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

Andrew Goddard writes: Two years ago, as I headed to bed just gone midnight on January 23rd, I sent an email to colleagues involved in Living in Love and Faith (LLF) saying, “Am rather surprised to see this tonight on Twitter…I imagine it may cause a bit of a stir….”. 

The document concerned was Pastoral Guidance from the House of Bishops concerning Civil Partnerships. It was, in one sense, uncontentious. It basically restated received Church of England teaching and applied a 2005 statement to the recent introduction of opposite-sex civil partnerships in British law. It was, therefore, an encouragement to those in the church who believe that teaching and often wish it was more clearly affirmed by those in senior leadership. 

However, at the start of the year in which the LLF resources were to be released it was to cause much more than “a bit of a stir”. Within 48 hours there was an open letter from leading advocates for change in the church’s teaching expressing “anger and disappointment”, some bishops distanced themselves, and protests grew (see discussion by Ian Paul here with wider links here). A week later, on January 30th, after a two day meeting of the whole College of Bishops discussing LLF and considering how best to respond to the reactions to the Pastoral Guidance, the Archbishops issued a joint statement. Although not withdrawing the guidance it recognised serious failings and apologised:

We as Archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.

At our meeting of the College of Bishops of the Church of England this week we continued our commitment to the Living in Love and Faith project which is about questions of human identity, sexuality and marriage. This process is intended to help us all to build bridges that will enable the difficult conversations that are necessary as, together, we discern the way forward for the Church of England.

Three weeks ago I had similar concerns about “a bit of a stir” developing as a result of something I saw on Twitter – this tweet from Charlie Bell linked to a report in the Church Times:


The appointment too is, in one sense, uncontentious. Stephen Knott, the man appointed as the new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments who will oversee episcopal and other senior appointments, is a widely respected church civil servant who has been serving in Lambeth Palace since 2013. He has been Archbishop Justin’s Deputy Chief of Staff, under David Porter, since 2016. As the tweet makes clear, his appointment has been an encouragement to those in the church who support same-sex marriage and wish to see the Church of England’s current teaching and practice — which prevents such a marriage ceremony, this one took place in the Scottish Episcopal Church — changed. 

At the start of the year in which the discernment and decision-making process based on those LLF resources will enter it decisive final stages, it remains to be seen whether or not this too “may cause a bit of a stir”. There is no open letter or mass protest expressing “anger and disappointment” on social or other media. It would be a mistake though to think that this comparative silence is due to the absence of concerns. Already it is clear that questions about the process of the appointment are being prepared to be asked at General Synod next month and some of these have also been raised in a letter to the Church Times. Articles by David Baker and Ian Paul and Ed Shaw have signalled that there is significant concern, especially given that Archbishop Justin recently told General Synod that Caroline Boddington, the previous holder of this post, was “indeed the most powerful person in the Church of England”. The lack of wider public protests arises more from the difficulty of responding to an action which risks unfairly placing the focus on one individual and from the restraint of those who, though hurt and confused by the Archbishops’ action which has significantly “jeopardised” their trust, do not wish to damage the LLF process or cause further “division and hurt”.

What’s the problem?

The nature of the problem, in addition to any focussed on due process, is articulated well by the supporters of the appointment on the original Twitter thread I saw. Asked to explain why Knott’s sexuality or marital status are relevant Charlie Bell replies:


Jeremy Pemberton, the first but not only clergyperson who has found that entering a same-sex marriage means that you are barred from moving to a new job requiring a bishop’s licence as a clergyperson in the Church of England, responded:


These two statements summarise what the Archbishops and whole House of Bishops are currently committed to upholding in relation to same-sex marriage as expressed in their 2014 Pastoral Guidance. They demonstrate the difficulties this stance causes, given the beliefs and actual practice of many, and explain the response of Dame Averil Cameron, former President of the Ecclesiastical History Society,


Clergy are “not so lucky” as Stephen Knott (though it is unclear whether a clergyperson applying would have been considered suitable for the Appointments Secretary post as it does not require a bishop’s licence) because of the church’s teaching on marriage. 

The position of the church, as defended by the Church of England in an Employment Tribunal brought by Jeremy Pemberton, is that the church has teaching on marriage and this has implications because clergy have a canonical responsibility (Canon C26) to “be diligent to frame and fashion his life and that of his family according to the doctrine of Christ, and to make himself and them, as much as in him lies, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ” (quoted in para 23 of the 2014 Pastoral Guidance). This means that although Stephen Knott has been appointed by the Archbishops to play a key role in the appointment of bishops, they and all bishops would not be able even to consider him as a candidate for ordination if he believed that ordained ministry of some form was God’s call on his life (though being a licensed lay reader is apparently more of a grey area): 

The House is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry. In addition it considers that it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives (para 27).

Reflecting the Church of England’s wider reticence about discipline of the laity and the much-contested and much-misunderstood and mis-represented distinction between clergy and laity established back in 1991 in Issues in Human Sexuality, the statement on same-sex marriage decided against calling on lay Anglicans not to enter same-sex marriages. It was though clear that “the same standards of conduct applied to all” (para 15) and that

Getting married to someone of the same sex would…clearly be at variance with the teaching of the Church of England (para 26)

Clergy are therefore not only prohibited from marrying same-sex couples but from offering “services of blessing” for them. Although “more informal kind of prayer” is permitted the bishops assume that, in relation to the couple, clergy will make sure that “any prayer will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the church’s teaching and their reasons for departing from it” (para 21). It is not clear if it would be right to assume similar discussion was part of the selection process for this appointment.

It is therefore irrefutable that the House of Bishops, as a body, view the newly appointed Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary (who will be instrumental in replacing them) as, in Bell’s words, “living in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Church of England”. It is also clear that his marital status was widely known. This is not only because of it being an internal appointment but because when his wedding occurred, just over 6 months ago, his husband, Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, Governor of Edinburgh Castle and a journalist and TV reporter, tweeted about it being a church wedding allowed in Scotland (eliciting Twitter congratulations from Knott’s colleagues at Lambeth). The marriage gained significant media publicity including in the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror reporting a GMB interview, and The Times. It is also clear that this contradiction relates not to some esoteric matter of doctrine but to the currently most hotly contested elements of church teaching. Elements of teaching which are in a process of discernment led by the Archbishops and bishops where it is known from bitter experience that actions which may in one sense seem uncontentious easily “jeopardise trust” and cause “division and hurt”. 

What is less clear is what weight, if any, was given to these factors by the Archbishops and others involved in the appointment process. It also remains to be seen what the short, medium and long term consequences of the appointment will be especially within the LLF process as we seek “to build bridges that will enable the difficult conversations that are necessary as, together, we discern the way forward for the Church of England”.

In enabling difficult conversations in this context it is important to step back from the immediate and pressing question of one appointment (and the tensions it again raises and highlights) and consider afresh where the CofE now finds itself, how it got here, where there is agreement and disagreement, and what future options need to be explored in this year of discernment and decision.

Where do we agree and where do we disagree? Teaching and Practice

There is, it appears, growing agreement on two key elements in diagnosing the challenges we face in the Church of England and both of these are evident in the two examples explored above. One of these relates to teaching and one relates to practice.

First, we all now recognise there are deep differences and incompatible convictions which are sincerely and often deeply held within the CofE particularly concerning how the church should respond faithfully to LGBT people, especially those in civil partnerships and same-sex marriages. It is also increasingly recognised that these differences relate to wider disagreements on sexual ethics more generally and arise from deeper theological differences on a range of issues. These include our understanding of the nature and authority of Scripture and its teaching on sexual ethics, the meaning and significance of being made in God’s image as male and female, and what in human experience we view as a mark of God’s good creation to celebrate and what we view as a sign of our fallenness in need of redemption. I believe the LLF resources are very helpful in enabling us to understand these differences better. 

Secondly, there is it seems increasing consensus that the current practice of the CofE is lacking consistency and coherence and increasingly fails to pass tests of both intellectual and moral integrity. This is evident both in relation to seemingly contradictory practices and in relation to how practice is (or is not) guided by teaching. This is all also often intertwined with what amounts to institutional duplicity and hypocrisy and, as Ed Shaw has powerfully written, all this places a particular burden on gay Anglicans (whatever their own convictions). This is experienced by some gay and lesbian Christians when they discover their local church believes official teaching and so cannot accept how they have understood God’s call on their lives and limits their opportunities for leadership in the congregation. Others discover they cannot explore ordained ministry or feel they have to be less than honest and transparent if they do so. Others find that their own commitment to teach or to live according to church teaching is being undermined by leaders whose statements and actions oppose that teaching.

Sadly, though, we are far from agreed on how to respond to these two inter-related problems. For some, the root problem is the current teaching of the church. This, for them, is what leads to bad practice and we can only achieve good practice once that teaching is changed. For others, the root problem is not the current teaching but the failure to articulate that teaching positively and well, to let it shape and guide our practice as a church, and to be a church which enables people to live out that teaching. To change the teaching, for them, will therefore only make matters worse. Instead we need to be more faithful to that teaching and allow it to bring coherence and consistency to how we order our life together.

What are some possible responses faced with this agreement on some major problems but such different analyses of their causes and how best to address them?

What options are there moving forward?

In considering how to move forward it is worth reflecting on how we have got here. The differences over teaching and practice were evident in the 1979 Gloucester Report whose proposals were only published alongside “Critical Observations of the Board for Social Responsibility on the Report” and never implemented. The publication of a Dissenting Statement within the Pilling Report in 2013 and the defeat of the House of Bishops’ Proposals (GS2055) following the Post-Pilling Shared Conversations in 2017 have all clearly demonstrated the lack of consensus continues decades later. The last attempt to find an agreed way forward was now over thirty years ago with the publication of Issues in Human Sexuality in 1991. Although the bishop who chaired that group gave a lecture publicly dissenting from its conclusions five years later and we now live in a very different society, this remains the formal expression of the teaching of the Church of England.

The response to these differences has been broadly to follow the path the bishops again recommended in 2017 – no change to law or doctrine or liturgy which must still shape guidance from the bishops but also a desire not to be too prescriptive in that guidance. GS2055 set out the theological rationale for this:

That balance of a clear framework for doctrine and practice that does not prescribe more than is necessary, with trust in those who place themselves within it to make decisions with prayerful responsibility, applies to the life of the Church of England as a whole, and not just to clergy. Moreover, it is arguably a defining feature of Anglicanism from the later sixteenth century onwards and the way it has enabled space for legitimate diversity. To maintain an unambiguous position on doctrine in this matter while enabling a generous freedom for pastoral practice that does not directly and publicly undermine it is entirely consistent with our traditions and is a perfectly coherent approach to take (para 65).

It was acknowledged that this was in large part a compromise between two other options which are broadly those outlined above – some bishops “would be inclined to seek more far-reaching changes in the direction of e.g. affirming married same-sex couples within the life of the Church” while others “would like to see the sinfulness of any sexually active relationship outside heterosexual marriage more consistently upheld” (para 56). In 1991 in Issues this compromise had taken the form of drawing distinctions between clergy and laity but the recent appointment has again highlighted the difficulties with how this is often now (mis-)understood and implemented in practice. In reality, actions which only make sense on the basis of some other teaching (which has support in the church but contradicts church teaching) are increasingly being taken under the guise of “generous freedom” and so are seen by many to “directly and publicly undermine” official teaching.

These two alternative options to GS2055 have their strong advocates but few doubt that they will also create their own major problems and are probably impractical. Especially given the established principle that doctrinal and liturgical innovation require more than a simple majority it is hard (particularly given the recent Synod election results) to see there being sufficient support for a change in these areas. It is also unclear as to exactly what the new teaching would be in relation to sexual behaviour (as discussed here) although it now seems clear that the ultimate goal of those wanting change is to follow the American and Scottish churches and change the doctrine of marriage. If this is the ultimate goal then it would seem that a high level of conflict will continue until that destination is reached and so, realistically, anything short of this is likely to prove only a temporary and a rather unstable settlement. 

Any change in teaching will obviously lead to a change in practice but it is not clear what this would involve or how it could be applied across the whole CofE. Although freedom of conscience is often appealed to, many are clearly seeking to bring about change with only a limited room for personal conscience, thus making it very difficult for those convinced by current teaching to remain. This is in part because an expansive definition of freedom of conscience (beyond not being required to officiate personally at services one believes wrong) is likely to result in continued, perhaps increasing, inconsistency and incoherence in practice. It is in part because “full inclusion” is viewed as a fundamental matter of justice and equality required by the gospel. So many, though they may not say it as starkly, have much sympathy with Colin Coward who has recently written

I think the pragmatic arrangements made to tolerate dissent on the ordination of women have enshrined an utterly unchristian intolerance and prejudice in the life of the Church. We now have legalised enclaves of abuse and misogyny. I have no wish to allow evangelical parishes to refuse to marry lesbian and gay couples. We should have the right, equal to heterosexuals, to be married in every Anglican parish church and building in England.

On the other hand, applying existing guidance more consistently and rigorously, while in one sense resolving the second problem of the disjuncture between teaching and practice, and having the support of many (especially evangelicals), will lead, as evident from the response two years ago on civil partnerships, to an outcry both in the church and more widely. If this is attempted then it would be seen as narrowing the diversity of practice now embedded within the CofE and some may even look to Parliament to step in and force the established church to “get with the programme”.

Back to GS2055?

So, are we left having to return to the central proposal of GS2055 and what might that look like?

Here the difficulty is that making no changes in teaching or law will be very difficult to accept for many. Furthermore, most, perhaps all, of the practical changes sought (eg in relation to public services for same-sex couples or the requirements expected of clergy) inevitably involve either changing teaching or further widening the integrity gap between official practice and official teaching. 

Some, like Neil Patterson and the Baron motion he has co-sponsored, appear to think that liturgical development is possible within the current teaching. However, especially in the light of the legal advice annexed to GS2055, many are unconvinced by this. It looks to them as though this way forward both fails to take our doctrinal differences seriously (often simply appealing to “compromise” and “agreeing to disagree”) and will make the church’s practice even more incoherent and inconsistent. By requiring either a change in teaching or approval of practices even more in contradiction of that teaching than at present it also represents a step too far for those committed to current church teaching. As the recent example of Wales shows, it is unlikely to convince them and is likely to be simply a step towards changing marriage doctrine. It fails, in other words, to offer a solution to either of the two problems widely recognised as needing to be addressed.

An alternative approach would be to see whether, in the light of the LLF discernment process, there may be some new insights and a possible new consensus in relation to teaching which, as a result, opens up new paths for agreed practices consistent with that teaching. The most fruitful option here is I suspect in relation to the church articulating its own pattern of committed same-sex relationship which it could recognise and celebrate rather than simply working out how to respond to the categories of “civil partnership” and “marriage” offered in law. In a presentation to the Pilling Group nearly 10 years ago I sketched what this might involve in these terms:

[I]t would need consensus as to the pattern of life to be commended, particularly the nature of the relationship and the responsibilities within it. Here the question of sexual activity inevitably will arise and fundamental differences will therefore still need to be addressed and may prove intractable. This approach may, however, clarify whether there is any possible pattern of relationship – a chaste covenanted friendship – which can be commended with theological integrity and have the support of a significant number of both those committed to traditional teaching and those seeking a more positive approach to committed same-sex relationships.

This path forward was also acknowledged in GS2055 where the bishops wrote:

While moral questions remain for the Church of England about the status of sexual relationships between people of the same gender, the House of Bishops has affirmed that stable, faithful homosexual relationships can “embody crucial social virtues” of fidelity and mutuality. One challenge is therefore to explore how that affirmation in the case of both celibate and non-celibate relationships might be more fully articulated in our theological ethics and better communicated in our pastoral and missional practice, while maintaining the current doctrine of the Church of England on marriage and relationships. Nor can this challenge be separated from the Church’s response to the prevalence of stable, faithful heterosexual relationships other than marriage in our society (para 63).

Sadly, as I said in 2012, “I am not confident that there is a way of squaring this circle, of finding a path that will keep us together and able to live with theological integrity and coherence and less tension and conflict”. But that does not mean it is not worth trying and the LLF process and Pastoral Principles for Living Well Together may have made this avenue more promising than it was previously.

Perhaps though the very public controversy of two years ago and that now bubbling away under the surface in relation to the new Archbishops’ Appointment Secretary are just two among many other signs that the time has come to face the fundamental problem:

Although we have a long-established received teaching (and practice based on this) in relation to marriage and sexual ethics, one still held by most, but not all, Anglican and other Christian churches, this no longer has the confidence of a significant (but unknown) number within the Church of England, including among its bishops and clergy. For nearly half a century we have been deeply divided and there is no sign that we are any closer to approaching one mind. The current teaching now seemingly lacks sufficient support to shape our practice across the church (which has itself as a result become incoherent and inconsistent) but neither has any alternative teaching emerged which has sufficient consensus. 

To take the imagery of Jesus at the end of the Sermon on the Mount when he talks about the need to put his teaching into practice (the focus of study in the first session of the LLF course): in working out what we need to do as a church faithful to Jesus, many of us are happy to keep building on what we believe is rock and are increasingly concerned about us seemingly building on sand; others of us believe that what we are currently building on is unstable making what we build perhaps uninhabitable and dangerous for many, and that the foundation Jesus is calling us to build on requires our teaching to be something different. It requires us to build on a rock which the first group can only view as sand. 

What then are our options? We could, as in many ways we have been doing, keep saying we are building on the rock of current teaching but increasingly expand the scope of our actions so as to be building on what many view as sand (while occasionally reminding people about the rock we say we are building on). But that will solve neither of the problems we increasingly agree that we have and is likely to lead only to the multiplication of the sort of tensions illustrated earlier.

We could, like the Methodist Church has recently done, simply extend our current practical incoherence into our teaching. We could move to a position where, as a church, we state that we uphold and support contradictory teachings. This would also fail to address either problem and appears to ignore Jesus’ stark warning later in Matthew (and also in Mark and Luke) that “if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand”.

We could, and should, through the LLF discernment process, make one more attempt to see whether we really can find some agreement as to what would be the rock on which we should be building, whether something that has not previously been recognised by the church as rock might nevertheless be a solid foundation we can all recognise as faithful to Jesus.

It may though be that, lamenting our lack of common mind, and renewing our commitment to keep seeking such a common mind, we have to begin to consider seriously what changes our collective double-mindedness renders necessary in how we structure our common life. How can we create sufficient space or distance to enable each view to find expression in an episcopal structure which has some form of agreed teaching that in turn authorises consistent practice and so has intellectual and moral integrity without generating the level of conflict now sadly so common? How can we allow each group of Anglicans to build on what they believe to be the rock and to avoid building on what they believe to be sand?

Because we are here dealing with competing and contradictory visions of faithfulness to Christ, of the holiness to which we are called in Christ, of our created human nature, and of the ground on which we are to build communities of disciples, this is a much greater challenge than that we have faced and struggled with in relation to women priests and bishops. And because our received ecclesial structures are those of episcopacy within a geographically ordered national church and a global Communion this is a much greater challenge than the ecclesial questions faced by the URC and Baptists and others with a different church structure. The sad history of Anglican provinces and the Anglican Communion over the last 20 years confirms how great a challenge it is. But it is a challenge which we must perhaps now face and, as far as possible, face and seek to resolve together, across our differences.

Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) and Tutor in Ethics at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.  He is a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) and was a member of the Co-Ordinating Group of LLF.

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432 thoughts on “Can the C of E ever bridge its differences on sexuality?”

  1. I disagree that this appointment is, in any sense, ‘uncontentious’ as suggested here.

    Sadly the bar of qualification and experience for this particular role, senior civil servant or facilitator however one wishes to view it, seems to have been significantly lowered for this particular appointment.

    There are a few words from Mr Knott himself about his previous role at Lambeth Palace at highlighting that his role there was primarily oversight of the operational functions (Finance, Records, Facilities and so on) which is substantively different to the 18 years or more of recruitment and specialist HR experience that previous individuals in this role have had. Mr Knott’s previous role was as a researcher in Parliament (the role he says he went into on work experience and remained for a decade in the article above) so no specialist HR/recruitment experience there either. It’s deeply disappointing.

    Concerns about his lack of qualification for this role are only exacerbated by the lack of transparency around the process in this instance, hence my letter to the Church Times on this which is at for anyone who doesn’t happen to be a CT subscriber.

    • According to Ian part of the job has been given to Ministry Division. I have not heard about this but asked twice on the last thread. Who knows how the job has changed and why?

      • It’s sadly impossible to know precisely how the role has changed, as it’s current iteration has not been made public; a side-effect of the job only being advertised internally (and that for a very short period). We can only hope some of the questions and their responses at the upcoming synod help to clarify some of this.

    • I agree that we should not make this about one man, Stephen Knott. It is about two men who appointed him, the Archbishops. It is time that their flock repudiated them as false shepherds.

      • But Welby makes great play of supporting “New Wine”, the big Anglican Charismatic holiday conference that draws thousands in non-pandemic times.
        He is speaking at a New Wine Gathering in Canterbuty on Sunday 29 January.
        Will anybody in New Wine challenge him on his unbiblical teaching?

          • Sure. His appointing a gay man to find future bishop candidates is a statement of belief – all wilful actions are.

            Or can for example a person who says they believe in the value of human life be considered to believe they do whilst blowing up cities with nuclear bombs?

          • Philip: you haven’t understood in any way how the appointment of bishops works.
            Stephen does not ‘find’ bishop candidates. Bishop candidates are found by being nominated through a complex process originating with current bishops and senior staff. Those candidates then go on a list, together with their very thorough references.
            When a bishopric is vacant, the diocese, through a Vacancy in See process, develops a profile of the job that is necessary in the said diocese. That job description, or statement of needs, is then passed to representatives of the Prime Minister and Archbishops. Those people will begin to match up candidates with statement of needs. Eventually a suitable match is found.
            Stephen will help with finding a good match and the Archbishops will have, at any stage, a chance to veto any proposals.

          • Thank you for clarifying the process. I am clearly not as informed as you about what Stephen Knott’s role is.

            Am I right in saying that you aren’t going so far as to say that he is not required to make spiritual judgements? If you aren’t my previous comments apply.

          • He does not make spiritual judgements, which was the question you asked.
            The Queen and her Prime Minister see their roles as serving God I believe I’m correct in saying. Seeing as both had a hand in selecting the Archbishop, perhaps you need to take the matter up with them?

          • Knott’s position has been described by Welby as the most powerful in the Church of England. The idea that it has no spiritual spillover is absurd.

            This PM has made clear that he is no believer in Jesus Christ, and the Queen salves her conscience by letting herself be advised that she has no constitutional choice but to sign whatever is put in front of her. Welby and secondarily Cottrell are the men responsible. I refuse their oversight.

          • “Knott’s position has been described by Welby as the most powerful in the Church of England.”
            He was joking ….

            “Welby and secondarily Cottrell are the men responsible. I refuse their oversight.”
            By your own admission you are not a member of the C of E, having left it some time ago. So they have no oversight as far as you are concerned and the matter has nothing to do with you either.

          • Sorry, do I need the Archbishops’ permission to comment here?

            Clearly not, and obviously outsiders are permitted to have opinions about the way the Church of England runs its affairs, just as those who are not members of the Labour Party are permitted to point out when it tolerates anti-Semites in its ranks.

            And indeed sometimes it takes an outsider’s distance to see more clearly what is going on, and the inevitable split that is coming closer each day. Those too close can be blinded either because the trees block their view of the wood, or because they don’t want to see what they do not wish to be true.

            But it is healthy to remember that beyond a certain point, it is not my circus and they are not my monkeys.

          • “Sorry, do I need the Archbishops’ permission to comment here?”

            Of course not, but that has absolutely nothing to do with oversight – which is what you commented on. Oversight is only over matters within the CoE and its members. You aren’t a member so their oversight does not apply to you.

          • Whether I am or am not a member is a moot point as I was sprinkled with water as a baby and confirmed in the Church of England. Its liberal hierarchy is one reason why I quit for the Frees – an option for which blood has been spilt.

            You said that the matter “had nothing to do with me”. Are you not casting around for a reason to silence me? And is that not because you don’t agree with what I say?

          • That’s quite funny! No need to silence you at all. It makes no difference as you are not part of any process. If you were part of the C of E and on a deanery or diocesan synod or something then you would be able to make your voice count. As it is, your voice is silent anyway. You silenced it yourself.

          • I’m clearly not silent enough for you.

            I have many Anglican brothers in Christ; we are members of the same church albeit not of the same denomination.

          • I think you are just trying to wind me up. Presumably that is because you disagree with my views, or perhaps find my question about Leviticus below an embarrassment to your views. You have no idea what difference I make. I once declined to go on a deanery synod because it was obvious that it would make no difference to anything.

          • Anton: no wind up. Your commenting on this matter is like me commenting on the idea of women priests in the RC Church. I have lots of views on the matter but as I’m not a member of that Church my views have no bearing on the matter at all.
            As for Leviticus – do you follow all of its strictures?

          • The analogy isn’t exact, because the Church of England is Established in England, which is where I live.

            You have avoided the question about Leviticus that I actually asked, which was about God, not man. To remind, you, Leviticus 18:22 describes “man lying with man as with woman” as toevah. Does this description reflect God’s view, or not? (God did not change his opinion of moral matters at Golgotha, only how he responds.)

          • Anton: I did reply to your question about Leviticus. I asked if you followed all of the strictures in Leviticus. If you don’t, then I think your question is fully answered isn’t it?

          • You are answering a different question, namely whether Mosaic Law applies today. I am asking what is God’s view of “man lying with man as with woman”.

            Would you prefer to be credited with accidentally or deliberately misunderstanding an elementary question?

          • Anton; the question you are asking is about the status of scripture. We had this discussion before. LLF lists seven possible ways of understanding the status of scripture. As I said then, fundamentalism is not considered to be an Anglican approach to scripture.
            Added to that, I think your understanding of how people of the same sex might lie with each other is very partial and limited. As I think your understanding of sexuality is very limited and partial. It isn’t all about one act. The possibilities are rather wider.

          • I take “man lying with man as with woman” to imply sexual stimulation with orgasm the aim. As men don’t have a vagina it is obvious that the phrase implies an analogy.

            With that clarification, would you now answer my question: does Leviticus 18:22 stating that such actions are toevah reflect God’s view of them? If you believe it reflected God’s view of them only before Calvary, why do you think He considers them not toevah today?

          • I’ve answered so many times. I’m not a fundamentalist. Leviticus details what the author interpreted. Read the relevant section in LLF about how scripture was authored. Unless you think God somehow had a pen and paper….

          • I’m not asking you if you are a ‘fundamentalist’. I’m asking you whether you personally consider that Leviticus 18:22 accurately reflects God’s view of one man aiming to stimulate another to orgasm. Does God consider this act to be toevah or not? Please include a clear Yes or No in any reply you give.

          • That is nonsense. It is obvious how men are created biologically and how women are created biologically and that they are created compatibly. Secondly, this is precisely what makes us speak of ‘men’ and ‘women’ at all. Third, male/female has been the main way bar none of classifying humans. Fourth, all our life cycle is determined by the spin offs from this (puberty, menopause, etc). Fifth, the result of the men/women difference is is where all humans come from. Sixth, the absolutely devastating biological effects of not keeping to this have been detailed in long lists. Seventh, people were trying to say that the 2 alternatives were equivalent, all the louder, when a worldwide pandemic was raging in the 1980s and onwards as a direct result of this misunderstanding. Eighth, you are leaving open the possibility ‘God approves of men lying with men’ in this or any other manner.

          • Yes, it is a matter of faith.

            Try asking him by what criteria he determines which bits of the Bible accurately reflect God’s views (because there are some he keeps quoting as if they do!) and which don’t. Go on.

            (His first answer will be ‘by tradition, reason, and experience’, but then (a) point out that he gives tradition no weight when it disagrees with him so that can’t be part of his criteria, and then (b) ask him by what criteria he judges when experience can overrule scripture and (c) ask him for his reasoning as to what bits of the Bible he thinks do accurately reflect God’s views and which don’t.)

          • One option of course is that God’s mind changed, as it might also have done on the matter of polygamy. Or other matters in Leviticus for example. Or else people have not interpreted correctly.
            The most obvious problem is casting human patterns of thought on to the divine. The two must be different, surely.

          • One option of course is that God’s mind changed, as it might also have done on the matter of polygamy. Or other matters in Leviticus for example. Or else people have not interpreted correctly.

            Yes, those are options. Another option is that God’s mind does not change and people have interpreted correctly. Why do you think the other options are more likely to be true than that one?

            The most obvious problem is casting human patterns of thought on to the divine. The two must be different, surely.

            You have no problem casting human patterns of thought onto the divine when it’s a bit of the Bible you like, though. You only bring out the ‘God doesn’t think like us’ argument to dismiss bits you would rather weren’t there.

            It’s that inconsistency, which you consistently refuse and / or are unable to explain by laying out by what objective criteria you distinguish between the bits of the Bible that you think do accurately reflect God’s views and the bits which you think don’t, that is the real fatal flaw in your theology.

          • God does not change his mind over moral matters.

            Regarding polygamy, he permitted it but not a good word is said about it anywhere in scripture.

            I’ll leave it to others to ask you what are your criteria for deciding which scriptures to accept and which to reject. It’s a good question but it permits the person asked to waffle. Suffice it to say that whether you see Lev 18:22 as accurately reflecting God’s view is a matter of whether you have faith in God.

          • If God permitted Polygamy then God’s mind has now changed.
            I’ve answered many questions about criteria before. Easily looked up.
            You must also read the section about the bible in LLF. You say you have read it but it’s obvious from your responses here that is not the case.

  2. Jeremy Pemberton makes the point excellently. The standards are applied inconsistently, when they are applied at all, and it it doesn’t get said enough that this has a negative effect on everyone, not solely those in our own interest group.

    We can’t just ignore inconsistency when it benefits us, and decry it when it doesn’t.

    I thought the tribunal and appeal outcomes were the right ones, but absolutely affirm Jeremy’s right to be cross about this. It’s a slap in his face.

    P.S Some of the embedded tweets don’t appear to be working. Just the link is visible, rather than the tweet.

    • Hi Mat,

      To ask that Jeremy Pemberton be treated fairly is to ask that he receive justice for his sin along with all others involved in same sex relationships. Is that what you are seeking?

      Since when is people receiving some form of justice for their sin (their being excluded from occupying particular roles) while others are not receiving some form of justice unfairness?

      • To ask that Jeremy Pemberton be treated fairly is to ask that he receive justice for his sin along with all others involved in same sex relationships. Is that what you are seeking?

        Not quite…

        What I am suggesting is that Jeremy has been held to one standard, while another person has not been. If he can be refused a PTO on the grounds that his marriage is at odds with the official church teaching on the matter (a teaching he is expected to uphold), then it is not fair that another person in a similar, if not identical, position be appointed to a role arguably of greater seniority and influence… It says ‘the rules can be broken when it’s convenient for us’.

        My comment was not about weather Jeremy was right to be denied a PTO (and I certainly wouldn’t be framing that in terms of ‘justice for sin’) it was about weather his perception of injustice in an earthy, institutional, sense is the right one. I think it is.

        • But the point was broader.

          Both Jeremy Pemberton and Ian Paul, despite holding radically different views on how and when (or rather, if) to uphold church teaching, would surely agree that it would be better if there wasn’t a visible double-standard.

          It takes a particularly poor decision to invite criticism from all sides. 🙂

          • Again you refer to a “visible double standard”. Looking at justice through whose eyes? Visible to who?

          • This commits the ‘views’ fallacy that treats ‘views’ as a meaningful word. Which is at the very root of the current malaise. None of us has yet reached the point where we can hold a view that is worth much before we have done some research on the topic in question. The phone-in mentality that we all have something informative to say about everything is known by us all to be quite untrue – we can all list topics where we ourselves are clueless. Hence the proposition is falsified.

          • Not wanting to keep flogging the dead horse of this conversation now that Phillip B and I have agreed an armistice, but;

            A) Your view that views are not worth anything is, in itself, a view. For the record though, and as I hope would be clear from the context, I am using the word synonymously with ‘position’, or ‘stance’ here. This isn’t an academic article, it’s a public blog, and so I think the lack of precision is reasonable.

            B) I had not said anything about giving all views an equal weight, that’s your projection on to what I said. I absolutely agree that different views have different weight.

            C) I made no claims about the relative weight of my own question.

            You are unbearable pedant sometimes, much as I tend to usually agree. 😉

          • If you agree, then that is all that matters in a debate context.

            One person’s scholar is another person’s pedant. Who should people be listening to? The scholars i.e. those who can analyse a topic best.

            Pedantry is only a sin in a social situation. In a debate not loving the truth is the sin.

            I don’t think’views are not worth anything’. What I think is something different: that the word ‘views’ is clearly so broad as to be meaningless, and consequently we should avoid using it. Not that we should ban it, but that we should say that anyone that uses it without having realised its problematic nature is less sharp so in a brief life we will listen to the other people first.

            A view is not different from a stance or position or worldview. All of these are equally problematic concepts and for the same reason. Hence I don’t think that the point has been grasped. Summary: They are all good if they are based on research and reasoning, and bad if they are not. (And also: if they are being regarded as final not provisional when the person is still young or middle aged, that is highly suspicious.) At present it is being regarded as sufficient merely to *hold* a view of any kind. But even a toddler can do that. To think how much ink is wasted as a result of not prioritising researchers over others.

        • I think your reply is summed up in the section from your last sentence where you referred to “his perception of justice” – justice isn’t about people’s perceived sense of what is just and not just.

          • “justice isn’t about people’s perceived sense of what is just and not just.”

            Is it not?

            We are clearly using the word in a different way. There’s justice in the sense of being held to judgement against a divine, theological, justice and there’s justice in the sense of societal/social; an agreed sense of having acted and behaved in an appropriate way, and the human consequences of that.

            Is sharia law justice? To many Muslims it is, but against our Christian and secular standards it’s a violation of justice.

          • I am no moral relativist, but I don’t think there’s anything logically problematic in saying that different people might have different perceptions of whether ‘justice’ has been done, based on what they think justice in that situation might look like.

          • If you believe divine and social justice are two separate kinds of justice you are a moral relativist.

            You say “I don’t think there’s anything logically problematic in saying that different people might have different perceptions of whether ‘justice’ has been done”. Neither do I – but that’s not the issue. The issue isn’t about whether people have different perceptions of whether justice has been done – it’s about whether justice is being done.

          • In an ideal world ‘Social Justice’ should be based on and linked to what we understand ‘Divine Justice’ to be. The one should flow from the other and yes, to a degree they are inseparable. But they are far, far from a perfect overlap. I don’t think treating them as different categories for the purpose of understanding something from another person’s perspective relativises the two things.

            This is a whole other conversation really.

            Do you think Jeremy Pemberton is right to see the decision to appoint Knott as problematic and inconsistent? Why/why not?

          • Let’s finish the discussion agreeing that faithful Christianity affords its followers no freedom for moral relativism.

          • Philip (Benjamin) I am fairly certain you are a moral relativist.
            Do you think, like Christopher Shell here, that private education in the UK is perfectly acceptable? (Christopher thinks it’s a very good thing). If you do, then you are moral relativist.
            Do you think it’s fine that you have access to basic amenities whilst some don’t? If you do, you are a moral relativist.
            So many who call the vales ‘orthodox’ seem to think that morality is simply about sex. Hint: I don’t think any of the parables recorded as being from Jesus’ teaching are about sex are they?

          • Hi Andrew,
            It’s funny you should raise the question about private education. I have in recent times been arguing on the Twitter feed of a London school that to accept neo-Marxism will involve their choosing to no longer exist. That instead they should adopt the Christian view.

            But doesn’t the Christian view make the existence of private schools injustice? No it doesn’t? Biblical justice has its own characteristics. God doesn’t for example ensure that everyone is born with the same IQ – and justice in scripture clearly doesn’t mean that everyone has the same income. Instead biblical justice cares about:
            – people not being exploited
            – people having basic needs
            – it demands that people live lives which are just – which for example involves not choosing to benefit when “the system” prospers us by exploiting others (and then compensating for it by giving to the poor). Instead one must do justice AS ONE GOES – as for example farmers are doing in leaving some of the crop for those in need.

            So, in summary, justice matters. But God is also gracious. When we hear an Adele sing, or we watch a Kevin de Bruyne play football, we also know that God’s grace has a place. We instinctively know this is good – not many of us want the Premier League winner to be the one that tried the hardest.

          • I am entirely happy to be whatever being an adherent to the principles I laid out in my previous reply makes me.

            You call me a moral relativist – but this only makes me what you consider to be a moral relativist. You must surely acknowledge that your use of the term moral relativist is relative if not everyone calls what you call moral relativism moral relativism. I don’t. That leads to the question of what should be thought of as moral relativism. You didn’t explain how my supporting Arsenal is unChristian – until you do I’ll risk losing my salvation (that’s what we’re talking about here – people whose faith doesn’t see them live justly will end up in hell) by cheering for them. And as good as she is I maintain my view that the world would be weird if everyone sang like Adele.

          • Do you think […] that private education in the UK is perfectly acceptable? If you do, then you are moral relativist.

            I’m sorry? No it doesn’t.

            A moral relativist is someone you thinks that there are no absolute standards of morality; that is, that nothing is absolutely ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘acceptable’ or ‘unacceptable’.

            Therefore someone who thinks that private education (anywhere) is acceptable, is by definition not a moral relativist, as they believe in at least one moral absolute.

            Similarly someone who thinks that private education is unacceptable, is by definition not a moral relativist.

            A true moral relativist would refuse to make any such categorical absolute statement as ‘private education is acceptable’ or ‘private education is unacceptable’.

            Do you… not understand what moral relativism is?

          • I think private education is a good thing, do I?? It has its good points, and certainly when I was there it had its bad points too.

          • Ah Christopher when you describe someone as being ‘Winchester through and through’ and when you show such unswerving support for Iwerne then I think we can safely say that you support Private education.

        • In effect, it’s a church-based example of the issue currently paralysing the UK Government over ‘partygate’; i.e. “one rule for the rest of the population, a different rule for us here in Downing Street.”

    • Jeremy Pemberton left his wife and family of many years to folow his desire to have a sexual relationship with another man.
      How is this in keeping with godly living for a minister of Christ?
      Why was hd not removed from the ministry?

      • I would advise you to retract that statement.
        It is untrue and potentially libellous.
        Both Jeremy and Laurence have marvellous relationships with their families.
        I would advise people who call themselves Christian to model some Christian virtues.

        Your statement is disgusting.

        • Hi Penelope,

          You may be right. Can I get agreement with you that it isn’t possible to know whether someone’s actions are disgusting without presenting some kind of reasoning for that view?

          I believe that you agree that one must provide reasons because you posted a reason for your view. It was that the fact that the two people being discussed have marvellous relationships with their families is proof of their being godly – of their acting rightly.

          Is this the only reason to present for your view? Are there others? I am asking because I believe that the fact that Trump’s daughter gets on well with him isn’t proof of his virtue.

          Why does Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5 state that marriage is between a man and a woman if it isn’t?

          To present a view on these issues you would have to indicate what you believe a man or woman is and what the bible says marriage is. Below I demonstrate that all beliefs engage with these questions.

          Do you take the transgender view that to be a particular sex is so clearly something that if one isn’t reconciled with it one must change one’s body?

          Or do you take the homosexual view that to be a particular sex is so fluid that to be male or female doesn’t mean anything at all?

          Do you agree with both of those views despite the fact that they are directly opposite?

          Or do you hold to the Christian view that to be a particular sex is something both in biology and orientation/unique responsibility?

          I am not demanding that you have a view on these issues – I’m just asking if you have come to a conclusion and if so whether you are willing to share it.

          • I’m perfectly willing to share my views on sexuality here. And have done so often.
            James’s comment is disgusting because it is untrue and scurrilous.
            He can disapprove of SSM without lying about it.

          • James’s comment is disgusting because it is untrue and scurrilous.

            Is this the comment:

            ‘ Jeremy Pemberton left his wife and family of many years to folow his desire to have a sexual relationship with another man.’


            Presumably it’s the second part (‘ to folow his desire to have a sexual relationship with another man’) that you are disputing the truth of, as it’s a matter of public record that Jeremy Pemberton did in fact divorce his wife, so it is absolutely true to say that he ‘left his wife and family of many years’ (that being what a divorce is).

          • They were not presented as two separate statements, but as a single contiguous one. The implication being that Jeremy Pemberton divorced his wife so that he could engage in a sexual relationship with another man.

            This is what’s untrue and unfair.

          • This is what’s untrue and unfair.

            Well, I don’t know whether it’s true or not; but I agree that if untrue it would be defamatory, so I hope that the person who made it is prepared to shoulder the burden of proving it to the standard of the balance of probabilities, if called upon (perhaps by pointing to statements made by the person in question, or by analysis of the timeline).

            Otherwise I agree with Penelope Cowell Doe (!) and they should withdraw the second half of the statement, the part to do with motive.

          • Penelope cannot be objecting because it is untrue so can only be objecting because someone has said the emperor has no clothes and is thereby popping the balloon of the charade. People try to terrorise others not to say true and central things.

          • The because may well be untrue, but your main beef was not with the causality anyway. It was with people bringing into the open the horrible, cruel nature of what the sexual revolution actually is and does.

          • Jeremy Pemberton divorced his wife and at some point thereafter entered into a same-sex marriage with a man, a union not officially recognised as valid by the CofE. He was not disciplined for this, but was denied a new permission to officiate when he requested one to minister in a different diocese.

            Beyond these mutually-recognised facts of the case, everything else is an assertion about his motivations. To make such assertions, without knowing the man and without providing any evidence or reasoning for why one thinks that is the case, is profoundly dishonest and uncharitable. Like Penelope, I think this is poor form and unchristian.

            Does this also make me complicit in and responsible for the consequences of the sexual revolution?

          • Christopher

            My ‘beef’ as you put it was with James’s untrue and defamatory statement about Jeremy Pemberton.
            I don’t know where you get the idea from that I am commenting on, still less supporting, the ‘sexual revolution’.
            I see that James has neither apologised nor retracted his comment. Which means that he sits very loosely to scripture and is prepared to break the ten commandments.
            It is utterly shocking.

          • “That to be a particular sex is so fluid that to be male or female doesn’t mean anything at all” may well be a belief held by a few homosexual nutcases – and also by a few heterosexual nutcases – but it is certainly not THE homosexual view any more than it is THE heterosexual view.

  3. ‘Can the C of E ever bridge its differences on sexuality?’
    I suggest a much more fundamental and important question for consideration:
    ‘Can the C of E ever bridge its differences on the doctrines of original sin, the atonement, and the Day of Judgment?’
    In my view we can answer that question now: ‘No’

    Phil Almond

    • Perhaps the real question is “Can the current CofE restore it’s belief in Christ?” To be a Christian means you believe in Christ and that is what the word means.
      Our Lord Jesus Christ tells that marriage is between one man and one woman in the gospels – there are no ifs and buts about it. Then we get so-called academics being dishonest with us telling us that Jesus was only talking about marriage of the time when you only have to read what he said to realise that such a claim isn’t even remotely true.
      So when this article says “Getting married to someone of the same sex would…clearly be at variance with the teaching of the Church of England (para 26)” the truth is that is at variance with the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ (which matters even more) and not merely the CofE.

      All the research shows that a man and a woman marrying together and being lucky enough to form a family is good for everyone. Yet we have a society around us now finding it trendy to show hatred and contempt to married people in spite of all the science and evidence.

      • Really? You must mix in some very cynical secular circles. I know of no one who finds it trendy to show hatred and contempt for married people.

        • There are such circles, but I do not know how they figure proportionally. It is axiomatic that any given person’s own circles will be much less than 1% of the available people.

    • Phil,

      Not sure about original sin. I think history shows it was a late post-apostolic invention, and certainly not a Hebraic concept. 🙁

        • Hi Christopher,

          Can you please what you mean by this (or otherwise accept that your comment provides too little information to say anything for it to have power to change anyone’s view)?

          In case you plan to argue for anything similar to original sin you might get benefit from reading my reply to Phil Almond.

          • You quote the 2 verses often cited. I mean it only in the limited sense that our ancestor is in us or we are in his loins or both. Something happened with Adam that was not there before. What is that? That is more or less the inescapable (humanly speaking) inheritance of sin that came after him.

          • I believe you know that in saying we are “in someone’s loins” and in your referring to “the inescapable (humanly speaking) inheritance…” you haven’t expressed an opinion on whether original sin is true. To have no view on original sin is not by default proof of any crime – I’m just pointing out that your two posts don’t express an opinion.
            The issue is – in what way is sin inherited from others?

          • All of us are liable to inherit whatever is in our parents. Our parnets are our environment. Physically they are our very identity.

    • I am also not a supporter of original sin for the reasons laid out below.

      Original sin finds no adequate justification for its existence in scripture – the only reasoning in support of it is imported from Calvinism (which I in a single sentence refute below).

      Having a sinful nature doesn’t mean only that we are capable of being tempted. Both Adam and Jesus did not have a sinful nature and yet both were tempted – while one chose to sin and the other did not.

      Hebrews 4:15 ESV
      For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

      The bible clearly says we have a sinful nature. So what does it mean to have a sinful nature? It means we have a TENDENCY to sin. If we don’t have any other opposite tendency we will sin. If we had a tendency to sin from birth it would by definition makes us not responsible for our sin. However what if we also at some point choose to sin with an act of the will? It still doesn’t make us responsible if we have a pre-existing tendency towards sin.

      The proponent of original sin believes that having a sinful nature is the reason why all people are sinners – they believe that other reasons for why all people end up sinning don’t explain why all end up doing so. But if having a sinful nature is a guarantee of all ending up sinning this means by definition that no person who ends up “sinning” whether due to weakness or due to an act of will (for the reasons I just explained) is responsible for their sin – not if they had a sinful nature from birth.

      There are only two passages which are used by proponents of original sin to argue that original sin exists – Psalm 51:5 and Romans 5:12.

      Taking the second passage first:
      Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

      and then adding 1 Corinthians 15:22
      For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

      (the latter verse kicking limited atonement in the guts unless one argues that sin also only came to the elect through Adam) – the most likely way to understand what happens in Adam is for our all being sinners to be as a result of our choice – just as we are all in Christ are saved by individual choice. The Calvinist will at this point say that people being placed under Adam’s sin is a decision of God and people coming to Christ is also a decision of God – an irresistible work of grace. I’m not going to divert to discuss Calvinism other than to say that the bible specifically says in Acts 10:34-35 that if God were to prevent some people from coming to him that that would make him partial – and predestining only some to believe is exactly that. (To those who suggest some other interpretation of Acts 10 I ask – what if the elect all became Jewish citizens – what would the passage mean then? There is no way to differentiate the partiality of predestining some to believe from the partiality of choosing Jew and not Gentile).

      So we must now ask – is there any evidence at all that we must think of sin coming through Adam physically – that there is such a thing as sinful wombs – that people being born from one makes them a sinner – or if not that God makes sinful people? That if Adam had made contact with the flesh of a sinner he would have become a sinner? And the answer is no – turning to the other original sin passage such a radical idea doesn’t find definite support from Psalm 51:5

      Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

      The passage can just as easily mean “From the moment I was born I was surrounded by sin”. There isn’t only in this verse a basis for believing in original sin.

      Scripture adds to the picture of what actions of ours should and should not make us responsible in explaining that people do not know right from wrong before reaching a certain age (and if someone reaches the age where they know right from wrong they have also reached the age where they can repent):

      Deuteronomy 1:39 ESV
      And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.

      Genesis 8:21 ESV
      I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

      (The latter verse should lead us to ask – would this passage make sense if it said that man’s heart was evil from birth?)

      Therefore any decision which is capable of making us responsible for our sin must happen after we know right from wrong and not be made influenced by a sinful nature. However having said that the decision to rebel is not guaranteed to make us worthy of hell – the bible says of sin only that the wages of sin is death. However it is possible to respond to God’s love in creation in a way that shows God that we will never respond to the gospel. Which is why 2 Thessalonians 1:8 says that two groups of people will be in hell – those who don’t know God and those who don’t obey the gospel. Having said that to rebel against God’s love revealed in creation is not an act of the same level of culpability as refusing God’s love revealed in the cross. If it was no-one who did the former would ever become a Christian.

      Unless we have the opportunity to freely choose to sin there would be no basis for Ephesians 2:2 saying that before becoming Christians we were objects of wrath.

      Secondly the proponent of original sin must explain why in the time of Noah God must flood the earth – when the reasons given for doing so describe the very same inclination towards sin that the proponent of original sin says people are all born into.

      Genesis 6:5 ESV
      The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually

      An argument is made by those who believe in the doctrine of original sin that babies would only die if they themselves had sinned. But just because the consequence of sin being in the world is that each person sins that doesn’t mean that our dying should be thought of as the result of our individual sin. We KNOW it shouldn’t be thought of that way. The proof is in 2 Samuel 12:14 where Bathsheba’s not yet born baby dies as a result of David’s sin – without ever having had the opportunity to sin. We should therefore think of death arising from sin as being the result of three things – the fact that we all freely choose to sin – the fact that we are subject to the sinful acts of others – and the fact that that world is fallen as a result of sin.

      I conclude that the statement “the wages of sin is death” is meant to mean that whilst all sin – and all die – death should not be thought of as the punishment for each individual’s sin. Which fits in with Luke 13 where Jesus tells his hearers that people should not look at those who are affected by God’s judgement and know that the people affected are specifically those being judged. Yet if death was only the result of an individual’s sin this is exactly what would be possible in the case of sin – we would have to look at a baby who died and inform the parents that the child died due to its sin – and without having repented. How appalling! How unlike the direction of all of scripture – which presents a God reaching out to all – and responding to people as if their fault isn’t their weakness but their free choice which brought it about.

      Does Jesus not having a sinful nature mean that he cannot sympathise with what it is like to be us? No – because he was tempted – but was also beset by weakness (even if of a different nature) – which is what we feel when we are subject to a sinful nature.

      Hebrews 5:2 ESV
      He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.

  4. I have said repeatedly:

    This is a time-waster, in my view a bespoke time-waster from hell. Shall we wake up, look at the big picture and see if that’s not true.

    This is what happens if airtime is given to people whose conclusions are no conclusions at all but presuppositions. It is elementary that debate should be only between people who allot no place to their preferences.

    For many years I have mentioned multiple convergent studies, with strikingly clear conclusions involving very large disparities, on extremely central topics. These topics are disease rates, promiscuity rates, rates of unhealthy practices, life expectancy, correlation with nonbiological home-living setups and broken families and consequent estrangement, fluidity, identical twins as the best available objective test, correlation with molestation and urban environments and campuses and particular cultures above others, and western media norms and especially the sexual revolution. Many secondary books have gathered these primary studies together.

    The multi-faceted LLF which is supposed to be comprehensive regularly leaves out even such central things as these.

    Unbelievably, the idea remains that there is a thing called ‘views’ and people have different ‘views’. When the idea is analysed, it becomes clear that the word ‘views’ is being used so broadly as to be meaningless. It ranges from hard won research conclusions to preferred scenarii.

    The non-existent debate continues because of basic procedural flaws such as these.

    • Christopher Shell – I enjoy your comments here, because you have a logical and original way of thinking. And many thanks for your comments under a previous post on Revelation, which I thought were extremely helpful.

      On this matter, though, I fail to see what research into those things on your list have to do with anything at all. The point is that some people think that God communicated something very clear through Leviticus 18:22, while other people don’t take this verse and the passages in Romans 1 and Jude among others to mean the same things.

      Even if scientific researchers, doing proper research, could conclude that homosexual acts were good for people and kept them regular, that they made a person healthy wealthy and wise, psychologically well balanced and improved mental health, that would have nothing whatsoever to do with fault lines along which the debate proceeds – which is that Holy Scripture contains some verses which make these activities questionable for a Christian. For people who take Scripture seriously, they would still be questionable, even if scientists could prove they were enormously beneficial.

      I personally have difficulties in this matter. On the one hand, the word of Scripture is clear and plain (and I react very badly to people fooling about with the text, exchanging the truth for a lie and trying to say that Scripture means the opposite of the plain meaning of the language). On the other hand – this is not something that has ever affected me – I simply don’t see the attraction of it; I don’t understand it. I simply don’t feel like making somebody’s life more difficult than it is already – and we have to bear in mind that we’re all sinners in other ways (even though this particular sin presents absolutely no attraction). I’d probably hold the same view no matter what scientists and researchers were able to prove.

      • Scripture would only be attesting to prior realities anyway, so it is to those realities that we must look.

        Of course we are all sinners in other ways, but we do not justify our sins, nor do we treat them as settled states, and those are the 2 differences.

        Things ought not to be classified as sins by diktat but only if they are not harmful. That is why people need to look at the statistical harm.

        Regarding the stats (many of which have scientific implications) you need to do some more reading. I’d recommend among many others Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth; Gagnon, Bible and Homosexual Practice final chapter, ML Brown, A Queer Thing Happened, and (if you want a brief summary, since life is short) me in ch 11 of What Are They Teaching The Children?

        Your final words suggest that our source of authority ought not to be science and research. You thereby run into a problem because what has higher authority than that, and by what calculus is it calculated to have higher authority?

        • Christopher – I have some difficulties with the research method.

          Imagine Stephen Knott and Alastair Bruce in the middle of a hot-and-steamy night in a darkened bedroom and then the woman with the clip-board shows up and asks them, `OK chaps, how do you like it?’ I’m not at all sure that she would get a sensible answer.

          In short – I don’t actually believe that the sort of research that you are talking about constitutes proper research. I do understand sufficient about statistics to know that people often leap to a conclusion of causation based on correlation – but I don’t have confidence that `scientific’ researchers have the tools to answer too many questions on the issues that you outline.

          I take science seriously – Einstein’s theory of relativity governs my understanding of when the universe was created and that there was a `big bang’ (although disagreement about when it took place) …… so I do take science seriously on some issues – but I wouldn’t say it was a source of authority.

          • But I listed about 10 issues! Take those away and how much will there be left?

            You didn’t answer my question – if not stats and science, then what? Tyranny of the subjective and ill-informed and small-scale, that’s what. It makes a mockery of the thousands of hours put in.

            Social science is mostly about head counts anyway. I get your point about head counts, but actually headcounts about disease and death and promiscuity are among the more objective types in existence.

        • I go into causation/correlation in detail in my chapter.

          You mention ‘the sort of research that [I am] talking about’ but I am not talking about any’sort’ of research. What I am talking about is being comprehensive with *all* of the large-scale methodologically sound research in existence on all the subtopics and looking at where the consensuses lie.

          • Christopher – yes – but I’m absolutely unconvinced by just about all of the `methodologically sound’ research. Apologies for being negative about this – but I see worrying signs in all of it.

            If not stats and science, then what? Well, I think you posed a very good question – and I don’t know the answer. But I *am* sceptical about the stats and science (even though I agree with you about the alternatives).

          • But it doesn’t matter, since (a) your dismissal of all scientific research in one breath is far too unnuanced, and (b) whatever weaknesses research has, unresearched methods will always have far more, and it is obvious that we always go with the best that we have understanding that that best is not 100% perfect. (c) It is more a question how trained scientists rate research, not how amateurs like us rate it.

            This is far too theoretical and sweeping. Engaging with specific research as listed is where it’s at.

          • Christopher – you put a great deal of weight upon science, but the point is that much of the moral guidance in Scripture was considered to be good solid truth long before `science’ came along (i.e. people with pseudo-scientific methods) to justify it.

            It has been more-or-less well understood that carnal activities should take place between one man and one woman in lifelong union who bring up a family together – and outside that context things go wrong. When you mention `disease rates, promiscuity rates, rates of unhealthy practices, life expectancy, correlation with nonbiological home-living setups and broken families and consequent estrangement’ you don’t actually need scientists to come along and tell you that.

            Importantly, those who wrote down the Holy Scripture did not need a bunch of scientists, carrying out research, planning the experiments, gathering the data and analysing it, before they put pen to paper. Furthermore, the reason Scripture survived and thrived throughout the millenia is because it `rang true’ for huge swathes of people reading it, even without a bunch of scientists in each generation endorsing its basic message.

            So – yes – basically I do dismiss science for the matters you list, since people seem to have been well enough informed for generations about the very great damage that results when people do not follow the creation ordinance of Genesis 2 in the matter of carnal activities.

            But that is not the point here. There are those of us fortunate enough to be able to live `by the book’ and its strictures cause us absolutely no problem; there is no temptation.

            What do you do about those who simply can’t? As you put it in another comment, we don’t want them consigned to `outer darkness’. And I’m not at all sure that science has much to offer in trying to answer this.

          • This is precisely why Christian influence in society is so minimal. People are not willing to commit the philosophical fallacy of accepting arguments purely based on assertions emanating from (perceived) authority when they can have much more detailed and precise and testable data instead. It also relativises everything. Another person can come along and say ‘My holy book says Y instead of X.’. Nobody ever denied that ‘the Bible says…’ anyway. Where is the relevance of that? What would be relevant would be ‘the Bible is correct in saying X, as demonstrated by Y,Z’. Why did the Biblical perspectives prove so influential in the first place?

          • A biblical perspective is that polygamy is quite normal. How many did Moses have? How many did David have? Etc etc ……
            A biblical perspective on marriage is hardly singular.

          • How many did David have?

            Has anyone ever, in the history of ever, suggested that the Bible holds King David up as in any way a model of marital probity?

          • Jock and Christopher just to clarify the David reference from scripture itself:

            “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, b‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. “

            And I think we can add Solomon and many others as polygamous.
            God’s mind seems to change about marriage doesn’t it … one commentator puts it
            “The truth is that the story of polygamy in the Old Testament is, well, a problem. There is no purchase in hiding the truth…”

          • Andrew Godsall – since you addressed me, I’ll respond. Since you’re a bible scholar, you already know the answer, but I’m quite happy to give it the `amateur treatment’.

            For the record, if you look at my comments on the gay marriage business, I’ve continually stated that (a) I don’t like it at all, but (b) I don’t really feel inclined to stand in judgement on people who were born that way – and I take the view that the church should try to accommodate them.

            The creation ordinance (Genesis 2) is clear and plain; one man and one woman in lifelong union. The remainder of Genesis makes it clear that things go very wrong when people deviate from this – for example the rivalry between Rachel and Leah – which led to friction between the children and ultimately Joseph’s brothers thinking about killing him and instead sending him off to Egypt.

            With David, it is exactly the same thing. He seems to have been a gentleman who was extremely well hung. The rape of Tamar is something that would never have happened if he had been monogamous, neither would the whole business with Absalom, etc … etc ….

            Nevertheless, those people who deviated from the creation ordinance were God’s people – and this has to be taken seriously.

            Yes – God permitted polygamy – and, at the same time, God gave us vivid object lessons, communicated in Holy Scripture, of what goes horribly wrong when there is polygamy.

            So – yes – I wouldn’t be opposed to the same line of reasoning being carried over to SSM. All the problems that Christopher wants to prove by his scientific research are already well understood – he is right about this. Nevertheless, the alternative problems, caused by repression could be worse.

          • I don’t do scientific research, and the research I quote has nothing to do with me and I am not responsible for it.

            Next Andrew will be saying that Pharaoh, Evil Merodach and Haman exhibit biblical values.

          • Ah no Christopher. I’m saying that central biblical characters like Moses, David, Solomon and many others presumably exhibit biblical values.

          • I’m saying that central biblical characters like Moses, David, Solomon and many others presumably exhibit biblical values.

            Yeah, that’s clearly rubbish. Moses was prevented from seeing the promised land. David was cursed with family strife and the death of his son. Solomon’s kingdom was dismembered. If they ‘exhibited Biblical values’ why would God have had to punish them, all three?

          • In the narrative, it is not remotely God’s view that these people exhibit biblical values. It is said of them that they sometimes do and sometimes don’t. Are you therefore saying that we should take a different view from the divine one?

          • Ah Christopher I see you are of the view that scripture always tells us the mind of God. In which case you will need to allow for the obvious fact that God’s mind changed from time to time.

  5. I would immediately question Andrew Goddard’s treating ‘LGBT people’ as an essence category. That sidesteps the whole issue.

    • I fully agree with that, at any rate. Neither LGBT nor any of its equally tiresome extensions (LGBT+, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA+ etc.) denotes any logical category of people.

      • Yes, not only is it a meaningless hodgepodge, but it is also a concept that people are trying to shoehorn unsuccessfully into the same sort of category as fixed things like race and gender. So far is it from these, and from fully objective reality, that no medical doctor on earth could ever diagnose it from a human body. Whereas even a 2 year old understands what gender or pigmentation another has. Quite a contrast. And to be explained by the illicit hijacking of the previously successful civil rights narrative.

  6. I feel this must be a stressful situation. I’m not sure how working with those who take a gospel denying position happens in practice. Do you act as if all are Christians? Or is there an open recognition by some that they do not recognise the gospel denying group as Christian?

    As an outsider the clergy laity divide on matters that are fundamental seems bizarre. In what seems a chaotic situation I can only encourage you to take as firm a stand as possible. I pray that regular mixing with these views does not weaken your own beliefs.

  7. The problem at its heart is, what does God say sin is, do we accept His Word, clearly and unambiguously, and do we seek to amend our ways of life as we acknowledge our rebellion against Him, find not only forgiveness and mercy, but also the power to be different, or do we ask Him to make exceptions for our weaknesses and ask Him to bless our sexual behaviour, even when it stands in contradiction to His call to us of a holy life?
    If there is no agreement on the grounds of the loving call of a holy God to leave our way of sin and to choose to follow Him, albeit imperfectly as we allow His grace and Spirit to change our desires from within, then there cannot be reconciliation.
    We can only be of one mind if it is the mind of Christ dwelling in us, facing us with our own sin, and His mercy which delivers us from all sin by Jesus’ death on the cross.
    How can light walk with darkness? How can there be fellowship if there is no agreement on God’s revealed way of life for us?
    If you saw Justin Brierley’s “Unbelievable” discussion with Jane Ozanne and Peter Lynas the other day, the polarity of the underlying issue was enormous, and the arrogance, the demand for only one view being right – from JO’s perspective, her rudeness and inability to listen, represents starkly that there is no middle ground. Her demand for police action against those who hold a different view to hers quite clearly exposes that she will not be happy till all who don’t agree with her are locked up in prison. So much for grace, mercy, humility and ability to live with the fact that some people hold a very different worldview and basis of life immersed in God’s Word.
    Satan is out to destroy the Church – that’s clear from scripture – whether from without but usually from within; the nature of this conflict is not theological but the clear open work of evil, undermining marriage, family life, the nature of sin “Has God REALLY said..? “ Gen 3 – and intimidating those of us who hold to The Truth ( not my truth, not your truth, but THE truth) – and when you quote scripture, watch the eyes roll.
    Surrendering to Christ and His way is the starting place, not making up our own theology to suit our own weaknesses and sexual failure and desire. There cannot ever be agreement over this. Do we hold fast to what we know is true, or do we, like it appears the House of Bishops are doing, to be intimidated by those who are vociferous in trying to square the circle and silencing the voices – if there are any left in the HoB – so stand up for what we all know is true and depart from the woolly consensus politics we see.

    • It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing, it’s about having the basic honesty to say that sometimes one has not researched a topic enough to know whether one agrees or disagrees.

      • So there you have it.

        There’s Stephen’s view that this is a matter of the heart.

        And there is Christopher’s view that the difference between light and darkness is merely a form of administrative blindness (someone forgot to check whether the light bulbs needed replacing).

    • Stephen

      I largely agree with you about Ozanne. I am opposed to all that she stands for in terms of her gospel and its freedoms. Yet I thought on watching the first half or so that there was a certain plausibility. She speaks in a ‘wise and gracious tone’. We may feel it was patronising and smug but many are likely to think she fights for virtue. She just wants the love of God to triumph. It sounds plausible.

      Of course she doesn’t think that love should be extended to any who oppose full sexual freedom. I suspect there eternal punishment still has a place. She speaks with claimed authority that the Bible does not oppose same sex relationships etc. There is no embarrassment with skewing truth and creating untruth. Yet many will be deceived by her assumed authority. The lie is easy to believe from the lips of a conservative looking middle class woman who is passionate about a freedom many are inclined to grant.

      Can this be fought and conquered in the C of E?

      • What I find so sad is that this whole issue is a huge distraction from the need to get on with the evangelisation of the nation; Satan’s ploy is always to make Christians fight, usually in public, over First order, Second order and Third order issues to discredit the Church and gospel. I have hesitated to speak out as we have to choose wisely what battles to engage with, and how much time one can afford to spend – the cost we have to pay in twitter abuse from those who delight in baiting others.
        This issue cannot be resolved – either we take the side of God’s Word and Truth, along with physiology, psychology, biology, common sense and all, or we sink into a form of existentialism “I feel, therefore I am; I feel, therefore I am right. I feel and therefore everyone must agree with me ; I feel and therefore I become a victim if others dare to disagree.” Objective truth helps us to climb out of our bubbles of existence and realise that the world is bigger than my hobby horse..
        Those who advocate changing doctrine and therefore undermining the very basis of human society ought to read history and look around the world and see where it gets them; every church that has adopted, dare I say, this heresy has been in decline and then freefall.
        We can all be deluded and deceived by others who speak passionately – which is where we need our spiritual eyes open, our lives filled with the Holy Spirit, our willingness to test what is said to check if it is true; the General Synod has not always followed that and been deceived before because it is a human institution of flawed human beings, and we have to have something against which we test these issues. Division has existed over this for a long time, and Paul in 1 Corinthians tells us that “When you come together as a church, I hear there are divisions among you and in part I believe it. there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognised among you” (11:18-19) . If the C of E has to split into those who stay with the truth and orthodoxy and those who choose heresy, then it will happen. Rather, if there are those who want to go off from what we have always believed, maybe they should go and set up their own sect, and see if it has God’s blessing upon it or not…but stop forcing us to go against what is true even if it is unpopular or counter-cultural; we can speak winsomely about what we believe about marriage and human sexuality in a convincing way because we are convinced. If it is true, it will have the “ring of truth” about it which others will recognise. It does not condemn others who choose a different path, but it sets up the parameters of Christian faith as revealed in the scriptures and if others don’t want to be disciples of Jesus, and pay the price of costly discipleship they have made the choice, we have not told them they are wrong other than God’s Spirit convicting others of sin and bringing them to the Saviour of the world for mercy, forgiveness and grace.
        Sorry for the long post!

        • The ring of truth is unquantifiable. People can discern the ring of truth for quite different reasons:

          (a) The words that are considered to have the ring of truth simply sounds right, because they conform to the hearers’ upbringing, which is the only reason why they sound right to them.

          (b) The words are commonsensical and obviously correct.

          (c) The words emanate from people of proven good character.

          (d) It is hard to be fully accurate for the reason that the universe is so multidimensional and interconnected, which makes it difficult to give a full and adequate account of anything. Words that contain new information may cohere well with provisional conclusions already arrived at from studying other dimensions of the issue. And they may be taken to have the ring of truth for that reason.

          Why people treat ‘ring of truth’ as a simple idea, I have no idea. It is highly complex. And the same goes for ‘revelation’.

      • Not fought and conquered once and for all, but I don’t think the changes that some people are hoping for will come about in the five years of the current General Synod. For me the Jeremy Pemberton case sums up where we are up to in the C of E. A compelling case was made for a Christian understanding of SSM, there was lots of affirming talk and media interviews and debate but the inherited doctrine, order, authority and discipline of the church prevailed. The C of E does not parade its legal and doctrinal structures much. But they are there. It’s always a surprise when the faith and order of the C of E pushes back, because we give the impression it’s all about tea and cake, nods and winks, and agreements made after evensong. I think that’s why the affirming groups find positive sounding bishops so frustrating. It is all talk in the end. Mr Knott’s appointment is perhaps puzzling, but the senior leadership processes have plenty of checks and balances built in. It’s only a worry for the conservative constituency if they fail to use the opportunities open to them to influence senior appointments.

  8. Prediction: some people will spend their lives discussing this issue where it is quite obvious that a lot of the visible participants do not know enough about it, having not researched the science and statistics. Then they will regret it on their deathbed. Or they could join in the promulgation of the science and stats which would be more worthwhile and would be in the service of truth.

    We have come to a pretty pass where an amateur like me can run rings around official documents which steer clear of multiple central topics on which there is very clear cut consensus based on very clear cut statistical disparities.

    • Yes, it boils down to whether Leviticus 18:22’s description of “man lying with man as with woman” as toevah reflects God’s opinion or not. (God did not change his opinion of moral matters at Golgotha, only how he responds.) If the answer is No, why believe any part of scripture?

      • This all or nothing is terribly facile, and puts Christians who hold to it at a lower level educationally than students of the vast majority of subjects who need to be more nuanced and precise. Whereas in many cases that is not their actual educational level.

        If it is God’s opinion (and the term opinion sounds too subjective) it would only be because it was already self-evident. At least to the divine intelligence and probably to anyone else who pondered it long enough.

        • It is either OK in God’s eyes for a man to lie with a man as with a woman (ie sexually) or it isn’t. ‘Nuance’ in this context can only mean that there some circumstances in which it is OK and some in which it isn’t. If you believe that, please explain which circumstances, and where this is made clear in the Bible.

          Man is fallen and many things are no longer self-evident. That’s why the Law was needed.

          • I believe (on evidence) the precise opposite as anyone who has inhabited this thread for a while knows. However, read the context of my word ‘nuance’. The thing that I said was unnuanced was an all or nothing attitude. This attitude says that every document in existence is 100% correct or 100% incorrect. Quite the contrary – these are clearly 2 of the unlikeliest possibilities conceivable. Plus the simplistic nature of treating the Bible like a lawcode. Your last para I agree with totally, though some are clearer sighted than others.

          • I am not treating the Bible like a law code. I am treating the Law of Moses like a law code.

            This dialogue might best be clarified if you provide *your* answer to the question I put, instead of disparaging the question. Do you consider that the statement in Leviticus 18:22, that man lying with man as with woman is toevah, is God’s view of such action, or not?

          • Yes, totally, but not because it is written down anywhere but rather because it comports accurately with the harmfulness of the realities. People then write it down later to record or bear witness to that reality.

          • Thank you. For clarity’s sake, I do not wish to use Leviticus in discussion with secular gays. I wish to use it in discussion with the ‘gay Christian’ movement.

          • Christopher – well, good luck with your appeal to science.

            As far as I am concerned, the whole business really is written on peoples hearts and minds – and they are being dishonest with themselves when they claim otherwise.

            As far as trying to prove it to them with science, I think you’re onto a loser here – but I would love to be proved wrong. After all, the science which establishes the overwhelming benefits of the Coronavirus vaccine is completely clear. Nevertheless, in the country where I live, 45 percent of the population are not vaccinated, because they simply don’t believe the clear and plain findings of science in this matter.

            So science, even if its findings are pretty clear and more-or-less incontrovertible, isn’t going to help you much.

            I also feel somewhat sorry for the people who are condemned to do the research in this matter.

          • Jock, you’re just talking about whether data X will convince or persuade people, rather than something 1000s of times more important: namely, whether it is true. Persuasion is irrelevant, since all kinds of things are just as true whether they persuade people or not. People can be persuaded by all sorts of clever techniques, carefully nurtured plausibility, smart suits. And secondly a lot of people stick with what they want to believe. The first group are the gullible and the second group are the dishonest. Neither group has the slightest relevance to this debate. In fact if we are not searching for truth then a debate forum is not the right place.

            Also, you are treating reliance on science as something niche. Whereas in reality it is mainstream.

          • Hi Christopher,

            Please see my reply to you – which I posted in reply to the wrong person – which starts with the words:

            “Hi Christopher,

            Do you believe that our mind”…

            Apologies all for messing things up.

          • The conclusion you would come to from Scripture that Jesus is God is a conclusion reached by analysis.

            That analysis is done by the mind.

            All the words you read in Scripture are understood only because you are using your mind. Without your mind you would not read a single word.

            All the words you understand orally, ditto.

            That same mind knows that an assertion is an assertion and an argument, by contrast, is an argument.

          • Why Christopher do you believe – if analysis of scripture is done with the mind – that the disciples were able to be with Jesus for three years – see his miracles – hear his words – and still not know who he was?

        • Hi Christopher,

          Do you believe that our mind, emotions and will are fallen? If so can you explain how it is possible for Christians to have authoritative faith if all we know about God is received – or proven to be true – by our minds?

          Why – if we look at scripture and come to the conclusion that Jesus is God – do we not consider ourselves no less God than he is in being capable of knowing what is good – perfect? How is it possible for someone to make a judgement about God (instead of God judging them) without at that moment equating ourselves with God?

          And can I ask you to explain what you believe Paul means when he talks about having confidence in the flesh in Phil 3:4? What do you understand to be the flesh here and in other places?

          (I am certainly not saying that we cannot have authoritative faith – however I don’t wish to reveal my reasons for saying we can without first asking for yours).

        • This all or nothing is exactly what you need in public discussions with the gay Christian movement, because the point is to influence the audience. Try it and see.

      • In which case lesbianism is not ‘an abomination’, nor is sexual activity between two men which does not involve buggery.
        God is very precise, aren’t they?

        • God is very precise, aren’t they?

          Should that be ‘are very’ or ‘isn’t they’? Because it definitely can’t be the way you put it.

          Or you could just stop being silly with pronouns.

          • I’ll break my promise to myself to point our that the use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun dates to 1375.

            Or we could say God are, since God says ‘let us’…

          • I’ll break my promise to myself to point our that the use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun dates to 1375.

            Yes, I know, but the point is you can’t switch from ‘is’ to ‘are’ halfway through a sentence with the same subject. It just looks silly.

        • For men, it is what is meant by lying with another man as with a woman. As another man does not have a vagina, the phrase means something that a man gets from lying with a woman. Orgasm. Leviticus does not specify how.

          Lesbianism is not mentioned in the Law of Moses, but is mentioned in Romans 1:26 in identical context.

          • Leviticus implies buggery.
            Romans 1.26 does not refer to lesbiansim, but to disgusting female practices (like being on top during sexual intercourse).

          • If you put Romans 1:26 together with the next verse it is clear that same-sex sexual relations involving women are meant. If heterosexual positions are meant then where in the Bible is the ‘natural’ position specified?

  9. Jesus said – “…there’s much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now – but the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth.” surely modern sciences of genetics, endocrinology, gynaecology, human sexuality etc, are all in God’s plan of continuing revelation of the wonders of creation. This surely involves the great diversity now coming out into the open of the amazing diversity in human sexuality. The church, by remaining homophobic is continuing to contribute to higher than average suicide rates in the LGBTI folk. Also turning so many away from the gift of God’s love through the Church. It’s hard to be joined to something like the church when it actually so often condemns, judges and in some sectors persecuted them. Wake up Christians God is SPEAKING to you! Why are your views so stuck. “… Listen I have much more to tell you….”

    • Dear Mike “Surely modern sciences ——are all in God’s plan of continuing revelation of the wonders of creation”. Really! With this breadth of knowledge on display, I’m sure you will be able to inform the rest of us as to whether this God is also responsible for, say, the termination of the lives of almost 210,000 unborn children in England and Wales in 2019? After all, given that he is capable of creating amazing *diversity*, than perhaps he is then ultimately responsible for “the wonders of destruction”? Of course not you might say. Is it not therefore misleading to pontificate about a God who is now in the process of creating a variety within humanity when the revelation that is Scripture refers only to two?
      You accuse the C of E of to “the higher than average suicide rates in the LGBTI folk”.
      (a) Can you produce evidence to back that up? and (b) What percentage of those people have any attachment to the C of E?
      Finally, you accuse (a section of?) the C of E of being condemnatory and judgemental.
      Moreover you also describe the Church as being homophobic! For those of us who disagree with your presupposition, this particular term is replete with judgementalism. Sadly I suspect you will not agree with this. ” Every city or household divided against itself will not stand”.

    • Listen I have much more to tell you, and it contradicts what I have already told. And (out of all the millions of topics it could be about) twenty-first century ideologues can cherry pick their preferred topic (preferred, for their own self-centred benefit) and expect people to believe that that was exactly what Jesus had in mind at the time.

      Any other contenders for weakest argument of the year?

    • I very much doubt Jesus was referring to natural scientific discoveries and knowledge.

      But leaving that aside, I was gay when I became a Christian, and I continue to be both to this day. But I dont accept that God wants me to have sex with another man. So why blame the church for someone’s suicide? I understand loneliness and depression, but such is this life. Are you saying in telling people to repent and change their ways, Jesus was being unloving? Or did he know better.


  10. Rather than respond everywhere in the comments where people attribute current issues in the C of E to either a failure of research or lack of diligence in interpreting a particular verse from Leviticus let me say here that I believe that the C of E has been torn apart by a refusal to submit to God wholesale.

    But why do I? Because sexuality and sex differences – in being a means by which God reveals who he is – are central to the gospel – primary truth. Proof that sex differences are not secondary issues lies in the fact that we know from scripture that sex within biblical marriage is not sinful and yet 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says that practising homosexuality is a sign of not being saved. The difference being the two principles is only the sex of one of the participants.

    It is notable that when people who profess a faith start jumping into bed with someone of the same sex there is some recognition of sexuality and sex differences being a primary issue – but when this isn’t happening you’ll find many of those who objected saying that our views on sexuality and sex differences are secondary issues. Let this discrepancy be proof that those who leave the C of E who have at any time acted as if sex differences are primary shouldn’t be uniting with those who say that the bible allows women to be involved in roles which require guardianship of the truth. And no-one who believes that women should be vicars and bishops should be leaving the C of E – why would you? – your logic is no different to that which supports practising homosexuality. You cannot answer the question why marriage must be between a man and a woman which means you don’t have a theology of sexuality – the place for people with no theology is to remain in the C of E! If your answer is “for reproduction” you are saying that if two men can find a surrogate – or two women a sperm donor – that homosexuals should be able to marry.

  11. It’s strange that, when it comes to other areas of life (for example, financial probity), Church members and the wider public don’t expect that ordained ministers should bear sole responsibility for conforming their way of life to a pattern which the Church commends, so why did Issues assume this duty upon clergy alone in relation to sexuality?

    Well, as I commented on a previous post, the problem with the Issues approach (and that of subsequent guidance) lies in its binary thinking.

    For example, Issues oversimplified the clergy-laity distinction and was naïve in making ordained ministers solely responsible for modelling Christian discipleship: “People not only inside the Church but outside it believe rightly that in the way of life of an ordained minister they ought to be able to see a pattern which the Church commends.”

    In contrast, for any and every lay person, Issues promoted connivance under guise of fellowship: “At the same time there are others who are conscientiously convinced that this way of abstinence is not the best for them, and that they have more hope of growing in love for God and neighbour with the help of a loving and faithful homophile partnership, in intention lifelong, where mutual self-giving includes the physical expression of their attachment…While unable, therefore, to commend the way of life just described as in itself as faithful a reflection of God’s purposes in creation as the heterophile, we do not reject those who sincerely believe it is God’s call to them. We stand alongside them in the fellowship of the Church, all alike dependent upon the undeserved grace of God. All those who seek to live their lives in Christ owe one another friendship and understanding.”

    Far from being an insightful pastoral paradox, this blatant contradiction is based on the false notion that not maintaining “fellowship” with those who dissent from part of the Church’s canonical teaching is tantamount to a lack of “respect for free conscientious judgement where the individual has seriously weighed the issues involved”.

    Surely, its the opposite. Surely, if someone has seriously weighed the issues involved and continues to reject the Church canonical teaching, then, until either the individual or Church changes, any ‘fellowship’ would involve agreeing to treat that Church teaching as secondary in comparison to maintaining a semblance of fellowship and unity.

    Again, naively, Issues 5:15 permitted divergence between teaching and practice: “There is at any given time such a thing as the mind of the Church on matters of faith and life. Those who disagree with that mind are free to argue for change. What they are not free to do is to go against that mind in their own practice.”

    Since 1991, what’s been perpetually wrong-headed is the Church hierarchy’s persistent connivance at clergy and high-profile laity who dogmatically undermine the Church’s orthodox teaching on human sexuality.

    It has always been self-deceiving for the Church to maintain a semblance of fellowship with revisionists who denounce those who hold to orthodox belief on sexuality. It’s also self-deceiving to suggest that such hostile rejection could ever pass for “theological exploration and debate conducted with integrity” (as the House of Bishops described it).

    Thankfully, in the not-too-distant future, that thirty-year era of collective delusion will finally come to an end.

    Some moral differences are so starkly at odds that they aren’t worth bridging.

    • But it is not as though we are happy (or anything but devastated) at the horrid idea of consigning ‘the other lot’ to outer darkness. Far better to work on the task of illumination.

  12. Thank you David for this common sense response and summary of the situation. The HoB and their 1991 “Issues” fudged because I am guessing they knew under the radar there were plenty clergy and laity whose lives did not conform to Christ, and because discipline in the C of E departed a long time ago, there was no stomach for calling for repentance and to stand clearly on this. As you rightly say it is a delusion -something I have said privately for a long time: the issues have always been so opposed to one another with no common ground it is a waste of time trying to get agreement. LLF may be an attempt to bridge the divide – it is important to have discussion with respect, quietly, sensibly, and understanding the “other” view, and that we are all human beings who need to recognise our common humanity; but unless there is common ground of scripture, and all the ..ologies – physiology, psychology etc, we can only agree to differ, we have different world views and understanding, and we either have to agree to differ but that present teaching is eternal truth, and it’s up to those who disagree with God and His revelation to take it up with Him rather than fighting those who disagree…

  13. I’d like to point out that same sex marriage is in now way a new idea and it appeared in 1954, in `The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler’ (by Spike Milligan). The story ends as follows:

    Oooaeioughhhh, I tell you Seagoon, let’s eat the batter pudding or we’ll starve!

    No, yer hear me, No! That’s the only evidence we’ve got. Though I must admit this hunger does give one an appetite.

    We must eat it or die.


    Very well then, I shall stop playing my violin. [Music stops]

    And that, we fear, is the end of our story, except of course, for the end. We invite listeners to submit what they think should be the classic ending. Should Seagoon eat the batter pudding and live, or leave it and in the cause of justice, die? Send your suggestions on a piece of batter pudding. Meantime, for those of you cretins who would like a happy ending, here it is.

    [Romantic music]

    Darling… Darling will you marry me?

    Of course I will… Darling.

    Thank you, good night.

  14. I’ve just watched an hour long interview with Rosaria Butterfield. It is a breath of fresh air. I recommend it. One of the points she makes quite forcefully is that the real gospel and the gay gospel if I can call it that are two very different gospels. It is not simply the issue of gay relationships, the contours of the gospel at all its key points are different. Hardly fresh news, I know but she puts it with such conviction it is infectious and reassuring.

    • John Thomson: re Rosaria Butterfield – A very interesting conversation.
      Jayne Ozanne really neds to listen to her because RB puts her finger on the pathologies and cod theology that Jayne Ozanne is promoting – with the connivance on Justin Welby.

  15. Last night I was falling asleep watching the BBC and woke up to a show about a serial killer Nilsen who killed gay men.

    As I learned how same sex attracted people were treated in British society at the time – this was the early 80’s – I could suddenly see what the motives were for many (not everyone) who support the gay agenda. My first conclusion – their reasons for wanting reform have absolutely nothing to do with helping those who are same sex attracted.

    It is driven by particular groups (who as you will see combine to be a good proportion of the church and of society):
    – those who in past decades treated people involved in homosexuality with contempt – as sub human – and wish to satisfy their consciences.
    – those who experienced rejection from harsh parents – and who were part of a homosexual boarding school style culture which both expressed hatred for homosexuality while engaging in it. These group has both sympathy for themselves (not misplaced) and guilt for participating – they choose to support the gay agenda to deal with their guilt and to ensure their own sexual misconduct be kept secret.
    – those who feel guilty – whether or not they were mean to same sex attracted people – or engaged in homosexual acts – for cooperating with those in power who were controlling these environments in order to gain favour.
    – those brought up by sexually repressed and heartless parents who now want to express their rage – to have their own back – to take revenge on the Pharisaical values of those for whom they have enduring contempt.
    – working class men who feel guilty for the way in which they chose to live out a macho manhood instead of be humiliated by the treatment of harsh fathers (while still being humiliated).
    – ambitious women in the church and outside who realise there is a direct relationship between the feminisation of the church and of culture and their having what they want. The introduction twenty-five years ago of women as vicars is absolutely at one logically and politically with the current gay agenda – there isn’t even a handful of women protesting changes in church teaching – yet the teaching of the church has been unchanged for two thousand years.

    The gay agenda is – speaking generally – a mass cover up. It’s a sacrifice to what is perceived to be a hateful God. If gay people are the casualties of the cover up so be it – there are plenty of others who benefit.

    Instead of seek to understand the brokenness of same sex attracted people the plan is to instead turn their brokenness into a virtue – something God given.

    It’s one of a number of self-detonating bombs being handed to the young. It’s really important that we see that the completely lost behaviour of the young is only partially their fault – it would be disastrous if we relate to the young as if they started this.

    So it’s not an option – gay people MUST be treated like kings and queens (with apologies for any ambiguity) in order to ensure that many aren’t forced to face up to their behaviour. If it wasn’t necessary to both cover things up and to assuage guilt the elite wouldn’t have the slightest interest in the gay agenda.

    The gay agenda is driven by these public school boys (I speak as a person who went to a private school for twelve years – I’ve experienced the harsh lonely culture first hand). They are pursuing a path which enables them to maintain their grip on power. To cause people not to look at their past attitudes and activities. With the exception of openly gay bishops who believe it is beneath their station to have to continue to sin in the dark.

    This is what the John Smyth and Iwerne and Jonathan Fletcher stuff is really about. Even those who may not have known about specific indecent acts cooperated with a corrupt culture to gain favour – as proven in their doing so now. These are the people who while professing a commitment to orthodoxy have a history of making peace with corruption which leaves them less than eager to have issues explored. They would rather a quiet departure from the C of E instead of any bold protest which exposes their hypocrisy. I’m talking about the big C of E churches who have done nothing over a period of twenty-five years of walking away from orthodoxy except seek to maintain their current piece of the pie – their position of privilege. What would adored famous C of E leaders past have done in this situation? The same. During their time they chose cooperation with the establishment instead of repentance and separation – despite exhortations from outside to do so.

    Working class people have treated gay people with an intensity that matches any racism – asserting a macho manhood designed to show themselves powerful in the face of harsh fathers instead of be humiliated. Open contempt for gay people still exists in some older working class people. But most were ripe – ready – to be offered a means by which to sacrifice for their sins.

    Those who cooperated in order to gain favour with those in power were in their ministry without moral authority before they even got started. Even their gospel – their conversion – is affected by these things. They cannot see God’s calling people to repent as love – only his feeling love for them. They major on a God whose love is tolerant – but what they are really doing is covering up their fear of a hateful God.

    It should be clear that there is no point in waiting for those who are more prominent – more powerful – to take the fight to those seeking to wipe Anglicanism off the face of the earth. Or to expect support from people in the groups I described above until through the choices of others some choose to repent.

    To defeat the gay agenda we must draw attention to the past behaviour of current leaders in respect of sexuality and power. This issue – as I have explained – extends beyond the church – it is so pervasive in the C of E that it might need leaders in the church to be brought to their knees from outside – by some in the media following the truth where it leads. We must expose the real motives of the gay agenda – call those in the older elite to repent of their sin – to at last begin to respond in a manner worthy of Christ to people involved in homosexuality – to care for them as people – to have the courage to explain to them why they have reacted as they have in their lives. We must show them that their behaviour may be weakness not wilfulness – and ignorant even if wilful – instead of both knowing and wilful – so they do not feel alienated from God in any way that is inappropriate. So that they can begin a path towards healing. We must show how gay people continue to be neglected in the way in which they are being used as pawns to assuage other people’s guilt – or facilitate other people’s revenge. In the way in which their brokenness is now treated as a matter for celebration.

    To understand the past repressive culture one need only tune in some of the TV shows of past decades The warped sexual deviancy of particular comedians. Or the caricature of gay people presented in so called comedies. They found a place because people’s sexuality was forbidden – dirty – but also longed for. Despite sexuality being God given people pursued their wants out of his presence.

    So – in summary – the current agenda is a later chapter in a many chapter story. It is being driven by people who have an interest in a particular narrative being written – people in the church, politics and the media – and ordinary folk rebelling against the former’s public face. People who are happy to work together to ensure that their failure in respect of their personal morality – and in their ultimately cooperating with those who both misused power and mistreated them – in order to maintain their privileged position – not be brought into the open.

    We aren’t like Jesus only when forgiving people. Grace demands that while there are particular groups of people who can be described – it is also true to say that there are as many groups as there are people. Our default position must be to reach out to people of all sexual affiliations – both to perpetrators and victims. Everyone is to some extent both. We receive a heavenly reward not for loving those who love us – but in our reaching out to those who don’t love us – loving them so that they might then be equipped to love.

    My message to gay people is that – as is the case for every person – you cannot hope to rely on the world caring about you. But God loves you – and the faithful Christian loves you – neither will be unfaithful to you.

    • Instead of seek to understand the brokenness of same sex attracted people the plan is to instead turn their brokenness into a virtue – something God given.

      Yes this is key but it is vital not to become as sex-obsessed as the caricature of the conservative position.

      The aim to ‘turn […] brokenness into a virtue’ is not a ‘gay agenda’, it’s about an attempt to overturn the whole doctrine of the Fall. There’s a reason those who drive this agenda keep parroting the ‘fearfully and wonderfully’ made line out of context, in order to try to push the line ‘God made me, flaws and all, therefore nothing about me can be wrong in God’s sight: I am a fearful and wonderful creation, and I don’t need to change, I just need to accept that God loves me just as I am’. And that applies to everything, not just sex.

      The sex issue is the one they push because it’s where they have an ‘in’ because, as you point out, there are things that society and the church legitimately need to repent of in the way gay people and lesbians have been treated.

      But that’s not what it’s about; that’s just a beachhead. The aim, the ideology, is to completely upend our understanding of human nature as totally corrupted by sin, and install in its place a theology where all humans are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, and all they have to do is accept that they are ready to become divine through union with Christ.

      Proclaiming the gospel then becomes not a matter of telling people the good news that Christ has died to save them from their sins if they repent, but a sort of psychotherapy where the aim is to cleanse people of their guilt by making them accept that they have nothing to repent of as long as they act in authentically in accordance with their ‘true, God-given, fearful and wonderful identity’; and that the only ‘sin’ is acting inauthentically, not in accordance with that identity.

      It’s not about sex. It’s never been about sex. It’s about the fundamental nature of humanity: are we stained, corrupted, fallen bearers of a cracked, muddied, but still salvageable, divine image? Or are we proto-Gods, who have just to accept our perfect nature and learn to love ourselves in order to apotheosise?

      It really is as basic as that. The whole sex thing is just a distraction.

      • Hi S,
        Thank you for your feedback and opinion.
        Of course I agree that the aim of demonic forces is to dismantle the gospel and the entire created order (the created order in 1 Corinthians 11 being God, Christ (who is also God), married man, married woman, children). However I still think there is value in identifying how the specific area of man and woman is under attack. For example I explained how some are feeling guilty for their behaviour towards homosexual people and also feeling guilty for sexual sin – such people’s capitulation to the gay agenda is not an attempt to dismantle all of the gospel – only their wish to sleep at night.
        I therefore believe that my giving the gay agenda specific focus is not a distraction but a means of fighting back – a way to see how to pull it out by the roots.

        • For example I explained how some are feeling guilty for their behaviour towards homosexual people and also feeling guilty for sexual sin – such people’s capitulation to the gay agenda is not an attempt to dismantle all of the gospel – only their wish to sleep at night.

          Yes, and I think you’re right about that (bearing in mind of course that the sexual sins people may be feeling guilty for may be nothing to do with same-sex sexual activity but could well be heterosexual fornication or adultery, say). That’s how the beachhead works: on an issue where there is real guilt on the part of society and the church, and also where a lot of people feel real guilt over their own personal sins.

          And then it offers a way out of that guilt. Not the real way out of guilt, the painful way, the way of the cross, where we accept our sinful nature and the massive sacrifice it cost God to redeem us, but the easy way, where we just redefine sin as not really being sinful at all and pretend that we are wonderful creations of a god, just perfect as we are, and all we need to do is accept that.

          But while the people who just want an easy way to feel good about themselves may not want to dismantle all the gospel, and even the people who are driving this agenda forward may not want that or realise that is what they are doing, indeed, they may be acting with entirely good intentions, that is the end result.

          There’s a reason for that saying about the paving on the road to Hell.

          I therefore believe that my giving the gay agenda specific focus is not a distraction but a means of fighting back – a way to see how to pull it out by the roots.

          It won’t pull it out by the roots, though, because that isn’t the root. It’s just one tendril. If it wasn’t that particular area being used to get in it would be a different area. You have to fight the ideology at the real root, address the faulty premise, not simply deal with each manifestation as it occurs.

          Take the point you make about the ‘gay agenda’ being appealing to those who feel guilty about their own sexual sin. Perhaps that is fornication. Well, why does it appeal to them? Because it tells them that fornication isn’t really a sin at all. That is fornication is an act of one’s authentic self, making a connection to another’s authentic self, through physical sexual intimacy, consensual and fulfilling and loving to all involved, then that is not in fact sinful, even if it’s just a casual one-night stand (cf Penelope Cowell Doe).

          Obviously you can see the appeal of this to the fornicator. It tells them that not only is their sin not a sin, but that it might actually be holy. The perversion becomes the sacred. Guilt is gone, without the need for that pesky painful repentence, without the need to confront one’s own real nature as a wicked, corrupted, sinful creature in permanent rebellion against all that is good.

          So how can this oh-so-tempting idea, that assuages guilt without requiring reality be faced, possibly be fought? Only by countering the very premise, the idea that whatever is done out of one’s ‘authentic self’ must be right, must be holy.

          That is how you pull it out by the roots — by addressing the root error of the ideology.

          Otherwise you might be able to deal with it in one manifestation — but the same heresy will just pop up again in another guise, adopting another sin as its cover.

          • I think the reason why you believe that what I am writing has no power to invade an issue by its roots is because you are missing something. Why don’t prophets all say the same words – “You know your problem is you’re selfish and need God” – when if they did they wouldn’t be lying – and when if they did it would summarise the overall problem with human beings? Wouldn’t it be better if all prophecies were the same – wouldn’t it be better if they all said these exact words? No – because the idea behind prophecy or prophetic messages is that people get connected with the big message about themselves and God through specific insights given to them.
            If this observation about what it is that I am seeking to do doesn’t lead to us finding agreement we might need to agree to disagree.
            Have a good rest of weekend.

          • If this observation about what it is that I am seeking to do doesn’t lead to us finding agreement we might need to agree to disagree.

            Do we not agree? I didn’t contradict anything you wrote, I just added to it.

            I supposed I can’t stop you from disagreeing with me if you want to, but I don’t disagree with you at all. I think everything you write is correct. I just think it’s important to see and deal with it in its wider context.

      • Disappointed that my recognising the way in which same sex attracted people come last in respect of issues that supposedly centre on them did not win support from you Penelope.

        • Sorry, I don’t understand your comment.
          I was, of course, being flippant. Simply because there is no such thing as the ‘gay agenda’.
          Like the ‘trans agenda, it’s used a lot as a bogey to frighten people that non normative folk are coming to ‘steal’ our rights!

          • Ok, well that’s good – I think (as long as you recognise that the way in which people either in weakness or wilfulness respond to their guilt by pretending to care about same sex attracted people is something which – to the extent that it is wilfulness – is an agenda).

            I hope you can see that not one of my ‘groups’ was what some might call the gay lobby (characteristically presented by opponents as a group of people without a soul). I’m sick to death of that kind of ham fisted way of thinking. I’ve tried elsewhere here to oppose analysis which is aimed at seeing everything happening with same sex attracted people as only being about evil and God’s victory over it. Any kind of theology which fails to see God’s image in one’s opponents is less than biblical.

          • S – have you ever had anything brush against your face in the dark? Leading you to strike out against it – leading it to move and brush you again? Resulting in a kind of escalating imaginary war between you and the object?

            To some extent this is what conflict around same sex attraction issues is – people seeing other people as evil and responding in a way that leads others to find the very worst in themselves.

            Can I ask you in what ways you personally have empathy for those who take a non-biblical view of sexuality? You presumably recognise that amongst these people there are victims – and people whose sin is weakness – and people whose sin is wilful but ignorant – yes?

            I am asking because if you don’t see this I don’t think that if you are talking with someone whose views don’t align with yours that there is anything you’re likely to say which is going to be of much help.

          • Just read a newspaper headline:

            “US official says Russian troop presence is a danger but Ukraine warns of causing ‘panic’ with rhetoric”.

            Smart Ukraine.

          • S – have you ever had anything brush against your face in the dark? Leading you to strike out against it – leading it to move and brush you again? Resulting in a kind of escalating imaginary war between you and the object?

            Ah well — when I strike an object in the dark, it stays struck.

            To some extent this is what conflict around same sex attraction issues is – people seeing other people as evil and responding in a way that leads others to find the very worst in themselves.

            Evil? Really? I think mostly people are seen as misguided and (at worst) as wilfully deluding themselves, but not evil.

            I personally am sure that those on the other side are acting out of what they see as the best intentions. But, the road to Hell — the Great Leap Forward came from the best of intentions, after all, and it left thirty million dead.

            Can I ask you in what ways you personally have empathy for those who take a non-biblical view of sexuality? You presumably recognise that amongst these people there are victims – and people whose sin is weakness – and people whose sin is wilful but ignorant – yes?

            As I say, I think they are acting from the best of intentions. But they are wrong.

            I am asking because if you don’t see this I don’t think that if you are talking with someone whose views don’t align with yours that there is anything you’re likely to say which is going to be of much help.

            I’m pretty sure that there’s nothing anyone can say when talking with someone whose views don’t align that will be of much help — as my old minister used to say, ‘convince a man against his will and he’s of the same opinion still’.

            But, my hope is that by pointing out the contradictions and the incorrect premises in the other side’s worldview, those looking on who may not yet have been persuaded either way might be helped to avoid error.

          • The ‘non normative’ bit is no longer true. It is because LGBTQ rights have become normative that the church has a problem.

  16. This paragraph in the notification of Abdrew Goddard’s clerical provenance, says it all:

    “Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) and Tutor in Ethics at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He is a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) and was a member of the Co-Ordinating Group of LLF. ”

    Firstly; is this man a Lay Minister, a priest or a deacon of the C. of E.?

    Secondly; what on earth is he doing on the Co-Ordinating Group of LLF? He clearly is not au faith with what such and organisation should be all about. Who elected him?

    • “Firstly; is this man a Lay Minister, a priest or a deacon of the C. of E.?”

      Yes. I believe at one point he was even Canon.

      “Secondly; what on earth is he doing on the Co-Ordinating Group of LLF?”

      I quote directly from the CofE website outlining the different working groups, emphasis mine:

      “For the LLF working groups priority was given to finding people with the appropriate subject expertise, while also paying attention to achieving a balance of theological perspectives and representation by LGBTI+ people. In forming the individual groups, it was not always possible to find both – although, across the groups, there is a good balance.”

      As a conservative Anglican evangelical, he has every right to be part of the process, at least as much as those who hold opposing views, who you would doubtless find on the lists as well. The whole point of the different steering/oversight is that they are not all taken from a single faction on this issue.

      “Who elected him?”

      This I am less certain of. My understanding is that no one did. He, like all the others, was appointed.


      • Because if you can’t find fault in the argument, you find fault with the man.

        “He clearly is not au faith with what such and organisation should be all about.

        Clearly Father Ron believes the outcome of the process is already determined, and the steering groups are/were just there to rubber stamp a decision that’s been made for them.

  17. To “S” These are first class contributions to a discussion that has been in danger of either sliding into intellectual or even biblical sidelines. “Set you minds on things that are above” does not mean dabbling in philosophical subtleties or pious cliches. The Church needs to recover and cherish”the mind of Christ”; not so much the “therapeutic Jesus” but more the mighty warrior of Revelation 19.
    We are in the middle of spiritual warfare. The baals and the ashtoreth may no longer manifest themselves in their physical form, but they now appear in the guise of “equalities and rights” and having bypassed scripture and (biblical) reason have lodged in the “soul” of corporate imagination.
    The Lord God created this world out of chaos. He created order. Today chaos exists everywhere.
    This same God created man in his own image – male and female he created them.
    He created them to be united in one flesh ( meaning a union in the totality of their being). Why? As the supreme expression of their love? Yes, and therefore human sexuality was involved; but of course within the context of this union. Oh yes, and children- ergo procreation! Have we, however, ever given thought to the possibility that the act of procreation between male and female actually signifies and reveals the glory of God the Creator of the universe?
    Yes, of course” it all went wrong”. But then God did create the “New Adam”: “As in Adam all shall die, so in Christ shall all be made alive”.
    To summarise: I believe that those declaiming in this debate that the central issue is not about sexuality are in the right. However the desire to dovetail this concern into the wider issues all too often leads to a concentration on topics and approaches which can be conditioned more by secular considerations than theological input. Often the finished product has either played down or even ignored the purposes for which God the Creator had, and continues to have, for his creation and redemption of humanity.
    The primary importance of the Genesis account concerning creation is that all is directed to God’s will and glory and therefore the gift of sexuality in not for self-gratification or even self- fulfilment.And this principle means that we cannot separate our most personal relationships from our wider familial and humanitarian concerns. So given the radical societal transformations now taking place and manifested, outwardly in confusion and chaos and inwardly in psychological frailty and insecurities, we need to make choices based upon whether these transformations just might have an ultimate source that overarches feelings, observations or even rationalisations. If the “god” we worship is false then the consequences will be considerably more traumatic than confusion and chaos. The choice we face is between submitting to the will of the God who has made us in his own image or the “god” some of us are busily recreating in our own image!

      • S and Colin – thanks for the link, S. I also enjoyed what you wrote.

        Right now, I’m feeling somewhat jaded and jaundiced by the whole business – and I took a decision against churches long ago. I think that S is right – the specific depravity being discussed here is not the issue – it is much deeper than that, because I took a decision against churches back in 2001, before this had really developed.

        I remember a quote from Anders Nygren – along the lines of: when one hears the gospel and is conquered by it, that is faith. Faith comes to people who hear the gospel, fight against it, but they come to understand that they need to repent – but cannot repent – and this is the point at which Jesus enters and heals broken lives.

        I don’t know about Jesus the warrior of Revelation 19 – I simply don’t see anything of this process happening. I don’t see any signs that any revival may be about to happen.

        It certainly won’t happen within the C. of E. when sin is no longer considered to be sin.

        • Why the clinging to ‘revivals’? They come and go and typically affect small areas and often create further division – eg Toronto ‘Blessing’.

          You would think for some the Holy Spirit is only around at certain times lol.

          • PC1 – well, the Toronto Curse (to give it a more accurate description) was not a revival in any true sense of the word, since it was clearly Satanic and, whatever else its followers were brought to, they certainly weren’t brought to faith in Christ. That was the one where people started making spontaneous animal noises and the concluded their worship with the well known hymn `Old MacDonald Had A Farm.’

            While I do accept that every Christian has, in some sense, a `road to Damascus’ experience of their own, we can point to the influences that the Holy Spirit used to get us there. I know that my own faith basically came from a revival back in 1921 (my grandfather, my mother, me) – so, for this reason, I’m not as negative about the concept of revival as you are.

            Although – yes – I do accept the point that the Holy Spirit isn’t limited in this way.

          • Jock – the idea of animal noises only figured because that was the headline grabbing item. And so all ideas of ‘what proportion?’ went out of the window. A lion’s roar is precisely the same sound as a deep groan of longing and of determined intention. So why describe it as a lion’s roar? There are only limited numbers of possible noises that can be made by a human being.

            As for dogs barking etc look in the most comprehensive of the many treatments, Hilborn’s, to see how widespread or not that actually was.

            You have then elevated it to the main feature bar none!!

            The main features were laughter, tears, release, shaking, and catalepsy. All of them combined in a shift in physical/consciousness state.

          • Christopher Shell – thanks for this – and probably a timely reminder to me, that God moves in all sorts of ways and deals differently with different people.

            The `laughter, tears, release, shaking, and catalepsy’ is completely alien to any Christian experience I have had, but perhaps I shouldn’t knock it in others. And the `shift in physical/consciousness state’ doesn’t chime in either – but again, perhaps this is the way that it manifests itself in others.

            If people came to faith, then that is what matters.

          • In my understanding, not many people did come to faith through the TB. Plus, it marked a step in the ghettoisation direction, making it significantly harder for people not in that culture to enter it. We have seen the effects of that since.

          • But it proves Paul right when he says that if Christians act a bit mad in assembly people will not unnaturally (or not incorrectly even) think they are in fact a bit mad. The same applies to simultaneous tongues speech which prevents anyone hearing, understanding, or thinking.

  18. Jock said: ” It certainly won’t happen within the C. of E. when sin is no longer considered to be sin.”

    Dear Jock, you may not have noticed that whole Christian ethic is about the fact the “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. This is precisely why the Father sent Jesus into this world “To Save Sinners”: that’s you and me, Jock!

    There are two sins being talked about here: (1) Sexual irresponsibility (homo or heterosexual) and (2) Homophobia! What we and the Church have to discern is: Which of these sins is the more painful to admit to? Remember, jock, if you don’t accept that you, too, are a sinner; then perhaps the Salvation and Redemption that Jesus brought may not be applicable to you.

    • There are two sins being talked about here: (1) Sexual irresponsibility (homo or heterosexual) and (2) Homophobia!

      Only one of those, though, is being redefined as ‘not really a sin’ by the kind of people who claim that, say, a one-night stand can be moral or that a remarriage after a divorce can be valid.

    • He also called people to repent. Quite convenient of you to just ignore that. And disagreeing on the issue of gay sex is not the same as ‘homophobia’. I am gay and Im not afraid of gay people.

    • Father Ron Smith – most of what you wrote reads quite well, but you do miss the whole point about repentance.

      Yes, Jesus came to save sinners. Yes, that’s you and me. Yes, homophobia is a sin; yes, sexual irresponsibility (homo or hetero) is a very great sin.

      We (and the Church) have to recognise that (a) we are all sinners and that we have all fallen short of the glory of God – with this in the forefront of our minds when we deal with those around us.

      At the same time, (b) the function of the Church is to lead people to repentance.

      It is not the function of the Church to proclaim the message that everything in the garden is lovely for those who obstinately insist on continuing in their sin.

  19. Why be nervous with regard to “placing the focus on one individual”? I’ve heard this kind of language several times and it frankly baffles me. This is nothing short of scandalous. The man in question is living in sin, in a same-sex marriage! He ought to be ashamed of himself and be expelled not only from his position, but from the church – until such a time as he repents of his sin.

      • Which indeed we are. The idea that things don’t change and develop in 2000 years is quite ridiculous. For one thing, St Paul made assumptions about an imminent end of all things which proved to be quite wrong. (A discussion which has taken place on this forum before and isn’t needed again). For another thing, Paul thought it was a better thing not to marry. For another thing, we don’t know how Paul’s own thinking might have changed over the course of 2000 years. It changed in his own life time so why would it not change again? That would be highly unlikely.

        • But why on earth, out of the millions of possible directions, should things develop in just the direction that a given person might personally choose for their own private motives?

          • But why on earth, out of the millions of possible directions, should things develop in just the direction that a given person might personally choose for their own private motives?

            That’s a bit of an anthropic fallacy: presumably in a world of billions of different people, for any given direction in which things might develop, you can find someone for whom that is their preferred direction. Therefore it cannot be an argument against any particular development, that it is someone’s preferred development; because that would be equally true of any other development.

            The actual problem with Mr Godsall’s argument is that he is equivocating on ‘ideas’ and the truths those ideas describe.

            So for example, take the laws of physics. Our understanding of the laws of physics has changed over the last two thousand year, of course it has. But have the laws of physics themselves changed? No, they have not. Exactly the same laws of physics operate today as operated two thousand years ago, or two million years ago, or twelve billion years ago.

            So it is not true to say that ‘The idea that things don’t change and develop in 2000 years is quite ridiculous’. In fact there are lots of things that don’t change and develop. The laws of physics, for example. The truths of mathematics. Logic. Biology. Medicine.

            Over the years our understandings of these things, of course, changes (hopefully in the direction of better understanding, though that’s not guaranteed). but the things themselves don’t change.

            And, most relevantly, morality. Things that are wrong today were wrong two thousand years ago; and if something was wrong in Biblical times, then it is still wrong today.

            Our understanding of morality might change (again, hopefully in the direction of a better understanding); but morality itself does not change.

            So, if Mr Godsall wants to argue that Paul was wrong when he wrote (as I’m sure he actually believes) then he is free to do so. But he ought not to pretend to argue that Paul could have been right when he wrote, but that ‘things have changed and developed’ so that what Paul wrote, while correct when he wrote it, is no longer right today. That is not a reasonable position.

          • It also makes the elementary philosophical error of chronological snobbery. The Frank Spencer ‘Every day in every way [society is] getting better and better.’. Evidence? There is plenty of statistical evidence that, precisely as one would expect, some things get better, some worse and some remain about the same. Then it expects credit for understanding one’s own culture (even though that is by far the easiest one for anyone to understand) and also for downgrading other cultures before first understanding them.

          • Christopher – Frank Spencer – gosh that’s going back a bit. I used to enjoy that one. Haven’t seen it in a while.

      • Yes, absolutely. Why one standard for ordained and another for lay members? He should be excommunicated. The failure to exercise church discipline is the reason the CofE is in this mess in the first place.

        • I don’t think the C of E would be the church for you Chris. Haven’t heard of anyone being excommunicated probably since the demise of the Church Courts in the early 18c. Gathered/ Membership churches can exercise discipline, not a national Established church like the C of E. Sometimes a bishop might be ticked off ( Fisher and Bishop Barnes, Ramsey and the bishop of Woolwich.)That’s about it.

    • The man in question is living in sin, in a same-sex marriage!

      Well, I mean, to be fair, whether the same-sex marriage is or isn’t sinful is precisely the point at issue.

      The problem with ‘don’t place the focus on one individual’ is that it allows the following, dishonest, chain of reasoning:

      (a) we haven’t decided whether same-sex marriages are sinful or not.

      (b) while we are deciding, we can appoint someone in a same-sex marriage to this post, and it would be wrong to object because that would place the focus on one individual

      (c) oh look, we must have decided that being in a same-sex marriage is not sinful, because otherwise we wouldn’t have appointed someone in a same-sex marriage to such an important post, would we?

      That is, it allows the short-circuiting of discussion by acting as if a decision can be made before the discussion has concluded by claiming that it is irrelevant to the discussion; and then later using that decision as a fait accompli to try to influence the discussion.

      If people aren’t paying careful attention, they could be misled into thinking that the discussion had reached a conclusion that it had not, in fact, reached by logical reasoning, but that had simply been pre-empted by ‘facts on the ground’.

      • (It would be a similar strategy to the one outlined in the Dentons report I tried to link to above, where activists are encouraged to lobby lawmakers behind closed doors to get their preferred policies enacted, avoiding any scrutiny in the media until the laws are on the books, at which point they can be presented to the public as a fait accompli and impossible to reverse, rather than as anything requiring a public discussion or reaching a consensus about).

      • S – I’m not sure, in this case, that it *is* the main point at issue. I gave his wiki page a quick once-over. It wasn’t very informative, but I did see `Pemberton met Cunnington on a support website for gay fathers in 2008 and both had been previously married to women for several decades.’

        The main issue (at least as far as I can see) is that he was already married. If he had left his wife to marry another woman, giving the reason that he simply didn’t find his wife attractive enough any more – and wanted to marry a younger woman who actually turned him on, then this would have been considered utterly disgusting.

        But it is considered *completely OK* for him to dump his marriage to a woman because he no longer fancies her if he suddenly discovers that the real attraction happens to be towards other men.

        The `gay fathers’ business suggests that he actually had offspring. I’d really have thought that anyone who had children understood just how important it was for the child for its mummy and daddy to be together. If it is a young child, the bottom falls out if its world if the parents get divorced and start fooling about with other people. Once you have children, creating a good environment for the children then takes absolute priority. Clearly not for these two – living together with someone that they fancied seems to have had priority.

        Of course, we’re given to understand (from a comment further up the page) that the families actually suffer from some sort of Stockholm syndrome, whereby they develop extreme sympathy for the man who is urinating on them from a great height – and apparently the relationships that these gentlemen have with their former families is just top hole.

        It all sounds utterly disgusting to me, but I’m much more concerned about the effect that divorce has on the offspring (even if the children happened to be grown up at the time) and how it really affects the woman who gets dumped – even if she puts on a great show of understanding and sympathy (and is perhaps even able to convince herself of it).

        For me, what these two men did to their wives and children is much worse than the fact that the two men got together.

        • The main issue (at least as far as I can see) is that he was already married.

          I think you’ve been misled by the confusing threading on these web pages. The ‘one individual’ on whom the focus is being placed is Stephen Knott who, from the small amount of research I have done, was never married to a woman.

          The person who was married and left his wife and family for motives which have been speculated on but not proved, is a different individual who was raised in a sub-thread.

          • S – ah yes – apologies – with Stephen Knott that is the main issue – but there was a sub-thread about somebody else.

            `It’s all rather confusing really!’

          • This is partly my fault Jock, S, as I started the thread about Jeremy Pemberton. It was James who made the assertions about him and his husband, Lawrence.

            It is right for the focus to be on the appointment process, and the one appointed (hence the legitimacy of asking questions about Knott’s/Welby’s motivations), but not right to focus on the character of the former as, for one thing, it’s irrelevant to the post.

            All I had suggested was that Jeremy was justified to feel like he had been held to a different standard, as that’s what it looks like to me as well, but we managed to digress into a much broader argument and eventually, thanks to James, into personal….. accusations.

            This whole comments section, and I am guilty of it as well, is a masterclass in losing perspective. 😉

          • Mat – thanks for the clarification. Yes – you’re right – the wikipedia page doesn’t really give all that much information – and it was wrong of me to fill in the gaps as I did.

        • Jock

          See my response to James much earlier in the thread.
          Since you know, as you admit, nothing about these men, it is unwise to speculate.
          Neither ‘ditched’ their wives and families to marry each other.
          James made that claim and it is defamatory.
          Both Jeremy and Laurence have close, loving relationships with their families.
          Their lives have borne much good fruit.

          • Neither ‘ditched’ their wives and families to marry each other.

            Well, certainly at least one of them did ditch his wife and family, because it’s a matter of public record that he got divorced, and to get divorced is by definition to ditch your wife (and family, if you have any children).

            What has not been proved is that the ditching was in order to marry each other.

            But the ditching did happen, we know that because such ditchings, or ‘divorces’ to use the legal term, are matters of public record.

          • And, actually, it’s unwise, and misandrist, to assume that divorce inevitably means men ‘ditching’ their wives and families. More women sue for divorce than men. And many divorces are completely amicable.

          • Penelope – divorce that is completely amicable is simply not a Christian concept. We know that it happens in the secular world – where people simply do not take the marriage vows – or indeed the Christian concept of marriage seriously – but it certainly does not happen in the Christian world.

          • More women sue for divorce than men.

            Ditch their husbands, you mean.

            (Sometimes such ditchings are necessary, of course — for example if the husband / wife is financially abusive and it is necessary to remove all legal connections. But it’s still a bad thing, even if necessary).

            And many divorces are completely amicable.

            An amicable divorce is the worst kind, isn’t it? Because that is just reducing marriage to a kind of contract, which can be dissolved of both parties decide they’ve had enough of it.

          • Penelope ….. and as far as your `misandrist’ accusation goes – I am sorry to say (at least in my own work place) that it *is* mostly the men who are to blame when divorce takes place (admittedly drawing conclusions from a sample that isn’t very large – lots of colleagues, not many of them divorced).

          • it *is* mostly the men who are to blame when divorce takes place

            I suspect that in most cases, the party who initiates the legal proceedings is not the party who is at fault (indeed, until recently they could not be the party at fault).

          • Women initiate twice as often as men. We are talking of a solemn matter. (Remember the law supports the divisive and deserts the peaceable every time – it figures.) Since it is highly unlikely that spouses suddenly become bad having previously been friendly, or that they could conceivably become completely different people from before, it is far more likely that hormonal changes, together with the infernal increasing workload at just the time when our bodies are slowing down (because of the later marriage dates brought about by the sexual revolution) are very often the culprit.

          • (Also the revised later marriage dates mean that peri-/menopause will coincide with children’s adolescence, which is a massive regressive step and also one that nature designed against.)

          • Jock

            I believe amicable divorces are far more Christian than ones which involve desertion, cruelty, abuse or contention.

          • I believe amicable divorces are far more Christian than ones which involve desertion, cruelty, abuse or contention.

            What a bizarre statement. I can see the necessity for divorce — divorce is always an evil, but it may be a necessary evil — when there is cruelty, desertion, or abuse.

            But if there are none of those, if things are amicable, then divorce isn’t a necessary evil, is it? It’s just an evil.

          • Neither S nor Jock even remotely said that d****** equates to men ditching wives. What they said was that d****** regularly equates to ditching (there is little difference between the 2 concepts), which shows it to be the evil and small thing that it is.

  20. Among issues raised in my previous post, I restated as simply as possible the creation ordinance (outlined in Genesis 2 and 3) regarding the male/ female relationship; partly to offset the idea that human sexuality can be divorced from other factors. I referred to “the wider picture”; meaning those issues pertaining to the consequences of departing from traditional teaching. If Scripture clearly indicates the marriage relationship cannot be compartmentalised, as it embraces on the one hand our relationship with God the Creator ( and Lord -Yahweh) and on the other our communal relationships ( familial, societal etc), then why are we placing at least some of these concepts into theological and ethical “ovens” – too hot to handle?. In the preceding articles reference has been made to “homophobia”; described by one person as a sin. I’m sure it is. But this highlights a problem that has plagued this whole discussion ; namely that the meaning of a term or idea (eg homophobia) is almost invariably *assumed*; it is rarely *defined* .
    So much of the revisionist input falls into this category; assumptions transcending revelation and divine reasoning, and human requisites (and yes they are important) overshadowing the divine imperative .But who needs a God? who needs a Jesus?, if as one commentator on this blog seemed to suggest, scientific knowledge has moved us so far forward as it would appear to make “the god quest” redundant. I would issue a challenge to those in this school (and to those faint- hearted traditionalists ) to open wide the gates to reveal the stony pathway beyond “the dividing bridge of human sexuality” and face up to the deeper consequences of erecting new fortifications that will ultimately shut out the presence of the living God!

  21. I see above that Penelope Doe has reacted angrily to my statement above that Jeremy Pemberton left his marriage to seek a homosexual relationship. She calls this “slanderous” and warns me about “the ten commandments” (how quaint). However, I was simply recalling Pemberton’s own words written years ago on the “Fulcrum” website (does it still exist?). There he stated that though he had been married for years and was a father, having served as a missionary in Zaire, his homosexual feelings reasserted themselves and he felt unable to continue in his marriage because of these. He wanted sexual and emotional fulfilment elsewhere.
    Pemberton’s situation is hardly unique and indicates the dilemma of bisexual feelings for married men and women – I knew a woman active in our church who left her husband for another woman. I also knew a woman whose curate husband left her and their teenage children when his homosexual feelings grew strong. And Gene Robinson was married for 25 years when he left his marriage because of the reasserted strength of his homosexual desires. Likewise for Jeremy Marks. No doubt sexual desires are plastic: how are they strengthened and formed in a way that is pleasing to God? That is the issue for Christian marriage today, as ever.

    • I am sorry that you find obeying the Commandments quaint. I thought they were fairly central to Christian discipline. I am also sorry that you belittle libel (not slander).
      Jeremy’s marriage may have broken up because of his sexual orientation. In which case, he did the honourable thing. Much more honourable than entering a mixed sex marriage in the first place. Too many people have been assured that this will ‘cure’ them of their homosexuality and the results have usually been disastrous.
      Neither Jeremy nor Gene Robinson abandoned their marriages for other men, though I have heard the latter asserted by a prominent theologian (not on here).
      Some sexual desires are fluid. Others are not. People coerced into mixed sex relationships are acting para physin. Fortunately, Jeremy is now in a Christian marriage, attested by its good fruits.
      Finally, I ask that you address me in the first person. Adding discourtesy to defamation is just unpleasant.

      • Penelope: stop scolding people, it isn’t a pleasant trait.
        As for the Commandments you must have missed my irony over your postmodern ideology. As an evangelical, an Old Testament specialist and an Anglican priest, I do in fact believe they are integral to Christian ethics (although I am not a sabbatarian) – which is why I think adultery and the breaking of marriage vows is a very serious matter. (No, I don’t think “one night stands” can be right for Christians, as somebody here once asserted.)
        I have not “libelled” or “slandered” anyone. What I wrote was actually true, based on Pemberton’s own words in the Fulcrum website, however uncomfortable you or others may find it.
        I referred to you by name not because I am discourteous but because this thread is very long and by the nature of its imbedded comments, a reply is easily lost. I wish Ian Paul would use different software – and I wish some people would not post essay-length comments.
        Pemberton and Robinson did give up on their marriages and families to seek potential homosexual relationships. (If they married women and fathered children, I assumed they must be bisexual.) That is what I meant but you seem not to have understood. I do not think that leaving a wife and children is “honourable”. Much better to seek the transformative grace of Christ. And a same sex relationship is NOT a Christian marriage, any more than Mormon polygamy is. Jesus Christ in the Gospels is very clear on what marriage is, and that is all that matters to me as an Anglican priest.
        You don’t share my religious premises, so I don’t expect you to agree with me. It may well be that your Protean postmodern liberalism will come to prevail in what is left of the Church of England, but that will only be because Britain has ceased to be a Christian nation and is driven by the ideology described in Carl Trueman’s book “The Triumph of the Self”. That book describes your trajectory very well.

        • James

          Since you are a Hebrew Bible scholar you will know that bearing false witness is a breach of the ten commandments, as serious, I believe, as adultery. In any case the Church of England does not teach that remarraige after divorce is adultery, though you, like Christopher Shell, may believe it is.
          You seem not to understand sexuality at all, particularly bisexuality. In fact you seem to have as erroneous a view of bisexuality as Issues in Human Sexuality. Jeremy, Gene Robinson and Peter Ould marrying women and fathering children is not a proof that they are bisexual. All have identified themselves as gay. Apart from Ould, I believe, the other two were coerced into mixed-sex marriages in the hope it would make them straight. As I said before, this mostly has disastrous results and is certainly not living in a state of grace. Fortunately, Jeremy found the transformative love of Christ in his marriage to Laurence. A marriage which is valid in The Episcopal Church of Scotland and other members of the Angican communion, and which will DV one day be valid in the Cof (despite your shouty caps).
          And as for scolding, well take the log out of your own eye James. Really!

          • So if the Church of England does not teach it and Jesus does teach it, your starter for ten – which do you choose? And what exactly is ‘the Church of England’ all based on otherwise?

        • Thank you for these clarifications James. I stand by my initial counterpoint to your comment above but withdraw the second. Jeremy had evidently said more on this subject, and more explicitly, than I was aware.

          That said, I do still think my original defense of him stands (even if I now regret it because it has made him the central point of this sprawling discussion rather than Knott). The problem his tweet highlighted was hypocrisy, which I can agree with and understand even if I categorically do not share his position or affirm SSM.


      • Jeremy’s marriage may have broken up because of his sexual orientation. In which case, he did the honourable thing.

        Breaking up a marriage can never be an honourable thing!

        • S – Scripture does not take the view that this is remotely honourable – and the marriage vows are not `until I don’t fancy my spouse any more’.

          You never know – perhaps the C. of E. will issue a new edition of the marriage vows which will contain something like this.

    • However, I was simply recalling Pemberton’s own words written years ago on the “Fulcrum” website (does it still exist?). There he stated that though he had been married for years and was a father, having served as a missionary in Zaire, his homosexual feelings reasserted themselves and he felt unable to continue in his marriage because of these. He wanted sexual and emotional fulfilment elsewhere.

      So I was unable to find anything written by a Pemberton on any website with a name like that, but I did find what appears to be an autobiographical self-exculpatory piece on what sems to be the man’s own website:

      … and I’m afraid that it doesn’t support your case. The relevant section is:

      ‘Not with my wife and family, I might say. Having come out to myself and God I came out to her the next day.

      The end of a marriage and the break up of a family is always very painful. What makes it more difficult is if, as is the case with Church of England clergy, their housing is tied to their job. I had a major breakdown at the end of 2006, and felt that I had to leave the family home and my wife. It happened in 2007, and it meant a lot of anguish because, in leaving my job, I was also depriving them of a home.
      At first I lived by myself. But in 2008 I met Laurence, and after some months we decided to share a home. Frankly, we loved each other so much we couldn’t bear to be apart.’

      Now, you may find the timings (abandoned wife and family 2007, took up with new boyfriend 2008) suspicious in the extreme, and I do too; but there is nothing in this which contradicts the possibility that at the time of said abandonment the author’s sincere and settled intent was to live the rest of his life single and chaste, and that he only changed his mind later (up to a year later, which is a quick 180-degree turnaround, implausible perhaps but not inconceivable).

      I think we must therefore regard the accusation that the author abandoned his wife and family in order to pursue relationships with other men as, on this evidence, unproven. He may have abandoned his wife and family and then up to a year later later decided to pursue relationships with other men.

      • S – many thanks for the clarification. This, from a `Christian’, is utterly disgusting.

        It would (I hope) have been seen as disgusting if his attraction had been to beautiful women, but somehow it seems to be OK if the attraction is to other men.

        Suppose that, instead of other men, he had been watching some attractive young ladies sunbathing on the beach, had felt the blood draining from his brain and the Holy Spirit rising within him and confessed to himself (came out to himself) and to God that he really liked these ladies – and then `came out’ the next day to his wife, confessing to her that attractive women turned him on, he no longer found her attractive and, for this reason wanted a divorce.

        Suppose he then divorced his wife so that he could pursue his sexual attractions to these young ladies ……

        I fail to see why this sort of thing is OK if the attraction happens to be towards men rather than women.

        S- I don’t have the skills myself, but for future reference (if this fellow ever comes up again in discussion), just so that there is something to quote that is easy to find, it might be worth referencing the quote that you found on his wordpress blog on his wikipedia page. This would require using `way back machine’ to archive his own web page (just in case he takes it down) and also giving the information in a respectful way. With wiki everything has to be referenced to external reliable sources.

        There was a discussion on how to get things into wikipedia on Craig Murray’s blog

        somewhere in the midst of the comments, where we wanted to get Craig listed as one of the notable prisoners in Saughton jail. There are some very good comments by Clark on the rules for this when one of the posters tried and failed. The poster named Squeeth was able to get him in (although one of the Sturgeon supporters seems to modified it later).

        The same rules would apply here. We just need a go-to reference, that is easy to find, which contains the key points so that we have a reference and we’re not accused of libel when we state true facts.

        • S -OK – I didn’t read your post carefully the first time round, but it doesn’t matter – I got the essential idea.

          The fact that he `came out’ to his wife as not finding her attractive enough and telling her that he found other people more attractive (doesn’t matter if these other people were men or women) is bad enough. The fact that he left his wife and children for the reasons stated is awful – and it doesn’t matter whether or not he got shacked up with someone else.

          Anybody who has had a family understands full well that the family takes overwhelming priority. It does not matter how you feel – it is how your children feel – you are there for them – and every other aspect of life is a secondary and subservient matter. If they are young children, then we know that the bottom falls out of their world if the marriage collapses and they are either left with one parent or else in an awful co-parenting situation.

          What one does after one has left the family (and, perhaps, gone to live by oneself) is irrelevant – it is the act of leaving the family that is awful.

          • God, you two are prurient and disgusting.

            Excuse me, but you are the one who demanded an investigation into whether the claim that the divorce was in order to pursue sexual relationships with other men could be proved to be true (which, on this evidence, I don’t think it has been, quite).

          • No investigation was demanded. I asked James to retract his defamotory comment.
            That people used this to attempt to find evidence that ‘proves’ Jeremy was immoral speaks volumes about the minds and morality of many here.

          • No investigation was demanded. I asked James to retract his defamotory comment.

            Right, but in order to determine whether it really is defamatory is is necessary to discover whether or not it’s true, isn’t it? Because a true statement can never be defamatory.

            Obviously we can’t just take your word for it that the comment is defamatory any more than we can take the original commenter’s word for it that it is true.

            If you made a comment that someone else claimed was defamatory but you thought was true, you wouldn’t want everyone to just take their word for it without checking, would you?

        • I see no reason why Jeremy would want to remove this blog post.
          It is truthful (which is more than some of the comments here are).
          It is honest and brave and spiritually gown up.
          It also exposes the digsuting hypocrisy of the CoE, which is partly the reason for this blog.
          If Jeremy hadn’t married (a conservative institution) but was ‘living in sin’ with Laurence, he would proably still have his licence and would be working, or have worked, as a Chaplain in the new role to which he was appointed.
          It would be laughable, if it weren’t so needlessly cruel and wicked.

          • It is truthful (which is more than some of the comments here are).

            Well, we don’t know that it is truthful: we have no independent corroboration. We can assume it is, in the absence of glaring inaccuracies or contradictions or disputing testimony, but that’s not the same as knowing.

            If Jeremy hadn’t married (a conservative institution) but was ‘living in sin’ with Laurence, he would proably still have his licence and would be working, or have worked, as a Chaplain in the new role to which he was appointed.

            I hope that’s not true! Is it? Would a license really be given to a minister living in a sexual relationship with a partner of either sex out of wedlock? Say even the Church of England hasn’t gone so low!

          • A lot depends on how deeply ingrained things are in one’s life. That in turn depends on how far they go back.

            JP says, in the document quoted, that he had plenty of homosexual activity in his formative years. They are called formative for a reason: they are determinative. No wonder that its hold on him was therefore too strong and he had to break away and revert to it. The same goes for Jayne Ozanne’s testimony. It is predictable that having pursued the path that one can almost but not quite go all the way, then someone would have ended up going all the way. Yet that moment – which she herself helped set up, given the known tendencies of human nature – became determinative of her life. The same goes for Prince Andrew. He was in dodgy nightclubs and with a dodgy girlfriend in the formative years. His wife was living with someone, yet at the time I was the only one I ever met who saw that as a massive red card. Likewise the free and easy attitude to girlfriends engendered in Prince Charles by Laurens van der Post, Mountbatten etc.. It will all come out in the wash. Formative years are determinative by their nature. Short of Christ.

            His analysis says that he enjoyed his school homosexual encounters, many of which were with what turned out to be heterosexual boys. (a) Did they enjoy it then? (b) Are these happy memories for them in retrospect? (c) If there are no girls around people will take second best if they have raging hormones. (d) The categories ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ do not apply so rigidly in the flux and melting pot of adolescence. Immediate (perceived) gratification is more the thing. (e) The 1970s which we all know about encouraged this sort of free for all for him and for others. That doesn’t make the 1970s either normal or good. Formative behaviour is often determinative. Had he or others not done that formative behaviour, there is no knowing how he or others might have developed. The point is you cannot call someone homosexual (in *essence*!) for the inadequate reason that they have had – or even in the cases of some been cajoled to have – determinative and formative homosexual experiences which have reshaped their brains for the future. Adolescence is flux. Who knows how this flux might *otherwise* have settled down?

          • Christopher

            Even if any of that pseudo science were true, it’s wholly irrelevant since sexuality is morally neutral. It matters not one jot whether Jeremy is gay or straight. It’s what one does with ones sexuality that matters. As you suggest, becoming a nonce is not a morally neutral action.

          • You have asserted that there is such a thing as ‘sexuality’ (rather than acquired sexuality) and force everyone to agree with you. Likewise with the word ‘gay’. These categories are imposed but never justified or advocated rationally. So if you can’t justify them why should they be accepted.

            You assert that ‘sexuality is morally neutral’. How many factors did you give to justify that bald assertion? Zero, unbelievably.

            You assert that ‘it matters not a jot that…’. To whom? We all have to agree with you? Again, introduce factors and argument and your stance might start to mean something.

            All you have done is describe (our present culture) not prescribe. As is always the case with non independent thinkers. But we already knew the description of our present culture, since after all we are in it.

          • Christopher

            I’m not imposing categories on anyone.
            You can call yourself want you want or describe your ‘acquired sexuality’ however you please.
            You can tell me that your sexuality is not morally neutral. So tell me why it is good or bad.
            You can tell me your sexuality matters one jot. Then tell me to whom, beside your spouse and, maybe, your children.
            I only wish I were describing our present culture. Unfortunately too many people still believe that sexuality matters and that the non normative is disordered.
            That is why we keep having these arguments.
            Because the gatekeepers want to keep the non normative out.

          • Everyone, see the dishonest misrepresentation which appears not for the first time. Somehow Penny deduces that there is such a thing as ‘sexuality’ (whereas the thing under discussion is whether this is a coherent concept if something endemic is implied) and that everyone (rather than just some) has acquired theirs. I say that some people have acquired theirs, and she inaccurately represets that (low marks for precis) as I, you, he, she, have all acquired theirs. The idea that it might be written into their every cell and their anatomy does not occur?

            Inaccuracy is one thing. Conscious inaccuracy is the same thing as dishonesty.

            Sexual matters matter not one jot? Everyone knows this is the prime human impulse; imagine saying that to a happy couple either on their wedding day or for the next 50 years. Not one jot? One can scarcely think of anything that matters more. As is universally known.

          • Christopher

            Of course there is such a thing as sexuality. I am heterosexual as, I assume, are you.
            If I had had no sexual partners, I would still be heterosexual, that is, I am sexually attracted to men (not all of them of course).
            Sexuality is distinct from sexual activity. A person can be straight or gay and be a virgin.
            So a couple who had been married for 50 years wouldn’t be at all interested in their sexuality, but they might be about their sex lives – even after 50 years!
            So, sexual intimacy matters to most people, but sexuality matters very little – unless you believe that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered.

        • And as for ‘is always very painful’ the speaker is talking about their own action. They had the option of painful or not painful. They personally imposed (illogically) the painful option rather than the other one, and then attributed this not to themselves or their action, which had been what actually caused this optional pain, but to an inanimate concept incapable of action (‘marriage’, ‘the break up of a marriage’).

          • Christopher – yes – he inflicted something painful and he seems to be trying to get out of acknowledging his responsibility for this.

            At the same time, the whole business comes across as very sad. Even if he no longer found his wife attractive (and was attracted to other people instead), he had a family. Isn’t that the greatest blessing that God can bestow on a person? I simply can’t figure out how this didn’t give him so much joy that he instantly forgot about his attractions to other people and wholeheartedly looked after his family. Why did the idea of doing something that might cause pain to his family even occur to him?

            Especially since he claims to be a Christian (with all that that entails).

          • then attributed this not to themselves or their action, which had been what actually caused this optional pain

            Yes; the use of the passive voice is often misunderstood and over-diagnosed, but in this case (‘[t]he end of a marriage and the break up of a family’ rather than ‘ending a marriage and breaking up a family’) is seems quite telling.

          • It happens all the time. ‘The marriage *did* this! The marriage *did* that! Some marriages *do* such and such.’. Bunkum.

          • What is more likely to happen in such cases in general, each case being different, is that when societal acceptance of simply following animal instincts (without regard for the wider picture or devastated feelings) reaches a critical mass, then temptation becomes overwhelming since the risk of being shunned or shamed is correspondingly less.

          • The marriage *did* this! The marriage *did* that! Some marriages *do* such and such

            Technically of course that is not the passive voice because the marriage is the the subject. Passive voice is when there is no subject at all, so not ‘the marriage did that’ but ‘the marriage was that-ed’.

            This is what I mean when I say it’s often misunderstood and over-diagnosed.

            (and yes, technically ‘the end of a marriage and the break up of a family’ can’t be the passive voice either because there are no verbs, just nouns, but morally I think it’s close enough to ‘the marriage was ended and the family was broken up’ to count).

          • Next we will hear that it jumped up and did such and such, as in ‘This lamppost suddenly jumped into the middle of the road and caused a car crash.’

          • Next we will hear that it jumped up and did such and such, as in ‘This lamppost suddenly jumped into the middle of the road and caused a car crash.’

            Again, not the passive voice; the passive voice would be ‘the lamp-post was hit by the car’.

          • Yes, though the phenomenon I’m looking at is ascribing agency to inanimate objects, even to theoretical concepts. Otherwise known as passing the buck.

          • Perhaps one needed to have gone to the right Public school to understand that Christopher. You know, to be ‘Winchester through and through’.

          • Since the last time I commented on public schools it was to say how there was both good and bad in them and the bad was especially noticeable at times, then the cap does not fit. I have no idea whether private or non private schools are better on average. The generalisation is too great.

          • As is the ridiculous statement that someone is ‘Winchester through and through’ ( which is a direct quote from you Christopher)

          • Why on earth can’t it be a deliberate quote from me? That is what puzzles me. Most people have enthusiasms and loyalties, so when we are describing them we say they are ‘Chelsea through and through’ or ‘Australia through and through’. I, like millions before me, have used this particular figure of speech. Hold the front page. Just imagine the shock.

            It can’t have been me that was Winchester through and through, as I never went there as a pupil. So now I am not allowed to assess that anyone else can be accurately described in that way. This illiberal ‘liberalism’.

  22. Well, during the course of the discussion, I think a clear and plain answer emerged to the question posed in the title of the post `Can the C of E ever bridge its differences on sexuality?’

    The answer is clearly NO while the church contains two groups of people: group 1 Christians and group 2: it also contains people who think that not finding one’s spouse attractive enough is a good enough reason for divorce.

    Right now, the C. of E. seems to contain these two groups, but this is clearly an unstable situation and ultimately, one of these groups will turn its back on the C. of E..

    It will be interesting to see which one wins out in the end. I’m not a betting man, but even if I were, I wouldn’t put my money on the Christians. They’ll probably leave and find a Spiritual home in a non-conformist setting.

      • Good question – I mean `winning the soul of the C. of E.’ I suppose.

        I see satanic forces taking over the C. of E. completely, but at the same time the C. of E. basically diminishing to something that has no influence at all – and the Christians leaving the C. of E. and finding that free churches are more conducive to Christian worship and Christian living.

        • I see satanic forces taking over the C. of E. completely, but at the same time the C. of E. basically diminishing to something that has no influence at all – and the Christians leaving the C. of E. and finding that free churches are more conducive to Christian worship and Christian living.

          That seems the most likely outcome to me — though maybe only just, like 53% — but I’m really not sure I’d consider that a ‘win’ or a ‘loss’. I guess it depends whether those who leave see themselves more as refugees or escapees.

          Though of course the tragic end to Konrad Schumann’s story suggests that, when darkness descends, things are never simple and some internal conflicts may never be resolved, at least in this world. But that is the legacy of the Fall.

        • So do I Jock. Though I probably wouldn’t go so far as to call you and James satanic. Certainly, mistaken, unloving and sub-Christian.
          Perhaps you too can follow Anton into a fissiparous little sect.
          I’m all for Chrisitan unity, but on the evidence here, you wouldn’t be missed.

          • Why isn’t the C of E fissiparous? It broke off, and ‘sect’ comes from the word meaning ‘cut’/’cut off’.

            Have you thus damned the entirety of nonconformism in one majestic sweep?

          • Penelope – I really can’t imagine why you’re fighting this corner. You indicated on a previous thread that you are happily married with children – who are presumably well adjusted and happy children, precisely because they are well looked after within a functioning marriage. Isn’t this important to you? Since you understand what is good for your own family, why do you think that different things apply to other families?

            I’ve already indicated that I believe that gay people should be accommodated – that if they really make a decision that they can’t commit to someone of the opposite sex because of the inclination that they are born with, then the church should accept and respect that, SSM should be available for such people.

            But declaring to one’s wife that one no longer finds her attractive and that one finds other people attractive, ending up with a divorce for this reason is (as far as I’m concerned) way off the Richter scale.

            I really don’t understand why you think this is OK. Try thinking of how such a thing might impact on your own family – and stop treating it as an abstract issue.

          • Anton hasn’t told us which free church he has joined. In my lifetime ( b 1949) the traditions within the C of E have moved apart, comprehensiveness has become pluralism but the parish system, Establish ment ,the Church Commissioners money etc more or less keep it together. Historic dissent is in sharp decline, we have more black, Pentecostal and ethnic churches, The RCs are holding up in some places, in decline on the old NE/ NW heartlandss. It is a complex picture and sociologists said decades ago the future of Christianity in a more secular environment probably lies with sectarian forms of church. But as the ordination of women showed, the numbers leaving were not huge. and now after 25 years things are calmer. It is in the nature of the C of E to avoid schism ( contrast early 19c Methodism or the Disruption in Scotland. I am sure if there are changes over sexuality some will leave. I doubt the likelihood of a Third Province. I don’t see many parishes racked over this issue. Most C if E people are too local in their allegiances. But the overall picture is a confused and depressing one and the situation here surely is part of a more general problem of Christianity in western society, adaption or a more sectarian option.

          • Jock

            It isn’t an abstract issue for me. Jeremy is a friend, and I don’t enjoy seeing him defamed. Which I think your interpretation of his description of his marriage break up is.
            I am indeed happily married. To a divorced man. I am close to my step children and grandchildren. There are many blended families and always have been – though once through death, rather than divorce.
            My husband’s former wife died a few years ago, but we were on friendly terms.

          • Penelope – well, perhaps it is regrettable that his name was mentioned – it would have been easier to comment on the issue without anybody feeling that they or a friend had been defamed if the situation had been presented under a pseudonym.

            I wonder if you would have felt any differently if he explained to his wife that his general preference did not include her, had subsequently divorced his wife – and then a couple of years later married another woman?

            As far as I’m concerned (as you have probably understood) I find the divorce business much more serious than the gay business.

          • Jock

            I believe there is a huge difference between someone who is straight, swapping their partner for a different model (to put it crudely), and someone who has repressed their true sexuality for decades, courageously admitting the truth and not wanting to live a lie.

          • The Church of England is part of the Church Catholic.
            One could argue that some non-conformist denominations are too.
            Not all sects though.

          • The Church of England is part of the Church Catholic.
            One could argue that some non-conformist denominations are too.
            Not all sects though.

            How interesting. Where do you think the line is drawn between those denominations which are and are not part of the Church Catholic? Are Methodists part of the Church Catholic? Presbyterians? Baptists? Pentecostal? Church of the Nazarene?

          • So if it was possible for so-called blended families to come about previously through death rather than through d****** what actual change happened in the interim? Apart from people becoming more conscience-less or being allowed to be so by society?

          • There are many blended families and always have been – though once through death, rather than divorce.

            And it was always recognised that a family ripped apart by death was a tragic occurrence, not just a morally neutral ‘thing that happens’.

            That there have always been orphans doesn’t mean that being an orphan isn’t a terrible thing to be — and it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s okay to deliberately create orphans.

          • A broken family is a not a phenomenon of nature, it is something actively and invasively and avoidably brought about. Usually by the person who then points at it as though it is a phenomenon of nature, ‘nothing to do with me’.

          • Penelope – OK – then that (I think) probably defines the major difference between my perspective and yours. You see a difference; I don’t. If I could see a difference, then my views would probably be very different. This is probably why you find the way I understood the pieces quoted from the blog defamatory.

            You come across as if you’re probably a very good and kind person in real life, but the marriage situation you describe makes me feel as if you may have been had. You make it sound as if your husband and his first wife were the victims of a marriage that didn’t behave itself. You certainly picked up the pieces – and gave your step-children a good, loving stable home.

            It would not be correct to make any further comment …

            By the way, I do appreciate the way you come here and hold your corner, with a position that is opposed to the overwhelming majority of those here.

          • You see a difference; I don’t. If I could see a difference, then my views would probably be very different.

            I wonder does it feel very different to the one who is cast away, depending on why they were abandoned? Should it?

          • S – you are (of course) correct – the effect, the broken marriage, is the same – and this is always a sad business.

          • To call something a sad business is to treat it as unavoidable, like other sad businesses, when this one is regularly anything but. Rather than lamented it should be protested. Worst of all are those picture books that seek to justify to children a parent’s immaturities.

          • Christopher – nowhere – absolutely nowhere – have I suggested that it is unavoidable. It is a sad business – it is not unavoidable.

          • Thank you Jock.
            Just to add that my husband’s late wife was an excellent mother.
            I have tried to be a good stepmother.
            It’s not ideal.
            But few families are.

          • Be positive and have faith. Negativity and lack of faith are not the Christian way. To say something is sad is hand wringing which is lack of faith and that is close to despair, which is often seen as a prime sin.

            Foul things like that (a description given by Antonia Forest) should not lamented passively but protested proactively. Paul 1 Th 4 says we should never act as those without hope. Get the children to go on strike. Get them to speak expressively to their narrowed and hardened parents who have lost sight of the wonder and awe of things. In the past the family and community would do the job but a measure of how bad things are is that family and community are decimated in less healthy cultures, while those that remain are often working for the dark side.

            No-one can do things like that without committing the sin of not being steadfast. So rebuke them for not being steadfast, and treat that as being the end of the matter; grown ups should act like grown ups.

        • “… at the same time the C. of E. basically diminishing to something that has no influence at all”

          That ship has already sailed. The average CoE church is simply mopping up those who have nothing better to do on a Sunday. The overall ‘lameness’ of the church is the reason LGBTQ Christians struggle to get backing from their non-Christian (political) allies.

    • The C of E contains many groups Jock with different takes on a host of issues. Where would unhappy Evangelicals go? Well bishop Nazir Ali and Gavin Ashenden have gone to Rome.We have asmall Anglican Mission in England linked to GAFCON. Since Methodism and the URC are more liberal on this issue they won’t go there. Nor to some Baptist churches. Their flag ship Bloomsbury Central Baptist perform SS marriages. I imagine some will find a home in various FIEC churches and fellowships Who knows. Given how congregational the C of E is in practice I imagine most will stay put and continue to do,or not to do, their own thing. That is rather how the flying bishop set up works at the moment. Different people will have different sticking points as they did during the 16c Reformation. We shall see.

      • But then their impact would be dissipated. Whereas the missions led by Billy Graham, Michael Green, J John, not to mention Spring Harvest, combine groupings together because of the compelling central vision.

        Among Christian leaders, speakers and visionaries who enjoy a broad acceptance, mere Christians are disproportionately represented and liberals disproportionately under-represented.

  23. Maybe, idolatry, counterfeit gods, ( those areas/ people that function in our lives as God, that we construct our lives in and around – which are always a breach of the first commandment) and remnant, fit into this whole narrative?

  24. And the very idea of a difference between the *visible* church and *invisible* church seems to be missing?
    On a slight tangent, maybe it is more than timely, that J Greshem Machen’s book, Christianity and Liberalism became set text in the CoE?

  25. In response to this comment further up the thread (I cannot work out how to post it in the correct place):

    “If Jeremy hadn’t married (a conservative institution) but was ‘living in sin’ with Laurence, he would probably still have his licence and would be working, or have worked, as a Chaplain in the new role to which he was appointed.

    I hope that’s not true! Is it? Would a license really be given to a minister living in a sexual relationship with a partner of either sex out of wedlock? Say even the Church of England hasn’t gone so low!”

    It is perfectly true. Jeremy was given a PTO in the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham and a licence in the Diocese of Lincoln by the then diocesan bishops, both of whom knew that he was living in a same-sex relationship with me. It was the fact that we married and subsequently that Jeremy required a licence (rather than a PTO) in S&N Diocese that caused all the furore. Had he remained in his existing job in Lincoln Diocese, nothing at all would have happened about his licensing arrangements.

    It was pointed out in the subsequent legal case that this resulted in a farcical situation whereby when he left the house to go to work each morning he was *not* a priest in good standing with the Church of England, but as he drove across the border into Lincolnshire, he became one! I am sure that both conservatives and liberals would agree that this was ridiculous.

    I would also point out that Jeremy and I were unaware of each other’s existence until 2008, approximately a year after his former marriage ended.

    • It is perfectly true. Jeremy was given a PTO in the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham and a licence in the Diocese of Lincoln by the then diocesan bishops, both of whom knew that he was living in a same-sex relationship with me.

      Well… I hope you agree that’s appalling. The idea that a license to minister would be given to a member of the clergy living in a sexual relationship outside marriage, regardless of the sex of the party they were living with, is… well, appalling is the only word I can think of.

      • I mean, are there examples of clergy living in sexual relationships, outside marriage, with members of the opposite sex, being given licenses to minister? I hope there are none and this was an anomalous situation!

        Can you imagine going to a church and discovering the minister was living in a sexual relationship with someone they were not married to?

        • Anyway the sort of ‘marriage’ that is being spoken about is not traditional, not even remotely. So this is a second sleight of hand, where the first thing one looks for in debate is transparent honesty.

          In fact, we all know that an entire redefinition of this ancient concept (not its first) was required. Legally required only, since many pay no attention to it. Absolutely anything can be passed in law. Red can be made legally green. All it takes is enough non-expert people in search of votes to perform the unexceptional and unpraiseworthy feat of walking into this lobby or that. And then mysticise the whole process as though it had fallen from heaven.

          Nor, in any case, are things that are traditional (‘conservative’) correlated with things that are good, or with things that are bad.

          • Anyway the sort of ‘marriage’ that is being spoken about is not traditional, not even remotely

            I think you miss the far more concerning point that apparently in the Church of England right now there could be licensed male ministers who are living with their girlfriends, or female ministers living with their boyfriends.

            How can this possibly be allowed? How can it be so acceptable as to be unremarkable, so unremarkable I’d never heard of it before? Why is there not an outcry?

          • Sure, if there ‘could be’, but we can’t outcry unless it is seen that there actually are. About the present case we can outcry.

          • Sure, if there ‘could be’, but we can’t outcry unless it is seen that there actually are.

            Oh no, that’s totally wrong. The outcry should not be about individual cases. It should be about the principle. there should be an outcry that such cases are possible even if none actually exist.

            This is both correct, and because otherwise it risks looking personal if you wait until there’s an actual case. In the same way as it’s a bad idea to legislate when there’s a case actually before the courts, principles should be established and defended well before they actually have to be applied.

          • I totally agree. I had no idea that there was such a principle but one ceases to be surprised at anything. I had thought they were envisaging things differently: namely, that a same-sex marriage was not allowed, leaving a civil partnership, of which they seem to approve despite failing to answer the counter arguments, as an OK option in their eyes.

        • There are clergy living with partners. Some in civil partnerships. Some not.
          Clergy in same-sex relationships don’t tend to be disciplined unless they marry.
          You would have to be very prurient to enquire whether these relationships are sexual.
          And how, indeed, would one define ‘sexual’.
          How would one know whether the priest leading the service at any church was living in a sexual relationship?
          Why would one need to know?

          • There are clergy living with partners. Some in civil partnerships. Some not.
            Clergy in same-sex relationships don’t tend to be disciplined unless they marry.

            And what about clergy in opposite-sex relationships? Are they disciplined? And if not why on Earth not?

            You would have to be very prurient to enquire whether these relationships are sexual.

            Why would anyone need to ‘enquire’?

            And how, indeed, would one define ‘sexual’.

            It is a normal, everyday word with a normal, everyday definition. That is the one in use.

            How would one know whether the priest leading the service at any church was living in a sexual relationship?

            Because (it may come as a shock to you to know) ministers don’t pop into existence at the vestry door and dematerialise into the æther immediately after saying the benediction. People do meet and chat to them outside the church building, sometimes even while they are doing their grocery shopping.

            Why would one need to know?

            Same reason one would need to know if they were running a protection racket, or bumping off their elderly parishioners Shipman-style: James 3:1.

          • Yes, indeed, why would anyone need to enquire.
            You don’t, I hope, ask your male, straight vicar if he’s having sex with his wife.
            You might assume he is, though it’s an odd thing to be thinking about over coffee.
            And whether he is or isn’t is a rather different matter from running a protection racket. Don’t you think?
            I think the problem here is that too many people have sex on the brain.
            Which, as D.H.Lawrence pointed out, is a bad place to have it.

          • Yes, indeed, why would anyone need to enquire.
            You don’t, I hope, ask your male, straight vicar if he’s having sex with his wife.

            Of course not; why would one?

            But if my male, straight vicar were living with a woman who was not his wife, and were to casually refer in conversation to, say, ‘redecorating our bedroom’, you would agree, presumably, that that would be a cause for concern?

            Or, indeed, if they were to have a child. Not much room for doubt about whether the relationship was sexual then.

            And whether he is or isn’t is a rather different matter from running a protection racket. Don’t you think?

            No, not at all. Running a protection racket is sinful. Having sexual relations with someone you are not married to is also sinful. So it’s not a different matter at all. It’s exactly the same matter: a minister shouldn’t be engaging in unrepentant sinful conduct (of course, like all of us, ministers will have sins they struggle with and have to repeatedly repent of; but running a protection racket, or living in a sexual relationship with someone they are not married to, are not in that category).

            I think the problem here is that too many people have sex on the brain.

            No, I think the actual problem here is that you don’t think that having sexual relations with someone you are not married to is per se sinful (but you’re trying not to state it plainly like that so you keep circumlocuting about ‘prurience’ when what you really mean is ‘there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being in a sexual relationship with someone you’re not married to, so why are you making a fuss?’).

          • ‘S’

            On the contrary. Since I support same-sex marriage I thought you might have been able to infer that I support mixed-sex marriage.
            I would expect a straight priest who is in a couple to be married.
            I would like a gay priest to be able to marry their partner in church.
            But since they can’t (in the CoE) I am most willing to take the Eucharist from a priest in a civil partnership or who is living with a partner (or who has married and has managed to keep their licence).

          • Since I support same-sex marriage I thought you might have been able to infer that I support mixed-sex marriage.

            But you are also on record as supporting some one-night stands, so who can tell?

            Are you going to confirm that you do think that any sexual activity outside marriage is intrinsically sinful, then? And explain how you square that with your previous comments that one-night stands can be moral?

          • ‘S’

            Nice try. I don’t believe all sexual intimacy outside marriage is sinful. Otherwise I wouldn’t be supporting priests who cannot currently get married and retain their licences. I would much rather they could. Because I’m an old-fashioned traditionalist.

        • Well, to add to your sense of appalledness, it was given me by an evangelical bishop.

          I don’t really know what that means, so my sense of appalledness remains unchanged, and extreme.

    • Obviousy the double standards are ‘ridiculous’ as you say, but it is sleight of hand to think that it somehow follows that they should be evened up in your preferred direction. How does that logically follow?

  26. As the subject of a good deal of comment on here I would just like to say this: the people who feel free to comment do not know me. They do not know my circumstances, they do not know my family, they do not know my motivations, they do not know anything at all about the inside of either of my marriages. So they really are taking tremendous liberties in presuming to know enough about me to pass judgement on me.

    I have had enough of this kind of treatment over the years to be fairly used to it – and I don’t get the vile green ink letters that Richard Coles gets – but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it is hurtful, and deeply unhelpful. However much you disapprove of me, rightly or wrongly, I am a feeling human being; as Shylock says, “if you prick me, do I not bleed?” I am not so different from any of you. I am surprised that you think that writing about me in this way is appropriate behaviour for Christians.

    And thank you Penelope, for this and many other interventions. You are a true friend.

    • While I am on the other side of the fence from you as regards the ethics, I do agree that all this personal moralistic comment behind your back is sub-Christian. Joe S puts it succinctly: 300+ ‘comments’!! A torrent of unedifying ping pong that we get time after time whenever this blog opens up questions of sexual behaviour and identity. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

    • Dear Jeremy

      I have been subject to quite a lot of comment on this blog too (not this particular one, but others).
      I have been called an enemy of God and other delightful epithets.
      It used to hurt a great deal, but I have now realised how fearful and craven those who are attacking are.
      The difference is that I open myself to criticism because I post here.
      You do not and it is shocking, firstly, that you were defamed, and, second, that my calling out of this defamation led to others pruriently trawling the internet to try to discover intimate details of your life that would prove that I was wrong and that you were a cad (to put it mildly).
      I defended you becuae I am fond of you and Laurence and think that you are exemplars of the married state! But also because I loathe lying, prurience, injustice and gossip (call me an old traditionalist, but I believe these are vices!). I am sorry that people oppose same-sex marriage, but I would have more respect for their views if they held them with integrity and charity and kept their minds out of the gutter.

      • But also because I loathe lying, prurience, injustice and gossip (call me an old traditionalist, but I believe these are vices!)

        Now you’re being defamatory. An accusation of lying is certainly defamation, unless you can back it up. Exactly whom are you accusing of lying and what is your evidence?

    • So they really are taking tremendous liberties in presuming to know enough about me to pass judgement on me.

      If you voluntarily write and publish an essay on your website, though (assuming it is your website), you can hardly complain when people discuss it. That, presumably, was the whole point of making it public in the first place.

    • Jeremy Pemberton – I was one of those who made negative comments. I’d point out that you did write a blog article, which is in the public domain, under your own name. I’d have preferred if you had used a pseudonym. While personal comments against you are clearly out of order – and I apologise for anything I wrote directed against you personally – the topic is very much on-topic and appropriate and this topic should be discussed.

      While I’m happy for you that you eventually found a life-partner with whom you feel happiness, I do deplore the fact that this was the *second* marriage and that you divorced your wife of a previous marriage.

      This isn’t `prurience’; I’ve seen a situation similar to the one you described in your blog article in real life (the husband deciding he was gay and that he couldn’t continue to live in that situation, man and woman getting divorced) and it caused a total mess, particularly for their young daughter, who suddenly became very quiet and introverted – and needed a lot of remedial help from psychologists to get back on track. The man and woman here were (of course) very responsible, reached an amicable co-parenting situation, but it was (and still is) a mess, which could have been avoided if the man had understood his orientation before he actually got married and had the daughter. The woman now feels that he has to remain single (and that she shouldn’t develop any relationships with other men) for the sake of her daughter. She gets a lot of help from her parents – but the situation is still a mess.

      I am very negative about divorce and I don’t think that any divorcee should be in a pastoring role. Even the innocent party in a divorce has demonstrated lack of judgement in his/her own life and therefore probably shouldn’t be guiding others.

      While George Best may have been very good at football, I don’t think any of us would have considered him an ideal candidate for the priesthood.

    • But do know what you have said about yourself.

      No-one can be impressed by the cliched level of thought that is displayed in appeal to green ink letters, so called. (a) If Einstein had written e=mc squared in green ink would the green ink make it even 1% untrue? (b) The people who appeal to this trivial surface matter seem not to be able to realise that substance is more important than style. (c) Unbelievably, they do not address even one of the substantial points that are made, in whatever colour ink. (d) To say ‘It was green ink and therefore no more needs to be said’ is the same as ‘He was a black person and therefore no more needs to be said’. Both are irrelevant to the substance, and both are ways of dodging the issue, and you know it.

      What if Richard Coles said he was not a bit repentant for his previous promiscuity and anyone who questioned that (including Jesus and all the saints) ought not to be listened to because they wrote in green ink. And of course there are also plenty who do not write in green ink, but where are the *answers* to the points that any of them make, green or non-green?

      GOod and kind people hate the selfish sexual revolution and what it does to precious people. Precious spouses. Precious children. Precious communities. Precious societies.

      • When I think that the scurrilous comments cannot, surely, get any worse and that the conversation can’t sink deeper into a mire of prurience and indecency, I am shocked to discover that it can.

        Jeremy’s blog is, if I remember rightly, an account of a talk given to a Church group. In it he describes his coming out and, courageously, his decision for authenticity over possible ecclesial preferment. (It is not a course of action which all priests have taken.) I have no doubt that some people in the closet have been helped by Jeremy’s story and no doubt that he did not expect it to be exploited for evidence of untruthfulness or infidelity.

        I cannot understand why Jock has a thing about anonymity. I am not ashamed of my beliefs or of my ongoing research, Ian is not ashamed of the views he promote son his blog, and, I assume, Jeremy isn’t ashamed of his beliefs or his story either. In any case, if he did write under a pseudonym – say Jack – he would still be liable to be distressed when people attacked and misrepresented him. This may shock you, but I know of other priests who still have licences and have been ‘openly’ gay (and in relationships) all their lives. I am not going to name then since I don’t want them being abused too.

        Green ink letters – we have had this conversation before. It is a convenient shorthand to describe abusive, cruel, and insulting (and sometimes criminal) correspondence and, sometimes, though I have no idea why, it is actually written in green ink. I have no idea if Richard Coles has repented of his former life as a pop star. That is between him, God, and his sponsoring Bishop. Whatever his views he should never receive written abuse, particularly from those who call themselves Christian. Furthermore, when he was living with his partner, according to the teachings of the Church, Richard received a letter after David’s death rejoicing in the fact of that death and that David was now suffering eternal torment. There are no *answers* to that point. It is unspeakably cruel and hateful.

        There are, no doubt, casualities of the sexual revolution. There are also casualties of the years before the law became both fairer and more permissive. How many women died through having a coat hanger stuck through their cervix, or after their twelfth pregnancy? How many women were raped by their husbands (so they couldn’t even escape those pregancies), or beaten, and told by their priests that it was their duty to reutrn to those husbands because women should be submissive? How many gay men committed suicide, like Alan Turing, or underwent horrific conversion therapy that was not effective, but actively harmful? How many pregnant teenagers were forced to give up their babies for adoption? And these things were still going on decades after the so-called permissive sixties – only the other day I heard an interview on the Radio with a man who had been discharged dishonourably from the armed forces, without a pension, becuasese he had a gay relationship before the law changed in 2000. All those people were precious too, but for our allegedly Chrisitan society, they were collatoral damage. Good and kind people hate the cruelty and hypocrisy of those years, especially since, if you had money it was perfectly possible to access safe abortions and, if you had the right connections, to live fairly openly as a gay man.

        My perception is that some of the frequent commenters on this blog have created God very much in their own image, or, rather, in the image of a capricious and punitive public school headmaster whose temper is uncertain and whose wrath is deadly. In order to escape punishment, his followers must not only obey all the rules but maintain a safe distance from those who are not sound, unless they become tainted. Sometimes the master’s strictures change, but his adherents don’t notice those changes or can’t believe they have been made, sinced they have been told that the rules are unchanging. ‘S’ said something above about the rules of Physics not changing, although humankind’s understanding of them does. The same could be said of scripture (although the words do change of course, depending on the text and translation). But, say scripture was unchanging, would that mean that humankind’s understanding of it was unchanging? Would it mean that rabbis couldn’t read it differently from Paul, or the Church fathers, or Luther, or post Reformation theologians, both Catholic and Protestant? Would that mean we couldn’t enter into dialogue with scripture, to understand how it was being read 2000 years ago, 1500 years ago, 500 years ago, and today, in very different contexts in the global North and the global South?

        And why are you so obsessed with sexuality, or rather with sexual sin? is it because you have never grown out of the shamefulness associated with the masturbatory fantasies of your youth? Which the Headmaster thought so filthy? I fear that your attitude towards the Bible is like that towards your penis. You have been told not to play with it.

        • Penelope – I’ll come back to you on the `pseudonym’ business.

          I am not ashamed of any of my views either, but this is a subject where it is useful to give examples, such as the one I gave in the post above. Now, if I used my real name here, it probably wouldn’t be too hard for people to pinpoint who I was talking about. While everything I said was correct and respectful in that example, she certainly does not want the details of her private life plastered over the internet – hence using a pseudonym is the perfect answer.

          You say that Jeremy’s blog has been useful for some people. If so, I can pretty much guarantee you that it would have been equally useful for these people if he had said exactly the same things under a pseudonym.

          There is the other point that there are a lot of real freaks out there – and a pseudonym does give you a level of protection. For example, I am very much pro-union – and sometimes enter into arguments on a Scottish Nationalist blog, where I point out embarrassing details such as the fact that Robert de Brus (the real name of Robert the Bruce) was an Anglo-Norman and that the battle of 1314 was basically a family feud, where both sides of the same family got the peasants to do their dirty work for them. I confess that there is something within me that really enjoys these arguments – but I’m very glad that I can come out as pro-union on a Scottish Nationalist forum and do battle with them without presenting my real name or co-ordinates that would be able to identify me.

          I may be daft but I’m not stupid!

          I feel that Ian Paul *should* use a pseudonym and I feel that you should use a pseudonym too.

          In times past, people working for the civil service, who contributed articles to newspapers were required to use a pseudonym – and for very good reasons – so using a pseudonym for writing isn’t exactly a new idea.

          • Thank you for responding. I do take your point. And that Jeremy’s blog might have been equally helpful had it been pseudonymous.
            However, that would not prevent his being hurt if he was attacked.
            And, yes, I’m careful about whom I identify if that would lead them to being abused.

          • Penelope – don’t you think you’re being a bit precious here? Whether we agree or disagree with you and Jeremy (and I, for one, am fundamentally opposed to a divorcee continuing to serve in any pastoral capacity), surely you accept that there are people strongly opposed to your stance; you are standing up for a cause here.

            Any hurt that Jeremy has received is small potatoes compared with the hurt that Mohammed Ali received from George Foreman during the Rumble in the Jungle, where he responded by saying, `is that the best you can do George?’ before flooring George Foreman with a knock out punch.

            Other bloggers (I’m thinking of Craig Murray) have been sent to prison for the crime of very good journalism – and stating things in blog pieces which they firmly believed to be important for the public to know. I found the articles which ultimately got him his 4 months in Saughton jail very useful for understanding the inner workings of the Scottish government. I was careful to save the pieces in question on my hard disc before he was ordered to take them down – but I know that others had the good sense to save them using `Way Back Machine’.

            Currently Julian Assange is banged up in Belmarsh prison, for the crime of telling us about war crimes committed by the USA/UK military forces during their illegal wars – he’s in prison for the crime of very good journalism.

            For both Murray and Assange, they knew the dangers of publishing what they did and they published anyway, despite all the opprobrium they received.

            When I see the response that these two have received for what they published, it puts any hurt that Jeremy Pemberton has received for publishing his blog – and from the banter (yes – I agree that some of it was unnecessarily hurtful) into perspective.

          • Jock

            No, I’m not being precious. A decent, kind man has has his reputation traduced and been the object of prurient speculation.
            Because other people are in a worse condition (Assange) this does not excuse abuse of anyone. Boxers put themselves up to be knocked out. It is an unfortunate effect of their profession.

        • I have no doubt that some people in the closet have been helped by Jeremy’s story and no doubt that he did not expect it to be exploited for evidence of untruthfulness or infidelity.

          Well, maybe not, but isn’t that a bit like a witness wanting to give testimony, but not be cross-examined?

          If you put something into the public domain, especially on a contentious issue, then you must be ready to have it interrogated, and be prepared to defend it if necessary. You can’t expect to be able to demand that people receive it in stunned, reverential silence.

      • Nobody can be openly ‘gay’ and ‘in relationships’ ‘all their lives’.

        Many of us have children who are very greatly loved. You have just written as though all of their existences, where ‘gay’ and ‘in relationships’ (which are the province of older people and only sexual-revolution older people at that) is off the radar, are of no import. Half the impressions we have in our lives are before the age of two. People get further from their created blueprint not closer to it.

        C S Lewis wrote of trying to get to the silliest period of one’s life as soon as possible and then to remain there as long as possible. This worldview where things called ‘gay’ and ‘in relationships’ are present from birth till death (it is a worldview nothing to do with reality) reminds me of that.

        R Coles – going only by his own public witness as likewise with J Pemberton.

        Certainly everyone who deals with child-abuse knows that sexual sins are among those that are most extreme in damaging the core of precious people. I.e. among the most harmful. That is why their importance is high. As confirmed by the NT lists and Paul’s choice of which one sin to single out as paradigmatic in Rom 1.

        The topic of obsession has been dealt with many times. But the answers have been avoided. The secular world is awash with it; church newssheets do not mention it. So we see where the obsession lies and where it does not lie. This then leads to Christians rightly trying to put the culture to rights in this area, which leads to speaking of the topics. Which they would not have to do, and would not do, if the secularists had not put them slap bang in the middle of the culture, thus threatening stable Christian community life.

        • As usual, you haven’t responded to any of my observations and some of of your comments are so gnomic as to be incomprehensible. I have no idea what ‘R Coles – going only by his own public witness as likewise with J Pemberton’ means. It does not seem to be a sentence.

          I am sure we agree on the gravity of child abuse. It is of a idfferent order from adult sexual sins, especially since a child cannot give consent.
          It is a pity that thee Church does not take it so seriously. The ABC had known about John Smyth for almost ten years and the Iwerne/Titus trustees for far longer of course, and yet nothing has been done. Perhaps the CoE has taken its cue from Issues in Human Sexuality which sits quite lightly to the sexualk abuse of children.
          Anyway, at least Smyth didn’t become a nonce becuase his wife had lived with another man before marriage. Perhaps that isn’t a driver for child abuse?

          • I am sure we agree on the gravity of child abuse. It is of a idfferent order from adult sexual sins,

            “There is a limit to human charity,” said Lady Outram, trembling all over.

            “There is,” said Father Brown dryly, “and that is the real difference between human charity and Christian charity. You must forgive me if I was not altogether crushed by your contempt for my uncharitableness today; or by the lectures you read me about pardon for every sinner. For it seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. So you tolerate a conventional duel, just as you tolerate a conventional divorce. You forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven.”

          • ‘a driver…’ – no-one ever said it was. What would the connection be anyway?

            With RC and JP what we can say should stick and does stick to their own public testimonies – is what I mean. Sometimes the impression is given that things are speculation when they are not speculation at all.

            Child abuse? Well, first, a lot of what is complained about is suffered by older people but classified as child abuse. Although this is dishonest it does emphasise the point that anything that harms sexual integrity strikes personal integrity at the very centre, irretrievably for life, were it not for Christ.

            Anything else I have not responded to, as you know I always will, so detail it.

          • Christopher

            I don’t know what the connection would be. You made the link between Prince Andrew and the fact that his wife had lived with another man prior to marriage.

          • “Belittling and dismissing is the correct response to letters which rejoice in the death of the recipient’s partner and relish their belief that he is enduring conscious torment in Hell.”

            Penelope, you and I disagree very sharply on certain matters, and will doubtless continue to do so, but on the above point, at any rate, we are in full agreement.

          • The letters about RC’s ‘partner’ are not relevant in discussion of those who do not share their sentiments, unless the dishonest Trojan Horse ‘tactic’ is being employed.

            PCD I made no such link. Prince Andrew will have been affected formatively by nightclubs and his celebrity girlfriend; his wife will have been affected by early intimacy. But I did not link the two. Thinking about it now, all these factors will indeed affect one another.

          • Christopher

            It was Jeremy who bought up green ink letters and referenced Richard Coles. I drew attention to one Richard had received as an example of the abuse and cruelty gay men receive. Even in this so-called permissive society. So I am not quite sure why you think it isn’t relevant. If that is what you are doing. Difficult to tell.
            BTW there’s no need to put the word partner in inverted commas. David was Richard’s partner. They were civilly partnered. It was a reality.

          • It was not a reality. Realities are things that are scientifically attested. Anything but anything can be passed in law – by non-experts in search of votes who perform the stupendous task of walking into one lobby rather than another.

            The point about green ink, swivel eyed loons, Tunbridge Wells etc is that the people who complain about them practically never seem to have the intellectual capacity to answer even one of the questions that they pose. The name-calling (an unpleasant habit) is a diversionary tactic. They are image-driven people who think that if people who pose awkward questions can somehow be lumped in with the lunatic fringe then the fact that they are unpopular will stop people wondering whether they have anything important to say. But they were the ones who high-handedly claimed the right to classify what was and was not green-ink / Tunbridge-Wells / swivel-eyed in the first place. A wild stab in the dark is that these, since they are acknowledged not to be accurate descriptions (they don’t actually have to dwell in T Wells etc), are a lumping-together of all the questions they don’t want to address probably because they can’t, since if they could they would give evidence of that.

            But hey, so long as we can use social popularity rather than accuracy as our benchmark, and rely on the bullying practice of ‘othering’ of those who raise awkward questions, then who cares about substance when you have image?

          • Christopher

            So God isn’t real?
            Jesus isn’t real?
            The Incarnation isn’t real?
            The Resurrection isn’t real?
            Your marriage isn’t real?
            Your Christian faith isn’t real?
            Your friendships aren’t real?
            Love isn’t real?
            Hatred isn’t real?
            Salvation isn’t real?

            Green ink letters don’t pose any questions, apart from how do people who call themselves Christians produce screeds of unspeakable cruelty?
            That doesn’t need much intellectual capacity to answer. Some people are evil.
            It is perfectly possible to believe that Richard and David’s partnership was immoral (although there were living according to the rules of the Church) without being gratuitously offensive. Especially to a bereaved partner. That’s the point; the writers of such missives don’t have valid points, they simply spew bile.

          • You assert that ‘they’ spew bile, when so far from that, we have not even got to the point that there is indeed a ‘they’ that can be lumped together. Do grant people and their messages some individuality. Lumping together shows very poor analytic powers.

            Who knows whether a given letter is spewing bile (itself a cliche)? It may be saying things emphatically that very much deserve to be said emphatically. Vagueness, much like passive tolerance, is uncaring.

          • Things are real which are scientifically attested, and since science is empirical and based on observation/evidence as opposed to ideology, we can also say that observed things are real even if not correctly described. Hypotheses are normally posited when there seems to be evidence for them.

            Jesus was observed. The effects of the resurrection were observed, or at least there is an evidenced hypothesis that they were.
            God is a hypothesis that seems to fit evidence and also to be required logically.
            Love, hatred (!), marriage, friends and Christian faith are observed. Christian faith and salvation are both experienced. Salvation is also reasoned to and deduced as part of a larger believable system.
            The incarnation is an hypothesis made by someone who understands that it has been forced upon him by process of elimination. And who reasons sometimes on the basis of scripture and sometimes on the basis of an elaborate interconnected comprehensive thought system.

          • Christopher

            So, writing to tell someone you were glad that their partner had died and were rejoicing that he was now suffering torment in Hell is, in your opnion not spewing bile? In fact, writing to anyone emphatically to point out the errors of their ways and using abusive language to do so, would be OK?

            Nice try on the scientific, but there is no sicentific data which would show that any of these things exist or existed (except marriage, I suppose). Marriage registers would show that there was a cultural construct called marriage; they wouldn’t tell us what it was though.
            People experience God, faith, love and friendship, but there is no scientific enquiry which can prove that these things are real. If you think that belief in God is logical that isn’t a proof that God exists, nor are some second-hand accounts of encounters with the risen Christ (apart from Paul of course) proof of the resurrection. None of these is scientifically verifiable.

          • As I said – the different entities fall into the categories specified. I already said about ‘observed’ being close to ‘scientific’. Logic and the logically necessary are not sealed off from science either. On marriage it depends how you define it; the biological is indisputably prior to the sociological.

            Spewing bile is a cliche and a metaphor but my point was that clearly aggressive language like that is condemned by virtue of being aggressive not by virtue of being unstylish or anything else. And my second point is that more than likely plenty of other letters that made no threats or cruelties could be lumped in with that in the same unwieldy category.

            Rev 19 init (to name one example) rejoices in the destruction of whatever caused harm. Here however we have a precious individual. Assuming you believe there are precious individuals.

        • No, nobody can be openly ‘gay’ and ‘in relationships’ ‘all their lives’. (And nobody can be openly ‘straight’ and ‘in relationships’ ‘all their lives’, either.) It was obvious that Penelope meant ‘all their *adult* lives”, and any reasonable person would have understood her to mean that.

          It is equally clear that ‘green ink letters’ doesn’t have to mean that the letters were necessarily written in green ink, any more than ‘poisoned pen letters’ have to be written with a literally poisoned pen, or than ‘“Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells” letters’ actually have to come from Tunbridge Wells.

          I can’t imagine what you think is to be achieved by such irrelevant and pedantic nit-picking.

          • It is equally clear that ‘green ink letters’ doesn’t have to mean that the letters were necessarily written in green ink, any more than ‘poisoned pen letters’ have to be written with a literally poisoned pen, or than ‘“Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells” letters’ actually have to come from Tunbridge Wells.

            It’s also clear that describing them as ‘green ink letters’ is a way of belittling and dismissing them, akin to Cameron’s description of the Eurosceptics in his party as ‘swivel-eyed loons’. Which I think was the point.

          • Belittling and dismissing is the correct response to letters which rejoice in the death of the recipient’s partner and relish their belief that he is enduring conscious torment in Hell.

          • Belittling and dismissing is the correct response to letters which rejoice in the death of the recipient’s partner and relish their belief that he is enduring conscious torment in Hell.

            Quite possibly; but often (as with the ‘swivel-eyed loons’) such rhetoric is used to dismiss those making valid arguments by associating them with the rather more unhinged fringes.

            But I’m sure you know that.

          • William Fisher –

            The reason is obvious. A category ‘green ink letters’ has been imposed whose existence people may not accept, especially considering how ill definied it is (the only defining feature that is mentioned is said not even to be present! – which means that zero defining features are mentioned.). Who is to say that such a category exists? Secondly who is to say what fits into that category and what does not? Thirdly, lumping together is either dishonest (a Trojan Horse) or shows analytic deficiency. Fourth, it is simply high-handedly assumed that everybody will (or has to??) accept that this is a valid category.

            The category may invite itself in the eyes of the recipient because there is a category of *inconvenient* letters whose rightly-emphatic points they cannot be bothered to address, letters which will sometimes make true points which they want to avoid, and which evince the proper degree of passion and caring about important matters that affect people. So they employ the tactic of lumping them all together and dismissing them in a lordly fashion with a single phrase. We then have (and are simply expected!) to take their word for it, not having seen the specific letters!

          • Christopher clearly doesn’t accept that there is such a category as ‘green ink’ or ‘poison pen’ letters because he doesn’t understand metaphor.

            Or, what is even more concerning, he believes that people have a right to write cruel, abusive, and defamatory letters to other people because they may have a ‘point’.

          • What I don’t accept, to repeat (to compensate for lack of understanding), is something different. It is firstly that we should even begin to listen to people who lump disparate things together into one category. Secondly that they should assume any right to impose their categories on us. Third, that we are likely to respect their analytic powers if they say nothing of the substance of what was said. Fourth, ditto if they concentrate on trivial matters of mere style. Fifth, that it is possible to assess whether or not the writers are making points of substance *before* what they say is quoted (!). Sixth, that the general trend/tactic is not to militate against those writers ”dangerous” enough (in the eyes of those who do not love truth) to be making points that might bring one’s whole house of cards crashing down.

            Take D Cameron’s reference to swivel eyed loons, covering millions of disparate people. It fulfils several of the above criteria. Although I was not one of them, nor were they.

            If people are speaking inaccurately or aggressively, those are separate matters, and they certainly have nothing at all to do with ink or pens.

          • Christopher

            The point has just flown past you again.
            Green ink and poison pen letters are so-called because they are those missives which contain cruelty, abuse and defamation. (Those that are inaccurate or agressive to use your terms. That is why they have received these appellations. You may not like the terms, but that is what they are called.)
            That, indeed, is the point of them.

            If people are making points of substance, they do so in correspondence which is respectful and engaging even when it is robust. (Though why anyone should need or want to write to someone about their sex life is beyond my comprehension.)

          • In other words, letters which are (a) very long, (b) in bad handwriting, (c) full of underlinings – which may indeed be justified, and italics cannot be crafted with a pen – would not be categorised by anyone as ‘green ink’. They would certainly be categorised as ‘Tunbridge Wells’. How can you be so sure? These are light years from anything threatening. They may be making good points from beginning to end. The common factor (which is trivial) is their inconvenience to the recipient.

          • I have it on good authority (internet definitions…) that green ink letters are not at all the same thing as threatening letters though they may overlap. They are letters that the recipient subjectively categorises as crazy. As I said.

            Why would anyone write to someone about what you call ‘their sex life’? Is this a compartmentalised part of their life, that fails to have any effect on the rest of their life? Are you a fan of compartmentalisation? They would do so because they know the other person is a precious soul and they care (as caring people do) about their soul – but today caring people are perhaps so few that this behaviour is not recognised.

          • Christopher

            telling someone you are glad that their partner is dead and suffering in Hell is caring?

          • You’re not listening. Throughout I have spoken against the threatening, the inaccurate and the aggressive, as who wouldn’t. So they belong to the lot I disapprove of. Whereas the caring belong to the lot I approve of.

    • I apologise for my part in inadvertently making you the centre of these comments, when all I intended was to say I thought you had a point with your tweet…

      I still do.

  27. 300+ comments.

    Sexual immorality has us all enslaved. Walk away from it all – the desires, the identities and any conversation about both.

        • So if a would be ordinand is a gossip or a self righteous prig then they are still able to be ordained but if they have sex before they get married then they have no hole of being ordained? What kind of warped world do we live in. Gossip does a lot more harm that pre-marital sex.

          • It’s a warped world where someone like ‘S’ thinks it’s a gotcha because I would receive communion from a priest in a civil partnership. They don’t think it queer that men and women who desire holy matrimony are denied it by the Church.
            But then so many here don’t seem to think that defamation, bearing false witness, gossip, prurience, egregious cruelty and abuse are sinful. Some appear to believe that sexual licence leads to being a nonce and that marital rape and the criminalisation of male homosexuality is preferable to the permissive society which ruined so many ‘precious lives’.
            Fear of sexuality is potent. Fear of cruelty and lying not so much.

          • It’s a warped world where someone like ‘S’ thinks it’s a gotcha because I would receive communion from a priest in a civil partnership.

            Sorry what? I don’t think any such thing. Are you accusing me of Donatism? Because I ain’t a Donatist and I can’t imagine what of anything I’ve written would lead you to think I was.

          • (1) Yes, gossip does an amazing amount of harm, it is the invisible root of all kinds of mysterious trouble.

            (2) If you pretend you have a way of calculating which sin causes more overall harm than which other sin, then that is being untruthful. You have not formulated such a calculus as that.

            (3) Quoting people back at themselves is not gossip.

            (4) Speaking the truth is sometimes gossip, e.g. when it is self righteous, unnecessarily behind someone’s back, malicious. At most times speaking the truth is a positive good.

            (5) As mentioned the ‘sexual licence causes n****’ link was never made. All that was said was that early and formative sexual licence is obviously liable to be habit forming (leading to much damage).

            (6) Precious lives are not ‘precious lives’. They actually are precious. Do we have it on record that you say that they are not?

            (7) Can you introduce me to even one person who is afraid of sexuality (itself an ambiguous word, which can mean either sexual topics or orientation)? It is a remarkably abstract thing for anyone to fear. Plenty of people correctly warn against some of its effects. Are they wrong to do so? What exactly are you advocating? – a free for all? What warning has to do with fear I do not know. Parents and wise people do warn sometimes, for the reason that they love their charges and are responsible people. But this point has repeatedly been made which calls the capacity for understanding into question.

          • “(2) If you pretend you have a way of calculating which sin causes more overall harm than which other sin, then that is being untruthful. You have not formulated such a calculus as that.“

            That, dear Christopher, is the whole point – though I doubt you understand it.
            ‘S’ (and many others) are claiming that clergy who are having sex before marriage should not be allowed to minister. But I notice no such stricture on clergy – or lay people – who gossip and tell lies.

          • Christopher

            I fear you are having comprehension problems again.

            Nowhere did I claim I had a system for measuring the gravity of particular sins.

            Nowhere did I claim that citing people is gossip (unless it’s taken out of context).

            Nowhere did I question the good of speaking the truth.

            It was you you implied that Andrew became a nonce becuase he wnet to nightclubs and had a loose girlfriend.

            Precious lives are of course precious, as I pointed out. They are also ‘precious’ when I am quoting you. Hence the inverted commas.

            Yes, I believe you – and other commenters here – are deeply afraid of the potency of sexuality and display disgust at anything which isn’t what I might term vanilla sex. I infer that this is partly because you figure God as a public school headmaster (as I wrote above) and that this influences your approaches to biblical texts and to biblical theology, as well as anthropology. I may be wrong, of course.
            I agree (again as I said above, but you seem to have missed) that some of the effexts of sex/sexuality are harmful. I simply observed that some of the effetcs of society prior to the sexual revolution were as harmful – if not more so – than those which resultfrom sexual permissiveness.
            No-one, as far as I can see, is advocating a free for all. Indeed, those who are advocating for same-sex marriage are the conservatives and traditionalists. It is those who argue against equality on anti-assimilationist grounds who are – well I don’t know what to call them. They are not permissive because they wouldn’t necessarily ‘permit’ marriage for gay people, so I shall simply call them non-traditionalists.
            I don’t know of any parents, relgious or secular, who wouldn’t guide their children on sexual and other social matters. In fact, it’s very interesting how moral young people are: far fewer of them drink, for example.
            And now, I really must end and go back to ‘Sex, or the Unbearable’, (which isn’t much about sex.).

          • ‘S’ (and many others) are claiming that clergy who are having sex before marriage should not be allowed to minister. But I notice no such stricture on clergy – or lay people – who gossip and tell lies.

            If it helps, I would be equally appalled to discover that the Church of England were in the habit of granting licences to minister to clergy who by their words or actions taught that there was nothing sinful about dishonesty.

            I mean the only reason I didn’t write that before is because I thought that would be so obvious as to not need stating, but I forgot I was dealing with people determined to misunderstand and misrepresent everything I write.

          • Dear PCD

            Yes, the points on gossip and calculus of comparative harmfulness of sins were both replies to AG rather than to you.

            AG – ‘that, dear Christopher…’ – why would you be so keen to speak in the manner of a pantomime villain unless you actually….

            I jest.

            PCD – I have now made the point 3 times that I never said anything close to what you are saying re early experience with nightclubs or a loose girlfriends – but if I did, quote it. I said that these could be formative and habit forming, hard to shake off. The earlier they happen the more so. I did not say that they led to any particular form of sexual behaviour more than any other.

            ‘Far fewer of them drink’ – in other words you are using one previous trend (the standards of your youth?) as the norm, which it isn’t.

            Do you have stats that marital rape (sometimes hard to define, sometimes not) is now rarer? I thought stats would be hard to obtain, so such an assertion could not be made. However, to refuse a spouse would often (if far from always) be damaged behaviour and therefore would be less likely in someone who had not had the opportunity to get damaged before marriage.

            As for the decriminalisation of homosexuality – which led almost immediately to the AIDS epidemic which broke out (out of all the millions of global towns) in its flagship town SF – you are seeing AIDS as an improvement over no AIDS?

          • Indeed, those who are advocating for same-sex marriage are the conservatives and traditionalists.

            Not if they are — as you are — lax on divorce. If you could point me to someone in favour of same-sex marriage who was also totally against remarriage after divorce in all circumstances, then I would admit that we might have a conservative or a traditionalist on our hands.

            But I have never come across such a person, and you are certainly not one.

          • Those who are advocating SSM are conservatives and traditionalists, PCD writes.

            She knows that this is a half truth, and therefore comes across as clever-clever, over-subtle. For she already agrees with the idea that almost all of those who oppose it for its connection with homosexuality are themselves conservatives and traditionalists.

          • I omitted the public school headmaster point. At the time you had not said you were referring to me in particular, but now you say you were all along.

            I think this is an example of people thinking they can speak about a person whom they have never met but about whom they know a couple of random facts, which facts are then magnified out of proportion (viz in this case that I attended public school, which during my period was a mixed experience). Our two HMs were superb, and not the punitive type.

          • Christopher

            ‘the decriminalisation of homosexuality – which led almost immediately to the AIDS epidemic’
            Almost immediately being 15 years later, not in San Francisco, but in Africa, and it was not, initially, a gay disease.
            AIDS today is not a death sentence – at least in the global North – and undetectable means untransmitable. There is also a vaccine in the offing.

            ‘Do you have stats that marital rape (sometimes hard to define, sometimes not) is now rarer? I thought stats would be hard to obtain, so such an assertion could not be made. However, to refuse a spouse would often (if far from always) be damaged behaviour and therefore would be less likely in someone who had not had the opportunity to get damaged before marriage’
            No, I don’t. And my point was not about its frequency but that it is now illegal. I have no idea how many prosecutions there have been, nor how many were successful. Successful prosecution of rape is depressingly low.
            I am fairly appalled that you think rape is diffcult to define, that refusing a spouse is damaged behavoiur, and that refusal would be less common in maritial virgins. Your last point is particularly sickening.

            P.S. pre-marital sex, whether you approve it or not, is not damage.

          • It is hard to know where to begin.

            ‘Not initially a gay disease’ – the genetic fallacy. It would take a physical deficiency or an unhygienic lifestyle in order for any grouping to become especially susceptible. Why do you think homosexuals were especially susceptible?

            Suggestions for why it would suspiciously break out very soon after homosexual behaviour came out in the open and consequently could become more organised?

            Definition of rape does have fuzzy edges besides the clear cut cases, and is acknowledged to in law. Do you dispute that? It is easy enough to cite borderline instances but marriage is a factor that will increase the percentage of borderline instances.

            Of course premarital sex will affect one’s integrity and identity and that cannot but have knock-on effects. So naturally the average mixed-up-ness will be greater, with all the corollaries of that.

            I am sure I agree with you on most of this, but you are leaving out the dimension that refusing your own spouse could surely be construed as an act of aggression if no other factors are involved. Not would it occur to healthy people to do so. But premarital sex messes with people’s psychological health and future life-bonding potential, so….

            What do you mean PMS is not damage. Things that are not damage by definition can still cause damage? Also, the damage will appear later down the line typically. The societies where it is accepted are precisely the same ones as the societies where marital stability is low. These two trends are precisely coterminous, as common sense would already have suggested. In your view, is the correlation coincidence?

          • Christopher

            Utter bobbins.

            Are conservative evangelical African females especially unhygenic?
            Gay men were especially susceptible becuase many were very promiscuous. No-one is denying that.

            Is ‘refusing’ one’s spouse because one is tired, depressed, not in the mood, preoccupied, pre menstrual, menopausal, reading a good book, aggressive?

            Definition of rape does not have fuzzy edges. Rape is non consensual sex. Prosection is sometimes difficult because the non-consensual part is called into question. Any non-consensual sex, whether the couple is married or not, is rape. And, D.G. marital rape is now a crime. Before 1991, it was not. It was perfectly legal to rape your wife (or husband if we take the US definition of rape).

            How on earth pre-marital sex leads to mixed-up-ness and will affect one’s integrity, and mess with people’s psychological health, I cannot fathom. And neither, I am sure can you, since it is not (I infer) your experience. And mixed-up-ness is not a ‘scientific’ category.
            Correlation isn’t causation, as all good scientists kno!

          • P.S. pre-marital sex, whether you approve it or not, is not damage.

            It is though. It damages the proper God-intended pattern of life, which is celibacy or lifelong monogamy. Having multiple sexual partners in one’s life is damage.

          • No – male homosexuals not conservative evangelical African females are by far and away the main victims per head.

            If billions are ploughed into finding a cure then a cure will be found, but that is not a plus point for the disease itself.

            More unhygienic? – yes, because of the nature of their practices at the time involved a higher proportion of unhygiene.

            Depression etc – well of course depression will be a certain number of degrees likelier if a person’s sexual past is more of a mess.

            If things in life are both nice and healthy you say yes, and as a result there can scarcely be anything but a lower degree of depression. Actually to choose depression above that other option makes no sense, and looks like one cause of the aforesaid depression.

          • Andrew

            I’ve never been through selection process myself but I would have thought they could have been porn stars or sex workers and still be ordained – if phrases like “forgive us all that is past, and grant that we may serve you in newness of life” have any meaning.

  28. It’s sin, sin and more sin. One perhaps is more overt. Others, perhaps more readily repented and ended.
    But of course there is implicit acceptance here by AG that sex before marriage is sinful behaviour.

    • “But of course there is implicit acceptance here by AG that sex before marriage is sinful behaviour.”

      Oh that depends entirely upon the particular, Geoff. I don’t think one can generalise in such a way. If you want generalisations on that matter then Christopher is your man.

      • Oh that depends entirely upon the particular, Geoff. I don’t think one can generalise in such a way.

        Is gossiping always sinful behavour? Is lying? Are you willing to generalise in that way?

        What do you think determines whether something is sinful behaviour or not?

    • Maybe this is just the beginnings of AG seeking to *turn Queen’s evidence*? (In the legal sense of the application of the term.) Even while seeking to hide behind none definitions or even his own interpretations of sin, lies and gossip.
      And that is without 3ven looking at the law of defamation as set out in statute and precedent and defence of truth
      and honest opinion.

  29. I leave you all with these guidelines #MeToo

    [this] experiment … proceeds from the belief that dialogue may permit a powerful approach to negativity, since dialogue has some of the risk and excitement we confront in the intimate encounter. Not for nothing does the OED list ‘communication’ and ‘conversation’ as the primary meanings of intercourse … throughout this book we try to attend not only to what we can readily agree upon but also to what remains opaque or unpersuasive about the other’s ideas, what threatens to block or stymie us. Resistance, misconstruction, frustration, anxiety, becoming defensive, feeling misunderstood: we see these as central to our engagement with each other and to our ways of confronting the challenge of negativity and encounter. Far from construing such responses as failures in the coherence or economy of our dialogues, we consider them indispensable to our efforts to think relationally … Structurally determined by interruption, shifts in perspective, metonymic displacements, and the giving up of control, conversation complicates the prestige of autonomy and the fiction of authorial sovereignty.

    Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman, ‘Sex, or the Unbearable’.

    • Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman, ‘Sex, or the Unbearable’.

      An early entry into the 2022 Judith Bulter prize for meaningless nonsense?

      • Really? I have always found Butler very readable. I suspect those who accuse them of being dense are relying on hearsay and haven’t read any Butler.
        Berlant and Edelman, on the other hand, do write convoluted prose, but I thought the excerpt above, which is about dialogue, is accessible.

        And Geoff, it’s actually about vulnerability and non sovereignty.

        • Really? I have always found Butler very readable. I suspect those who accuse them of being dense are relying on hearsay and haven’t read any Butler.

          Not dense. Meaningless. As in, lacking any meaning that is not trivial.

          Berlant and Edelman, on the other hand, do write convoluted prose, but I thought the excerpt above, which is about dialogue, is accessible.

          Translate it into English then. What does ‘ Structurally determined by interruption, shifts in perspective, metonymic displacements, and the giving up of control, conversation complicates the prestige of autonomy and the fiction of authorial sovereignty’ actually mean?

          The nearest I can come up with is ‘interacting with others reminds us that we are not in total control of our lives or of whether our utterances are understood to mean what we intended them to mean’ which is, well, just a trivial observation that is obvious to any child; but dressed up in jargon and deliberately overcomplicated syntax in order to make it sound profound.

          • “but dressed up in jargon and deliberately overcomplicated syntax in order to make it sound profound.”

            I agree with you entirely. I am not an academic but consider myself to be reasonably intelligent and have tertiary qualifications in technical subjects (accountancy, law, and management). I find Butler’s writing to be an impenetrable word salad – even having followed Penelope C-D’s advice to Google the ‘long words’. In my view, an academic should be able to propound their ideas in language that the general reader has some hope of understanding. Though I might disagree with much of the content (with the exception of his work on Revelation) I think Ian Paul’s blog is proof that it is possible. Savi Hensman is another writer who springs to mind whose work is a model of clarity.

          • Laurence – well, I remember a rhyme from somewhere (can’t put my finger on it)

            This is too hard for me.
            Maybe I should sit on it.
            And what my poor brain can’t comprehend
            Might go in the other end.

            I can’t get through it either!

        • And when you’ve done that you can have a go at translating

          ‘The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.’

          Into English too please.

          • More or less right with B and E, except you miss the significance for this blog: conversation involves vulnerability and opacity and disagreements and misunderstandings; this does not mean that dialogue has failed.
            Some commenters here treat it as a sixth-form debating society rather than a conversation.

            It is English. Read it again, look up the big words, google stuff, reflect.
            Academic writing is sometimes hard to understand. It repays effort.

            Some of the word salads I read on here are meaningless.

          • More or less right with B and E,

            So, an utter triviality dressed up to emulate profundity by using more and longer words than necessary. The sort of thing that whiny teenage poets do but that anyone worth listening to grows out of. And you admire these people?

            except you miss the significance for this blog: conversation involves vulnerability and opacity and disagreements and misunderstandings; this does not mean that dialogue has failed.

            Actually a misunderstanding does mean that dialogue has failed. The aim of dialogue is communication, and a misunderstanding means that communication did not occur. Hence a failure.

            It is English. Read it again, look up the big words, google stuff, reflect.

            So you have no idea what it means either. Thought so.

            Academic writing is sometimes hard to understand. It repays effort.

            Some of it does. Judith Butler doesn’t, and neither does the bit you quoted, because how can spending effort to decode something that turns out to be so utterly trivial possibly be worthwhile?

            Some of the word salads I read on here are meaningless.

            So is 99.9% of the inter-net. And 100% of Judith Butler.

          • I was trying to build bridges with the excerpt from ‘Sex, or the Unbearable’ which I quoted above. It was an attempt to avoid the ‘defensive dramatization of differences’ (Berlant) which is so much in play here and which I admit to employing too.
            You seemed to understand it pretty easily (though you misunderstood the point about dialogue and failure) and could, no doubt, paraphrase the Butler quote as well.

            I think you call them meaningless because it is considered rather modish to disparage Butler (and other philsophers and theorists) in certain circles; you are probably feeling rather clever. However,
            I’m sure that you would not consider an academic work in physics meaningless and drivel because you could not understand 99% of it.

            I return to my orginal opinion of you: you are a spiteful troll who blows up the bridges people try to create to facilitate understanding and enable vulnerability.

          • I was trying to build bridges with the excerpt from ‘Sex, or the Unbearable’ which I quoted above. It was an attempt to avoid the ‘defensive dramatization of differences’ (Berlant) which is so much in play here and which I admit to employing too.
            You seemed to understand it pretty easily (though you misunderstood the point about dialogue and failure)

            If I misunderstood, then communication failed to occur, clearly.

            Would you care to explain so that I can properly understand what they were getting at?

            and could, no doubt, paraphrase the Butler quote as well.

            I couldn’t, actually. It starts off okay but I don’t know what could be meant by ‘ [bringing the question of temporality into the thinking of structure’ or ‘ [taking] structural totalities as theoretical objects’ and by the time it gets to ‘ the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony’ I’m totally lost (what was the old conception of hegemony? In what way could ‘the possibility of structure’ be ‘contingent’? Either there is a possibility of structure of there isn’t, it can’t be ‘contingent’) and as for ‘ contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power’ (again, while a strategy can be contingent, a site can’t, and again what does it mean to ‘rearticulate’ power? For that matter what does it mean to ‘articulate’ power? To articulate something is to explain it, to put it into words. I can see how one explains power but Butler seems to have in mind here something more active than that, something more like ‘enacting’ power, but in that case ‘articulate’ is the wrong word, and it still gets us no closer to what could possibly be meant by ‘rearticulating’ — what would it mean to ‘re-enact’ power?)

            If you can parse it, again, I challenge you to do so. I don’t think you can and I won’t believe you can until you prove it.

            I’m sure that you would not consider an academic work in physics meaningless and drivel because you could not understand 99% of it.

            I wouldn’t, no, because it would be clearly and precisely stated in equations whose meaning was unambiguous. Unlike Butler’s work which seems to be deliberately stated to be as ambiguous as possible.

          • could, no doubt, paraphrase the Butler quote as well.

            Like a scan, I can’t help picking at it, and every time I do I notice something else that makes no sense.

            The subject of the verb ‘inaugurate’ is ‘ the insights into the contingent possibility of structure’

            Can you explain how ‘insights’ can ‘inaugurate’ something?

            People can inaugurate things — a Parliament can inaugurate a President, or the manger of a department can inaugurate a new process. To inaugurate is an active thing, it means to introduce something, or to install or bring about something new. It causes a change.

            But ‘insights’ are, well, are an abstract concept. They aren’t capable of doing actions. Insights can reveal things, they can disprove things, they can certainly suggest things. But how can insights inaugurate something?

            It just doesn’t make any sense.

          • But how can insights inaugurate something?

            I mean, people having insights can inaugurate things. The insights can even cause them to inaugurate things. ‘Her insight into the deficiencies of the current system led her to inaugurate a new process which was twice as efficient.’

            But insights cannot themselves inaugurate anything. It just doesn’t make any grammatical sense as the subject of that verb.

            And that’s just one bit of nonsense in a sentence that’s overflowing with such nonsense, and that’s just one sentence among many, all of which are presumably just as meaningless.

          • I mean, if she’d written ‘the insights introduce the possibility of’ then that would be fine, insights can introduce things. ‘These new insights into the inner workings of Downing Street introduce a new possible explanation for the events of 2016’.

            But ‘introduce’ and ‘inaugurate’ are not synonyms, and while insights can introduce, they can’t inaugurate.

  30. Nonsense remains nonesense no matter who spouts it. Which takes us back to the much earlier comments from Jock and Anton and links to critiques of acedemic writing. Supercilious.
    Off to worship and rejoice in the Great Triune God of the Good News of Jesus.

    • Very true, Geoff.
      Nice bit of inverted snobbery there too.
      I suppose you think Ian shouldn’t publish academic work either.

      • I suppose you think Ian shouldn’t publish academic work either.

        Not bad academic work, no. Not the kind of ‘academic work’ which consists entirely of assertion, where all that is true in it is trivial and all that is not trivial in it is false, but that deliberately uses unnecessarily convoluted language to obscure that fact.

        Good academic work, the kind that uses clarity and precision in its language to set forth reasoned arguments from clearly-stated premises, should of course be published and discussed widely.

      • Not sure about inverted snobbery, in merely pointing out nonsense but *chronological snobbery* as per CS Lewis is in much evidence.
        S has answered your point as you seek to draw in Ian Paul. He is so far removed from what you have cited above, as different as night and day as to be a different category. I’m surprised you can’t see it and clearly, transparently, articulate the differnce from your linguistic salad box.

        • Methodsplaining Geoff.
          Ian’s is the correct methodology.
          Butler’s is not.
          Since you misunderstood the excerpt I posted I think you’re ill equpped to airily dismiss it as nonsense.
          And no, that’s not what chronological snobbery means.
          Your enounter with the tiune God doesn’t seem to have imporved your charity.

          • Chronoligical snobbery as it relates to the evidences from revisionists on this site, both in historical and postmodern criticism and interpretation.
            It’s more than a question of different methodologies as has been pointed out by others. As part if my law degree I studied jurisprudence, necessitating reading philosophy. It was far more coherent and intelligible than any stuff you’ve cited.
            As for an encounter with our Triune God that you so charitably put it, it assists with discernment and
            right teaching.
            Bye, bye.
            Yours in Christ,

          • Nope, that’s still not what chronological snobbery means.
            I think what you meant to say that the philosophy you read was more intelligible to you. Though I doubt you’ve actually read the stuff I cited.
            Glad that the triune God helps you with assistance and right teaching. They might like to extend that to others here.
            Nighty night.

  31. Penelope,
    Below is CS Lewis definition of chronological snobbery.

    Mere assertion and flippancy just won’t do from a scholar such as yourself, particularly concerning the Triune God of Christianity, *they* who you believe and worship.

    “J. I. Packer describing the heretical spirit of our age, which holds that:

    the newer is the truer,

    only what is recent is decent,

    every shift of ground is a step forward,

    and every latest word must be hailed as the last word on its subject.

    This is what C. S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery” (a lesson he learned from his friend Owen Barfield. Lewis defined it like this:

    the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.

    Lewis explains what’s wrong with this approach:

    You must find out why it went out of date.

    Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood.

    From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also ‘a period,’ and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.


    J. I. Packer, “Is Systematic Theology a Mirage? An Introductory Discussion,” in Doing Theology in Today’s World: Essays in Honor of Kenneth S. Kantzer, ed. John D. Woodbridge and Thomas Edward McComiskey (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1991), 21.

    C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1966) ch. 13, pp. 207-8

    Copied from here:

    Every blessing in Christ,


  32. Peerless, priceless; a pearl from Penelope. From the Himalayan heights of revisionist hermeneutics comes this rarefied scholarly insight into the thought process of interpretation and understanding:

    “I think what you meant to say that the philosophy you read was more intelligible to you. ” Penelope Cowell Doe: Feb 6th 2022 at 7:25 pm

    Yet at the same time not providing any inkling of what CS Lewis meant to say.

    Extrapolate that to God, in scripture?

    Or even applying that reconstructive *insight* technique in a pastoral setting with the vulnerable. Harmful?

      • Really, Penelope? I don’t believe that, and credit you with far more intelligence and upper echelons of PhD understanding, rendering you unable to follow a simple line of argumentation. I mean, you write that you can even identify what I mean to say! Astonishing, scholarly work. What has happened to your interpretive prowess, overnight?
        What is it that you don’t understand, about it?
        And still you don’t provide evidence of what Lewis wrote about chronological snobbery. But please do provide your interpretation about what he meant to write!
        Disingenuous games you play, indeed.

      • Haven’t got a clue what any of that means Geoff.

        By the way, did you have a chance to check what Butler means by saying that ‘the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony’?

        How exactly can insights inaugurate anything?

    • Insight into how you operate on here inaugurates a belief that you are a distasteful troll.

      That’s not what ‘inaugurate’ means. You mean ‘leads one to the belief that’ or ‘suggests a belief that’ or perhaps even ‘confirms a belief that’.

      To ‘inaugurate’ something is to actively bring it into use, often with a ceremony, or via an edict: eg Prince Charles can inaugurate a new building, or a manager can inaugurate a new process, or a general can inaugurate a new regiment.

      It doesn’t just mean ‘start’ or ‘introduce’ or ’cause’, which is what you seem to be saying here..

      As above, having insights can cause someone to inaugurate something. But if that’s what Butler means, then who is she saying is having these insights and doing the inauguration? There must be people actively doing this inauguration based on these insights: the insights can’t just do it by themselves.

      So again: how can insights, by themselves, ‘inaugurate’ anything?

      • That’s not what ‘inaugurate’ means.

        I mean maybe you’re saying that Butler was sloppy in her use of language — that she meant something like ‘introduces’ and reached for a word which means roughly, but not exactly, what she meant, and used it instead (perhaps because it sounds more impressive? Perhaps because she wanted to give the impression that this was being done actively by someone but didn’t want to specify how or by whom?).

        But, as you keep reminding us, this is academic writing, which is all about precision and care in choosing exactly the right words. Sloppiness is use of language — using words that ‘kind of mean the same as’ what you mean, but not exactly — is, I’m sure you’d agree, not acceptable in academic writing.

        So if Butler used the word ‘inaugurate’ we must assume that she picked that word deliberately because she meant ‘inaugurate’, not ‘introduce’ or any other near-synonym.

        So: how can insights, by themselves, ‘inaugurate’ something?

      • Inaugurate is a synonym of initiate.
        I would have used initiate in that context.
        Butler didn’t.
        Now troll off, I don’t think any of this is germane to Ian’s post.
        And his acolytes serve him ill.

        • Inaugurate is a synonym of initiate.

          Well, not quite, but okay, close enough. Let’s go with that.

          That doesn’t solve the problem, does it?

          Because, again, ‘initiating’ something is an active process.

          A policewoman can have an insight and, as a result, initiate an investigation. A politician can have an insight and initiate a Bill.

          Even some inanimate objects can initiate things, if you stretch the point: a falling rock can initiate an avalanche. No insights there though.

          But an abstract concept, like an insight, cannot of itself ‘initiate’ anything, can it? Unless you care to explain how that could possibly happen.

    • It’s all a question of taste, a question of insight, a question of interpretion is it?
      Isn’t this what you mean – the evidence from the comments is that when S unstiches your argumentation to reveal the holes you have dug for yourself, in which you stand, or removes the ground on which you stand, your pride is pricked, your flippancy flips, and you take umbrage with a much reduced ad hom, last -word parting vocabulary, when your wordsmithery, succumbs to your emotive life drivers?
      After all, it’s all (and only ever) a question of subjective interpretion isn’t it?
      Every blessing in Christ Jesus our LORD, the way, the truth, the life. May you find it all in him – peace, identity, security,
      status, acceptance and more, blessings only ever, only in Him.

  33. My aim in this communication is just to make sure that the LLF project has the strongest argument supporting the ‘conservative’ case, including the importance of the doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin.

    From the Bible it is clear that:

    1 Because of the sin of Adam we are all faced with God’s holy wrath and just condemnation merely by being born.
    2 Because of the sin of Adam, we are all born with a faulty, corrupt, inclined to evil nature, because of which we cannot please God.
    3 This nature remains in the regenerate who have received the Spirit of God and these are exhorted to walk in the Spirit and put to death the practices of the body (“put ye to death therefore the (your) members on the earth” (as Colossians 3:5 puts it)).

    So all Christians have ‘members on the earth’ which we are exhorted to put to death in a life-long struggle as we walk in the Spirit.

    The debate between Chris Wright and Walter Moberly on the LLF website is important. Although Chris unfortunately does not link his line of thought back to the Fall and Original sin I agree with Chris when he says in his debate with Walter “This, it seems to me, leads to two conclusions: on the one hand, we cannot deny that the Bible includes same-sex intercourse within the category of actions that are displeasing to God, along with many other human behaviours (sexual and otherwise) that are not the way God wants human life to function. But on the other hand, we cannot isolate or exaggerate it as a uniquely more heinous sin as over against all the others. It is one among many – just as it also is in the NT”.

    I suggest that the case that “the Bible includes same-sex intercourse within the category of actions that are displeasing to God” is strengthened by the following point:
    Throughout the Bible, in a remarkable constellation of interrelated pictures, the husband-wife relationship is used to illustrate God’s relationship with his people and Christ’s relationship with the Church. Asymmetry is a key feature of these relationships. Those in Christ, male and female, (whether married, remarried, single, divorced, separated, widows, widowers) are all ‘female’ in this relationship.
    By denying that the male/female asymmetry of the sexual act and the sexual attraction which precedes it is essential, same-sex attraction and same-sex intercourse shatters this constellation.
    In the light of these pictures it is inconceivable that same-sex attraction could have been part of the ‘very good’, asymmetric, pre-Fall human nature described in Genesis 1 and 2.

    Since same-sex attraction and same-sex intercourse are linked and same-sex intercourse is displeasing to God, it follows that same-sex attraction must be one of the results of the Fall. This conclusion is supported by the fact that Romans 1:18-32 is about the Fall and its results.

    I now want to consider the cases of two persons. A Christian who experiences same-sex attraction (SSA) and a Christian who experiences heterosexual attraction (HSA). I agree that SSA and HSA, before they became Christians, both faced God’s holy wrath and just condemnation merely by being born and were born with a faulty, corrupt, inclined to evil nature, because of which they could not please God and were born spiritually dead towards God. I agree that this inclined to evil nature remains in both the regenerated SSA and HSA who have both received the Spirit of God and they are both exhorted to walk in the Spirit and put to death the practices of the body whatever the practices of the body are in each individual case.

    Because same-sex attraction must be one of the results of the Fall it follows that the faithful way SSA should walk in the Spirit and put to death the practices of the body is to abstain from same-sex intercourse both in imagination and deed. And if SSA experiences same-sex attraction or indulges in same-sex intercourse, this is a sin to be repented of.

    What about HSA? The New Testament contains many positive statements about Christian heterosexual marriage. Clearly, then, heterosexual attraction within marriage solely towards the spouse is a good gift from God as husband and wife model themselves obediently on the Christ-church analogy set out by Paul in Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 7:5. Likewise, it follows that HSA attraction and intercourse after marriage towards/with anyone other than the spouse is sin, to be repented of.

    Phil Almond

    • Hi Phil,

      Your points 1, 2, and 3 – are what it says in our 16th century Confessions. Are we totally confident that these 450 year old Confessions, largely based on Augustine’s teaching, are reliable? As I get older , like Thomas Cranmer, I am not so convnced, see: Hamer, Colin. Thomas Cranmer. Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2012.



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