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What does the Primates’ Statement mean?

evensongSo, it happened. A bit like the last General Election, the outcome of the gathering of the Primates of the Anglican Communion ended as no-one thought it would—together, with a statement, an affirmation of ‘traditional’ understandings of marriage, and a rebuke of sorts for the Episcopal Church of the USA (TEC). I am not sure anyone (this side of heaven) saw it coming.

I include here the statement itself, some commentary and reflection on it, and some thoughts about the implications of what has happened.

1. We gathered as Anglican Primates to pray and consider how we may preserve our unity in Christ given the ongoing deep differences that exist among us concerning our understanding of marriage.

This is a very interesting opening statement. It acknowledges the fact that there are differences of understanding, but immediately puts the question of relationships with one another, ‘our unity’, front and centre. This reflects comments made by Justin Welby in his address on the Monday on the importance of unity.

2. Recent developments in The Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage. Possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation.

It is interesting that, though it clearly uses the language of ‘the doctrine of marriage’, in the first mention of the fundamental problem the issue is not expressed in terms of right and wrong, but as a description of what has happened. It is true and indisputable that this teaching ‘is held by the majority of the Provinces.’ In that sense, the statement represents common ground, and as a description it would be hard to disagree with.

3. All of us acknowledge that these developments have caused further deep pain throughout our Communion.

Again, who could dissent from this? The one thing everyone agrees on is that there is a really difficult problem here arising from differences of view, and this is causing pain in every direction.

4. The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.

What is really crucial here is that the Primates had not gathered to debate or discussion the doctrine of marriage, as they had on previous occasions. The agenda this week was quite specifically, given we currently have different views, how do we continue in love together and how do we resolve our differences and come to a common mind? Those who were seeking a statement on sexuality and human rights had, I think, misunderstood this; there could be no such statement since the Primates view on sexuality was not the subject of discussion.

5. In keeping with the consistent position of previous Primates’ meetings such unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity is considered by many of us as a departure from the mutual accountability and interdependence implied through being in relationship with each other in the Anglican Communion.

The focus here continues to be, not sexuality itself, but the question of how and whether one part of the Communion may or may not depart from something that the majority view as important doctrine.

6. Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.

The language here is key, and is continued into the first sentence of the next paragraph. The commitment of the primates is to continue in relationship with one another, even though that relationships has been harmed by unilateral action and trust is at low ebb. But how can the issue of sexuality be properly discussed without mutual trust and respect? And how can that trust and respect be rebuilt unless we continue in relationship with one another?

7. It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However, given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

The three-year period takes TEC up to their next General Convention in 2018. It will then be up to TEC itself, knowing the Communion’s majority view, and in clear sight of the consequences of unilateral decisions, to decide what it wants to do. In that sense, it is on probation within the Communion. But it is important to note that this is not what the conservatives, GAFCON, wanted, as it falls short of full discipline and is less clear than they would like it to be on the doctrinal question of marriage.

8. We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.

Here we have an explicit commitment to continue conversation into the future. The subject of sexuality is not mentioned here explicitly, but it cannot be avoided. It puts things in the correct order: rebuilding relationships of trust first; tackling the issue of disagreement second.


How has this remarkable settlement come about, when everyone expected failure? It is impossible to discount the importance of prayer. Prayer was Justin Welby’s first commitment as he took up office, and the young people spending a year at Lambeth spent the week in Canterbury praying for the process. Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, make this comment:

In our time together here, I have witnessed the power of prayer and movements of the Holy Spirit. We have wrestled with love and discerned together, digging deep into our spiritual wells and consciences, as well as seeking conversion as we made tough calls.

But the process has also reflected Justin Welby’s commitment to reconciliation and the importance of remaining in relationship with those with whom we disagree. It is worth revisiting his words in Monday’s opening address:

All of us here need a body that is mutually supportive, that loves one another, that stoops to lift the fallen and kneels to bind the wounds of the injured. Without each other we are deeply weakened, because we have a mission that is only sustainable when we conform to the image of Christ, which is first to love one another. The idea is often put forward that truth and unity are in conflict, or in tension. That is not true. Disunity presents to the world an untrue image of Jesus Christ. Lack of truth corrodes and destroys unity. They are bound together, but the binding is love. In a world of war, of rapid communications, of instant hearing and misunderstanding where the response is only hatred and separation, the Holy Spirit whose creative and sustaining gifting of the church is done in diversity, demands that diversity of history, culture, gift, vision be expressed in a unity of love. That is what a Spirit filled church looks like.

These are challenging words, particularly to evangelicals. When push comes to shove, evangelicals have often claimed that truth is more important than unity. Welby is responding to that, not by saying that, when push comes to shove, unity is more important than truth, but by rejecting the pushing and shoving. John Bingham offers a fair assessment of the statement in his early report. But by suggesting that this represents ‘a partial victory for traditionalists’, he is still operating with the assumption that there are two opposite views, and compromise sits somewhere on a straight line between them. Welby wanted to move the discussion away from that line to a different place altogether.

There is no doubt that this will have an impact on discussions in the Church of England. Here, too, traditionalists will be uncomfortable with such a strong commitment to remaining in relationship, especially when such relationships involve paying ‘parish share’ into diocesan funds which resource ministry that takes a different view. But ‘revisionists’ will also be uncomfortable with a reality the Primates confront us with: unity of relationship cannot take place in a vacuum. The Church currently does have a formal view on sexuality and marriage, and remaining in relationship means acknowledging that as the starting point. As I have said many times before, it is not possible to agree to disagree on this issue in the way the Church has on other issues.


What will happen now? It is hard to see TEC changing its position in the light of this when 2018 comes, not least because national autonomy is so deeply ingrained within its culture. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry says plainly, many in TEC will find this a bitter pill to swallow, since inclusion of lesbian and gay Christians is such a cornerstone of their outlook. But if it decides to walk apart, it will be quite different from the process of being ‘expelled’ as discipline (even if that were possible). And only then will the Communion be able to consider whether is recognises ACNA as the member church of the Communion in the USA. If the Anglican Church of Canada and the Scottish Episcopal Church decide to recognise same-sex marriage, then they will be clear about the consequences. Many traditionalists have already left in Canada, but in Scotland those that have remained might feel their hand has been strengthened.

Justin Welby BBCI suspect that there will be a sense of growing respect for Justin Welby. He has managed, in three short years, to address effectively the two major issues which dogged the primacy of his predecessor, Rowan Williams—the move to accept women bishops in the Church of England and the divisions in the Communion on sexuality. As one or two lone voices suggested, the next result could well be new life and vigour breathed into this global church.

In his chapter on ‘Sexuality and the Communion’, Andrew Goddard offers an astute summary:

The media obsession with homosexuality gives the impression of an Anglican death wish on sexuality and texts in Leviticus. This not only fails to do justice to the complexities of the contemporary debates but forgets that the English Reformation was itself bound up with debates over texts in the same two chapters of Leviticus (Leviticus 18 and 20) but concerning marriage to a deceased brother’s wife. Like the English Reformation, today’s debates involve a range of political and cultural factors but like then they also reflect deeper disagreements over authority in the church and especially the authority of Scripture. Only by addressing these as Anglicans can we hope to resolve the current crisis.

As Justin Welby has demonstrated this week, this kind can only be addressed by prayer and reconciliation.


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109 Responses to What does the Primates’ Statement mean?

  1. James Byron January 15, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    In addition to rejecting homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Lambeth 1.10 says, “while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, [this Conference] calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals …”

    Nicholas Okoh, Primate of Nigeria *, and Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of Uganda **, have both supported the criminalization of homosexuality in their countries.

    That, too, is a statement of fact, and by any reasonable measure, criminalizing homosexuality flouts Lambeth 1.10, yet Primates 2016 didn’t utter a word of condemnation. Its silence about two of its members supporting the criminalization of homosexuality sends the message that marrying LGBT people is worse than jailing them.

    It’s also unclear what authority this “gathering” has to impose sanction on TEC. The Anglican Covenant was defeated. If it has none, then on procedural grounds alone, this is a travesty of due process.

    • Mathew Sheffield January 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

      “Its silence about two of its members supporting the criminalization of homosexuality sends the message that marrying LGBT people is worse than jailing them.”

      I’m not sure this is case. Silence simply shows that, while important, issues of sexuality (in terms of doctrine) are not as important as issues of trust and unity. You need the latter before you can properly and truthfully approach the former. I think you’re being melodramatic.

      “It’s also unclear what authority this “gathering” has to impose sanction on TEC”

      I don’t really know what the answer to the question on authority is, but I do know that it’s an irrelevant question as no sanction has actually been imposed and, in truth, no one expected one to be. I like to think of TEC as our brothers, in the sense that our ties are more like a family than an organisation. Love between siblings is shown by a mutual desire to offer honest support, affection and critique or admonishment, without one needing to be “in authority” over the other.

      Thanks for this post Ian, much appreciated

    • Ian Paul January 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

      James, I think it will be worth waiting for the full communique before jumping to conclusions.

      But I am rather baffled when the TEC say ‘So we ignored Lambeth 1.10—well you are doing it too’. What on earth does that mean, and what response is it asking for? ‘let’s just ignore each other?’ or ‘Let’s actual exercise some accountability here?’

      • James Byron January 15, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

        Ian, fair enough, I’m happy to wait for communiqué and press briefing before commenting further on that point.

        Regarding the general principle of applying Lambeth 1.10 consistently, it’s simple fairness: if TEC is to face “consequences” for violating the resolution, other (and it can certainly be argued) worse violations ought to face consequences of their own. If one violation is singled out, it’s less about justice, more naked realpolitik. If the Anglican Communion must resort to that, then what’s the point of it?

      • Penelope January 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

        Nigeria and Uganda ignore Lambeth 1.10 by not being pastorally sensitive and by being homophobic.

    • Ian Paul January 15, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

      The communique has now been released, and it includes this:

      The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

      The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.

      I do hope Martyn Percy will now withdraw his unhelpful, damaging and misleading comments to the press. Is that too much to ask?

      • James Byron January 15, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

        Which comments d’you believe that Percy should withdraw?

        • Ian Paul January 15, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

          This one.

          “To say I’m really disappointed would be an understatement,” Martyn Percy, the dean of Christ Church, Oxford, told the Guardian. “The statement had nothing to say about LGBT Christians, and that’s a lost opportunity. By saying nothing, you are sending a signal.”

          http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/15/anglican-leaders-statement-on-marriage-disappoints-liberals

          I hope you will join me in asking him to withdraw this, and suggest that in future he does not presume to speak so prematurely

          • James Byron January 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

            The original statement did have nothing to say about LGBT Christians. Percy was absolutely right. The subsequent Communiqué did, but Percy could only refer to what was released.

            Yes, the statement was released early due to a leak, and was originally intended to be attached to the Communiqué, but Primates 2016 didn’t have to release it — or, if they did, could’ve chosen to add at least something about LGBT people. Instead, they left it sitting there for a day. It was, at the least, a tone-deaf way to break the news.

          • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

            Ian whereas perhaps he shouldve recognised that the meeting wasn’t yet done, I think it is a little unfair to criticise him for stating that the statement said nothing about lgbt Christians when it didn’t.

            The final version also doesn’t mention lgbt Christians because many in the communion do not believe we can be christian

          • David Shepherd January 15, 2016 at 10:18 pm #

            It’s still a bit rich to bang on about the lack of due process, while turning a blind eye towards (or even commending) TEC’s unilateral repudiation of Lambeth 1.10.

            I guess there’s still some virtue in resolute loyalty…however that’s diminished by rank bias!

    • Clive January 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

      Dear James,

      Your statement about Uganda and Nigeria is profoundly untrue. You are merely mimicing the incorrect statements made in the British media.

      You wrote:
      “Nicholas Okoh, Primate of Nigeria *, and Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of Uganda **, have both supported the criminalization of homosexuality in their countries.”

      … actually they didn’t, but why let facts get in the way of a good story.

      If you take the example of Uganda and study it properly you will find that the new law brought ijn by the government there is LESS onerous to LGBT people than the previous and you will also find that the Church in Uganda tried to make it even less severe.

      But as I said, why let facts get in the way of a good story?

      • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

        Clive, according to the guy from Anglican Mainstream these churches do support imprisonment for gay people but don’t support the death sentence (so that’s ok then!).

        I think the statement on Lgbt is unenforceable and had already been ignored within minutes of it being announced (the communion secretary general claiming that homosexuality had been brought to his country by the West as if it were a disease) however it does allow member churches to pursue limited inclusivity, whereas the leak suggested there would be none of that. Maybe now the cofe will start to take welfare of lgbt seriously like it promised to do nearly 20 years ago, but in not counting my chickens.

        • Clive January 15, 2016 at 5:29 pm #

          The claim is that Nigeria and Uganda passed laws criminalising LGB people simply because if you read the press in the West they say they did.

          I know what “facts” really are in the Western media.
          On New Year’s day in 2014 my youngest brother was made to kneel in the sand with his hands behind his back and shot through the head by an arabic gang in Libya. It was in ALL of the national press.
          News came out that he was killed along with a woman from New Zealand so the New Zealand and Australian press were involved.

          Initially BBC, ITV and newspapers reported the man shot was a teacher
          – My youngest brother wasn’t a teacher.

          The press (rather than radio and TV) reported that the man killed was an oil worker.
          – My youngest brother wasn’t an oil worker.

          One national newspaper splashed on their front page that he was an oil chief.
          – Since my youngest brother wasn’t even an oil worker he certainly wasn’t an oil chief.

          The media reported that he’d been executed on a beach near an oil refinery.
          Some media reported that he’s been executed on a beach near a chemicals factory.
          – My youngest brother was actually executed on a beach near a Roman or Carthaginian ruin used by expats for celebrating New Year.

          The media hadn’t said anything correct yet.

          My youngest brother was actually in Libya to build steam turbines for generating electricity for Tripoli.

          The reality and the truth I assume was not quite exciting enough for the press. The beach in question was used by expats to celebrate New Year during daylight hours. Libya being an unstable country expats only go out in daylight. Unfortunately whilst others left the beach my brother stayed slightly too late.

          The list, sadly, really does go on.

          Even now people talk about these statements as if they are “facts” because the media published them. I, being his brother, know that they are total and absolute fiction.

          The inquest in September was held at Shefford in Bedfordshire because the specialist post-mortem had happened in Bedford hospital where the specialist was. I didn’t count how many press came to the inquest because I didn’t want to speak to them, however I discovered how much they copy each other.
          In a final triumph the Coroner quite correctly said that my brother had been born in Sheffield (which is in Yorkshire) and the press wrote down that he had been born in Shefford (which is in Bedfordshire – nowhere near Yorkshire). I had been filmed going into the inquest and even the BBC and the ITV reported that my brother was born in Shefford …. my brother had probably never been there.

          What I have discovered from personal experience is that the media do not actually report the truth even if that is what they intended.

          I know what “facts” are and they are hardly anything that the media publishes which I have found out from very personal and direct experience.

          As I said:
          If you take the example of Uganda and study it properly you will find that the new law brought in by the government there is LESS onerous to LGBT people than the previous and you will also find that the Church in Uganda tried to make it even less severe.

          • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

            Clive that is really horrible in so sorry.

            My statement doesn’t come from the press but from Chris sugden and Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream who claim to have visited the appropriate bishops to find out from the horses mouth so to speak.

            I agree with you that they do not support the death sentence but they do support criminalisation and have made public statements to say so!

          • Clive January 15, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

            Pete

            Please study the actual facts from Uganda and not merely the views of Chris Sugden and Andrew Symes.

          • David Shepherd January 16, 2016 at 7:26 am #

            Clive,

            I know that it must be difficult to share the facts of such an atrocity committed against your brother. Thanks for your poignant candour.

            These discussions aside, the media has a lot to answer for. Hasten the Day of the Lord.

          • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 10:21 am #

            Clive and David

            You can google the official position of the church of uganda on the bill.

            If I may quote from it

            We particularly appreciate the objectives of the Bill which seek to:

            b) prohibit and penalize homosexual behaviour and related practices in Uganda as they
            constitute a threat to the traditional family;

            this seems pretty clear to me that they do indeed support the criminalisation of homosexuality. But more worrying for me is (I understadn you will have a different reading)

            d) prohibit the licensing of organizations which promote homosexuality.

            i.e. they are also opposed to groups that support LGBT people!

          • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 10:24 am #

            Oh my goodness it gets worse…

            …strengthens the existing Penal Code to protect the boy child, especially from
            homosexual exploitation.

            So they actually dont know the difference between a gay person and a paedophile.

          • Clive January 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

            Dear Pete J

            Even the quotes you have given are about PROMOTING homosexuality – They are NOT about criminalising LGBT people they are about Promoting LGBT practices to others.

          • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

            Clive

            I quoted

            “b) prohibit and penalize homosexual behaviour”

            That directly says they are in favour of criminalising homosexuality in direct opposition to Lambeth 1.10

          • Clive January 16, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

            Dear Pete J

            I’m sorry but you really do not read the documents available:

            The quote you gave is:
            “b) prohibit and penalize homosexual behaviour”

            and even the preceding quotes showed that to be entirely in the context of those who PROMOTE homosexual behaviour.

          • Pete J January 17, 2016 at 10:05 am #

            Clive

            I don’t know what to say

            Ive got the document direct from the Ugandan chruch with statements from their leaders saying that they support imprisonment for those who have gay sex.

          • Clive January 17, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

            Dear Pete J

            The original law was the death penalty as the most severe a judge could give. This has now been removed. The Church whilst accepting the state’s view campaigned to even remove imprisonment.

            So, as I have said to you all along, right from the start:
            “the new law brought in by the government there is LESS onerous to LGBT people than the previous and you will also find that the Church in Uganda tried to make it even less severe.”

          • Pete J January 17, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

            I agree that they are opposed to the death penalty, but I do not agree that they are opposed to life imprisonment. They applaud the government for this law and complained when it was struck down by their high court.

            In this response they also confuse gay people with paedophiles.

            Both confusing gay people with paedophiles and promoting criminalisation of gay people are in direct contradiction to Lambeth 1.10. They have campaigned vociferously against TEC for breaking the communions agreed teaching on gay people, yet they have broken it themselves and, in my view, much more seriously. They complain that TEC are going along with their countries culture, but so have they!

          • Clive January 23, 2016 at 9:30 am #

            Uganda and homosexuality

            Proper reseacrh involves trawling through documents with a variety of actual subjects so trying to find a synopsis for Pete J and others is not simple.

            This is a synopsis. The full reference is:
            https://www.e-n.org.uk/2016/02/world-news/sexuality-making-it-worse-in-africa/
            however this is only a synopsis for you.

            Teaching in schools

            Ugandans have discovered that UNICEF, UNESCO and liberal missionaries were teaching the affirmation of same sex relationships to children in their schools and also that teaching materials were being given out that reinforced this approval. Western funded LGBT offices have been set up in major cities throughout the country. It is widely believed that bright young people are being encouraged to join LGBT groups by being offered funding for the expensive local tertiary education which is only generally accessible to the elite.

            In response to the negative groundswell against this activity among Uganda’s children, the President commissioned a major scientific study to find out if same sex attraction is innate. The report concluded that it was not. Therefore the Government brought in the Aggravated Homosexuality Bill (AHB) which specially relates to schools and orphanages where these propagandists work as volunteers. The change in the law is that there are prison sentences where children are involved – this is the aggravated homosexuality. When the death penalty was proposed the church stepped in to stop it. Ironically the liberal campaign precipitated the AHB in Uganda which is now the target of criticism by these same agencies.

            As I said:
            If you take the example of Uganda and study it properly you will find that the new law brought in by the government there is LESS onerous to LGBT people than the previous and you will also find that the Church in Uganda tried to make it even less severe.

  2. Tim January 15, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    Actually, I would dispute #3. TEC is an autonomous province, ie they can do what they want. It takes two to take offence.

  3. Simon Butler January 15, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Needless to say, the outcome of the Primates Meeting has been a disappointment. But while I share the anger that the news today will once again underline the growing distance between the Church of England as a national church and the increasingly settled view of the nation on the place of its LGBT citizens as equal in all respects, I am neither scandalised or shocked by the outcome. The reason is because (for once at least!), I think Ian is right in his analysis in this article. Those of us who want to see the Church make some progressive steps still have a lot of hard work to do to convince our brothers and sisters of the gospel imperative of taking such steps. If anything, the decision emerging from Canterbury this week underlines that once again. I hope it will serve to redouble our efforts rather than wear us down in resigned, sullen anger. “We do not lose heart…” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

    • Ian Paul January 15, 2016 at 11:45 am #

      Simon, and there was me thinking you *always* thought my analysis was right…

      • John January 17, 2016 at 11:14 pm #

        Ian, do you have a view on divorce for reasons other than adultery? Tricia has stated several times now that adultery is the only acceptable reason for divorce according to the Bible. Chris Bishop provided a link suggesting otherwise on the thread “What does grace demand?”

        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) on different threads and you are yet to reply. I’d be grateful for a response.

        • Ian Paul January 18, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

          John, thanks for asking this question, and for you patience. I don’t agree with Tricia on this for several reasons. (It’s worth noting here that we are not so much talking about the issue of divorce as remarriage after divorce.)

          First, we need to look at the data. The key texts are of course in Matt 19 and Mark 10, with Mark appearing to offer the ‘harder’ reading. But it is clear that, in this case, Mark’s account is much more abbreviated, and Matt 19 matches Jesus’ earlier saying in Matt 5.31, which is part of his hyperbolic teaching about the exacting standard of God’s holiness. So we need to read it alongside his statements that if we call someone a fool we will burn in the fires of hell (here’s your nice ‘inclusive’ Jesus’, btw) and that looking at someone lustfully is tantamount to adultery (what does that mean for marriage and divorce?!) and we should pluck our own eyes out.

          For these and other reasons, I think David Instone-Brewer is quite right to make us read this in context. Jesus is not hear making any stand-alone pronouncements about divorce; he is stepping into an existing argument: can a man divorce a woman for any and every reason? The TNIV actually uses this phrase to reflect this understanding.

          We then need to add to that Paul’s discussion in 1 Cor 7, where he treats marriage very seriously, but he appears to be able to talk about the possibility of divorce without putting it in the absolutist framework which many have derived from the gospels. I don’t doubt that Paul was familiar with Jesus’ teaching here; he appears to have interpreted it differently from the tradition Tricia represents.

          I have also always thought that interpreting ‘one flesh’ in terms of indissolubility of marriage a mistake. Nowhere in the Bible suggests that a husband and wife assume some sort of ontological identity through marriage.

          The pastoral question for me, then, is what should we do when there is a breakdown of marriage. I don’t think I agree with recent changes in the law in the UK which make no-fault divorce easier. I understand its reason (to avoid unnecessary pain and conflict) but at the same time it appears to take us back nearer the ‘any and every’ reasoning which Jesus rejected, though in a context of a different male/female balance of power.

          But if a marriage has ended, then it has ended. To repent of this and return to holy living does *not* mean returning to the first partner. For one thing, what on earth would this mean for someone who had slept around with multiple partners without marrying any of them? Going back and marrying the first? That would be nonsense. No, pastorally this must mean returning to a state of being married faithfully to one partner, which is why I think remarriage of divorce not only possible, but in certain circumstances desirable.

          The parallels here with SSM are not straightforward. Sicne I don’t think that same-sex unions are a ‘holy pattern of life, honouring to God which all should respect’, then in this case repentance means a change in the pattern of living, which is not the case in remarriage of divorcees.

          Sorry this is a bit rambling; you can perhaps see why I haven’t responded earlier.

          • James Byron January 18, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

            Ian, if the Bible didn’t condemn homosexuality, would you still believe that it’s wrong? If so, on what basis: what’s the substantive ethical argument against it?

            You’ve previously mentioned the anatomical harm caused by anal sex, but this doesn’t apply to many gay relationships, applies to quite a few straight relationships, and of course, applies to very few lesbian relationships. So that particular act is separable from sexual orientation.

            Is there anything else?

          • Ian Paul January 20, 2016 at 11:12 am #

            I think that is an interesting question James, and for me there are two aspects to this question.

            First, let’s consider a close parallel: if the Bible didn’t teach it, would I think that faithful, exclusive marriage was an ethical norm? I think it would be relatively hard to argue this purely from a utilitarian or consequentialist ethical position, though there is some support from these perspectives. Children are seriously harmed when marriages break down. Women are offered important protections. Lifelong commitment is the most obvious solution to the issue of endemic loneliness in old age that we are facing as a society. From a virtue ethics point of view, then there is probably a stronger case. However, all these arguments depend on taking a corporate, not an individualist perspective, and our culture is not inclined to do this—indeed, I think our culture can hardly understand the language of corporate or societal ethics. So, without some revelation of God’s perspective on how human beings best flourish, I think I’d be hard-pressed to find a convincing ethic for marriage.

            I think there is something similar going on in relation to same-sex sexual unions. There is good research which points to SSA as being significantly context-dependent, and I think it is clear that something has gone awry in terms of psycho-sexual development. I don’t think that the incidence of mental health issues can be entirely attributed to social attitudes. You mention medical issues attendant to certain forms of sexual intimacy, and these should not be discounted. A wider theology or even ethic of the body suggests that certain body parts have been developed for certain purposes. Child-bearing is an important social function of sex; all the signs are that, in the long term, Western culture will ultimately disappear because we are not having enough children. And there is a widespread, cross-cultural, instinctive distaste for same-sex sexual activity which has led many cultures either to prohibit it or put very specific boundaries around it.

            In the light of these things, then I think it might be possible to construct a non-revelatory ethic prohibiting same-sex sexual unions. But for me, in the end it comes down to whether I think the God’s vision of human flourishing set out in Scripture is true or not.

            In both cases, the non-religious arguments for male-female marriage provide evidence that the religious ethic is plausible, but they themselves are not the reasons for adopting it.

            Two codicils. First, you will notice I have used the language of ‘union’. This itself is rooted in Scripture; despite the wide range of psychological and medical evidence of the effect of sexual intimacy on the body and mind, no secular perspective would talk in terms of intercourse effecting ‘union’. But that is the Christian conviction.

            Second, I am quite open to persuasion of Robert Song’s case for covenant same-sex relationships—except for the point where he makes the unexpected turn to make these sexual. We need to think hard about why it appears that profound friendships must be sexual, when earlier generations did not think so.

          • James Byron January 21, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

            Thank you for taking the time to produce such a thorough and nuanced reply, Ian. 🙂

            Since this post’s several days old, and already running over 100 replies, I won’t respond in detail here, but it does a lot to explain both your POV and the wider evangelical position, and learning from other people’s perspectives is why I visit and comment here.

            Interestingly, in other contexts, I share your concern about individualist ethics failing to take account of corporate responsibilities, and I’m sure the ethical issues involved can be picked up in later posts.

            Once again, thanks, it’s much appreciated.

          • John January 22, 2016 at 11:07 pm #

            Thanks Ian for your reply and for letting me know. It’s much appreciated. I’m glad that you think there are circumstances when divorce / remarriage are ok other than following adultery, rather than taking an absolutist position. Thank you for explaining the bigger Biblical picture.

            Forgive me if this is ignorant, but where specifically in the Bible are you drawing the “holy pattern of living” from? I think you have used a similar phrase before, namely “God’s plan for holy living”. Of course, I have a general idea of what you might mean, but are you referring to a specific statement in the Bible?

    • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

      There’s a nice video comment by Archbishop Michael brown who thinks Tecs calling from God might be to bring the whole communion into being a house of prayer for *all* people.

      Far be it for me to be skeptical about their chances…

  4. Greg Moss January 15, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    I don’t usually find myself agreeing with you James, but on whether supporting criminalisation can be reconciled with the command to love one another, and our enemies, let alone any specific Anglican statements, I do and I think it would have been helpful if someone said that. I do also spend a fair amount of time in certain African Anglican dioceses, though, and talk to bishops there and I think the ‘African Primates’ are victims of severe media filtering and stereotyping too. Those to whom I speak recognise the reality of questions of homosexual behaviour and are genuinely searching for answers in a very different cultural setting with a very different lay (and indeed clerical) theological context; but the call to mission dictates that for them the basic needs of thousands of people (food, education, shelter, healthcare) are priorities, whereas we have the luxury of being able to take those for granted.

    • Ian Paul January 15, 2016 at 11:45 am #

      Thanks Greg–that’s a really helpful perspective.

    • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

      And of course Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya are not the only countries in Africa. Some African bishops are very supportive of gay rights.

  5. Drew_Mac January 15, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

    I found this a helpful and surprisingly positive analysis of the Primates position. I note that they reaffirm “marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union” which everyone (even supporters of same-sex marriage) agree with, even where it can’t be managed (as with ‘lifelong’). So perhaps there is hope of at least an offering of tolerance of same-sex marriage for people for whom heterosexual marriage isn’t practically or morally appropriate.

    • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

      I can affirm that but I think it is heavily implied that anything else is unacceptable.

  6. Tricia January 15, 2016 at 2:57 pm #

    Alleluia! A biblical stance by the Worldwide Anglican Communion. This is so necessary given the avalanche of re-definition of gender and the subsequent confusion and danger to our children. We must stand firm and be a place of safety for all those hurting within the confusion of western morals.

    • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

      Tricia the bible tells us not to believe old wives tales. Your children are safe.

      • Tricia January 15, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

        No it does not tell us to believe in old wives tales – it teaches us to believe in scripture and warns us of those preaching a false gospel.

        • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

          I think youve missed a “not” when reading my statement.

          Gay people and transgender people are not a danger to children. That is paedophilies. Being welcoming to gay people and transgender people will not “confuse” children other than to teach them to treat people who are not like them well. If gender or sexuality could be learned from the people around you then no one my age would be anything other than straight and cis-gendered.

          Comments suggesting that children are not safe around LGBT people are not only deeply hurtful to people like me (and untrue), they also can cause families/churches/friends to reject people like me which I am sure you dont want.

          1 Tim 4.7

          • Tricia January 15, 2016 at 8:05 pm #

            Pete J
            I was not referring to dangerous people – I was referring to confusing and dangerous ideology that children are not equipped to deal with.

          • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 11:33 pm #

            Gay people are not an ideology

          • David Shepherd January 16, 2016 at 7:17 am #

            Pete J ,

            Tricia’s right. Just look at the ideology that influenced the replacement of ‘the need for a father’ as a selection criterion in HFEA 2008 with ‘the need for supportive parenting’.

            This measure, which implies that male parenthood is dispensable in respect of a donor-conceived child’s well-being) was aimed at rendering the Act gender-neutral.

            As a by-product of this amendment, the Act now also facilitates single parenthood of donor-conceived children.

            This amendment had nothing to do with the needs of children and everything to do with placating influential LGBT pressure groups at the kids’ expense.

          • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 8:54 am #

            David

            As I have stated before, I think you are just plain wrong that this piece of legislation is somehow the fault or caused by gay people. If you can give me a practical example (specifically or not specifically relating to gay people) where children are being harmed then I could maybe understand where you are coming from. I suggested surrogacy before, but you said that you weren’t talking about that? Im sorry I just don’t see how your anger at a law passed (by predominately white straight men) is justifiably pointed at LGBT people – a great many of whom would’ve been children themselves when that law was passed.

            Gay people are not a danger to children. Being around gay people will not harm children. The primates have just called on the whole communion to repent from these sorts of views.

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

            Pete j,

            Your counter-argument is flimsy.

            No-one here is suggesting that we shouldn’t oppose the reality of homophobia and its effect.

            We have challenged:

            1. the HFEA amendment specifically eliminating the ‘need for a father’ for all future donor-conceived children

            2. The automatic right through marriage for same-sex couples to be considered the sole parents of any child which is biologically related to either spouse by any means.

            In response to this, you stated:

            I also disagree that children have a “right” to be brought up by their biological parents. Many children do not have one or both biological parents still alive and many children have one or both biological parents that are not safe. Determining who is and who is not safe is a really hard thing to do.

            Your comment addresses the default of biological parents after the child is born, whereas the presumption in my point 2 is concluded as a legal right in favour of the same-sex couple before the child is even born.

            The default of some biological parents after the child is born should not diminish the rights of willing and responsible biological parents.

            You’ve just decided that the rights of responsible biological parents are expendable in comparison to advancing the family aspirations of same-sex couples.

            Presumably because you believe that our terribly homophobic society owes them a family life.

            That’s not Christian!

        • David Shepherd January 16, 2016 at 9:40 am #

          Pete J,

          Given that Hansard records exactly why this ‘need for a father’ was supplanted, the onus is on you to prove that:
          1. The specific need of donor-conceived children for a father is harmless and inconsequential to their well-being (when studies and their own testimonies suggest otherwise).

          2. Hansard does not record LGBT concerns as the primary reason for the amendment.

          • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 10:25 am #

            So this is or is not about surrogacy?

          • David Shepherd January 16, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

            Pete J,

            IVF has been available since 1976. This is about amending the law affecting both IVF and surrogacy.

            In respect of HFEA 2008, I’m specifically saying that the removal of ‘the need for a father’ for future donor-conceived children was a political decision motivated by LGBT ideology and aimed at facilitating same-sex couples’ family intentions through licensed IVF and surrogacy.

            The actual need of future donor-conceived children for paternal care was treated as secondary and dispensable. Any ideology that undermines the needs of children in order to facilitate the ambitions of adults is dangerous.

          • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 8:44 pm #

            So you are opposed to IVF and surrogacy for same sex couples?

            I doubt the majority of gay people have thought about whether they are even in favour of that or not. It certainly isn’t fair to blame us all for what ultimately is an act of parliament.

            Presumably you are also opposed to straight IVF and surrogacy?

          • David Shepherd January 16, 2016 at 11:58 pm #

            Pete J,

            I’m against changing the law to accommodate a special pleading for same-sex couples. Infertile straight couples didn’t seek to eliminate ‘the need for a father’.

            So, are you in agreement with the amendment that implies that future donor-conceived children have no specific need for a father in their lives?

          • Pete J January 17, 2016 at 10:06 am #

            David

            I have no idea!

            Im not really into condemning the domestic lives of others.

          • Pete J January 17, 2016 at 10:07 am #

            I don’t see why this law means that gay people are a danger to children. Surely at most it means this law may be harming children?

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

            Pete J,

            It’s a simple question that shows where you stand:

            Are you in favour of the HFEA 2008 amendment that specifically addressed same-sex couples access to IVF. and surrogacy by eliminating the specific need of future donor-conceived children for a father?

          • Tricia January 17, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

            Thank you for your fight for children and their right to know heir heritage. Your knowledge is invaluable. As you know the UN rights of the child are being breached by western governments in their push for equal rights for adults. More people need to understand that the redefinition of marriage has detrimental impact on children and their right to a mother and a father. I understand that Mexico has now banned surrogacy because of westerners paying poor Mexican women and trading children by being gestational carriers. There has been a push back recently in the UN and support for the family is growing. The church needs to stand firm in marriage and the child’s need for a mother and father and a genealogical heritage. We need to be there for the children damaged by this new ideology .

          • Tricia January 17, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

            David
            I have addressed a post to thank you and not put your name on it, please see above I hope.

          • Pete J January 17, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

            Tricia

            With respect I think you are confusing gay rights with surrogacy. Gay people are not necessarily in favour of surrogacy and many straight people enagege in this practise. It is also illegal in many Western domains.

            I hope you will not think me rude for suggesting that you are bundling gay rights up with a load of other societal changes and laws and deciding that they are all the same thing and all bad. I think a danger with this is that you can end up hurting the very people who need most help e.g. in the US there was an outcry from many Christian groups against Doritos for supporting a “gay rights” organisation. That organisation is an anti gay teen suicide charity. So the Christains were trying to have help taken away from vulnerable teenagers because they could not distinguish between gay marriage and gay teenagers.

            I also disagree that children have a “right” to be brought up by their biological parents. Many children do not have one or both biological parents still alive and many children have one or both biological parents that are not safe. Determining who is and who is not safe is a really hard thing to do.

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

            Tricia,

            Thanks for your kind words.

            Hopefully, everyone here can now see the ‘end-game’ that is a stated objective of gay advocacy groups, like the ILGA,

            Marriage is being re-defined as the trump card that defeats the co-opted biological father, while ‘the need for a father’ of all future donor-conceived children has been eliminated in order to favour lesbian couples’ access to state-funded IVF and surrogacy.

            Christians need to expose evil for what it is.

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

            Pete J,

            Your comments about the rights of biological parents who default after the child is born is no basis for automatically diminishing the rights of willing and responsible biological parents in advance of their children being born.

            Anyhow, now you’ve shown your true colours: we now know that you consider the rights of biological parents to be secondary to the family aspirations of same-sex married couples who co-opt them!

          • Pete J January 18, 2016 at 7:03 am #

            David
            You’ve continually told me that I’m in favour of IVF and surrogacy whereas I have continually said that I am not sure about it. I know it must be confusing for you, but not all gay people think the same or campaign for the same thing.

            My principal concern is that gay people should be treated as well, and have the same status as, straight people in the church – and the ABC sort of agrees with that(!)

            I do not understand why you think legal removal of biological parents as “parent” is the fault of all gay people – surely this occurs in straight couple cases also.

            I do not understand why you think it is “OK” to spread the message that gay people, or acceptance of gay people, are dangerous to children. I hope you can see that this is directly contradicting the communique sent by the primates?

  7. Andy Park January 15, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

    If the spin and gloss are stripped away, this meeting has agreed that a province can not unilaterally drastically modify doctrine. Nothing more, nothing less. That is why the Canadians have not been sanctioned – they have not taken the step of modifying the marriage doctrine.

    • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

      …yet

      • Drew_Mac January 15, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

        I still fail to see how the traditional doctrine is modified. Trad marriage, between a man and a woman, may remain what it has always been. Expanding the definition doesn’t have to be seen as changing or devaluing the original, in fact I’d say it might even enhance it.

        Jesus, Biblical writers, and theologians didn’t even ask the question whether marriage could be extended to loving, faithful, same-sex couples intending a life long relationship because they assumed that their intimacy was a sinful perversion rather than something natural, normal and innate.

        Now we know different we need to deal with it.

        • Clive January 15, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

          You are NOT simply expanding marriage. You are actually reducing marriage to 2 people simply love each other. This is NOT what marriage is. If two people simply love each other then when they don’t love each other any more one of them divorces the other and goes off and finds someone else. In reality children are the real victims of divorce, not solely adults.

          The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference and it is horrifying to see the indifference exhibited towards children. Truly horrifying.

          You are not expanding marriage but destroying it.

          • Pete J January 15, 2016 at 11:36 pm #

            Clive

            I think though for an awful lot of Christians – whether they agree with same sex marriage or not – marriage *is* primarily about two people who love each other.

            As I have said before it is staggering to me that the cofe has a theology that is more accepting of remarriage than it is of gay people (married, single or celibate!)

          • Drew_Mac January 16, 2016 at 1:20 am #

            I stand with the Anglican reasons for marriage, though I think the BCP understandably put them in reverse order, that it is for: companionship, the “mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other”, sexual intimacy and procreation. Not all couples can literally manage all three, whether heterosexual or GBLT, but it is companionship that sustains a marriage through the years and all couples can aspire to that.

            BTW ‘procreation’ is about giving and nurturing life – and all couples can aim at that.

          • Drew_Mac January 16, 2016 at 1:24 am #

            BTW, love isn’t just a feeling to fall into or out of. Love is a commitment – which is why the Marriage Service (BCP or CW) requires the answer ‘I Will’ not the answer ‘I do’.

          • David Shepherd January 16, 2016 at 8:59 am #

            Drew_Mac,

            Marriage creates a shared and inheritable family identity in readiness for parenthood. According to the GayIVF.com survey, a majority of same-sex couples prefer artificial procreation (e.g. donor conception and surrogacy) to adoption.

            It’s a false dichotomy to distinguish LGBT from straight couples by the ability of the latter to procreate, since many LGBT couples seek to procreate artificially.

            The question is whether marriage should be given to same-sex couples, when it confers them with automatic and conclusive parental rights over of any child they intend to conceive by any form of artificial procreation (including informally approaching a known acquaintance to be biological progenitor).

            In the US, Netherlands, Canada and Australia, same-sex marriage confers supreme parental rights to the exclusion of any biological parent co-opted by any means. This is in order to prevent the latter from ever disestablishing the parenthood of same-sex married couples.

            Is that really a just re-purposing of the right to marry?

          • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 9:27 am #

            David

            These laws were in place long before gay people were able to marry.

            Many gay couples have children already (by this I mean one of the couple is the biological father or mother), many gay couples don’t want children, many gay couples will adopt.

            Whatever this thing is that you’re opposed to doesn’t seem to me to be a reason to ban gay people from getting married. It also seems to me to be also an activity that straight couples do too?

          • David Shepherd January 16, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

            Pete J,

            You stated: ‘Many gay couples have children already’.

            What you’ve omitted is how the children’s parentage used to be assigned.

            Unless the biological parent had either died, defaulted or surrendered parentage, both gay and straight couples sought parental responsibility via a court order.

            Absent ‘the need for a father’ and marriage bestows an automatic legal presumption that the spouse is the rightful parent of the child born by any means, thereby overriding the previous need for a court order.

            Now why are organisation like the International Lesbian and Gay Association clamouring for the automatic joint parenthood of same-sex couples through marriage, if it’s been granted already?

          • David Shepherd January 16, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

            Pete J,

            You stated: ‘Many gay couples have children already’.

            What you’ve omitted is how the children’s parentage used to be assigned.

            Unless the biological parent had either died, defaulted or surrendered parentage, both gay and straight couples sought parental responsibility via a court order.

            Absent ‘the need for a father’ and by marriage bestowing an automatic legal presumption that the spouse is the rightful co-parent of the other’s child born by any means, the rights of the co-opted biological parent are overridden without any need for a court order.

            There was no political drive for this when infertile straight couples sought IVF.

            So, explain why LGBT organisations like the International Lesbian and Gay Association clamouring for the automatic joint parenthood of same-sex couples through marriage?

          • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

            David

            Im not aware of any biological parents who have had their legal parenthood taken away because the other parent of their child has married someone of the same sex. This sounds to me to be bizarre and untrue.

            Is this what you are meaning?

            If you are meaning that you are opposed to surrogacy then Im not sure where I stand on surrogacy. I can see it is good in some situations and bad in others. Are you opposed only to surrogacy for gay couples or for straight couples too?

            Im sorry if I sound “difficult” but I am genuinely struggling to understand what it is you keep complaining about and why you think it is the fault of people like me. If you could give one real world example or scenario that would be really really helpful because I fear you are going to get annoyed at me mentioning surrogacy again.

            I have a friend whose dad walked out on them when her and her sister were young. They’ve barely been in contact since. He didn’t show up for her wedding and her Mums husband took his role (he had been more of a parent to my friend than her biological dad was).

            I only know two gay people who have children and in both cases they are the biological parent and the kids are from a failed mixed orientation marriage. I know plenty of married gay people, single gay people and a few celibate gay people. So are you blaming all of us for this piece of legislation you don’t like?

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 12:08 am #

            Pete J,

            The following UK cases demonstrate the legal onus placed on the biological father to litigate for parental responsibility. These arrangements have become normative for same-sex couples who involve a known acquaintance who also wants to have a child. This is not the norm for infertile straight couples. These are not adoption cases,

            Re D (lesbian mothers and known father) 2006

            The known biological father was co-opted by a lesbian couple. The court ruled that that the nuclear family unit (of the two lesbian mothers) should be protected from what it considered to be the father’s intrusion (participation in his child’s life). While his identity was acknowledged, his parental responsibility was restricted.

            Re B (role of biological father) 2007

            The biological father was the non-birth mother’s brother, and he applied to court seeking a more significant role. He was denied parental responsibility, but given ‘identity contact’ with the child four times per year.

            R v E AND F (Female parents: known father)
            [2010] EWHC 417 (Fam)

            Lesbian couple granted joint residence order. Biological father denied parental responsibility and shared residence. Only granted maximum of 50 days of contact per year.

            Court of Appeal Case of A v B and C (2012)

            After three year court battle, biological father eventually won appeal against ruling that contact with his child should be limited to a five or six-hour visit once a fortnight in lesbian couple’s home.

            If want to see the future, compare the following US case that demonstrates the ultimate parental impact of gender-neutral marriage:

            <a href = "https://verdict.justia.com/2013/10/15/california-allows-children-two-legal-parents"In re: M.C.

            A child in California can now have three parents: a direct consequence of granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 12:12 am #

            Pete J,

            The following UK cases demonstrate the legal onus placed on the biological father to litigate for parental responsibility. These arrangements have become normative for same-sex couples who involve a known acquaintance who also wants to have a child. This is not the norm for infertile straight couples. These are not adoption cases,

            Re D (lesbian mothers and known father) 2006

            The known biological father was co-opted by a lesbian couple. The court ruled that that the nuclear family unit (of the two lesbian mothers) should be protected from what it considered to be the father’s intrusion (participation in his child’s life). While his identity was acknowledged, his parental responsibility was restricted.

            Re B (role of biological father) 2007

            The biological father was the non-birth mother’s brother, and he applied to court seeking a more significant role. He was denied parental responsibility, but given ‘identity contact’ with the child four times per year.

            R v E AND F (Female parents: known father)
            [2010] EWHC 417 (Fam)

            Lesbian couple granted joint residence order. Biological father denied parental responsibility and shared residence. Only granted maximum of 50 days of contact per year.

            Court of Appeal Case of A v B and C (2012)

            After three year court battle, biological father eventually won appeal against ruling that contact with his child should be limited to a five or six-hour visit once a fortnight in lesbian couple’s home.

            If want to see the future, compare the following US case that demonstrates the ultimate parental impact of gender-neutral marriage:

            In re: M.C.

            A child in California can now have three parents: a direct consequence of granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

          • Pete J January 17, 2016 at 10:12 am #

            As Ive said im not sure that I agree with surrogacy anyway. There are also presumably similar cases for straight surrogacy cases…yet you choose to make this an issue to hit all gay Peolle over the head with!

            In all those cases the biological father was given some access rights. We do not know if there were other issues impacting these rights. We can pretty much assume (?) that the biological father had agreed in advance for him not to be considered a father. This is as old as the hills. I saw a film about a girl who wanted to find her sperm donor father when I was eleven!!

            None of this is the fault of gay people and nor does it make gay people or even gay marriage a danger to children!!

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

            Pete J,

            You don’t actually know the role agreed in each case by the biological father. You’ve just made an assumption in favour of your argument.

            Of course, there have been both gay and straight IVF custody battles. The difference (which isn’t as old as the hills) is that prior to the introduction of same-sex marriage, the legal presumption through marriage that a husband is the rightful father of his wife’s children could be rebutted by the biological father. Infertile straight couples accepted this regime.

            What isn’t ‘as old as the hills’ is that, specifically with the introduction of same-sex marriage, same-sex couples have been granted the marital presumption of parenthood, but with one significant change.

            In order to legitimise LGBT families, the parental presumption was changed to be unrebuttable and conclusive. As shown in the California case, the co-opted biological father has no legal standing to disestablish the parenthood of the non-biological same-sex spouse.

            That is why I contrasted the former UK cases with what happens once same-sex couples are granted full marriage rights. Any legal amendment that unfairly and comprehensively excludes biological fathers and eliminates the need of future donor-conceived children for a father is reprehensible.

            It is the unfair legal presumption that I’m targeting. The presumption of paternity was gender-neutralised and changed to conclusive in order to protect the family intentions of same-sex couples.

            No amount of pretence (‘I don’t see you challenging straight couples about this legal change’) can alter the truth of why the marriage law was amended in this way. So don’t waste your time or mine trying.

            Tmarriage

            You stated: In all those cases the biological father was given some access rights

          • Pete J January 17, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

            You are right I did make an assumption, but it seems fairly obvious to me that if a man has donated sperm to a lesbian couple that it is likely they wouldn’t want him to be the father. Im sure we are agreed that if these situations are to go ahead then it is for the good of everyone to agree on this sort of thing beforehand.

            Are you saying that *only* when it is a lesbian couple the biological father has no “claim” to the child? I have to say in none of the cases you cited has the biological father been denied contact!

            I think this boils down to a number of separate questions…

            We are agreed that for a whole host of reasons a child may end up being parented by someone who is not his or her biological parent. There is a question about whether it is ever moral to deliberately create a child into this situation. I do not know and I don’t want to come down on either side – although you keep telling me I’m in favour! – because I have no experience of this situation. I would think LGB people in general would be split on this. I think you’d agree it isn’t therefore fair to blame LGB people because the law allows this to happen, nor to claim we are a danger to children because of this.

            2. Whether LGB people can or cannot provide as good a home for a child as straight people. I expect we are disagreed on this. (I would say “can”.)

            3. Whether you think marriage is principally about creating children or not. Again I suspect we are disagreed on this. If I get married I very much doubt that I will seek to have a child with my husband so I don’t see how you could claim that either me personally or my marriage would be dangerous to a child.

            4. If a parent (and I think here it makes some difference if this parent is male or female) is the biological parent of a child who has been deliberately created to be brought up by a non-biological parent has more claim to the child than the non-biological parent. I think we are agreed that children should not be treated as property and that this heavily relies on your answer to no. 1. If you are against 1 then this question is non-existent. If you are not opposed to 1 then I think you *have* to be in favour of this. Again I have no experience of this. I can think of good scenarios and bad scenarios. You say that the law was changed on this to benefit only gay people. I hope you can see that it benefits straight and gay people equally. I hope you can also see that it doesn’t mean that the law change is the fault of all gay people nor that gay people are a danger to children because of this law.

            On a slightly different tack I would like you to consider the psychological impact of being told you are a danger to children by Christian leaders. Imagine also the impact on family relationships if others in your family do not want you to have contact with their children because of this.

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

            Pete J,

            Your argument is all over the place. The earlier cases simply demonstrate that this matter is not a theoretical issue.

            You should address the key law change by which the legal presumption which, through marriage, grants one spouse automatic parenthood of any child born to the other was made both gender-neutral and invincible, thereby ensuring that same-sex couples would always trump the parenthood of any co-opted biological father.

            Are you for or against introducing an invincible gender-neutral presumption of parenthood as a right of marriage (as in the US, Canada, Netherlands and Australia) to support the family intentions of same-sex couples?

          • Pete J January 18, 2016 at 7:07 am #

            David

            For me the issue is not changing the law about presumptive parents, but about whether such an activity should be legal in the first place. I can see good things and bad things about this. Ive said this several times now. Im not willing to have a strong view because I have no experience of this. I really wish you could understand that this is in no way the fault of all gay people and obviously applies equally to both gay and straight couples.

          • David Shepherd January 18, 2016 at 8:34 am #

            Pete J,

            You stated: For me the issue is not about changing the law about presumptive parents, but.about whether such an activity should be legal in the first place.

            Oh, so now you’re questioning whether even straight married couples should be presumed parents of children born into their marriage. And here was I thinking that the drive for marriage equality had no impact on my straight marriage. Well, well, well!

            Also, what’s your alternative to the time immemorial presumption of paternity? Subjecting every married couple to a DNA test for every child, which intrudes upon their right to privacy? You really should think this through!

            I’m not assuming what every same-sex couple might intend because I’d agree that would be homophobic. Instead, I have demonstrated the effect on biological fathers’ rights of granting LGBT couples presumptive parenthood as part of so-called full marriage equality (as in the US) in furtherance of their family aspirations.

            I have also shown that national and international LGBT groups have campaigned for this misappropriation of presumptive parenthood through marriage for same-sex couples, which pre-empts any legal consideration of the child’s ‘need for a father’. It would be easy for you to distance yourself from their objectives.

            In highlighting this injustice, I am not assuming that, to a man or woman, every LGBT person intends this. I am saying that presumptive parenthood is part and parcel of full marriage equality. If you support this so-called full LGBT marriage equality, it impinges on the rights of biological parenthood by preventing any natural father from ever disestablishing the family intentions of the same-sex married couple who co-opted him by any means to have children.

            In contrast, there are comparatively far less straight couples who need to engage another person in having a family. When they do, they haven’t lobbied politicians to change the law of marriage to make presumptive parenthood trump biological parenthood.

            I hope to leave off our exchange here, but as I’ve said before: marriage is not just about two people who love each other.

          • Pete J January 18, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

            David

            Sorry you are (deliberately?) misunderstanding what I am saying. I’ll be brief because when Ive been detailed you’ve read the opposite of what I meant. Broadly Im not in favour of the sort of situations you describe. I disagree that it is necessarily part of marriage equality. We have marriage equality in the UK; we don’t (as far as I’m aware) have presumptive parenthood.

            Im still struggling to understand why you are blaming gay people for this legal change that you don’t like when clearly it impacts gay and straight couples equally.

          • David Shepherd January 18, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

            Pete J,

            The European Court of Human Rights declared marriage to be ‘geared towards the fundamental possibility of parenthood’. Presumptive parenthood has always been a part of marriage.

            The International Lesbian and Gay Association continues to campaign for this:

            In its proposals for amending the European Convention on Family Status, Europe’s largest LGBT advocacy organization wrote:

            :http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/family/ILGA-Europe%20Response%20to%20Professor%20Nigel%20Lowe's%20Report%20FINAL%20VERSION.pdf

            Part II Parental Affiliation

            Article 10 The establishment of parental affiliation
            The law shall always provide for the possibility to establish parental affiliation by presumption, recognition or judicial decision.

            Article 11 Birth mother
            The birth mother shall be considered as a parent regardless of genetic connection and marital or registered partnership status.

            Article 12 Spouses and registered partners
            A person who is the spouse or registered partner of a child’s parent at the time of that child’s birth shall also be considered as a parent, regardless of genetic connection.

            You’ve stated: ‘I do not understand why you think it is “OK” to spread the message that gay people, or acceptance of gay people, are dangerous to children.

            I really don’t have any truck with your less than subtle insinuation of homophobia. And I’ll bet that no-one here really buys it.

            I am spreading the message against the removal of HFEA’s legal requirement of the need of a father for future donor-conceived children, an amendment solely devised to ensure the access of lesbian couples to licensed IVF and surrogacy.

            I am also spreading the message that the church should never affirm the re-purposing of the marriage institution for same-sex couples, when granting this fully has been shown to completely undermine the rights of co-opted biological parents.

        • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 9:37 am #

          Given that Welby has now not only stated that the CofE won’t be changing its teaching on marriage and that in fact the whole communion won’t be, perhaps the church will stop debating this dead issue and instead discuss the welfare of gay people who are in or come into contact with its churches?

          It seems to me that particularly those opposed to gay rights prefer to only talk about gay marriage as it is a lot easy to argue their case for. The Church of England has no authority to stop gay people from marrying (unless they are getting married to a priest), but it does have the ability to “repent of its homophobia” as Welby would put it. That means for a start learning and understanding what hurt has been, or is being caused, educating where there is ignorance and making policy changes to ensure the hurt is minimised.

          The church of England’s stated position should actually mean that it’s churches are very inclusive of LGBT people, however in my view many of them fall woefully short.

          Ian shared a piece about a new HTB plant and the vicar was interviewed and he was ashamed to even talk about gay issues. If we can’t talk about it then we can’t fix it.

          • Drew_Mac January 16, 2016 at 11:48 am #

            David, I agree that “it’s a false dichotomy to distinguish LGBT from straight couples by the ability of the latter to procreate.” My point above is that all couples, whatever their sexuality, can aim at all the Anglican reasons for marriage whether they have children of their own or not. Many heterosexual couples have no children and many GBLT couples do.

            All couples may ‘give and nurture life’ whether they are biological parents or not. Every couple works out for themselves exactly what marriage means specifically to them at any partiular point in their lives – so again I really see no substantial change to the doctrine of marriage other than the recognition that same-sex couples may marry.

            Given that marriage is a so-called creation ordinance as well as a social contruct we can’t go on rejecting the now legal and socially acceptable marriages of same-sex couples. They are married and we have to deal with it – hopefully with graciousness and joy.

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 7:31 am #

            Drew_Mac,

            You stated ‘we can’t go on rejecting the now legal and socially acceptable marriages of same-sex couples.’

            In fact, we can and should reject such marriage when the self-same institution which publicly bonded together prospective natural parents in order to facilitate the care of their child by its natural parents has been re-purposed to re-assign parenthood automatically to same-sex couples and undermine the rights of children to know and be nurtured by both of their known biological parents.

            We can and should repeal amendments to IVF laws which now relegate ‘the need for a father’ as inconsequential to the lives of future donor-conceived children in order to ensure that lesbian couples gain access to state-funded IVF treatment

            This is what same-sex marriage has legitimised.

            The case law which I cited above dispels the notion that marriage is just about two people who love each other is just not true.

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 7:31 am #

            Drew_Mac,

            You stated ‘we can’t go on rejecting the now legal and socially acceptable marriages of same-sex couples.’

            In fact, we can and should reject such marriage when the self-same institution which publicly bonded together prospective natural parents in order to facilitate the care of their child by its natural parents has been re-purposed to re-assign parenthood automatically to same-sex couples and undermine the rights of children to know and be nurtured by both of their known biological parents.

            We can and should repeal amendments to IVF laws which now relegate ‘the need for a father’ as inconsequential to the lives of future donor-conceived children in order to ensure that lesbian couples gain access to state-funded IVF treatment

            This is what the drive towards same-sex marriage has legitimised.

            The case law which I cited above dispels the notion that marriage is just about two people who love each other is just not true.

  8. Chris January 15, 2016 at 6:16 pm #

    Thank you Ian for this reasoned and thoughtful analysis. The ‘truth’ is often a complex and multi-faceted entity and its good to see it treated that way. This is in contrast to the process of seeing it compressed into a very two dimensional and simplistic narrative for the benefit of parts of the mass media:

    https://thereluctantsamizdatwordpresscom.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/what-is-truth/

  9. The Rev. Canon Ian Elliott Davies January 15, 2016 at 6:19 pm #

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Living and working in Los Angeles it can feel considerably more than 5,400 miles from Lambeth on occasions such as these!
    My friend and colleague in this diocese Fr Lester MacKenzie has made the keen observation, “the Centre of the Church is neither Rome nor Canterbury; it is [in] the heart of Heaven. One Church as there is only one Christ.”
    Getting on with the job of loving people and ministering among them is our priority, let’s do that with more diligence and focus on Christ.

  10. Don Benson January 15, 2016 at 8:38 pm #

    I note that Justin Welby has said (regarding TEC): “The issue for the meeting was much more that they went ahead with a change to a basic understanding of doctrine ahead of the rest of the Communion.” Perhaps he mispoke or he may have been diplomatic but, taken at face value, he is assuming that a change in doctrine is only a matter of timing rather than truth. Perhaps he hopes we may be able to kick this can down the road for many years to come!

    On the matter of ‘rebuilding relationships of trust first; tackling the issue of disagreement second’ I’m not sure whether this is the right order. Jesus’ prayer for the disciples and extended to all Christians was that they all be one and this was contingent on the fact of them having received his words which were the truth (John 17.14-23). However you look at it, we keep coming back to this fundamental issue of what the Bible says, what is its authority and what it means for us today.

    But 3 cheers for the Primates and their gracious dealings with each other. For the Anglican Communion that was a miracle; for us in the CofE it is a lesson in prayer, patience and humility.

  11. Dick from Africa January 15, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

    I have read the article and all the responses with great interest. I can understand the African context where the purpose of marriage is still the imperative to secure the future of the family by begetting children. I can understand the Western context also where children have quite a different value, and marriage sometimes a different purpose. But even in the West, traditional marriage is recognizably similar to African marriage.
    I recognize that LGBT people should have a place in the church alongside all other sinners, including those many sinners in traditional marriages.
    But the gate is narrow for all of us. We all need grace.

    So I am glad that the Archbishop has avoided schism because he has to face other, perhaps more critical issues.

  12. Nigel Feilden January 15, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

    ” Without each other we are deeply weakened, because we have a mission that is only sustainable when we conform to the image of Christ, which is first to love one another.”

    The first and great commandment is to love God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength. The second – which is bound up with the first, and not separable – is to love my neighbour as myself.

    And he or she who loves Me (Jesus), obeys my commandments … and will also delight in the fear of YHWH.

  13. Rev. David Antezana Alurralde January 16, 2016 at 1:43 am #

    Las Sagradas Escrituras son autoridad en temas de fe y es deber del clero cuidarlas, enseñarlas y especialmente de los Obispos quienes supervisan la sana doctrina… muy bien la definición de matrimonio segun la Biblia…

    [Translation: The Holy Scriptures are the authority in matters of faith and it is the duty of the clergy to care about them, teach them and especially the bishops who oversee sound doctrine … the best the definition of marriage is the one according to the Bible …]

    • Clive January 16, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

      Well said.

      You are not alone in believing the Scriptures when studied as a whole and in context.

    • Pete J January 16, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

      I guess my difficulty with this is A) the scriptures do not talk about gay people nor how the church should treat them B) there doesn’t seem to be a definition of marriage in scripture.

      How is it possible for ordinary people to thrive in a world that honours marriage above all other things if they themselves are required not to even have a relationship? How can it be “not good for man to be alone”, but somehow good for a gay man to be alone?

      • Clive January 16, 2016 at 8:49 pm #

        Dear Pete J

        Neither A nor B of your statement is even true.

        • Drew_Mac January 17, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

          On A my view is that the scriptures do not use a word which should be translated as ‘gay’ nor ‘homosexual.’ They do talk about certain sexual behaviour practiced by some gay/homosexual people – but also by some heterosexual people. It is arguable, even plausable that the scriptural writers did not have an understanding of gay sexuality which we would recognise.

          On B the scriptures appear to describe various aspects of marriage including monogamy and polygamy, and the fact that it is between a man and at least one woman. There is no comprehensive definition however – and what marriage is appears to change according to social context.

          Now we could talk about a Christian understanding of these things – but that depends on varied interpretations of scripture, church tradition and ethical reasoning. I doubt we’d agree – and that’s the problem.

          • Tricia January 17, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

            If you doubt what the Scriptures say about marriage why not just narrow it down to our Lord Jesus himself. We still use his words from Mark 10:6-9,13-16 . I have just looked them up in the Notes for Marriage Services from Common Worship.
            He said: “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no-one separate.”
            Two people of the same sex cannot become one flesh (ie consummate). The Same Sex Marriage act also makes this clear and the fact that because they cannot consummate they cannot commit adultery. Which is the only reason Jesus mentions for divorce in Matthew 19.
            I consider the bible is quite clear on sexual activity and quite graphic. To suggest that Jesus did not understand human frailty is a bit iof a stretch. Your argument seems to be that provided you love someone all sexual acts are acceptable to God. Unconvincing.

          • David Shepherd January 17, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

            Drew_Mac,

            What’s disingenuous here is that were we talking about polygamy, I presume that you would agree with the Church’s 1988 resolution against it.

            And despite the discovery of genetic sexual attraction and genetic screening to eliminate inbreeding depression, you wouldn’t claim that Christ’s silence on incest was tacit consent.

            You would probably agree that God intended lifelong monogamy for marriage and that Jesus was not naive in applying part of the ancient Genesis narrative to the divorce issue of His contemporaries.

            No, it is only modern same-sex sexual relationships which render the traditional understanding of scripture in that regard completely questionable.

            That’s what we call a special pleading.

          • Pete J January 18, 2016 at 7:15 am #

            Tricia

            How do you tell if the gender difference in that passage is normative or legalistic. If it is legalistic then the church should certainly not allow divorce/remarriage (in Mark there are no exceptions at all). How can you take a passage condemning divorce and saying nothing specifically against marriage for gay people and use it to allow divorce and remarriage, but not allow marriage for gay people?

            At the very least celibate gay peolle should be treated as well as remarried straight people by the church. This does not seem to be currently the case!

          • David Shepherd January 18, 2016 at 8:39 am #

            Pete J,

            Is the Church’s scripturally based ban on polygamy normative or legalistic?

          • Pete J January 18, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

            I think that I would struggle to ban polygamy from scripture alone, David! This is perhaps why churches in some countries have a leniency towards polygamy.

          • David Shepherd January 18, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

            Pete J,

            I am highlighting Church’s 1988 Resolution against polygamy, which was based on the same Genesis narrative and the NT.

            Just as you asked Tricia, Is it normative or legalistic?

  14. Peter Waddell January 16, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

    I’m sorry this conversation veered off the question of whether the Churches of Kenya and Uganda have supported harsh laws against homosexuali practice. (The question of whether they could have been more harsh is immaterial). If that charge is accurate, and I thought it had been established that it was, then the statement’s failure to reproach them with the same vigour as it did the American church is really difficult to accept. Yes, the fuller communique denounces homophobia – but if those Churches supported that legislation this is a bit like the Ameticans denouncing unilateralism!

    I’m not wholly 100% convinced of the pro SSM case. I’m sympathetic, but I realise it is complicated and reasonable people can disagree gracefully. Opposition to the Ugandan and Kenyan legislation though is for me a moral no-brainer … I’m horrified that the Primates Statement implicitly suggests that the American decision is the more serious moral and spiritual problem. Something about straining at gnats whilst swallowing camels….

  15. Andrew Godsall January 19, 2016 at 9:56 am #

    I think the best analysis of what the Primates’ statement means is here:
    http://liturgy.co.nz/primates-do-not-suspend-tec

    The Primates can’t actually make any suspension of TEC. The spin about ‘consequences’ is difficult because it sounds like implementation the Anglican Communion Covenant, which our Dioceses in the C of E rejected pretty clearly. That will need exploration and I hope will be dealt with initially at General Synod next month.

    One question I can’t find an answer to, and would be grateful for is this: who leaked the decision from the Primates meeting? And to whom? I think that’s important for us to know.

    • Ian Paul January 20, 2016 at 10:52 am #

      Andrew, filtering out the slightly cynical perspective in this article, there are some useful points here. The question of whether anyone has any authority to say anything to anyone else in the Communion is a moot point.

      As I point out in my overview article, the Communion is not like an international corporation, so formally speaking, there is not a CEO who tells everyone what to do. That is why ABC is ‘primus inter pares’ here as elsewhere. But this was recognised as an issue some time ago, hence the development of the ‘four instruments of Communion’ over a number of decades, which are: the ABC, the meeting of Primates, the ACC and the Lambeth Conference.

      Three of these ‘instruments’ have consistently and repeatedly endorsed the position set out by the Statement and Communique, and consistently and repeatedly asked TEC to respect the Communion as a whole by refraining from going down their own track on this issue against the serious and well-founded concerns of the vast majority of the Communion.

      To say ‘They have no authority to expel, and we won’t take any notice’ is not to make a comment about the structure. It is in effect to say ‘We are happy to disregard the instruments of Communion, and in fact we don’t think that being in Communion is of any importance in shaping what we think and do.’

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