-24 age-group:

        http://faithdebates.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/WFD-Pilling-press-release.pdf

        One of the reasons that more “conservative” churches attract more young people (and I say “one” of the reasons, because this is a complex issue) is almost certainly that young people who have a problem with this state-of-affairs do not want to be a member of any Anglican church (indeed any church). It is therefore extremely difficult for more “liberal” churches to attract younger people, precisely because of the damage the “conservative” message is doing.

        • David Shepherd December 16, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

          David,

          How can the disenchantment of youth with the ‘damaging’ message of the Anglican Church’s conservative wing be a cause of ‘more “conservative” churches attracting more young people?

          That’s a complete non sequitur.

          • David Beadle December 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

            Because, David, most – of course not all -young people hate the toxic messages coming out of the church about sexuality. This does not mean they’ll join “liberal” churhes generally. It means they’ll join no church at all. There will always be, however, young people attracted to what seems like a rigid, counter-cultural, no-compromise faith – hence they go to the such churches, given that the common British perception is that churches are outright anti-gay. Hence, the trend towards the church shrinking as a whole, while churches preaching a kind of propositionalism that would have been considered extreme a few decades ago grow. This is one of a number of reasons why a church established by the state, both reformed and Catholic, is increasingly taking on the characteristics of a Protestant protest movement.

          • Clive December 20, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

            Dear David Beadle

            Everything you have said is a recipe for declining “conservative” Churches not the growing ones that exist in reality. Incidentally, they are not actually conservative. They simply believe in Jesus’ words and believe in the Bible.

            I therefore agree with David Shepherd

            Also you said “the common British perception is that churches are outright anti-gay” … but they are neither anti-gay nor are believed as such. You are clearly out of touch.

          • Pete J December 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

            Clive

            I would add

            a) it seems pretty clear such churches are not growing *because* of their opposition to gay relationships – I would say usually it is the music and/or other young people that makes them pick that church over another.

            B) im not sure I know of any church that actually teaches on sexuality and is opposed to gay relationships and is growing?

            C) plenty of churches that support gay relationships are growing

        • Brian December 16, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

          That’s complete nonsense. I know liberal Anglican churches with a gay element in them and they don’t attract young people because (1) these churches with their robed choirs and ceremonial are *boring* to young people who need contemporary music (2) the preaching doesn’t grab them and is usually dull and tinged with scepticism. The simple fact is most people under 35 in the UK have no religious commitment, having grown up in a secular world. Liberal Anglicanism has been totally unable to reach them. Blaming conservatives for this is preposterous.

          • David Shepherd December 16, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

            Well said!

          • James Byron December 16, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

            I agree that many liberal churches are inaccessible, Brian, which just boosts my claim that much of charismatic evangelicalism’ success rests of style, not theology.

          • David Shepherd December 16, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

            James.

            Perhaps, you might admit that liberal churches show little imagination (a.k.a. style) in making even basic theological concepts accessible to parishes comprised of ordinary unlearned layfolk.

          • Penelope December 17, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

            Brian: David Beadle, who is young, attends a very spiky church with a robed choir (as do other young people). It is my contention that the vast majority of young people, who are interested in ‘contemporary’ music listen to it on their i-phones or in clubs and not when it is utterly cringe worthy in church. That kind of ‘relevance’ just makes the church look lame. The radical inclusivity of the gospel on the other hand………………………………

          • Ian Paul December 17, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

            So we should change our theology to include people who don’t like traditional teaching—but traditional music is sacrosanct? Hmmm… sounds the wrong way around to me!

          • Penelope December 17, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

            Ian, as you know, I never mentioned ‘changing’ the Church’s theology. Nor did I say that ‘traditional’ music was sacrosanct (and the music at David Beadle’s church represents but one tradition). I don’t care what music churches play, so long as I don’t have to go to one that has a ‘worship band’ and the words of the ‘songs’ on a screen. But I suspect that the people who are most comfortable with this type of ‘contemporary’ music are people of my generation. It’s too awful to attract a ‘lost’ generation, especially since many of those now see the church as a toxic brand.

          • David Beadle December 22, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

            Brian, but no one has said it is conservatives’ fault. And I use the word ‘conservatives’ with scare quotes. As I said, there are many reasons for the decline of so-called ‘liberal Anglican’ churches. I agree with you about the preaching in them being a problem. Perhaps more often than not, it’s dire. These churches are often not good at setting up youth groups &c. The causes of social change will always be multi-faceted. But lots of people of my age won’t go to any churches because they think they’re homophobic or misogynistic. The statistics show that this attitude is prevalent. This obviously means that inclusive theologies are not being heard, even if young people might wish to attend churches which hold them.

            All in all, I agree with Pete J that masses of our young people simply will not attend churches that are seen as anti-gay. And for reasons which probably have very little to do with sexuality those who are not totally put off, are more likely to go to evangelical churches. It’s worth looking at the recent Evangelical Alliance survey, shopwing that more than half of young evangelical women are accepting of same-sex marriage.

            There is a trend towards decline in church attendance partly because churches are seen as anti-gay. Many evangelical churches are growing in spite of – not because of – their teachings (public or spoken in private) on sexuality.

          • David Beadle December 22, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

            Ian: “So we should change our theology to include people who don’t like traditional teaching…”

            This is exactly why it’s so difficult to have these sorts of conversations. Many of us do see ourselves as “changing theology” or going against “biblical teaching.” We come to our views through biblical and theological study – as well as through experience, as everyone does. But the assumption is constantly thrown at us that we’re throwing out the tradition of the church.

          • Ian Paul December 22, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

            Er, you are actually proposing a change in the Church’s teaching and doctrine of marriage. So I think it is a fair point!

          • David Beadle December 22, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

            And, just one more thing, I’ve often found so-called “ordinary unlearned layfolk” to have much a deeper spiritual-groundedness, maturity and theological insight than many of their ministers.

          • David Beadle December 23, 2015 at 11:18 am #

            Based, Ian, on what I consider traditional principles. Same-sex marriage – and same-sex civil marriage – are relatively new questions, as you know. We would all, I hope, be trying to answer them with regard to the Bible and theological traditions of the church.

          • Ian Paul December 23, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

            David, what ‘traditional principles’ might that be then?

            Historical critical reading of the texts?

            Canonical reading?

            History of interpretation?

            The primacy of Scripture over ‘tradition’ and ‘reason’, as per Hooker?

            These are all explored at length in ‘Some Issues in Human Sexuality’. Most revisionists/progressives are clear that the new situation calls for a new hermeneutic, not a traditional one, where experience has epistemic primacy over the texts.

            If you think your position arises from ‘traditional principles’ I think you are in a very small minority on either side of the debate.

          • David Beadle December 23, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

            I would come close to those such as Jeffrey John who are asking that the church extends the principles it already explicitly holds for a man and woman (e.g. the Prayer Book marriage vows) to a man and a man or woman and a woman. Jeremy Davies himself has said similar in media interviews. What became the Rabbinic technique of making general principles from particulars is a technique Jesus frequently employs. We on one hand, after studying the relevant texts in their original languages and in scholarship are unconvinced that they refer to the same thing as committed same-sex relationships; on the other hand, we are seeking to generalise church teachings on marriage to same-sex relationships.

            Popular proponents of the former often come from more evangelical traditions (e.g. K. Renalto Lings, Matthew Vines, Vicky Beeching – and also those who have changed their minds from scriptural study, e.g. James Jones and Tony Campolo). Steve Chalke’s arguments are not a mile off Jeffrey John’s in terms of arguing for generalising certain biblical principles (though I disagree with aspects of his hermeneutics). Alun Wilson certainly argues his points from the Bible and tradition. These people are all public figures whose writings are very popular, arguing their cases from biblical exegesis and traditional theological interpretations of marriage, so I’m certainly not in a minority on this. Neither I nor they are arguing for “primacy of experience.”

          • David Shepherd December 23, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

            David B,

            In terms of rabbinical induction, Jesus infers the general principle (what God has joined together, let not man separate’) from the particulars of marriage’s origin in Genesis.

            It’s also worth noting that Jesus’ inductive method gives precedence to developing the general principle from the particulars of Genesis, instead of the later particular of Moses’ Law permitting divorce.

            You and other revisionists have simply limited the scope of His rabbinical induction from the Genesis account to the permanence and monogamy of marriage. The other obvious particular of the Genesis origin of marriage is ‘male and female created He them’.

            You’ve simply tried to eliminate this Genesis particular from informing the general principle, since it undermines your preferred particular of mutually committed same-sex relationships.

            In contrast, in respect of marriage, the precedence of particulars in Genesis is implied by Christ saying ‘it was not so from the beginning’. That takes precedence before Moses’ Law permitting divorce and any other particular of your choosing.

            You are begging the question by ‘asking that the church extends the same principles it already it explicitly holds for a man and a woman…to a man and a man or a woman and a woman’, since it embeds your unproven premise as if proven already.

          • David Beadle December 23, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

            Except, David, I’m not denying marriage between a male and a female at all. I am applying an already given particular to a generality.

          • David Shepherd December 23, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

            I didn’t claim that you were ‘denying marriage between a male and a female’.

            On the basis that a purpose (causes) addressed by marriage is not essential to every marriage, you’ve simply denied that part of the inductive process that makes the male-female conjugation in Genesis as essential as life-long permanence to the general principle.

            In logic terms, these causes are accidents: properties which have no necessary connection to the essence of marriage.

            Your technique of squaring the generality, or essence of marriage with such accidents is called the converse accident fallacy or a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid.

          • David Beadle December 24, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

            David S, I think it is pretty clear from our conversations elsewhere on here that I do not agree that a male-female relationship is essential to marriage, nor is that how I read the Bible and the tradition of the church. Nor do I really accept that we can base our understandings of the nature of created things entirely on scholastic syllogisms. So I recognise this as a fallacy. If I were to throw a fallacy at you it would be “no true Scotsman,” which I suppose you will also reject?

          • David Shepherd December 25, 2015 at 10:15 pm #

            David B,

            For the ‘No true Scotsman’ fallacy to apply, I would have had to assert that procreation is essential to all marriage, only for you to provide counter-examples of infertile married couples.

            Since I have neither asserted procreation to be essential to marriage, nor further implied that ‘notrue marriage is non-procreative’, the said fallacy is inapplicable to my argument.

        • Pete J December 17, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

          David (Beadle) I think is right to say that *of the people for whom LGBT inclusivity is important* they are much less likely to go to any church. Hatred always resounds louder than love so the messages in the media from CofE clergy, Christian Concern etc creates a narrative where church is for straights only and that gay people are not only unwelcome, but would be unsafe in any church.

          This is clearly an important issue for a great many people and growing. Rejection of gay people is less and less socially acceptable, which is why we hear these cries of religious persecution. However I do not think it is an overriding issue for a great many people so that when people do end up part of a church community and feel warmth and love, they assume their church is not of the rejecting LGBT types (until something happens where they find out!)

          I agree that a local church’s position on this issue will not massively impact its popularity, although obviously you would be decreasing the pool of potential attendees if you were to stop LGBT from attending.

        • David Beadle December 22, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

          Clive, I have quoted and linked recent research which shows exactly what I said. You could always read it. You have provided no evidence for your claim that churches are not seen as anti-gay in the UK. Looking at statistics is much more beneficial than just shouting “No…you’re clearly out of touch!”

    • Pete J December 16, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

      I think at least the youngest two, if not three, generations have been “lost” and I doubt the churchs stance on sexuality is directly much of a factor in that, but actually I think the stance on sexuality and the collapse of church attendance have a common route.

      Ofc *if* you are telling individuals that they are unwelcome in the church it isn’t rocket science that they then won’t attend

  14. Phill December 16, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

    If I may make a brief observation having read some of the discussion here… Much of the discussion here focuses on peripheral issues like the problem of how the church appears to outsiders, whether conservative churches are growing or whether it’s just a matter of style, etc.

    I just feel like in these discussions the most important question of all is not these secondary questions, but what God wants. To my mind the only question worth bothering with is, has God said anything on this issue? Because if God’s will is available to us, then that’s the only thing that matters. Everything else is just window dressing. Whether the church looks homophobic or not, for example, if God did indeed design sex to only be between a man and a woman in a lifelong relationship, then however society perceives it the church is bound to teach what God says.

    To give an example – the church I am in here (as curate) has quite a strict position on remarriage, i.e. We will not do a wedding for someone who has been divorced. That’s a pretty strict policy, owned which is not mandated by the national church, and many in society would find it outdated and even ridiculous. In the last year or so, two people have joined the church – both divorcees. They actually met on an alpha course and got together there, they have just been married in a civil marriage and they’re coming into the church next year for a wedding blessing. The church’s apparent outdated and backwards teaching on marriage hasn’t stopped them from coming in.

    Why is that? Because the church is where they met, and continue to meet, with God. God is the one who drew them, who speaks to them through his word, they recognise that there is a truth there which is beyond what they had previously thought.

    I appreciate the situation is not exactly analogous with same sex marriage, but I think it does go some way towards explaining why conservative churches such as mine are often growing, even amongst younger people. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof – truth will never be a barrier to anyone joining the church, because it is where they meet the true and living God.

    • Ian Paul December 17, 2015 at 7:55 am #

      Thanks Phill. That’s a really helpful illustration.

    • Pete J December 17, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      i completely agree Phil that gay people can get married outside of the church without the church’s blessing. So then the issue becomes not whether the church recognises someone’s relationship as a blessing or a curse, but how it responds to people in relationships that it does not agree with. I think if the church treated gay people as well as it treats remarried divorcees, Ian would be out of a job!

      Having said that we cannot be church on our own and I think, at least in the wider CofE, it is unsustainable to not allow diversity on a teaching that between half and two thirds of the church is against Gods will.

      I also think there are three overlapping issues here
      1 – how the church treats gay people
      2 – how the church treats gay people who chose to be in a relationship
      3 – how the church responds to gay clergy who marry

      On the third issue I think the church is on very dodgey ground to remove people’s ministries since these people are given to the church by God. I think removing them outright from ministry may be opposing the work of the Holy Spirit.

      • Chris Bishop December 17, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

        How do you know that #3 is true?

        • Pete J December 17, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

          Do you mean how do I know that there are gay clergy who have or will marry?

          There have been three already.

          Im saying that how the church treats them is a much more important issue than whether it approves or not.

          • Chris Bishop December 17, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

            “On the third issue I think the church is on very dodgey ground to remove people’s ministries since these people are given to the church by God. I think removing them outright from ministry may be opposing the work of the Holy Spirit”

            No. What I meant was how would you verify that they are given to the church by God? If their personal lives are inconsistent with their orders and go against the teaching of their church, then can it be said they have been given to the church for ministry by God?

          • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 2:04 am #

            Personally I don’t accept that celibacy for all gay people is the will of God, but even if you do I dont really see that a gay priest marrying somehow means they were never really given in the first place. If the CofE believed that reasoning there would be no remarried clergy, and taken to the extreme, where any sin is seen as a mark of a false calling, there would be no clergy at all.

            I haven’t experienced the ministry of the three Jeremys or Andrew FC, personally, but they all seem to be deeply loved and appreciated by those that do. If the church is going to start judging people’s calling by their fruit then they need to look at *their fruit* not the people they marry.

          • Chris Bishop December 18, 2015 at 11:39 am #

            But there is an important difference you are ignoring. Clearly clergy like laity fall into sin but this can be *acknowledged* as such with an opportunity for repentance. In this case however, the participants do not regard their actions as marrying as being sinful neither will they acknowledge it as such. They reject the teaching of their church on marriage and do not see any need to repent.

            So if they violate their own churches’ teaching, how can it be said they have been called by God?

          • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 11:33 pm #

            I don’t believe the church of England is right on this.

            But if it were right committing a sin that you are unaware of is a sin cannot invalidate your calling. If that were so there would be very few priests. God uses imperfect people to silence those who think that only the worthy are called.

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

            Pete, I am interested in your developed view of whether the C of E has this right or not. I wonder if I could just enquire how you have reached this view. Which of these have you read and studied?

            . Issues in Human Sexuality
            . Some Issues in Human Sexuality
            . The Pilling Report, including its appendices
            . True Union in the Body
            . Shared Conversations study book
            . The relevant canons and liturgy
            . The St Andrew’s Day Statement
            . Oliver O’Donovan’s A Conversation Waiting to Begin
            . The Plausibility Problem by Ed Shaw
            . Washed and Waiting by Wes Hill

            I would just like to be clear where this conversation is pitched.

          • Chris Bishop December 18, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

            I think the participants in this situation are perfectly and fully aware of what they are doing and the likely reaction their actions would cause. As with you, they disagree with the Church of England’s doctrine of marriage being only between one man and one woman and have rebelled against it.

            Instead they are following their own doctrine of marriage which the Church of England regards as sin.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

            Ive read “issues” (im not sure which one), skimmed the pilling report, shared conversations booklet and the first chapter of ed shaws book (it set up a premise that I strongly disagreed with so I didn’t bother continuing). I have also read the bible, which you have left off.

            I agree with you that the church has the right to ban gay priests who marry from ministry. I think that they may be acting against the work of the Holy Spirit to do so. However, although it can make life difficult for these priests, the church only gets to hand out titles. Ministry is commissioned by Christ.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

            Chris – I agree with what you have said, but I think the CofE are wrong on this. Even if they are right that gay people should remain celibate, I believe them to be wrong to stop someone’s ministry as a punishment. I think that may be working against Gods mission.

          • David Beadle December 22, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

            Ah right, so only people who have read the Revd Ian Paul’s reading one-sided list have a right to express a view on his interpretation of the church’s teaching on this?

            Case closed. We might as well all go home.

      • Phill December 17, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

        “it is unsustainable to not allow diversity on a teaching that between half and two thirds of the church is against Gods will.”

        This is not true. I don’t know what the statistics are of people’s beliefs on same-sex marriage, but whatever it is – church doctrine has never been determined by a vote from regular people in the pew. I mean, think about it – if the CofE’s doctrine was determined by the average churchgoer, I’d hate to think about what that would mean for the doctrine of the Trinity, let alone anything else!

        If members of the church disagree with the church’s teaching on marriage, there are procedures and processes in place which should be followed. Otherwise we’d just have anarchy. And nothing I have seen up to this point has convinced me that a ‘diversity’ of opinions on this issue is workable, in fact I think it would be utterly disastrous for the church. Far better to pick one position and stick to it.

        I agree that the three issues you mention are distinct issues. I disagree that the church is wrong to remove ministers who choose to marry a same-sex partner though.

        This year I’ve had to do some preaching on the pastoral epistles (1+2 Timothy and Titus), and it’s struck me again and again how forcefully Paul opposes false teaching and how important it is to maintain sound doctrine. To my mind at least, if a member of the clergy chooses to enter into a same-sex marriage it demonstrates that they are unfit to be in holy orders. We agree to the rules when we sign up – the Jeremy Pemberton case demonstrated that. The rules are not, as it was put in that instance, an ‘a la carte menu’.

        • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 6:56 am #

          Clearly I have a higher opinion of the theological insight of anglican congregants than you, but I suspect this varies from parish to parish.

          If you think it is sustainable to enforce conformity on this issue – how would you do it? You don’t seem worried about the beliefs of laity, but clearly a significant number of clergy do not agree with the official teaching and would not teach it, so it could be said that diversity of opinion was already happening. Welby himself is encouraging “good disagreement”, although it is clear that he doesn’t mean by this that anyone should be allowed to actually disagree!

          Im sorry but I don’t agree with cutting your nose off to spite your face. The church might not agree with the gay clergy and readers (and worship leaders, Sunday school teachers and flower arrangers) who are in relationships, but there are other options open than to deliberately damage the mission of the church. If you think being married to a person of the same sex means that God will not minister through you, I suggest reading Heb 11.

          • Phill December 18, 2015 at 10:20 am #

            “If you think it is sustainable to enforce conformity on this issue – how would you do it?”

            As I said in my first comment, *in theory* conformity on this issue should have been enforced in years gone by (as now). We’re currently reaping the harvest of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and other harmful and dishonest practices. The church hasn’t changed its teaching – but the legalisation of SSM has forced it to put its teaching into practice.

            “You don’t seem worried about the beliefs of laity, but clearly a significant number of clergy do not agree with the official teaching and would not teach it” – actually I think the laity are probably more conservative than the clergy on this issue, although it probably depends on the church.

            “there are other options open than to deliberately damage the mission of the church.”

            I think it’s more damaging to the mission of the church to allow people in same-sex marriages to continue. Frankly I think those clergy in particular who enter into SSM demonstrate that they hold the Word of God and the church in contempt.

            It’s interesting you mention Sunday school teachers… some friends of mine have just left a church they had been going to for some years because they are unhappy with the youth work. I found out a few days ago that one of the Sunday school teachers has moved in with a lady residing in our parish, with no intention of marrying. You cannot separate sound doctrine and a godly life.

            Hebrews 11 shows that God works through sinners, yes, hallelujah. But as far as I’m aware every one of them was repentant. David, for example, was an adulterer, but then you have Psalm 51. Seeing as you quoted Hebrews to me, let me quote it to you from just before the passage you mention. Please read carefully Hebrews 10:26-31.

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 10:21 am #

            Pete, do read the work of the Ordinary Theology project. There is a good summary in the Grove booklet http://grovebooks.co.uk/products/p-110-taking-ordinary-theology-seriously

            Astley and Christie find that the majority of ordinary Anglicans don’t believe in anything like an orthodox Christology, but think Jesus was an inspiring teacher, and don’t believe anything like an orthodox understanding of atonement. Their recommendation in light of this is that we should abandon notions of ‘orthodox’ belief.

            Oh, they did one find significant exception to both these views: amongst an unusual group who identified themselves as ‘evangelical’

          • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

            So your theology is that God cannot work through sinners?

            Certainly Gideon (worshipping foreign Gods), Abraham (incest) and Rahab (lying) would be unrepentant sinners by your standards. God is not limited by our sin.

            I notice in your section of Hebrews that it says “those who *deliberately* keep on sinning”. I would think it rare for someone to get married, believing that marriage to be sinful!

          • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

            Ian,

            Marriage for gay people is not an evangelical versus liberal theology issue. As somewhat of an outsider to the CofE I find the squabbling between different traditions really upsetting because this is not how we are called to be. Why does a priest or lay person have their ministry stopped for marrying the person they love and yet priests and lay people who continually attack people from other traditions are allowed to continue? Is love a bigger sin than hate?

            I don’t like the use of the word “orthodox” because surely that refers to either the Eastern Orthodox churches or the RCC. The rest of us are all renegades. I would be *very* surprised if indeed most Anglicans did believe that Jesus was just a teacher. If this were the case then why are we not having endless arguments about that? Perhaps people have been driven out of their churches because they believe this? Or removed from ministry?

            You will no doubt think differently, but I would say that belief that Jesus is God (along with belief in the ressurection) is central to what we believe as Christians … It is what we mean when we say “I am a Christian”. Belief that being gay is wrong or that gay relationships are wrong is not what we mean when we say “I am a Christian”.

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

            Pete, again, you don’t appear to be at all familiar with the ‘traditional’ case. If Jesus ‘is God’ (which actually isn’t quite the orthodox Christian belief), then his taking seriously OT Scripture is of significance. Jesus appears at every point to endorse OT sexual ethics, even though he implemented it with compassion. It is historically and theologically implausible to imagine that Jesus did or would have endorsed active homophile relations. That’s why it comes closer to the centre of things that we might first expect.

          • Phill December 18, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

            “So your theology is that God cannot work through sinners?”

            Um… no. I don’t understand how you can have read my comment and got that impression.

            For my part I’m going to take my leave of this discussion for now, we’ve been round and round the houses before (I assume you’re the same Pete J from the Generous Dissent discussion group on Facebook) and I just get the impression it’s not achieving very much. Thanks for engaging.

          • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 11:37 pm #

            Jesus doesn’t actually endorse the Pharisees interpretation of sexual ethics.

            What is a homophile?!

            How do you make Jesus teaching that the whole law is summed up by love for God & neighbour consistent with banning gay people from marrying?!

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

            Pete, what did Jesus say to his disciples about the Pharisees’ teaching?

            ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe’ (Matt 23.2-3)

            homophile = sexually attracted to the same sex

            Jesus said ‘Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ (Matt 19.4) and appears to think that this is part of loving your neighbour as yourself.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

            Ian

            The identity of Christ is central to our faith and probably informs all areas of theology. Therefore it doesn’t surprise me that much that, given your disagreement with me on pretty much all areas of gender and sexuality, that you also disagree with me on this.

            I disagree that Jesus had anything like the Pharisees interpretation of the OT law. People were amazed at his teaching, this would not be the case if he did not have radical things to say. Jesus said that the law was summed up by love God, love your neighbour and these two supercede all others laws. Do you think banning gay people from marrying is consistent with either of these? If “yes”, how exactly? If “no”, then why is the CofE not taking the words of Jesus as having authority?

          • Clive December 19, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

            Dear Pete J

            Jesus spoke several times about OT law and made quite clear that he didn’t come to change any of it and has never said that he disagreed with it. He always wanted people to take a holistic view and not take items in isolation.

            You have said that “People were amazed at his teaching, this would not be the case if he did not have radical things to say.” but the second half of that sentence is entirely your interpretation but there is no evidence about Jesus equating radical things to say with disregarding the OT over and above the holistic view he proclaimed. Jesus’ words on Marriage in Matthew 19 verse 3 onwards, Jesus doesn’t go against OT Scripture but instead reminds the Pharisees of it in full. Jesus says to them: “Haven’t you read that the one who made them at the beginning, ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ ? Jesus here actually quotes OT Scripture at the Pharisees and responds describing marriage in full precisely so the Pharisees have nowhere to go with their view of divorce. Indeed by quoting Scripture directly it is Jesus saying that Scripture says that when a man and woman marry they become the new family away from the father and mother which takes them out of the Patriarchial clan attitude of some Jewish people of the time.

            You then quote the claim that “Jesus said that the law was summed up by love God, love your neighbour and these two supercede all others laws.” … but Jesus DID NOT say that these two supercede all other laws as you claim. What Jesus actually said was:
            37 Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
            38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
            40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

            So Jesus actually says that “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” not that they superced others at all. You then seriously misrepresent the meaning of love in the passage and equate love with sexuality, which is not what he said either!

            So your question about the CoFE is grown out of your serious misrepresentation in the first place.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

            Clive I wasn’t saying Jesus disagreed with the OT, I was saying he disagreed with the Pharisees interpretation of it and that his interpretation was radically different to what most of the religious leaders of the time were teaching.

            We obviously have a different understanding of the word “greatest”.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

            Ian – Is there a reason why you used “homophile” instead of “gay”?

      • David Shepherd December 18, 2015 at 9:36 am #

        Pete J,

        The difference between same-sex married couples and re-married divorcees is that:
        1. There is a theological trajectory from St. Paul’s precedent pastoral accommodation of Christians deserted by unbelieving spouses (1 Cor. 7) to permitting church re-marriage of divorcees. In contrast, the prophetic and apostolic record roundly rejects same-sex sexual behaviour.

        2. Those seeking church re-marriage are required to acknowledge that God’s will is for marriage to be life-long and that divorce is a breach of God’s will.

        I doubt that any same-sex couple would be prepared to acknowledge that God’s will is for marriage to be heterosexual and that same-sex sexual relationships are a breach of God’s will.

        • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

          The trajectory of scripture is surely the opposite since Moses granted them a certificate of divorce because their hearts were hard? It is also something that Jesus spoke directly on, whereas he said nothing about gay relationships. If you are saying that Jesus teaching on divorce was not hard and fast then how can you impose a literal and universal understanding of say lev 18.22 against gay people?

          I do not understand how the church can allow people who acknowledge their relationship to be against Gods will to continue in ministry. Why is it OK to have a priest in sinful straight relationship, but not have one in a gay relationship?

          I think many gay priests would be happy to state their relationship to be against Gods will if it meant they could continue in ministry. Personally at the moment, if I were to get married then I wouldn’t want to get married in church. Presumably priests are not required to marry in church?

          (you are probably aware that I do not agree that scripture rejects all gay relationships)

          • Ian Paul December 18, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

            Pete, I am not sure you have actually understood ‘traditional’ arguments about gay relations; it has little to do with ‘literal and universal’ understandings of Lev 18.22. Have you read my Grove booklet, or other ‘traditional’ literature?

          • David Shepherd December 18, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

            Pete J,

            In Matthew’s gospel, Christ himself excepted victims of marital delinquency (notice the more expansive term, porneia, is used, instead of just adultery) from His prohibition against divorce.

            St. Paul simply treats the desertion of an unbelieving spouse in the same manner, as marital delinquency. He relieves such a person of their former marital obligation, stating: ‘The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. (1 Cor. 7:15)

            So, it’s this exception for which a trajectory can be traced back to Christ.

            In respect of church re-marriage of divorcees, the HoB have established guidelines for addressing divorced enquirers and devolved the actual decision to the discretion of the local vicar, who consults with the bishop.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

            Ian

            I know your arguments, and they may well be the current view of the Church of England, but they are not the views that I come into contact with. Most of the people I come into contact with would strongly disagree with gender roles theology, on which your views seem to be based. But I was just using this well known verse as an example. If David can make a softening of Jesus direct teaching to divorced people, it is inconsistent to be as harsh as possible (without violence) to gay people.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

            But David it is only a monotonic trajectory if scripture is always becoming more liberal on this. On a 1-10 liberalism scale Moses was 4, Jesus was 1 and Paul was 2. That is hardly a trajectory!

            I think it is inconsistent to allow divorced priests to remarry, and then become bishops, when gay priests are not allowed to marry even once and seemingly cannot become bishops (unless they keep their orientation secret) even if they are celibate.

          • David Shepherd December 19, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

            Pete J,

            Your liberal trajectory gauge, though imaginative. Is inapplicable. Theological consensus is not constrained by a mathematical relationship.

            The point is that the Church’s position on church re-marriage of divorcees derives from specific exceptions (made by both Christ and St.Paul) to the general prohibition against divorce.

            No such scriptural precedent exists for same-sex relationships.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

            David – it isn’t “my” liberal trajectory – it was *your* argument and I was disagreeing with it!

            The Church of England allows priests to remarry and then become bishops against a (hyper) literal reading of Jesus words. Yet I have heard this very passage used by many an anglican to justify banning gay people from marrying…and we have had recent guidance (and a decade or so of practise) which seems to ban even celibate gay priests from becoming bishops.

            It seems to me to be like having a church with a no smoking sign. The vicar allows people to smoke, regardless but uses the same sign to justify banning people from swearing in the church. If you are saying this teaching of Jesus doesn’t have authority to ban straight priests from remarrying, then it can’t instead be used to ban gay priests from marrying just the once.

          • David Shepherd December 20, 2015 at 8:43 am #

            Pete J,

            Please try to read my entire phrase, instead of deleting specific words to make your attempts at rebuttal more effective.

            It was your numerical gauge of the trajectory, from 1 to 10, with which I took issue, especially since I explained that St. Paul’s provision for deserted Christian spouses is subsumed within Jesus’ own exception of porneia.

            Your ‘no smoking’ example is totally incongruous with the current situation.

            A better analogy would be an American state which endorses the ideal of a completely narcotics-free society with tough sanctions for illicit drug use, while excepting glaucoma and cancer sufferers, who are prescribed cannabis for medicinal reasons.

            Your argument is tantamount to highlighting that explicitly stated exception to be unfair towards those who are predisposed to use a different illicit substance. It’s a logical fallacy, known as ‘destroying the exception’.

          • Pete J December 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

            No I am disagreeing with any notion of a biblical trajectory.

            I am also saying that if you make exceptions from a plain reading of scripture (spoken by Jesus!) that are not found in scriptures for straight people then why can’t you make them for gay people? In your example why are straight divorced people glucoma sufferers, but gay people are not? Why is there compassion for straight divorce people, but not for gay people? Why should a straight person get to marry again after destroying one relationship when a gay person cannot marry even once in your theology?

            (a plain reading of scripture allows for remarriage only for unfaithfulness and possibly due to becoming a Christian when your spouse isn’t, but I think that is just divorce and not remarriage)

        • John December 18, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

          If a woman divorces her husband because he is violent towards her, is that a breach of God’s will?

          • Chris Bishop December 18, 2015 at 11:50 pm #

            No.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

            I would say “no” (of course), but such a reply indicates that there is a lot more compassion/reason/experience applied to their interpretation of scripture for straight people than there is for gay people.

            Jesus teaches that divorce and remarriage is wrong under any circumstances except for unfaithfulness.

            The CofE currently inteprets this exact passage as scriptural evidence for banning gay people from marrying, but then allows straight people to marry and marry again.

          • John December 19, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

            Thank you Chris for your answer. (There was no “reply” button available on your comment so I’ve had to reply to my own.)

            My question was actually for David Shepherd based on point 2 that he made above, namely:

            “Those seeking church re-marriage are required to acknowledge that God’s will is for marriage to be life-long and that divorce is a breach of God’s will.”

            It seems to be an unqualified statement, but perhaps I have misunderstood. I’d be grateful if David could clarify.

          • David Shepherd December 19, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

            John,

            Thanks for the Morton’s fork question, but for clarity, I used the word ‘breach’ advisedly.

            As one dictionary explains: ‘breach is used infrequently in relation to laws and rules, more often in connection with desirable conditions, or states of affairs’.

            In terms of marriage, a breach of God’s will for marriage is specifically that which prevents the achievement of the divinely desired state, or ultimate intention for marriage.

            Some couples pursue the alternative of separation pending the husband completing domestic violence counselling. Neither violence, nor the resultant divorce achieve what God desires for marriage.

            However, the divorce may well accomplish what God desires for the victim of violence, which is safety.

          • Chris Bishop December 19, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

            “Jesus teaches that divorce and remarriage is wrong under any circumstances except for unfaithfulness.”

            Actually Pete J, there is a huge amount of evidence to suggest that is not what Jesus is teaching. For a good run through of this take a look at

            http://www.divorce-remarriage.com/

            particularly the contemporary rabbinical understanding of the ‘Any Cause’ phrase.

            Now whether you agree with Instone-Brewer on this or not, there is no such corresponding parallel, interpretive or pastoral latitude when it come to the biblical understanding of marriage and SSM. Its simply not there because marriage is never envisaged or understood by the biblical writers as anything other than between a man and a woman right through from the Old to the New Testaments.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

            Chris

            You are demonstrating my point entirely – that the church currently has all sorts of interpretative ways to produce a compassionate result (my personal belief was that Jesus was encouraging marriages to be truly about love and not disposable) for divorcees, but does not apply the same level of interpretation to gay people. There are a huge number of interpretations of scripture available that don’t outright ban gay people from relationship, but the church chooses compassion for divorcees and rejection for gay people.

          • Ian Paul December 19, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

            Pete, that’s a nonsense generalisation. You need to look at the particulars, and not just make sweeping statements along the lines ‘There is an interpretation out there that will suit me’

          • Chris Bishop December 19, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

            “…….but does not apply the same level of interpretation to gay people.”

            Pete J, that is simply not true. I would not know where to begin to point you to the exhaustive and detail interpretative studies that have been on the validity or otherwise of SSM that have been taken to a very deep level indeed. Some have been mentioned on this thread and I am sure that Ian (and others) can point you to more scholarly studies. The fact is that the vast body of evidence points away from SSM being a viable or even recognisable doctrine of christian marriage as asserted by the Old and New Testaments. SSM and homosexuality is nothing new – it has been around since ancient times, The biblical writers rejected it then as the Church rightly has rejected it now.

            The argument – and I am not suggesting that you say this, that Jesus said nothing about SSM – an argument from silence- is fatuous as it is shallow and does not engage with the text. Most arguments for SSM often appeal to wider themes of love and tolerance which are based on subjective rather than objective truths. It other words -it is true because I feel it to be so.

          • Pete J December 20, 2015 at 5:51 am #

            Ian

            I was disagreeing with Chris that it is impossible to interpret scripture any other way than requiring celibacy of gay people. Plenty of people do not interpret scripture this way and there are several, maybe even many, distinct understandings of this. Ii don’t understand why you think me saying this is “nonesense”? It is verifiable fact!

          • Pete J December 20, 2015 at 5:56 am #

            Chris

            The church has come up with a theology that allows it to accept remarried divorcees and allow them to be priests and bishops. This is in spite of Jesus directly teaching against remarriage of divorcees (excepting unfaithfulness). Jesus says nothing directly about gay relationships. Yet the church uses his teaching against divorce to ban gay people from marrying and to ban celibate gay people from being bishops…surely you can see an inconsistency there?!

            I don’t think you should be snobby about love. We are all called to love and we are all called to relationship. Love is greater than any law.

          • Chris Bishop December 20, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

            “I don’t think you should be snobby about love. We are all called to love and we are all called to relationship. Love is greater than any law.”

            With respect Pete J, this is sentimental tosh. Nobody is being snobby here. It seems to me that you have not engaged at all with the text or the scholarship on these issues. The reason the church has a theology of remarriage is that there are plenty of scriptural passages that deal with the subject or remarriage from which one may infer that divorce is permissible on some grounds including other than adultery. Instone-Brewer goes into this in depth and there are other scholars as well.

            There are simply *no* such passages by which homosexual practice can be affirmed, encouraged or permitted in either an OT or NT context. Where reference to homosexuality is made (and it was well known in ancient times -Robert Gagon among others, has shown this), throughout the Bible, it is universally condemned as being sin and that is why the church throughout history has no theology of gay marriage. The church is being consistent in this respect. Unlike divorce, the church would be inconsistent to construct a SSM theology for which there is no scriptural warrant.

            Now it is true Jesus didn’t say anything about gay relationships. But he didn’t say anything about fox-hunting, nuclear weapons, female genital mutilation or any other of the moral issues that occupy us today. We do know that Jesus understood that marriage was between a man and a woman and passages throughout the Bible referring to marital relationships take this motif as universally given from Genesis to Revelation,-even as far the relationship between Christ and the Church.

            So I think if you want to make a case for Christian SSM Pete,you will need to come up with something better than sentiment, simplistic proof -texting and ‘ Jesus didn’t say anything about it’ arguments.

          • John December 20, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

            Thanks David. I was just clarifying whether, in the circumstances I described, you accept that the wife has done nothing wrong by divorcing.

            I have previously heard other conservative Christians say that divorce, other than for adultery, is not ok. They described their position as a “plain reading” of the Bible.

          • Pete J December 21, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

            Chris

            The bible says that God is love. Are you really saying this is “sentimental tosh”?

            I would say that you are only allowing negative verses to apply to gay people, whereas taking a different attitude when it comes to divorced straight people.

            In genesis we are told that it is not good for man to be alone, but you would apply this only to straight people? It’s not good for straight man to be alone, he should marry. It’s not good for this divorced guy to be alone he can remarry (and we think so little of this he can even be a bishop). But gay people can’t marry at all?! Does that verse say “it is not good for man to be alone” or does it say “it is not good for man to be alone if he is straight”?!

            Gagnon is hardly a neutral subjective interpreter!

          • ChrisBishop December 21, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

            Pete J

            Ian Paul wrote in reply to you earlier…

            ‘I think this conversation has reached the point of ‘futile’. Pete you keep misrepresenting people’s views, and caricaturing the position of the C of E, then happily demolishing the straw man of your own making.

            I am not sure what you hope to achieve in this debate, but you won’t persuade anyone if you don’t actually listen to what they are saying.’

            I think his words express your attitude to this discussion more eloquently than I could.

            Further discussion with you on this topic is indeed futile. You are simply not engaging with the blblical text or the arguments.

          • Pete J December 22, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

            Chris

            Does that mean you are not able to defend your anti gay theology?

          • John January 2, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

            I had hoped for a response to my post of 20th December.

            Ian, do you have a view on what the Bible says about divorce for reasons other than adultery?

    • Peter Waddell December 17, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

      I appreciate this risks veering off topic, but I am fascinated by the idea that we can bless a marriage that we have previously declined to solemnize in church.

      After all, what is the standard marriage service but a public witnessing and blessing of marriage?

      If we’re prepared to bless after the event, the event should be able to take place in church. If we’re not prepared to do the marriage, we shouldn’t be prepared to bless it.

      This particular bit of CoE practice has always struck me as just incoherent… And pastorally crass.

      But this is veering off topic. Another post about this sometime Ian?

      • Pete J December 17, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

        According to the cofes marriage website all cofe churches are offering exactly this service to any gay couple who marry. In reality I can’t see many priests agreeing to it!!!

      • Phill December 17, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

        I had this same conversation with my wife yesterday!

        I’d love to talk about it but yes, probably off topic for the moment.

  15. Mandy Stanton December 17, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    There is a third Jeremy (!) – Jeremy Timm – but as he is a Reader rather than ordained his case hasn’t attracted as much attention. His permission to officiate was withdrawn because of his plans to marry. See the Church Times 13th August (https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2015/14-august/news/uk/reader-to-lose-permission-to-officiate-over-marriage-plans). This is an interesting one because Issues in Human Sexuality very specifically refers to clergy – there is no consensus on whether the same rules do or should apply to lay ministers.

    • Pete J December 17, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

      Right – and because LGBT issues are decided on a local level for laity, laity can be treated worse than clergy eg in more conservative churches

      The Bishop is not allowed to be gay (even if celibate) but is allowed to be a remarried straight person.

      The vicar is allowed to be gay and even allowed to be in a CCP.

      The reader gets their licence from the Bishop so they also are allowed to be gay and in a CCP.

      But the congregant is banned from assisting in any formal ministry because of their orientation.

      Issues days that only clergy should be barred from relationships but the church ignores that bit!

    • Clive December 17, 2015 at 10:03 pm #

      Dear Mandy

      Jeremy Timm was/is the National Coordinator for “Changing Attitude” so he had a particular agenda to promote.

      The Tribunal pointed out in his judgment that Jeremy Pemberton should have either:
      1) Gone along with the Doctrine of the Church when dealing with the public and arguaed for change in Synod
      OR
      2) Resigned from the Church and argued from the outside

      That same view applies to Jeremy Timm.
      Readers are Ministers of the Church.

      • Pete J December 18, 2015 at 7:04 am #

        But Clive the official teaching of the church is that only ordained people should be required to be celibate. It says that in “issues” – I am not sure if that counts as doctrine or not as it seems to me that most clergy take a pick and mix approach to it.

        Jeremy Timms was dismissed because his license to preach was entirely at the whim of John Sentamu. Sentamu was clear that Timms was a blessing to his parish and that he wouldn’t have dismissed him if he remained in a CP instead of a marriage. He was not dismissed for campaigning for better LGBT inclusivity. He was not dismissed for breaking doctrine. He was dismissed because his bishop believes gay married people to be incapable of being readers.

        • Clive December 18, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

          Dear Pete J

          Once again you have not really understood Anglican systems. Jeremy Timm was a Reader so he IS a Minister of the Church. he is more than just a preacher.

          You have muddled up celibacy with being a Minister of the Church when the two are not related.

          Any argument to change the Church’s view on marriage should be made through Synod and meanwhile MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH have signed up to the doctrine of the Church. So for Jeremy Timms and others trying to force change without going through Synod is unacceptable. (Read the Tribunal Judgment papers in the Jeremy Pemberton case).

          Many who want to force change don’t understand that Parliament has already included the Book of Common Prayer from 1662 (BCP) as a legal marriage when the BCP clearly says that marriage is only between a man and a woman, so it is PARLIAMENT that has completely and totally screweed up and NOT the Church and yet you and others are attacking the Church!

          Parliament, for example, said LOUDLY that marriage has changed yet includes BCP marriage dating 1662 as a legal form of marriage thereby providing written, documentary evidence that marriage hasn’t changed.

          • Penelope December 18, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

            You might find Clive that !issue’ is a discussion document and not church doctrine

          • Penelope December 18, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

            Sorry ‘Issues!

          • Clive December 18, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

            Dear Penelope,

            The Tribunal examined all the evidence and found that it was Doctrine. You seem to disagree with the finding of the Tribunal but that is your prerogative. Nonetheless even the Tribunal says it is Doctrine.

          • Penelope December 19, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

            Clive: it I nonsense to claim that a secular Tribunal can decide what is doctrine. It seems to me that the judge was confused by what is canon law (B30 etc.) and what is merely ‘guidance’.

          • Clive December 19, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

            Dear Penelope,

            I note that you are calling the Judge confused in your opinion and that is, once again, your prerogative. However it is not just people in the Church saying that it is doctrine but even a secular Tribunal says it is doctrine.

            So I am certainly not alone in seeing it as doctrine supportive of the BCP (i.e. the 1662 Book of Common Prayer) which even secular parliament has made a valid marriage in law showing how confused and screwed up they are. In 2014 my son and his wife even got married using the 1662 BCP service.

          • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

            Clive

            Those may be the anglican systems, but if that is the case then they contradict the church teaching on sexuality which says only ordained people must be celibate. Jeremy Timms is not ordained and so has not violated this teaching, however his position in the church depended on approval from his bishop. His bishop was happy to grant approval whilst he was in a relationship, but not when he got married.

            If your message is that anyone who acts contrary to the official teaching of the church cannot be a priest or reader then there would be no priests or readers.

            Why do you say Jeremy Timms is trying to force change without going through synod?

            Im not attacking the church! I don’t believe marriage has changed.

          • Ian Paul December 19, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

            I think this conversation has reached the point of ‘futile’. Pete you keep misrepresenting people’s views, and caricaturing the position of the C of E, then happily demolishing the straw man of your own making.

            I am not sure what you hope to achieve in this debate, but you won’t persuade anyone if you don’t actually listen to what they are saying.

          • Pete J December 20, 2015 at 6:04 am #

            Ian

            I really don’t understand your problem with my post?

            Ive simply stated the facts of Jeremy Timms case. He had his license removed because John Sentamu does not agree with married gay people being readers. Is that misrepresenting anyone? Sentamu knew JT was in a relationship before that and was happy for him to be a reader in a relationship as long as he didn’t get married. This is all in the public domain.

            How is that misrepresenting anyones views?

            Im not really hoping to achieve anything. I guess long term I would like gay people to be treated as well as straight people by all anglican clergy.

          • David Shepherd December 20, 2015 at 9:16 am #

            Pete J,

            The problem is that you gloss over the important qualifications to statements that others make. In my case, I took issue with your ‘liberal trajectory gauge and you countered that it was I who introduced the notion of a trajectory. It’s the gauge that I have a problem with, but instead of dealing with each point constructively, you simply skip onto another line of argument,

            In Clive’s case, you claim that ‘church teaching on sexuality which says only ordained people must be celibate.’

            Contrary to your assertion, the HoB Pastoral Guidance states under the heading, Access to the sacraments and pastoral care for people in same sex marriages:
            ’16. Consistent with that, we said in our 2005 pastoral statement that lay people who had registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and holy communion, or being welcomed into the life of the local worshipping community.’

            Access to sacraments, pastoral care and welcomed into the life of the local worshipping community is not the same as entitlement to continue in lay ministry. Especially, since the latter assists ordained ministry.

            So, you are wrong in asserting that: ‘church teaching on sexuality which says only ordained people must be celibate.’

            Here’s what’s infuriating. Instead of conceding that you’re mistaken on that particular point, you might very well challenge whether the self-same guidance (cited in support of your position) truly constitutes the Church’s doctrinal position.

            I’m happy to continue discussion with others, but it’s no longer worth engaging with you, as you defy the protocols of valid reasoning.

          • Penelope December 20, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

            Secular judges and Houses of Bishops can make all the claims they want but claiming that ‘Issues’ ( a theologically threadbare pamphlet) and Pastoral statements are doctrine doesn’t make it so. What that has to do with the BCP form of marriage, which I know is still valid, I don’t know. You might like to ponder Article XXXII though.

          • David Shepherd December 20, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

            Oh dear,

            The Pemberton tribunal judgement stated ‘167…it was therefore inconceivable (as was eventually conceded before us by the Bishop of Buckingham) that the authors of the 39 Articles would have had in their contemplation that this provision permitted same sex marriage.’

            So, after dismissing both secular judges and the House of Bishops, you might just accept that Bishop Alan Wilson’s concession about the 39 Articles is applicable to Article XXXII.

            But then again…

          • Pete J December 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

            Clive

            Sorry, but where exactly does any church doctrine or teaching say that gay laity must be celibate? Readers are given licenses by their bishop and he or she decides if they are suitable to receive one or not. I don’t understand why you and Ian have a problem with that?

            I don’t understand your problem with my issue with your trajectory? There can’t be a biblical trajectory in favour or remarriage after divorce if there is no linear progression…that’s what the word means!

          • Pete J December 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

            David

            Im very sorry, I meant to address that to you and not Clive

        • David Shepherd December 18, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

          The Archbishops’ Council issued the Bishop’s Regulations for Reader Ministry. Section 1.2 states that ‘Readers assist in the pastoral, evangelistic and liturgical work of the Church in the parish or area where they are licensed or have the bishop’s written permission to officiate in so far as their licence or written permission allows, and in accordance with what is agreed with the minister to whom they are responsible.’

          ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ stated: ‘Restrictions on what the clergy may do also stem from their pastoral function. If they are to be accessible and acceptable to the greatest number of people, both within the church and outside of it, then so far as possible their lives must be free from anything which will make it difficult for others to have confidence in them as messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord’

          Of course, the above relates to ordained ministry. Yet, given that lay readers assist in the pastoral function of the Church and make the Declarations of Assent and Obedience, it would not make sense to exempt lay readers from restrictions that would prevent a significant loss of confidence in those authorising them as assistant ‘messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord’.

          • Penelope December 18, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

            Once again, the Archbishops Council statement and ‘Issues’ are discussion and guidance documents, not Church doctrine. The Tribunal judge seemed rather confused about that. Maybe he’s not the only one.

          • David Shepherd December 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

            Penelope,

            On one hand, when laws (such as Equality Act 2010 exemptions) don’t work in favour of your argument, you call them immoral and reject them as ‘legal niceties’.

            You also conceive it to be immoral (but not illegal) to apply Canon B30 to civil marriages, only to press the ‘letter of the law’ in order to invalidate ‘Issues’ and HoB pastoral guidance.

            You really can’t have it both ways and expect to be taken seriously here.

          • Penelope December 19, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

            David: As I said, I am no Canon lawyer. I assume that because the CofE is the church established that there is some link between the laws on civil marriage and Canon B30 – though I do not see how Canon B30 can define civil marriage since a) not only Anglicans enter civil marriages, and b) as I observed the Church has now severed the link because of the quadruple lock. Secondly, however much you wish it might be so, the Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance and ‘Issues’ are not doctrine – the latter actually admits that it is not the last word on this subject. That it is being used as a shibboleth for gay and/or inclusive ordinands is a disgrace.

          • David Shepherd December 19, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

            Penelope,

            It’s not that Canon B30 defines civil marriage, but that the Same-sex marriage Act contains provision (Section 11 – Effect of extension of marriage) that ensures that the previous effect of Canon Law, as it relates to church government) remains lawful. Therefore, it is applicable to the discipline of ministers, regardless of how their marriages were solemnised.

            The quadruple lock only prevents the CofE ministers from being compelled to solemnise same-sex weddings, they do not nullify the effect of Canon B30.

            Both ‘Issues’ and later Pastoral Guidance reiterate that Canon B30 remains the doctrine of the Church. Ministers continue to owe canonical obedience to their Bishops in respect of Canon Law, which remains ‘lawful and honest’.

            If you want to see Canon B30 gender-neutralised, I suggest you continue to argue with others for its amendment through General Synod.

            However, until amended by the due democratic process of Synod, B30 remains part of the teaching of the Church. Of course, I’m assuming that you wouldn’t bypass due process for effecting change any more than women vicars did a few years ago.

          • Penelope December 20, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

            I didn’t claim that B30 and liturgy weren’t doctrine – simply that ‘Issues’ and Pastoral Guidance aren’t even where they reiterate that teaching. Of course B30 needs to be amended, but meanwhile you might ponder Article XXXII.

          • Penelope December 21, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

            David, I can’t find the original reply button for this thread. I know what the Tribunal judge said about Article XXXII. That doesn’t make him doctrinally right. Of course, the original authors did not have same gender marriage in mind, but then they did not have no-fault divorce, contraception and sexual equality in mind either and the Canons have been broadly interpreted to accommodate those. Marriage used to be a commercial property transaction between two men. From the 12thC it became les so, by the time of the 39 Articles, the situation had become a little more equal. But not until after the Married Women’s Property Act and into the legislation of the 20th and 21st centuries has marriage been a union of equals. That has ‘redefined’ marriage.

          • Ian Paul December 21, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

            No it didn’t. Neither Scriptural texts nor their rehearsal in the 39 Articles mention the notion of marriage as a commercial property transaction between men. So if it was that, then it was unscripturally so, and the relevant text appear to have reformed that understanding.

            So the situation in this case is the exact opposite of the debate about SSM, where the new view in society is seeking to change the texts, rather than the texts reforming an inadequate view in society.

            Thanks for raising this example, Penelope, as it demonstrates very clearly the strength of the ‘traditional’ view.

          • David Beadle December 22, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

            Canon B30 also states that marriage is “the procreation and nurture of children.” I’m not aware of childless priests being disciplined, so to say that every part of the list of characteristics of marriage in Canon B30 is true of *every* marriage we, I assume, agree is wrong. The Western church decided to marry infertile people, but not without centuries of controversy. The question is whether the aspirations expressed in Canon B30 could be extended to a man and a man, or a woman or a woman. Essentially, I would say Can B30 is inconclusive on this, because this is a much newer question.

            However, Canon B14 and B14A are very clear indeed on where it is acceptable for Incumbents to dispense with the weekly Sunday (and certain festival) Celebration of Eucharist. This is the fourth time of asking, and I’d dearly love to know the answer: Ian and others who are so zealous for the discipline of clergy who enter into same sex marriages, on grounds of your interpretation of Canon B30 – do you think priests who do not follow Canon B14, without following the procedures in Canon B14A, should be disciplined?

          • David Shepherd December 22, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

            David (Beadle),

            Your quote from the BCP solemnisation of holy matrimony is derived from Cramner’s earlier phrasing (1549 BCP):

            ‘Duely consideryng the causes for the whiche matrimonie was ordeined. One cause was the procreacion of children, to be brought up in the feare and nurture of the Lord, and prayse of God. Secondly it was ordeined for a remedie agaynst sinne, and to avoide fornicacion, that suche persones as bee maried, might live chastlie in matrimonie, and kepe themselves undefiled membres of Christes bodye. Thirdelye for the mutuall societie, helpe, and coumfort, that the one oughte to have of thother, both in prosperitie and adversitie. Into the whiche holy estate these two persones present: come nowe to be joyned.’

            These words simply exhort the couple to duly consider these ordained causes of marriage. The causes are major purposes that marriage is designed to address. ‘Firstly’ does not connote priority, nor necessity.

            Marriage is ‘an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency’. The estate, or conjugal order, resulted from sexual differentiation in Genesis, not their later procreation. The ordained estate of matrimony defines the potential causes that marriage is meant to address, rather than (as you seem to think) the opposite way around.

            You are confounding the causes addressed by marriage with its estate, the ordering of sexual conjugation as ordained in man’s innocency.

          • David Beadle December 23, 2015 at 11:42 am #

            David S, your quotation for BCP says nothing about “sexual differentiation.” What would that mean in the context of sixteenth century understandings of biology?

            “The estate, or conjugal order, resulted from sexual differentiation in Genesis, not their later procreation.” Where does the BCP – or for that matter any sixteenth century text – state that sexual differentiation in Genesis is from whence the ‘conjugal order comes?’ I think you’re projecting modern pseudo-biological notions of ‘compatibility’ onto a sixteenth century text.

            Causes two and three, by the way, are those which proponents of same-sex marriage today see as much of the model of same-sex marriage. Cause one, of course, is not applicable to SSMs, but then neither is it applicable to couples where there is infertility! So, as far as I can see, you’re proving my point. It is reasonable to extend the major principles of Prayer Book marriage to SSM, just as it’s been extended to couples where there is infertility.

          • David Beadle December 23, 2015 at 11:44 am #

            And I’d love it if someone who goes about walloping clergy with Canon B30 would answer my question about Canon B14.

          • Clive December 23, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

            Dear David B

            The infertility has always been completely wrong.

            There are examples in the Bible of couples who have come to assume infertility based upon what has (not) happened in their life only to be completely surprised by an unexpected chill;d in later years. In our readings at the moment we have teaching about Elizabeth.

            In reality many couples have assumed infertility and then had completely unexpected that does not denigrate any others who seem to be unable to conceive but has been very unexpected for them anyway.

            Then the real reality is that even now a man and woman can’t before a Judge and say I’d like to marry my brother and it'[s OK because we’re infertile. the law explicitly prohibits some relationships from marrying between a man and a woman just in case they have a baby regardless of the medical view. The relationship is just too close.

            So the law forbids a couple from marrying if the relationship is too close precisely contra claims of infertility.

          • Clive December 23, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

            Sorry about the typos.

            I should have added that this reality ONLY works if the couple are male and female for obvious reasons although it would be interesting if a male-male or a female-female marriage set a very bizarre legal precedent.

          • David Shepherd December 23, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

            David B,

            Sexual differentiation merely means ‘the process of development of sex differences in humans’. The 16th century understood that such a process exists and clerics believed that such difference was given by God through Gen. 5:2. I used the term in a sentence without implying that 16th century was aware of how the process occurs.

            Most here would not consider it a bold and unwarranted assumption that, despite not using the term sexual differentiation explicitly, the 16th century was aware that male and female characteristics existed and, for clerics of that time, the biblical account established the moral framework of marriage as ordained by God.

            ‘For this cause’ in Gen. 2:24 simply references the preceding scriptural account of Adam’s response to God presenting him with a partner, who is sexual differentiated, but of the same species. Adam’s response to the result of sexual differentiation is the same impetus for a man to take up the conjugal state of life: ‘a man shall leave his father and mother…and cleave to his wife and these two shall become one flesh’.

            So, it is correct to state that: ‘The estate, or conjugal order, resulted from sexual differentiation in Genesis, not their later procreation’.

            I’ve neither said nor implied anything about compatibility, so please don’t ‘jump the gun’ in anticipating arguments that I haven’t made.

            The rest of your argument continues to confound purposes (causes) addressed by marriage with what’s essential to the nature of marriage. Your argument resembles saying that a knife may be intended to cut, but can be completely blunt, and is still a knife. Ergo, any other thing that you prove can’t cut must also be a knife!

          • David Beadle December 24, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

            Clive, so what if the woman has had a hysterectomy, if one of the a woman in a marriage has an intersex condition of a kind that means she cannot procreate, if the couple are in their eighties, if the man is castrated, or if one of the couple is on their deathbed as they are joined in marriage? The example you give is Elizabeth, whose conception is probably well-described as “miraculous.” But my understanding of wedding vows is that they’re supposed to be genuine aspirations; not based on a belief in a one-in-a-zillion intervention.

          • David Beadle December 24, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

            David S, I’m sorry but I still haven’t seen any sixteenth century text (or, for that matter, pre-twentieth century text) from you that remotely argues for your position that ‘sexual differentiation’ rather than procreation is an ordinance of marriage. The 1662 Prayer Book is clear that marriage was “ordained” for “procreation”:

            “Fir?, [marriage] was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the prai?e of his holy Name.
            Secondly, it was ordained for a remedy again? ?in, and to avoid fornication; that ?uch per?ons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep them?elves undefiled
            members of Chri?’s body.
            Thirdly, it was ordained for the mutual ?ociety, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in pro?perity and adver?ity.”

            Your quotation from Cramner’s Prayer Book does not say what you’re saying either – but even if it did, your statement is directly contradicted in another version of the BCP. Perhaps I’m missing something, but why should one version trump another?

            I apologise if I misrepresented what your saying about “sexual differentiation” in Sixteenth Century thought. But what exactly do you mean by it? What, in your understanding was the difference between male and female in sixteenth century thought? And most importantly, where oh where does it say in any of these Anglican documents that “The estate, or conjugal order, resulted from sexual differentiation in Genesis, not their later procreation”?

            Part of the reason that these definitions were shifting around, is because the ordinances of marriage were a matter for much debate over the centuries. The order of the three was also controversial, but taken from Augustine. Procreation was put first, as the main ordinance of marriage – a matter heavily disputed in the seventeenth century. And yet the Church of England has decided to marry infertile people and to permit the use of contraception. Common Worship has relegated procreation and child-rearing to third-place (at least in terms of consecutive order) in the marriage service. Biological procreation is now optional: “It is given as the foundation of family life
            in which children are [born and] nurtured.”

            And this is important. Brilliant LGBTI parents can adopt children. They can fulfil all the ordinances of marriage as well as any male-female couple who cannot or do not have children by natural means. I think it pedantic and trivial to stop people raising children in the stability of marriage because they do not conform to every single characteristic of our Canons and liturgy, especially when we have dispensed with the necessity for procreation – as the first ordinance according to the theology in some versions of the Prayer Book at least (though I think all). We are in a world with many abandoned or orphaned children. The Gospels make it clear that we have a duty to protect orphans, and it can best be done so in marriage including SSM. Suffer little ones to come to Christ, through the love of those caring for them.

          • David Beadle December 25, 2015 at 12:07 am #

            Sorry, when I posted the comment the old-style “s” turned to a question mark. So read an “s” in place of each question mark.

          • Clive December 25, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

            Dear David Beadle,

            You wrote, amongst many mistakes, saying “And yet the Church of England has decided to marry infertile people and to permit the use of contraception. ” (your words).

            It is a total pretence, even today, that medics can say that someone is infertile. Medics tend to have to apologise to the occasional person whom they declared infertile when they unexpectedly become pregnant. Even the law doesn’t accept infertility as a clear absolute.

            So your whole prmise simply doesn’t work.

            A sister cannot go before any Judge and argue that they’d like to be able to marry yheir brother, and it’s OK because I’m infertile. The law says they can’t because the relationship is too close and behind that is the realisation that infertility isn’t absolute and people can unexpectedly become pregnant.

          • Clive December 25, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

            Dear David Beadle,

            So, looking at your post, in your imagination a sister can still go before a judge and say “I’d like to marry my brother and it’s OK your honour because I’m infertile. You see your honour ….
            1) I’ve had a hysterectomy,
            2) I have an intersex condition of a kind that means that I cannot cannot procreate
            3) I’m in my eighties (like Sarah)
            4) My brother is castrated,
            5) My brother is on his deathbed

            Based on the above the Judge will still say no because INFERTILITY is a bankrupt, unintelligent argument. Infertiulity just doesn’t work and has never worked and will never work. We can only say someone is infertile AFTER the event. Not beforehand, not during but only after their life.

          • Clive December 26, 2015 at 10:17 am #

            Dear David Beadle,
            Infertility is very unfortunate and I don’t wish it on anyone who doesn’t want it. However it is not the certainty that you pretend that it is. Therefore infertility is not in any way a valid reasoning.

            Several pages on google of becoming pregnant after the snip / vasectomy.
            Pregnant after vasectomy is here:
            http://www.netmums.com/coffeehouse/advice-support-40/unplanned-pregnancy-46/273460-pregnancy-after-vasectomy-all.html

            Pregnant after the snip is here:
            http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/dieting/we-became-pregnant-after-our-men-had-the-snip-544761

            There are also several pages about getting pregnant after a hysterectomy.
            Pregnant after hysterectomy is here:
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17267880

            The medical review of why pregnancy after a hysterectomy can happen is here:
            http://surgery.about.com/od/aftersurgery/f/HysterectomyPre.htm

            and the science view is here:
            http://www.casereportswomenshealth.com/article/S2214-9112(15)00014-4/abstract?cc=y=

          • David Shepherd December 26, 2015 at 11:00 am #

            David B,

            Excuse the interruption of Christmas, but you said: ‘your position that ‘sexual differentiation’ rather than procreation is an ordinance of marriage’.

            That’s a straw man, since I did not say that ‘sexual differentiation is an ordinance of marriage’, but (the other way round) that ‘the estate, or conjugal order, resulted from sexual differentiation in Genesis’.

            I identified the causes in the BCP as purposes addressed by marriage, rather than properties essential to all marriage. Marriage simply provides contingencies for each cause without those causes being essential to a valid marriage.

            Just as you’ve highlighted perfectly valid non-procreative marriages, there are other perfectly valid marriages, which have neither remedied fornication, nor provided ‘mutual society, help and comfort’. As an example, there is no guarantee that marriage will remedy fornication, the BCP simply indicates that marriage, as ordained by God, provides contingency for addressing these causes: procreation, remedying fornication, or providing mutual society.

            ‘where does it say in any of these Anglican documents that “The estate, or conjugal order, resulted from sexual differentiation in Genesis, not their later procreation”?

            I don’t need to reference Anglican formularies, when scripture itself describes the formation of male and female (rather than procreation) in verses preceding Gen. 2:24 as the God-wrought cause for which ‘a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife’.

            Therefore, the ordained impetus for sexual union results from the process whereby God formed male and female, which is also summarised in Gen. 1:27: ‘So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ and Gen. 5:2: ‘He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.’

            If Christ harked back to this account to infer God’s ordinance intending all marriage to be life-long and monogamous, your refusal to infer God’s ordinance intending all marriage to conjugate male and female is sheer obstinacy,

            Finally, you suggest that because Anglican theology no longer considers procreation to be essential to marriage, same-sex couples can and should provide subsidiary parenthood through adoption. Given that single people and unmarried couples also adopt, this part of your argument is peripheral to the theology of marriage. Unmarried same-sex couples are entirely capable of becoming adoptive parents.

            The real parenthood issue occurs where same-sex couples co-opt a partner in order to have a child, only to exclude that person from the child’s identity formation and on the basis that thei law of marriage makes the couple the child’s only legitimate parents.

            This injustice has been perpetuated through judicial precedents in the US, the Netherlands, and Australia (where same-sex marriage is legal) and is part of stated agenda of the International Lesbians and Gay Association. It is secured by granting presumptive parenthood through marriage to the birth mother’s same-sex spouse, regardless of how the child was conceived. There was no clamour for straight couples to seek this means of achieving primary parenthood.

            In the afore-mentioned countries, the legal presumption of paternity has been gender-neutralised into the legal presumption of parenthood to legitimise and further same-sex couples’ family intentions, as part of the estate of marriage. It results from granting complete marriage equivalence to same-sex couples. This is why same-sex marriage should not be legitimised by the church.

          • David Beadle December 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

            Clive, your argument only works if the possibility of giving birth is the ONLY reason that a judge would prevent an incestuous marriage. It is not.

            The reason is that it is illegal. Now, if you’re saying that the danger of the woman conceiving is the only reason the law prevents incestuous marriage, I would again disagree with you.

            The principle reason that incestuous marriage is illegal, is that incestuous sex is illegal. Consensual sex between two adults of the same gender is legal; hence many countries have decided it can take placer in a married relationship. Countries where incest is illegal are not going to legislate for incestuous marriage, because such a marriage could not legally be consummated.

            Finally, it might be said that the possibility of the woman giving birth is the only reason for making incestuous sex illegal – and therefore incestuous marriage impossible. Again, I disagree. To my mind a very good reason against incestuous sex, is that incestuous relationships cross emotional boundaries and therefore – within many psychological frameworks – could be regarded as necessarily abusive; or, less arguably, commonly abusive.

            So, Clive, you do not convince me that if a man has sex with his sister who has undergone a hysterectomy (for example), the woman could still be said to be possibly fertile. She is not. But there are good reasons to prevent such a marriage which have nothing to do with fertility.

            If you are saying that – in the examples I gave – that it cannot medically be said that one couple is infertile, then we are in the realms of fantasy. The Church of England has decided to disregard what is considered the first ordinance for marriage in the 1662 Prayer Book – and also Canon B30 – and has married people who cannot procreate.

            Perhaps, Clive, you will continue to maintain that it cannot be said that anyone is infertile before marriage. Common Worship would appear to disagree with you, as the mention of the birth of children is an optional part which can be omitted from the marriage service.

            So the church already marries people who cannot fulfil every characteristic of marriage in Canon B30 and the Prayer Book, and I maintain that you guys are choosing to invoke these texts selectively.

          • David Shepherd December 27, 2015 at 9:10 am #

            David B,

            You’re making Clive’s point. You are agreeing with him that removing a particular impediment (such as infertility) does not make the case for legitimising other impediments, such as incest, or, for that matter, partners of the same sex.

            You then distinguish the illegality of incestuous sex from the legality (in the West) of homosexual sex. Yet, the legality argument is no basis for changing theology, since (1) the latter was illegal until a few decades ago, (2) civil legislation is not the proper starting point for theology, and (3) the definition of incest varies: cousin marriage, though prohibited in some countries, is legal in several US States.

          • David Beadle December 27, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

            David, I’m not making a case for or against incest. I am saying that Clive is wrong to say that it is impossible to say a man-woman marriage is infertile, on the basis that incestuous marriage is illegal. Clive is saying incestuous marriage is illegal because there is the possibility of the woman giving birth even if (say) she has had a hysterectomy; and that infertility therefore cannot be claimed before marriage. I am saying this is a flawed argument because incest is illegal for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with infertility. So, no, I am rebutting Clive’s argument; not making the case for it.

          • David Beadle December 27, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

            And none of this distracts from the fact that – via Augustine – the CofE decided procreation was the first ordinance of marriage, yet now marries people who cannot procreate, and the marriage service in Common Worship even omits reference to the ‘birth’ of children. So, indubitably, Canon B30 and the Prayer Book’s definitions of marriage cannot – in the context of the Church of England – be considered prescriptive on every singe point; even on the ordinance for marriage that the BCP considers primary.

          • David Shepherd December 28, 2015 at 10:00 am #

            David B,

            I understand that you’re not arguing for or against incest. Nevertheless, you have inadvertently accepted that the removal a particular impediment to marriage does not automatically justify the removal of another.

            Your argument mirrors that of TEC, although I doubt that the CofE will affirm same-sex sexual relationships through marriage on the basis that Canon B30 has not prevented non-procreative couples from marrying.

            Firstly, impediments relate to specific types of sexual relationships, such as incest and polygamy, so your argument regarding infertility involves a major category error.

            Secondly, same-sex sexual relationships are not rejected by the CofE on the basis that they are non-procreative.

            As with other impediments and prohibitions, the starting point for any review of current church doctrine is reflection on the theology of marriage by looking again to the self-same scriptures that I’ve quoted.

            You may hope that, as with TEC, revisionist arguments will gain ascendancy in future working party reports and synod debates. Nevertheless, permitting church marriage between non-procreative couples does not per se make the case for marrying same-sex couples in church.

            It’s time to move on.

          • David Shepherd December 28, 2015 at 10:07 am #

            Correction: ‘Secondly, same-sex sexual relationships are not rejected by the CofE solely on the basis that they are non-procreative.’

          • David Beadle December 28, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

            David, I think you are missing my point and – weirdly – what we are saying is closer than you think.

            “…you have inadvertently accepted that the removal a particular impediment to marriage does not automatically justify the removal of another.”
            I never said that the removal of one impediment “automatically” justifies the removal of another. My point is that Canon B30 and the BCP marriage service cannot be said to *close* the matter re. gender, nor can they own be applied prescriptively. So, when you say “the starting point for any review of current church doctrine is reflection on the theology of marriage by looking again to the self-same scriptures that I’ve quoted” I agree with you, except I’d want a hermeneutic more open to other parts of the Bible. My point is we cannot just look at Canon B30 nor the BCP marriage service and say *necessarily* every category applies to every marriage. The starting-point of defining marriage is examination and re-examination of scripture.

            Further, you say:
            “Firstly, impediments relate to specific types of sexual relationships, such as incest and polygamy, so your argument regarding infertility involves a major category error.”

            It is not a category error. Sexual relations with an infertile person was considered a particular condemned type of relationship in the western church. It is only relatively recently that the Roman Catholic church has stopped preventing infertile people from marrying.

            “…same-sex sexual relationships are not rejected by the CofE on the basis that they are non-procreative.”
            Agreed, although recent documents from the CofE have been highly confused on this point. The question is whether the definition of marriage can be extended to couples of the same-sex in the way it has been extended to infertile partners.

          • David Beadle December 28, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

            Clive, your opinion that there is no such thing as pre-marital infertility has never been the opinion of the church; neither is it supported biologically. The Church of England has permitted, for centuries, the omission of parts of the marriage service related to fertility. Your links do not all make your point either – as one of them states, it is impossible for someone with a hysterectomy to give birth to a child, even if the development of the foetus may begin in the womb.

          • David Shepherd December 28, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

            David B,

            Here’s where we differ. Even Pope Sixtus’ 1587 pronouncement against the marriage of eunuchs focuses on their impotence, not on their inability to achieve a clinical pregnancy through regular unprotected sexual intercourse. It was the canonists of his day, principally Tomas Sanchez, who interpreted this in terms of requesting the annulment of marriages to all unprocreative men.

            I’m still not sure whether Cramner saw infertility in the same way as Rome.

            Nevertheless, I think you’d need to distinguish impotence from infertility. Impotence is the inability to perform sexual intercourse (according to case law ‘ordinary and complete’), whereas, according to the WHO, infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”

            You can see why the infertility argument is completely inapplicable to same-sex couples. Neither partner has a disease of the reproductive system. Yet, you consider this disease to be synonymous with the mere inability to produce children.

            Also, to this day, non-consummation and fraud, which includes concealing permanent impotence or sterility, remain recognised grounds for a spouse to seek annulment of marriage.

            That the Same-Sex Marriage Act 2013 exempts same-sex partners from non-consummation as a ground of annulment and from citing adultery as a fact of divorce doesn’t mean that the Church must follow suit.

      • Penelope December 18, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

        what a disgusting assertion, that Jeremy T’s marriage was an ‘agenda’.

        • Tricia December 20, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

          Jeremy Timms chose to marry, in full knowledge that Archbishop Sentamu would remove his license to officiate. It is documented that he had a meeting with the Archbishop and was informed that he would be breaching Canon law. He chose marriage to his male partner over service to Christ. I consider that Archbishop Sentamu acted with integrity. To be a minister and preach the Gospel is a huge responsibility and this is reflected in the expectation that the lives of these individuals will reflect the authority of the church and scripture.

  16. James Byron December 18, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    How about this as a way forward:-

    • current Church of England marriage canon is entrenched
    • affirming members of the church agree, under threat of discipline, not to accuse anyone of homophobia simply for holding to the traditional teaching
    • clergy, and laity in teaching positions, agree not to advocate the affirming position from the pulpit
    • applicants for jobs agree to caution parishes that their relationship contradicts church teaching, and is considered a “salvation issue” by evangelicals

    In return:-
    • clergy, and lay-leaders, have freedom to live in monogamous homosexual relationships, and to contract civil marriages, without sanction

    • Pete J December 19, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

      Thanks for that I think it is an interesting compromise. I think it needs to be tested for consistency and workability eg would you ban gay priests from mentioning their marriages in sermons? (I think I speak for all non-married people that we would love for all priests to stop mentioning their marriages in sermons!), but seems fairly sound and reasonable.

      I think though that there needs to be some protection for lay gay people who are not in leadership positions and an ability for gay people to be allowed to speak out against genuine homophobia and in particular homophic abuse, bullying and harrassment. I think a difficulty with this is that what is merely “believing in traditional marriage” and what is “homophobic harrassment” are largely in the eye of the beholder. I think this could be specifically defined to the benefit of all. However I can’t see acceptance (or tolerance?) of gay marriage being adopted by the whole church.

    • Ian Paul December 21, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

      Isn’t that just a return to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’?

      So why wasn’t it acceptable to stay with that in the first place?

  17. Jane Newsham December 20, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    The Church of England encourages you to marry (if you are straight), tolerates you marrying (if you are lay and gay – and in a civil service only) and forbids you from marrying (if you are gay and ordained – with a ‘your ministry or your marriage’ ultimatum). To many of us, this church teaching appears inconsistent, inhumane and unjust.
    All people in society are potential stakeholders in the Church of England for when the current crop die out, where will we find new ones? (And if you wish, for ‘stakeholder’ read ‘people who will contribute to the fund for the roof repairs’). Too many current potential stakeholders want nothing to do with a church that treats gay people differently to straight people (they have gay friends, family members, work colleagues and neighbours and can empathise with them) and this trend is likely to continue. To revise church teaching to include validation of civil partnered and same-sex married couples, to allow freedom of conscience for clergy to officiate at blessings and marriages, and space for dissent (with no pressure upon clergy or laity who hold a traditional view to do anything other) would help to mitigate the current ‘man-woman marriage good/any other marriage bad’ message we’re giving out.
    This may be seen as pure pragmatism (which featured too in our debates about the re-marriage in church of divorcees) but many of us feel that, in the long term, this serves God’s purposes.

    • Clive December 20, 2015 at 10:08 am #

      Dear Jane

      Your statement seems very muddled indeed.

      Elder people in Church are getting completely fed up of being told that they are rubbish evangelists for getting new members into Church. They are truly fed up with the assertion that says that the Church will die out in the next 10 years (or name any other time period) because it is telling them clearly how bad they are at getting new members for Christianity. By contrast the Church has always had a large proportion of older people.

      You then equate membership of the Church with repairing the roof, so membership of the Church becomes financial. The reality is that genuine belief in the Christianity does equate with giving. Having run a Church Plant as a Reader I had a regular congregation of about 25, a membership of only about 90, but the financial giving per head was substantial (i.e. more than double) the giving of the Mother Church.

      You equate “All people in society are potential stakeholders in the Church of England” (your words) and the phenomena that people in the village want the Church on the green to look nice and to be there is well known, but a) they don’t want to give financially to keep it there or to keep it tidy and b) some people even want to bring legal action to stop the Church bells from ringing. The reality speaks volumes.

      Speaking of SSM you then say “many of us feel that, in the long term, this serves God’s purposes.” (again your words) but if that was the case, why did Gene Robinson’s elevation to the episcopacy not result in tens of thousands of homosexuals rushing into the Episcopal Church? It never happened. The Diocese of New Hampshire saw a massive exodus, and people are still trickling out even now.

      As appeared on one of the american websites last month:
      “Who is stigmatizing minorities? Who is discriminating against whom? I have never seen a conservative priest deny Holy Communion to a gay man. In fact, I once saw former ACNA Archbishop give Holy Communion to Dr. Louie Crew in the Pittsburgh cathedral. ‘But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily…’ (1 Cor. 11:28-34 KJV). Conservatives don’t judge personally, they affirm scriptural teaching and let people make up their own mind.”
      …. “Words like “discrimination,” “stigmatization,” “homophobia,” and “hatred” were invented by pansexualists to make heterosexuals feel guilty for things they have never felt, said, or done. It has been one of the great lies endlessly repeated to cower orthodox Anglicans into believing things they have never believed…”

      • Don Benson December 20, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

        Well said, Clive! Far too many comments here are ill informed assertions which seem to bounce around that tiny minority of gay people and their heterosexual supporters who wish to give the impression that their particular interest absorbs the wider community in general and the Church of England in particular. I would guess that the average ‘Joe Soap’ scarcely gives it a thought, although obsessive media representation of the gay community will have had some effect.

        Of course it is essential, for those who wish to promote a particular agenda, that they give the impression that a mighty unstoppable tide is sweeping the Church; if the arguments don’t stack up the impression of an unstoppable tide will achieve their desired result instead. (This is a very effective campaigning method – people do not like to be out of step with perceived majority opinion!)

        However, it is right for the CofE to be aware of the needs and views of all its parishioners. It’s first instinct should be to declare the love of God for all people and to make known that nobody is beyond receiving the grace of God. But, while that grace which came at great cost is freely offered, those who receive it will start to see their lifestyle and priorities for living in a new light. Surely this entails viewing God’s design and God’s laws as gifts for our flourishing rather than harsh restrictions designed to cause suffering?

        It is painful to see people in real distress and anger perhaps because their priorities remain partially in the old world which they have left behind. We probably all suffer this way (pulled in two directions) so there should be no attitudes of superiority, but our shared experience calls all of us to turn away from the past and live as God intends and commands us to do. No one can say that this is done without cost, even suffering, but we all know in our heart of hearts that it will be worth it.

        • Penelope December 20, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

          Well, of course, if gay people are only a tiny minority they can be demonised and punished

          • Tricia December 20, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

            Penelope
            It would seem that Christians are the ones who are being demonised and punished for orthodox Chrustian belief. The instructions I have seen in all church documentation is respect for the individual and compassion. All are welcome to join the community of faith – we are all sinners. A life as a Christian is one which we attempt to become more like Christ – we conform ourselves to his teaching, not conform Christian teaching to the ways of the world.

          • Penelope December 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

            Tricia just tell me how many ‘orthodox’ Christians are suffering from depression, self-harming, committing suicide, estranged from their parents, family and friends and from their churches, in this country, because of their Christian beliefs and then I’ll believe your persecution narrative.

          • Penelope December 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

            Oh, and the point I was making is that numbers are a red herring. Deaf people are only a tiny minority in the church, so we shouldn’t listen to their voices. How does that sound?t

          • Ian Paul December 21, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

            Though several people have commented frequently here, the person who occurs most often is Mr Straw Man—and I don’t think he helps the discussion.

            The point about numbers is quite different. If someone was arguing that, because of a small number of deaf people, we needed to change our theology of marriage and the role of Scripture in the church, then it would be fair to ask why.

            An exchange of views is only a discussion when each side treats the other’s with respect, and engages with the best construal of the other’s case.

          • Tricia December 21, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

            You seem to be unaware of the culture of non speak which is developing within the church. Many on this website are putting forward the equality laws and speaking of the church obeying the government. Many in the church are now caught in a sense of worry about the future. The LGBT agenda rolls on subverting our teaching to our children and using indoctrination methods in schools and media. Nothing less than full acceptance and celebration will do. Take the case of the Consuktant Urologist in Boston who has just been fired for insisting that it is inappropriate for a hospital to celebrate Gay Pride and force all employees to comply. He has documented all the medical reasons but he is fired by the politically correct.

          • David Beadle December 22, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

            Tricia, what is the “LGBT agenda?”

        • Pete J December 21, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

          Don, I agree with you. I don’t think that negative attitudes towards gay people are the reason that most people don’t go to church*. However I disagree that pro gay values are only a perceived majority opinion. There have been a *lot* of surveys on this and somewhere between 60 and 90 % of people are in favour of gay relationships in England.

          *I only know one guy who lost his faith because of this. He was straight and he saw what his church was teaching about his gay friends was inconsistent with what he knew of them. He decided if the church was wrong about gay people then there was no reason why it wasn’t wrong about everything else.

          I also know several gay people who have left church because they don’t feel safe there, but that is kind of a different point.

          Most of the people I know are not going to church because they dislike the church’s attitude to gay people, they are not going because they don’t believe.

          • Don Benson December 22, 2015 at 12:11 am #

            Thanks, Pete. My point is this:
            We must keep in mind that same sex attracted people are perhaps somewhere between 1% and 3% of people – the exact figure is unknown but it is a very small proportion of people. But let’s be clear, whatever the cause of the attraction (we won’t get into that!) they are human beings, truly deserving of the respect with which we all should treat each other.

            Due in no small part to the introduction of CPs and now SSMs, there is a powerful campaign in the media, the entertainment world and in schools to challenge anyone who disagrees with these changes and force them to fall in line. The main argument doesn’t address the nature, causes or any possible ‘cures’ for gay attraction nor does it address the qualities and benefits which are unique to heterosexual marriage, nor does it address the rights of children to both a mother and father. It simply relies on peer pressure and creating the perception that only a few bigoted dinosaurs are against the new inclusive enlightenment.

            And that same pressure is being reflected by a group within the church and, sadly, it is largely using the same tactic of creating an impression that this is an unstoppable development, opposed only by a few bigoted evangelicals. But evangelicals’ first allegiance is to the Bible which reveals the person and purposes of God and his redeeming love through Jesus. To ignore or reinterpret parts of the Bible in order to accommodate the new enthusiasm for gay relationships is not theirs to do; it’s unthinkable. Well that’s very inconvenient for evangelicals because they are now variously accused of being hateful, homophobic, uncaring and in some cases responsible for suicides for which they have no remorse. And, more generally, the latest development has been open challenges to church discipline by way of clergy SSMs – the subject of this particular post by Ian.

            If our CofE is to come together through the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit into full acceptance of how He wishes us to treat this issue we must restore discipline in word and deed, listen respectfully to each other when we have our debate, put on our thinking caps rather than grab for our megaphones and we must be prayerful and patient – perhaps for decades, perhaps for ever. And in one thing we can all be agreed, if we think we aren’t getting all the sex or any of the sex which we reckon is ours by right, perhaps we could spare a thought for plain or downright ugly or shy people or bereaved people or sick people who have no joy in that area either – silent, unnoticed and not considered for a moment in this debate. What about them – and they’re probably a lot more than 3% of us?

          • Pete J December 23, 2015 at 2:23 am #

            I disagree that the nature of homosexuality and “cures” are not mentioned in the media. It may well be that you don’t agree with the conclusions of the majority, but that is different than not talking about them. The majority of the media is supportive of gay relationships, as is the law, but it is not actually the totality of the media.

            I disagree that the media does not discuss the qualities and benefits of heterosexual marriage. If you are not heterosexual then the massive extent to which heterosexual relationships are glorified in almost every aspect of our culture is overwhelmingly obvious. Most people entering into a gay marriage will be gay (and not bisexual) so I disagree with the implication that such people would otherwise be in heterosexual marriages.

            I disagree that the bible is opposed to gay relationships. I think this is, ahem, the crux. The bible does not mention gay relationships so in our interpretation we have to decide if marriage for gay people is closer to marriage for straight people.

            I disagree that *all* evangelicals who are opposed to gay people marrying are accused of the things you state. However there is a small number of people in the church who are homophobic and do bully individuals, campaign for re-criminalisation, exclude on the basis of orientation and spread lies about gay people – linking gay people with paedophilia seems currently in vogue! There is another group who are opposed to having gay priests, even if they are celibate, and blame gay priests for all the problems of the church. This is irrational and hateful towards gay people.

            I am far more concerned that the church should stop the abuse of gay people within its churches than I am that it accepts marriage for gay people. Sex is a tiny part of gay people’s lives and many have renounced it and many more are not having it for other reasons. It is also not the focus of positive, loving gay relationships. However, because anti gay Christians hear “gay” and immediately think of sex, all gay Christians face ecclesiastical challenges and most encounter some form of abuse at some point. I am sure you are also against this abuse, Welby says he is against it too, so why has still no action at all been taken?

            We have already been patient for decades.

          • Pete J December 23, 2015 at 2:25 am #

            Sorry I missed the end of a sentence

            Paragraph 3 should end “or closer to rape, idolatry or prostitution”.

      • Jane Newsham December 20, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

        Thank you Clive. I wish you lived closer and I’d invite you out for coffee. My comment was not about elderly people at all – the current generation aged 18 – 100 will in the fullness of time die out (all of us!) and will need to be replaced by other members of society (or the Church of England as a denomination will die out – other denominations may or may not continue, only time will tell)..
        The Church of England’s current teaching on marriage may or may not hasten a decline in numbers – but this is nonetheless a crucial factor when we come to discuss these issues. My main point is that Church of England members are made not born (and even those born may decide to follow Buddhism, this isn’t Elizabethan (I) England where non-attendance at your local C of E Church is punishable). How the Church of England is perceived by wider society is crucial and even Calvinists would do well to realise this– people have free will not to commit to an institution which they feel treats some people differently to others. Wishing you a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas.

    • Tricia December 20, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

      Jane
      Some of the most caring members of the congregation are older members who attend the weekly BCP service. They take seriously their need to confess rather sins regularly – to love and care for those in need. They fund raise, support those in need, bake, clean the church etc. When they die out as you put it, we will be the poorer, but the richer for knowing them. They understand the concept of sin and how our actions separate us from God.
      The church you contemplate is not one formed on the blood of Christ and the redemption of sinners, it is a politically correct construct which puts us in the driving seat and relegates God to a passenger. Well he is no passenger! He will depart and the church will be renewed elsewhere as his happening in America where the Episcoplian church is dying and the ACNA is growing. “I will build my church”.

      • Jane Newsham December 20, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

        Dear Tricia, thank you for your comment. As I mentioned to Clive above, my point includes all of us, not just our elderly members.
        I believe that our actions can never separate us from God because’ neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38-39). I believe that God will never depart from his loved and cherished Christians and even if, sadly, some denominations die, its members will find a new spiritual home half a mile down the road in another variant of his church. I believe that we should remember that we are the ones safely in the lifeboat, knowing God’s love, mercy, grace and provision and our priority should be to focus on those who don’t – and who still find themselves stranded in the icy sea waiting for rescue. You are right – God is no passenger, he is there at the front of the lifeboat, hauling people out of the freezing water, not even pausing to question them on their sexuality or marital status. Wishing you a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas.

        • Ian Paul December 21, 2015 at 10:56 am #

          Jane, ‘I believe that our actions can never separate us from God because’ neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’

          That’s an odd statement, since the text you cite in Romans 8 is not concerned with whether *our* actions can cut us off from God’s love, but whether any external agency can.

          Paul appears quite clear that there are actions which are incompatible with kingdom life, and that includes same-sex activity. He is quite consistent in this.

          Jesus is also clear that it is possible to choose to be attached to things we consider so important that we can miss out on ‘eternal life’.

          • James Byron December 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

            “Paul appears quite clear that there are actions which are incompatible with kingdom life, and that includes same-sex activity. He is quite consistent in this.”

            Agreed, Ian, and why did Paul think this?

            Likely ’cause his upbringing and experience prejudiced him against homosexuality (Mosaic law; Gentile sexual mores). It’s quite possible that Paul never knew a gay person, or had any knowledge of loving gay relationships, even in theory. He was a man of his time and culture.

            That being so, why should we choose to follow his lead? Sure, you can cite the doctrine of biblical authority, but its exact form, indeed, following it at all, are all choices. Why should we make them?

          • David Shepherd December 21, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

            ‘Why should we follow his lead?’

            Indeed, so why should Romans 8:38 – 39 have any validity either? Is it because it’s compatible with the a priori assumptions of liberal Inclusive Church theology?

            Or did Paul’s time and culture only limit his ability to recognise that same-sex relationships could be loving?

          • Pete J December 22, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

            It’s quite possible Paul was gay.

          • Ian Paul December 22, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

            Well that’s the kind of ludicrous speculation which has meant this discussion has run its course.

          • Pete J December 22, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

            David – where does Paul specifically talk about gay relationships?

          • Pete J December 23, 2015 at 2:30 am #

            Ian

            Im not sure why – yet again – you are ridiculing my post rather than engaging with it. There’s about a 5% chance Paul was gay, given that we are given no evidence for his orientation.

          • Ian Paul December 23, 2015 at 8:31 am #

            Prov 26.4 Because it deserves ridicule.

            Prov 26.5 Your 5% is dreamed up from nowhere. And you ignore the evidence that same-sex attraction varies from one culture to another.

          • Pete J December 23, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

            I was applying the current likelihood of a random man being gay, which we know is greater than 1.2%. I am guessing on 5%, but I would happily accept that as too high. My point is that there is a possibility that Paul was gay. I don’t know why that should be “ludicrous speculation” – surely it is fact!

          • Clive December 24, 2015 at 9:32 am #

            Dear Pete J

            Here is what you said:

            “I was applying the current likelihood of a random man being gay, which we know is greater than 1.2%. I am guessing on 5%, but I would happily accept that as too high. My point is that there is a possibility that Paul was gay. I don’t know why that should be “ludicrous speculation” – surely it is fact!”

            So you’ve acknowledged that you were guessing on the 5% and by the end you’ve claimed to be talking “fact”

            What can one possibly say (the old adage that 62% of statistics are made up on the spot comes to mind).

            I can see, and mean, this:
            Happy Christmas Pete.

          • Pete J December 24, 2015 at 11:10 pm #

            Clive

            What is fact is that it is possible that Paul was gay.

            Ian was calling this ludicrous speculation. I have no idea why.

          • Pete J December 24, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

            Why it should matter is of course – since both Jesus and Paul were unmarried – it should be the case that single people (gay or straight) are respected as much as straight married people in the church. Straight single people should not be treated as if they are children or youth and gay single people should not be treated as if they were problems or chronically ill or not welcome at all.

        • Tricia December 21, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

          Dear Jane
          He will only be “hauling them out” when they cry out to be saved. When you come to Christ you become a new creation, your sins are forgiven and you are washed clean. You cannot return to your sin – Paul asks “should we keep on sinning” and answers his own question “no”. This is why “we will Know them by their fruits”. Have they changed? I thought long and hard before accepting Christ – I knew it meant that I was no longer myself, I was His. I wrestled with self, eventually He won and I then realised that I had nothing worth saving in my life in comparison.

  18. Clive December 22, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    Having read these comments I am forced to the conclusion that those who want SSM in Church have no real argument to offer and seem to have never had an argument to offer. They have lost and never even started to win in the first place. Pete J continually doesn’t read the references he has given and wilfully misrepresents arguments. He equates celibacy with being a Minister of the Church in spite having been clearly shown that they are not the same, he wilfully misrepresents Jesus’ words about love as being about sex and sexuality when they are not. Andrew Godsall constantly and consistently moves the goalposts on everything he said so tries to claim he never said it! Penelope tries to downgrade most thing to guidance when she is shown that they are not and then simply disregards or disagrees with any rulings she doesn’t like.

    Meanwhile all of them criticise Christians for things they have never said, never done and never believed. Christianity offers love without price and acceptance of everyone. Yet that love without price demands that we become the person Jesus Christ and God want us to be.

    There is clearly no further point to this conversation.

    • David Shepherd December 22, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

      Clive,

      I agree entirely, although the comments posted here are a useful pre-cursor to arguments that will be presented at General Synod.

      The Ten Commandments of Revisionism (as presented here):

      1. Although Canon B30 is doctrine, the quadruple lock (that actually prevents vicars from being compelled to perform same-sex marriages) renders it immoral to discipline ministers in same-sex civil marriages for contravening it.

      2. In stark contrast, Article XXXII is applicable to same-sex civil marriages, despite even revisionist Bishop Alan Wilson conceding that it was inconceivable that the authors of the 39 Articles would have contemplated provision for same-sex marriage.

      3. ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ and the Pastoral Guidance statements have no intrinsic disciplinary authority for the CofE, although the General Synod-commissioned report, The governance of the Church of England (GS MSC 910) states:
      Because bishops are ordained to be ‘teachers’ and ‘guardians of the faith’,there is an expectation that the House of Bishops will take the lead in the Synod’s consideration of doctrinal and theological issues (including issues of moral and pastoral theology) and of ecumenical agreements which touch on the faith and order of the Church. Any statement of the House of Bishops on such matters has an intrinsic authority which derives not from the Constitution of the General Synod but from the inherent individual and collegial authority of the House’s members as teachers of the faith and guardians of sound doctrine, given to them in their ordination to the episcopate.

      4. (Perhaps, unsurprisingly) General Synod is ‘merely an advisory board’ to Parliament. Ergo, it’s deference to the House of Bishops’ statements and guidance is invalid.

      5. ‘The only genuine form of discipline we have in the C of E is the CDM’.

      6. It is hypocrisy for the HoB to avoid intrusive inquiry (as explained in ‘Issues’) until an occasion of scandal incurs disciplinary action, since local variations leads to a ‘postcode lottery’.

      7. Nevertheless, the alternative of uniformly assuming all gay clergy to be in same-sex sexual relationships would be a homophobic ‘witch-hunt’.

      8. The assumption of ‘church teaching on sexuality which says only ordained people must be celibate’ means it’s unfair to revoke a lay minister’s license as a consequence of entering a same-sex marriage. This is despite the selfsame person voluntarily accepting the Bishop’s Regulations for Lay Readers, which provide for summary revocation and for lay ministers to make declarations of assent and canonical obedience.

      9. There is no trajectory from the Matthaen divorce exception (for porneia), nor from Paul’s exception (for unbeliever desertion) to General Synod stating ‘That there are exceptional circumstances in which a divorced person may be married in church during the lifetime of a former spouse;’

      10. In the absence of any scriptural exceptions for divorce whatsoever, affirming same-sex marriage would be similar to church re-marriage of divorcees, albeit incurring an amendment to Canon B30…which only becomes both legal and moral, once it’s gender-neutralised by that ‘advisory body to Parliament’…called General Synod.

      To paraphrase the old Love Story film tag-line: ‘Love means never having to say you’re accountable’!

      • Pete J December 22, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

        David

        Different people will have different views on these, but just to be clear, these are my thoughts

        1 It may be very wrong and damaging to the mission of the church to punish gay priests who marry by removing them from the ministry to which God has given them. Other punishments are available and have been deployed.

        2 Although this was not originally intended to cover marriage for gay clergy, it was intended to not allow bishops or other ecclesiastical powers control over who a priest may or may not marry. However the Church of England is now in a very different culture than that in which the articles were written and maybe they have run their course and need to be revised.

        3. I have frustration that earlier, clearer and more authoritative advice/rules were not issued. Frankly what was produced was too little, too late. I also think the exact timing (day after Valentine’s Day) particularly heartless.

        4. I tim actually … Ergo parliament can overrule it. The quadruple lock was parliament overruling GS – in the sense that it was determining church policy without consulting GS. Parliament has the authority to demand change in the church *and* has a role in overseeing church governance.

        6. Marriage is a public act, therefore bishops should be free to act against it. You used the word “hypocrisy” – I think it is hypocritical to verbally encourage the church to repent against homophobia whilst using the harshest available punishments against gay behaviour (or orientation or pro gay speech) and not treating other actions the church disagrees with in a similar way. A specific instance of this is that we have been recently told that clergy who make statements in favour of gay relationships will damage their ability to become a bishop. However the same is not true for clergy who make homophobic statements.

        8. I think bishops are well within their rights to withdraw licenses to readers in gay relationships, but see point 1.

        9. If you take Jesus teaching on divorce and allow remarriage on grounds not approved of by him, it is inconsistent to then also take his teaching on divorce to be grounds for banning all gay relationships. It is not consistent to allow straight people to marry and remarry (with the exception of unfaithfulness, which Jesus explicitly accepts), but to ban gay people from marrying even once. If gay people do not need partners and can lead full and healthy lives as celibates then so can divorced straight people.

        10. Marriage for gay people is already legal and moral in the UK (except N Ireland). It is up to the CofE (probably in the form of GS) if it wants to accept this or oppose it. Currently we are told by Archbishop Justin that marriage of gay people is simultaneously “great” and grounds for exclusion from the anglican communion. The church needs to pick a side (which may be allowing the issue to be up to individual consciousness).

        Im happy for you to call me a revisionist, but I would point out that I, like you, believe I am following the unchanging will of God.

    • Chris Bishop December 22, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

      I am afraid Clive I have to agree with you!

    • Pete J December 22, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

      Clive

      You are making a personal attack on me.

      I was not saying that Jesus was talking about sexual love with his greatest commands. I was questioning how a ban on gay relationships can possibly fit into Jesus interpretation of the law, given what he said the two greatest commandments were. I can understand the confusion, but what you have written is not what I said! BTW none of the conservatives here seem to be able to answer this – the only answer I got was that love is “sentimental tosh”!!! Quite a shocking thing for a Christian to write.

      I do not understand what I am being accused of in terms of equating celibacy with being a minister of the church(?) I was merely arguing that laity are not officially required to be celibate (although many are).

      i would love for all gay people to be treated with love and respect by all CofE clergy. I know through horrid personal experience this is not currently the case.

  19. Chris Bishop December 22, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

    I should also add that you have the summed up the liberal position extremely cogently David.

    • Andrew Godsall December 23, 2015 at 9:24 am #

      David’s second attempt to sum up the liberal position is no more convincing than his first and, once again, sadly does him no credit.

      Charles Read makes an excellent point over an Thinking Anglicans about the great variety of approaches that the ‘Evangelical’ now has. It is no longer possible to claim the title evangelical and be opposed to same sex marriage or relationships. By the same token, there is a great variety – one might even say a generous variety – of liberal opinion.

      • David Shepherd December 23, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

        Andrew,

        Again, you’re glossing over my qualification: ‘as presented here’.

        If the overall liberal position on this is far more nuanced than the breadth of arguments presented here, then you and other revisionists have simply done a disservice to your cause.

        That’s your fault, not mine!

        • Andrew Godsall December 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

          Hmm..David..the place of the contributor to someone else’s blog is simply to respond to the particular and not to ‘present’ the general.

          I’ve never thought of the Gospel as a ’cause’. But I’m beginning to see that some conservatives, such as yourself and others who comment here, simply see opposition to the secular as THE gospel. It feels like King Canute ism

          It’s a shame – as you and I managed to have quite a fruitful discussion a few threads back. Here’s hoping for a return to that generous (liberal!) spirit in 2016. Meanwhile, every blessing to you and yours.

          • David Shepherd December 23, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

            Andrew,

            I’ll let Ian Paul decide on my place as a contributor to his blog, not what you’ve adjudged to be protocol.

            Despite your implication that the secularisation of the church is an unstoppable tide, it is part of the duty of those saved by the gospel to resist it.

            Of course, you see the church affirmation of same-sex sexual relationships as consonant with the gospel, whereas I do see it as a cause opposed to the church’s redemptive history and mandate.

            Over this year, we’ve addressed our differences head on. Instead of maintaining an overly polite, superficial and unsatisfactory consensus, our discussions have held to the reality of ‘good disagreement’.

            I think that Ian’s blog posts and the ensuing comment threads are a great resource for the Church, disseminating insight from all sides of these debates about the ways in which scripture, tradition and reason might work together in discerning and implementing God’s will for the church.

            Have a great fun and family-filled Christmas!

    • David Shepherd December 26, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

      Chris,

      Thanks and best wishes for the New Year. One in which I hope General Synod representatives are not so overwrought with concerns about the ‘lived experience’ of same-sex couples as to refrain from scrutinising these revisionist fallacies.

  20. Martin Reynolds December 26, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    I am one of a growing number left deeply unhappy by the transitional arrangements offered to those wishing to marry after having contracted a civil partnership.
    I find the distinction drawn by the Church of England between civil partnerships and marriage as confusing as I find the governments attempt to leave no doubt that they intended no distinction between the estates from the beginning.
    So Jeremy’s new marriage certificate records his marriage began the day he signed the civil partnership schedule, an event that required no promises or undertakings whatsoever.
    This “conversion” was also achieved without any need for vows or promises, indeed not a word needed to be uttered once again.
    All that was required was the couple sign this declaration:
    “I solemnly and sincerely declare that we are in a civil partnership with each other and I know of no legal reason why we may not convert our civil partnership into a marriage. I understand that on signing this document we will be converting our civil partnership into a marriage and you will thereby become my lawful wife / husband.”

    The declaration continues

    “I further declare that to the best of my knowledge and belief, all of the information given on this form, and the information and evidence supplied with this form, is true. I understand that if any of the information is false I may be liable to prosecution under the Perjury Act 1911.”

    How this places the cleric in contravention of the discipline of the Church of England is a mystery to me, indeed how it constitutes a marriage by any standards I would recognise remains equally a mystery to me.

  21. Martin Reynolds December 27, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    As to the PR situation, there is little doubt that your Church already sees this as a lost cause and is unlikely to add further to the disaster it already presides over.
    It’s silence more than suggest this.
    One feels for those who have made something of a career supporting what most now agree is a lost cause.

    • Clive December 27, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

      In yesterday’s Guardian Jeremy directly said that he told the Bishop that his Civil Partnership didn’t involve sex, thereby obtaining the Bishop’s approval, but admitting in the article that it always did. So he knowingly lied. What kind of Christian example is that?

      • Martin Reynolds December 27, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

        Surely as Christians we now admire that the truth is told.

        It seems alien to dwell on past mistakes in this context.

      • Pete J December 28, 2015 at 11:00 am #

        Clive

        I re-read the article and I think you have misunderstood what Davies said. I read it as he regretted making the vow, not that he never intended to keep the vow. However it does concern me that telling the truth doesn’t seem a priority amongst some clergy (not just gay clergy!)

  22. Clive December 27, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    One of the 10 commandments is to Honour your Father and Mother.

    As has been noted earlier by David S that for SSM to create a family actual parents must be involved and then kept away and excluded from the children. That is NOT “Honour your Father and Mother” at all and is deliberately and clearly leading Christians away from the Christian faith.

    The Church is the last organisation that still respects Fathers, Mothers and children. Long may it remain so.

    • Martin Reynolds December 27, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

      Natural parents of our children are invited each year to come for Christmas Eve and stay till Christmas morning and witness the joy ….

    • Pete J December 28, 2015 at 11:09 am #

      I don’t think this is necessarily true. There seem to be a generation of gay people in their forties and fifties who were encouraged to get into a heterosexual marriage – some told it would cure them. Many of these have had marriage breakdown and share custody of the children.

      Gay couples are also famously adopters. There are roughly 85k children in care in the UK whose ability to thrive would be greatly enhanced by adoption by gay or straight couples.

      Im sure there are also a lot of cases where one natural parent has abandoned the child.

      I think this latest attack of yours is stretching “honour *your* father and mother” a bit far!!! I wonder how many straight couples who have children from a previous marriage or from surrogacy you would accuse of this?

      Christianity is not worship of the natural or nuclear family. It is worship of Jesus.

      • Clive December 28, 2015 at 11:24 am #

        “Honour your Father and Mother” is a commandment. It is NOT minor or irrelevant.
        For Elton John’s son, the mother had to sign a contract under Californian law (Laws of England & Wales wouldn’t allow such a contract), agreeing to never ever make any contact with her son. Her son doesn’t even know who his real mother is so how can he ever fulfil the commandment to “Honour your Father and Mother”.

        This is a reality and is miles away from the abandonment you have tried to use to divert the subject. This is NOT adoption.

        • Pete J December 28, 2015 at 11:38 am #

          I didn’t say it was minor or irrelevant. I meant that it is “honour *your* father and mother”!!!!

          Im sorry I didn’t realise that your comment was an attack specifically on Elton Johns family, nor that placing someone in a position where they are less able to keep a commandment is a sin in itself. If that is the case then the CofE is even worse than Elton John! Elton John is ofc not a Christian. Ive no doubt that you would not want your marriage or family judged by the apparent standards of a non Christian straight celebrity!

          I have given you several fairly common scenarios where a gay married person/couple can have nurture their own children without severing connection with other biological parents. Divorce, remarriage and adoption are common now – are you saying you know no straight couples who have done this?

          I would respectively suggest that the commandment tells us to honour all parents whether biological or otherwise. There is of course a requirement for the parents to also behave well to the children, which isn’t explicit in the command. There is not a requirement that children must be raised by their biological parents. Sadly in many cases that would not be safe or good for the child.

          • David Shepherd December 28, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

            Pete J,

            You said: ‘I have given you several fairly common scenarios where a gay married person/couple can have nurture their own children without severing connection with other biological parents’.

            As explained to you before, the difference Is that, because marriage legally recognises and protects spouses as co-founders of an intact family unit, marriage entails a legal presumption that either spouse is automatically the other primary parent to any child born to the other.

            In countries, such as USA, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage has been granted, there is an unfair presumption of parenthood in favour of a spouse with no genetic connection to the child. This is because to do otherwise would defeat the family intentions of every same-sex couple.

            It is an unfair because the presumption is not meant to be a complete legal fiction, but has always been predicated upon biological probability. Thereby, in many cases, the onus has been placed on biological father to seek parental rights by legal means.

            That some same-sex couples choose to grant access to co-opted biological parents doesn’t make the case for granting them marriage that would unfairly and automatically elevating a same-sex spouse to be the other primary parent of any child born to the other during the marriage.

            The secular sphere can do what it likes, just don’t expect the church to endorse the daylight robbery of a child’s identity through reassigning via marriage one half of its primary biological parenthood!

          • Pete J December 28, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

            Well my examples were

            Where a mixed orientation marriage has broken down and the divorced parents share custody.

            Where a gay couple has adopted a child who would otherwise be in care.

            Where a natural parent has abandoned a child.

            I don’t know enough about Elton Johns circumstances to want to defend him.

            It does also sound a bit to my like you are taking issue with surrogacy? Surrogacy is available to both straight and gay couples. I have no idea of the numbers but I would think that the vast majority of gay couples would either have no children or would fit one of my scenarios. If you have a problem with surrogacy then campaign against surrogacy. Dont make it specifically a gay problem.

            I think JD has no children with his partner? It would be wierd to argue against his marriage on the basis that the couple could take a child away from its natural mother…even though they could do that without getting married!

        • David Shepherd December 28, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

          Pete J,

          We’ve debated this previously on the comment threads to other posts. Once again, this issue isn’t about HFEA-licensed assisted reproduction.

          Instead, the presumption is a legal conclusion that normatively treats the birth mother’s spouse as the child’s legal parent, regardless of how conception occurs. In fact, the whole purpose of the presumption is to facilitate joint parenthood through marriage without intrusion upon family privacy.

          In the jurisdictions that I’ve cited, the marital presumption of parenthood does not require any contractual arrangement for surrendering biological parenthood to the married couples.

          In relation to same-sex couples, the presumption was gender-neutralised (e.g. the Uniform Parentage Act) and legislation specifically changed from rebuttable to conclusive in order to protect the family intentions of same-sex couples from being disestablished by the other biological parent.

          Hopefully, this is an adequate response to your suggestion (insinuating homophobia) that my argument should simply address surrogacy without making it specifically a gay problem.

          • Pete J December 28, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

            David

            I have been accused several times on this page alone of calling people homophobic, when I don’t believe Ive used that term against anyone.

            What I meant was I don’t understand what you are complaining about – is it surrogacy? – and what it has to do with gay marriage in general and JDs marriage in particular.

            Im saying I don’t understand why you think one (I would guess not very common) gay family scenario somehow invalidates all gay people’s marriages and families…especially since it has a straight equivalent and does not require a couple to be married to take part in it.

            Im asking what are you arguing against? Are you arguing against gay marriage or just that a gay parents spouse should be registered as a legal parent?

          • David Shepherd December 29, 2015 at 11:08 am #

            Pete J,

            You don’t have to use the word ‘homophobic’ in order to insinuate homophobia. You said: ‘If you have a problem with surrogacy then campaign against surrogacy. Don’t make it a gay problem.’ It implies that for me to do the latter is an attempt to target gay people unfairly, which is homophobia.

            I’m arguing against the fact that marriage, which was meant to facilitate the legal parenthood of married biological fathers, is being used by same-sex couples to conclusively undermine the parenthood of the co-opted biological father without his consent. There is considerable case law to support this.

            We differ in that, despite the reality of these parental rights being conferred through marriage, you see the automatic joint legal rights of married couples as completely separate. Yet, these join rights are part of the state of life, known as marriage.

            There is considerable case law showing that LGBT couples want to be recognised through marriage as co-founders of a ‘nuclear family’. They don’t want their family arrangements to be vulnerable to a biological father who seeks parental involvement in decisions that affect his child.

            The International Lesbian and Gay Association has campaigned for the marital presumption of paternity (which could be rebutted by genetic evidence) to be re-defined as the gender-neutral conclusive presumption of parenthood in order to become applicable (regardless of biological reality) to all same-sex marriages.

            Underlying this is the unwarranted belief that joint biological parenthood can be conclusively supplanted without disadvantage to the child’s identity formation and that the sole unique benefit delivered by male-female conjugation is biological conception.

          • Pete J December 29, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

            Wow

            So because you *are* arguing against gay surrogacy and not arguing against straight surrogacy, I am somehow in trouble for stating this is inconsistent?!

            Isn’t your problem with surrogacy (or perhaps surrogacy for gay parents) and not with gay people or gay marriage? Im really not sure what I think about surrogacy for gay or straight couples. It isn’t something I am ever likely to do so I don’t really care about it that much. Im not aware of any biological parent who feels cheated of their child in the manner you suggest. I am sure there are some cases, but I’m sure there are some cases for straight couples too.

            Please don’t assume that because I want equal treatment for peolle like me that I am in favour of other things as well.

            I would like the CofE to start treating gay people as well as straigt people. Or if it can’t manage that gay single/celibate people as well as remarried divorcee straight people.

            I would also like the CofE to not remove priests from ministry because of who they have married.

            I would like CofE clergy to stop making homophobic statements and/or blaming gay people for all the problems of the church and world.

            I would like the wider anglican communion to stop promoting the criminalisation of gay people.

            And that’s it!

          • David Shepherd December 30, 2015 at 3:37 am #

            Pete J,

            The point is that I stated that the marital presumption of parenthood doesn’t require consent of the other biological parent, but places the onus on him to prove parenthood.

            This issue has nothing to do with surrogacy, which involves a couple gaining the informed consent of the unmarried biological parent before embarking on assisted reproduction through a licensed clinic.

            Despite this, you’ve continued to bang on regardlessly about inconsistency in targeting only gay surrogacy, but not straight surrogacy.

            Yet, this is fairly typical of how you’ve refused to engage with points raised in this debate, choosing to deliberately ignore any qualifications of opposing arguments in order to make the case for comprehensive LGBT victimhood at the hands of the Church.

            The fact is that however passionately you want to fight for gay rights, ignoring what others have actually written just turns you into a sloganeer. No wonder that you’ve desperately resorted to your final CofE wish-list litany: ‘I would like the CofE…’

            As ever, I’ll expect you to have the last word, probably banging on about surrogacy again because that’s all you know about alternative parenting arrangements, especially without taking the time to find out about the marital presumption of paternity.

            There is no cure for wilful ignorance, except perhaps to be ignored. And that’s exactly what I intend to do.

          • Pete J December 30, 2015 at 10:44 am #

            David

            Sorry I have misunderstood because – as I have said – I don’t understand what you are talking about (!) or how it relates to gay marriage!

            The only scenario where I can see that legal parenthood is potentially contested is in surrogacy cases, which is why I thought that must be what you are talking about. This is your third(?) reply about this and you still fail to explain the scenario you are talking about. Im not ignoring your argument – you won’t tell me what it is! Throughout this blog Ive tried to engage with other people’s arguments and then at some point people just start insulting me. I don’t understand why nor why me asking you to explain what you are complaining about and how it relates to gay marriage is such a problem for you?

            My wish list was there because you seemed to be saying that because I was in favour of gay equality, I must somehow be also in favour of parents having their children stolen (or something) I was just trying to be clear about what I am in favour of.

            And yes large parts of the church do attack gay people with no justification. That is why the archbishop is calling the church to repentance.

    • Pete J December 28, 2015 at 11:26 am #

      I really have an issue with you saying that the church is the last organisation that respects fathers, mothers and children. The organisation I work for provides generous parental leave.

      I disagree with the implication that allowing two gay people to marry is somehow an attack on family life. Like heterosexuals, the vast majority of gay people will support the upbringing of children, whether their own or those of friends and family. i cannot see how marriage of a gay couple hurts a straight family – this just seems an irrational fear.

      In any case JD and his partner have no children. JDs support for family life will Ofc be diminished now that he is not allowed to minister to the families of Winchester.

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