Gay Christians and the Anglican Communion

Andrew Goddard Writes: In my years involved in dialogue and debate relating to sexuality, some of the most depressing moments have been when those who broadly share my views concerning biblical and church teaching speak and act in ways that I find really unhelpful, even damaging, and impossible to support. Reading the Pastoral Statement on Sexuality and Identity issued in January by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) was one such moment. I thought of writing something at the time but decided against it. There was, after all, much good material within the letter and the problems in its negative treatment of the terminology of “gay Christian” and even “same-sex attracted Christian” were well highlighted by Mark Yarhouse in his response and the pained reactions many faithful Christians who, in ACNA’s required terminology, “experience same-sex attraction”.  As David Bennett, author of The War of Loves, wrote on Facebook:

I’m personally deeply grieved with the ACNA’s statement on human sexuality. Yet again conservatives and progressives make it harder and harder for a safe place to exist in the Church for LGBTQI+/SSA Christians to work out our conscience on a deeply important part of our lives before Christ through scripture, reason (of which experience is a vital part) and tradition. We aren’t even permitted the terms gay or SSA and yet they use them entirely throughout! I probably will reserve my comments for now but lamenting the continued incompetence of the Church in loving us. Thankful its Lord isn’t anywhere the same.

The events of the last week have, however, highlighted just how serious the situation now is and made me realise that my initial silence was wrong. I was greatly encouraged to see a letter organised by Pieter Valk (like David Bennett, a celibate same-sex attracted man committed to traditional teaching on sexuality) who is exploring ordination in ACNA and signed by him and some ACNA clergy and one bishop. This letter appeared on a new website— although as you will discover if you follow that link, the letter did not stay there very long. It was only there for a very short time due to the actions of ACNA leaders as stated there. It is, however, thankfully able to be read elsewhere on the internet including at Anglican Ink.

If this strong-arm episcopal censorship were not sufficient evidence that the problems with the original statement were signs of more fundamental problems in ACNA’s response to faithful, orthodox gay Christians, there followed the doubling down on this reaction with the publication of a letter from ACNA Presiding Bishop Foley Beach—a letter he felt it necessary to write and send to his diocesan clergy the following day at 1.15 in the morning seeking to explain why action had to be taken against Pieter Valk’s letter. That explanation only revealed that the matter was much worse by highlighting the international problem.  This has now become even more obvious with the statement from Nigeria that I discovered online as I finished writing this reflection on the ACNA disagreements.  The early morning letter within ACNA, however, already signalled that there are underlying and deeper issues which need to be addressed urgently by the wider orthodox Anglican world, especially in GAFCON, whose Primates’ Council is chaired by Foley Beach:

I have had to deal with two provinces already (actually now three as of a few minutes ago) — and this is just the first day. In many of our partner provinces, the practice of homosexuality is against the law, and to make matters more difficult, they usually don’t understand the nuances of the word “gay” or “homosexual attraction” —they just hear the practice of same-sex immorality.

As that sentence makes clear, the heart of this disagreement could be viewed as exactly what Paul warns Timothy about –

“They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words” (1 Tim 6.4)

“Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen” (2 Tim 2.14)

It is, though, important to realise the root cause of this whole problem within ACNA.  It has arisen because the statement from the ACNA bishops was widely understood to have taken a dogmatic stance in such a quarrel about words.  This particular quarrel has developed, and at times got quite heated, within parts of the conservative Christian world in the U.S in recent years.  The debates about the use of “gay Christian” have particularly been raised in response to the work of Revoice whose mission is “to support and encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex attracted Christians—as well as those who love them—so that all in the Church might be empowered to live in gospel unity while observing the historic Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality”.

The ACNA Bishops’ Statement

Underlying the debates about words have been important questions about how we understand our personal identity in relation to Christian faith and sexuality and what we need to learn from followers of Jesus whose experience of their sexuality is different from the majority heterosexual experience.  Here – unsurprisingly given it was the fruit of extensive discussion and reflection over a year (as explained here) – the pastoral statement sets out quite helpfully some of the important theological questions and debates.  The problem is that the bishops then felt it was their duty to go further and to seek to use their episcopal authority to take sides in the “quarrelling about words” rather than limit themselves to highlighting the doctrinal truths that need to be preserved and the errors that need to be avoided.  They therefore write:

We believe it is important to lovingly give counsel about the use and misuse of labels, designations, and language regarding same-sex desire…We…believe it is our responsibility to provide direction and speak clearly as the Church navigates these crucial and important matters. We point out three problems we see biblically and historically with using such designations as “gay Christian,” and, for that matter, “same-sex attracted believer.”

Their first objection is the “lack of definition and common understanding” of such designations and so “confusion, misunderstanding, and misperception have resulted”.  Their second is that in Scripture and Christian tradition “we do not find the people of God defining themselves or forming relationships and communities according to sexual desire and attractions”.  Thirdly, there is the concern “with adding more adjectives to describe different sorts of Christians”.  This concern with adjectives seems to be a particular concern as the Presiding Bishop’s letter highlights – “our discouraging the use of any pronoun [sic] before Christian, specifically “Gay Christian”.”  Another clear concern in the statement is that such language will become widely accepted among younger Christians and the next generation:

We are concerned that…modifying our Christian identity with personal orientations and attractions has the potential for leading youth in the wrong directions at a time when above all we need the clarity of definition in Christ alone. We are attentive to the potential trajectory of this language…As bishops, we have a responsibility to serve both the church of today and the generations to come.

Although not prominent in the original statement, Foley Beach’s letter and subsequent developments makes clear that another major concern is also reaction from conservative provinces elsewhere in the world, to which we will return later.

The statement is thus clear in its assessment:

To insist on the adjective “gay,” with all of its cultural attachments, is problematic to the point that we cannot affirm its usage in relation to the word “Christian”…The theological and pastoral misgivings we share with regard to the terms “gay Christian” and “same-sex attraction” are significant…We recommend this statement to be used as a guide for those in teaching or counseling ministries.

Recognising that “we all need language to help us describe and confess “the devices and desires of our own hearts” as our Book of Common Prayer states” and “that our youth and adults need language to share about their experience” the bishops write –

We commend the usage of “Christians who experience same-sex attraction.”…We request that Provincial publications, teaching events, and seminars employ the recommended language and the biblical arguments that support this recommendation.

Evaluating the ACNA Statement

Although the focus here is on formal church usage, the strength of the language used cannot but have an impact on those “Christians who experience same-sex attraction”, all of whom have to wrestle with how to understand and speak about their experience of sexuality in ways that “Christians who experience opposite-sex attraction” do not.  The message that comes across is that the church objects to them describing themselves as “gay Christians”.  This then gives fuel to those (whether traditional Christians or non-Christians who identify as LGBT) who argue “you cannot be gay and a Christian”.  It is also likely to lead to an increase in the sense of shame and being second-class (or worse) simply because of the pattern of one’s attractions.  It looks horribly like an attempt effectively to silence the voices of anyone who experiences same-sex attraction and who wishes to speak in their own way about their own experience and own understanding of who they are in Christ and who wishes to try to help those without that experience to understand them better.  Instead of learning the importance of “no talking about us, without us”, the church appears to be saying “no talking about yourselves, and certainly no talking with us, without using our approved language for yourselves”.

The concern about “adjectives to describe different sorts of Christians” appears particularly strange. Such qualifiers are everywhere, not least because every Christian has many other identifying characteristics with which they may describe themselves and which may well be conjoined with describing themselves as a Christian (or even as a church). They are used to differentiate oneself from other fellow Christians – Anglican, charismatic, evangelical, traditional, orthodox.  They are used to describe important features of a person’s life whether they are or are not a Christian – single, married, divorced – and can be particularly important when that feature marks someone out as part of a minority which has experience of prejudice, misunderstanding and mistreatment from the majority (black, disabled, Jewish).  They are used for social identities and communities of which we are part and which as such always carry the risk of becoming, as the bishops note, “a kind of idolatry”.  Here one might think of national designations – American, English.  Sometimes the linguistic structure is reversed, and we use such words as a noun which is qualified by the term Christian – Christian medic or lawyer or banker or businessman.  In the past this is how describing sexuality was often handled by conservatives – one of the first books addressing the subject from an evangelical publisher had the subtitle “Letters of a Christian Homosexual”.  Arguably this form of language is even more problematic giving primacy to the identity captured in the noun with “Christian” simply a qualifier of that identity.  Are all these self-descriptors similarly to be eschewed and replaced with cumbersome phrases so we speak of ourselves as Christians who experience being married, being black, being American, being a teacher? Or is this only required with those descriptors that relate to the experience of sexual minorities?

Those who prefer or at least accept the language of “gay Christian” or “same-sex attracted Christian” have presented various reasons why they do so while holding traditional teaching (as, to be fair, the bishops’ statement describes).  It can be understood as being more truthful about the significance, weight and constancy of what is being described in relation to the person’s life experience than what is implied by the language of “who experiences”. Relatedly, it can point to how this reality suffuses a person’s life and relationships and should not be reduced simply to their experiences of sexual arousal. For many it particularly has an important missiological rationale, showing a Christian presence among, and solidarity with, those who have often been treated unjustly and providing openings for Christian witness and evangelism both among those who identify as gay or lesbian and within wider society.  Even those who share the concerns of ACNA bishops, such as Sam Allberry, will talk about exceptions to the rule and acknowledge “there are times when I felt I needed to use the language of being gay in order to have the conversation”.  In contrast, the ACNA-approved terminology of “experience same-sex attraction” will be either meaningless or possibly offensive among most non-Christians, especially those who identify as gay or lesbian. Finally, there is the simple complexity of the language. Archbishop Foley Beach complained of the Valk letter that ‘Replacing “gay Christian” with “gay Anglican” is pretty much in your face’ but were Pieter Valk and the other signatories really expected to write “Dear Anglicans who experience same-sex attraction”? Would everything (apart from readability) by resolved simply by applying search and replace to “gay Anglicans” throughout the letter?

ACNA and Global Anglicanism

As the ACNA statement makes clear, there are real challenges and dangers in simple and uncritical acceptance of “gay Christian” language.  Those need to be taken seriously but are they really so serious as to be sufficient to require bishops to police the terminology so officiously? And are the bishops not concerned about the challenges and dangers in such an approach? It will undoubtedly further alienate many gay and lesbian people from ACNA churches and perhaps others which uphold traditional teaching. It gives them the impression that there is no real willingness to continue listening to them and seeking to understand their experience better. It also risks undermining the already challenging biblical ethic by adding to it further unnecessary extra-biblical strictures. This in turn is likely to make the revisionist position more attractive not just to many of those who experience same-sex attraction but to the many other Christians who currently accept the teaching of Scripture and traditional teaching of the church as authoritative but recognise how hard that is for those who are gay.

Archbishop Foley’s letter highlights that even more serious now than the internal ACNA debate is the need to address these matters within the wider GAFCON leadership which it is clear was a driving force in the clampdown on the letter. Rather than following that course of action on the grounds that in other contexts “the practice of homosexuality is against the law” and “they usually don’t understand the nuances of the word “gay” or “homosexual attraction” — they just hear the practice of same-sex immorality” there should have been a recognition that these reactions within GAFCON are serious problems. The calling of ACNA is not to appeal to these as reasons for silencing the voices of those whom the ACNA bishops’ statement says, “we seek to respect those within our ACNA family who may disagree with our conclusions and yet remain true to the biblical witness regarding Christian marriage”. The calling of ACNA is to help conservatives in the wider Communion and especially within GAFCON to understand the complexities of human sexuality and that those of us who uphold traditional teaching have much to learn if we “want to communicate our love for the many within the Church who live with same-sex attraction”. It is noteworthy and commendable that the one ACNA bishop who originally signed the “Dear Gay Anglicans” letter – New Testament scholar Grant Le Marquand – served as a bishop in the Horn of Africa for seven years and so clearly knowledge of the African context and concern for good relations with its churches does not entail being silent. [Another ACNA bishop, Todd Hunter, had earlier written an important letter of pastoral guidance to his diocese which showed awareness of the problems with the College’s statement and speaks of “celibate, gay Christians”].

The recent response from the new Primate of Nigeria shows the pressure Archbishop Foley has been subjected to and it also reveals beyond a shadow of doubt just how seriously unbiblical a response to same-sex attracted people is found within the senior GAFCON leadership. It attacks even the ACNA Bishops’ Pastoral Statement as:

toleration of same-sex persons within their fold….tantamount to a subtle capitulation to recognise and promote same-sex relations among its members.

It describes the “Dear Gay Anglicans” letter in response as:

a clarion call to recruit Gays into ACNA member parishes. The deadly ‘virus’ of homosexuality has infiltrated ACNA. This is likened to a Yeast that should be urgently and radically expunged and excised.

Foley Beach’s rapid removal of that letter from the web is “palliative, weak and unwilling to discipline” and “has not cured the diseases that has set in already”.

The word ‘homophobic’ is often misused to label traditional understandings and I normally therefore avoid it but it is, sadly, the only possible word that can be used in the face of such unacceptable language.  The statement from Nigeria is clearly totally incompatible with two of the clauses of Lambeth I.10 which GAFCON claims to uphold and publishes on its website. This resolution

recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;

While rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;

Those who hold traditional understandings need to challenge and not kowtow to the kinds views and patterns of speech seen in the Nigeria letter wherever they are found. In the words of Bishop Greg Brewer, a Communion Partner bishop within TEC:

This is an unmitigated tragedy that will bear no good fruit. It has already caused harm to the Side B Anglicans it targets. But the implications of this letter are far bigger than that. The letter expresses a hatred that is incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion – The Real Challenge

I vividly recall talking in 2002 to a senior Nigerian bishop at the Wycliffe Conference on The Future of Anglicanism as we travelled together on a bus to the session at St Aldate’s on homosexuality. Planning that session had opened my eyes to how different the American conservative world was from that in the UK. While there were Christians in the US who would offer an “ex-gay Christian” narrative (that identity and language was not as problematic as “gay Christian”), the idea of a single, celibate gay Christian narrative was it seemed practically unheard of for many of them. Martin Hallett’s testimony was therefore a revelation to many of those attending not just from the Global South. The Nigerian bishop explained to me how he had come to realise that there were good, born again, Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians who experienced same-sex attraction and who believed and lived within the church’s teaching. He described how simply saying this back home made him unacceptable and viewed as a liberal revisionist by many of his fellow bishops.

It is a sad reality that nearly 20 years later, despite all the work of Global South and GAFCON around sexuality, and all their connections with Western conservatives, the Nigerian understanding appears unchanged and such a view is now being expressed in response to even the ACNA Pastoral Statement. At GAFCON in 2018 there were sessions on sexuality but it was noteworthy and disappointing that they were overwhelmingly attended by white Westerners with little or no engagement from other provinces present [sentence corrected from a previous error]. Thankfully things have changed within North America with Revoice, the testimony of people like Wes Hill, the work of Mark Yarhouse and Preston Sprinkle (and his Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender), and the Life on Side B podcast and Spiritual Friendship blog all giving prominence to voices that before were silenced.

The pressing question now is whether the ACNA leadership will recognise where the most serious departure from Christian faithfulness among those who hold traditional views on sexuality is to be found. It is not among those who wrote the “Dear Gay Anglicans letter” and who use or are open to using the language of “gay Christian” or “same-sex attracted Christian” of themselves or of brothers and sisters in Christ. Such quarrels about words fall into the sphere where, in the words of the Jerusalem Declaration, we can and should “acknowledge freedom in secondary matters”. The most serious departure from Christian faithfulness among those who hold traditional views on sexuality – and the most serious threat to the witness of all in the West who hold such views – is that of those who wrote and who support the response of the Nigerian church to what has transpired in ACNA and who pressured Foley Beach to act as he did in response to the “Dear Gay Anglicans” letter.

Supporters of The Jerusalem Declaration pledge “to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us”. The Pastoral Statement from ACNA’s College of Bishops and the reactions to it show that such work urgently seeking together the mind of Christ is now needed both within Western contexts and even more so globally among all those who “acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family”.

Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anglican Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.

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287 thoughts on “Gay Christians and the Anglican Communion”

  1. In the context of conservative Christianity, Andrew’s analysis is really helpful, and reflects a desire to listen to other people’s lives and experiences, and engage them with respect. In this context, it is much appreciated.

    In the context of Christians with more liberal views, and indeed in the context of non-Christians and their likelihood of responding to the gospel, Andrew’s views remain deeply problematic, and are likely to be viewed as ‘sugar-coating’, because beneath the admittedly thoughtful words and good intent, there still remains the theological vilification of millions of people’s most intimate and committed expressions of who they are, and the sacrificial love involved on their loving relationships.

    Inbetween those two world views is a Paradigm Shift that has deepened as science and enlightenment views have increasingly superceded the assumptions of the Reformation Christians about how the Bible should be read, and the nature and manner in which its authority operates.

    I think, in the context of North America, it is also quite a pity that more emphasis is not made here of the (in my view) prophetic work with LGBT Christians being lived out through The Episcopal Church. Given the schismatic background of ACNA, the term ‘Anglican’ Christian is arguably more problematic than the term ‘gay’ Christian. Personally, if Christians in ACNA experience Anglican identity, and want to frame themselves like that, then I think we should offer them the space and respect to do so. Equally so, if a person identifies as gay, as Andrew points out.

    Perhaps it would be better if we all prioritised simply the term ‘Christian’, devoted more energy on the huge needs in the world, respected one another’s consciences, and moved on from this perpetual policing of how people love, and how it’s expressed in the bedroom, with tenderness, sacrifice, covenant and devotion. Andrew at least shows desire to respect the person, if not the (perceived) ‘sin’… but the language of the Nigerian prelate should be a warning to all, that homophobia is itself violent, harmful, and capable of inciting violence and even murder.

    Andrew expresses a ‘nicer’ approach, though that finesse may still not prevent alienation of people whose integral and precious expressions of intimate love are still vilified theologically, as hateful in God’s eyes. That said, I respect his fidelity and conscience, trying to love God the way he understands things. And I hope his words find some traction, because this article is sharp and potentially helpful.

    • Susannah, all you write is premised on the idea that people begin with a conclusion: the conclusion that they are liberal or traditional – and everything follows from there.

      The name for someone who begins (rather than ends) with a conclusion is ‘dishonest’.

        • You are saying that people *begin* by being liberal or traditional – that that is their starting point. Wherever that is the case, it is an unexamined starting-point.Because it is an unexamined starting-point, it is invalid. So therefore everything that follows from it is invalid. Anyone who begins a sentence ‘I am a traditionalist/liberal and therefore…’ is committing this error, and therefore has nothing to contribute to the discussion – whether traditionalist or liberal, they are equally in error because of unexamined (and potentially dogmatic / cherry-picked) presuppositions.

          I kind of suspected that people could not get their head round this point, which is exactly why these time wasting discussions are so interminable. That’s why I suggest 5 minutes’ thought digesting it.

          • And it gets worse, because there are millions of issues in life, so how on earth could a person (certainly not an honest person) just so happen to be traditionalist in all of those million, or liberal in all of those million??

          • Okay, not getting you, but do you have anything to say about Andrew’s article, or about specific points I made in my post?

            Otherwise, I’m not sure this present conversation goes anywhere.

          • Just attention to that one point, until you get it, would save us and many others from these never ending discussions which eat up everything else.

      • The name for someone who begins (rather than ends) with a conclusion is ‘dishonest’.

        Nah, it’s only dishonesty if they try to pass off their motivated reasoning as being an unprejudiced enquiry. If they are up-front that they started with a proposition and then tried to build a case for it, then that’s not dishonest.

        After all, take the example of a barrister. A barrister doesn’t approach the facts of the case impartially and come to a conclusion; a barrister starts with the conclusion (their client’s case) and then builds the best argument they can for that case.

        And that’s not dishonest because that’s their job. Everybody knows a barrister is not impartial. They’re not meant to be. Who would hire to defend them a barrister who might look at the facts and decide that they were guilty?

        However it would be dishonest if the judge were to secretly have started out deciding which way they want the case to go, and then picked the best arguments towards that conclusion to use in their summing-up.

        So, there’s nothing wrong with starting with the conclusion you want to reach, and then building the best case you can for it. There’s a whole field of study, rhetoric, dedicated to doing just that. And it’s a vital role in society: to get at the truth, or to make decisions, we need people to put the best cases possible for the various opposing ideas. That’s how trials work, it’s how politics works.

        In Scotland, for example, they are (constantly, always, interminably) considering the question of whether to become an indpendent nation. To make that decision, the two sides each take every new bit of information, about the price of oil, about the UK’s relationship with the EU, whatever, and shows how it supports their side of the argument. You don’t expect a member of the SNP to say, ‘actually, I have considered this new evidence and decided maybe this isn’t the best time for independence’. No — they start from their conclusion (that Scotland must be independent, and the sooner the better) and incorporate the new evidence to put forward the best case they can.

        And that’s okay! It’s not dishonest! Indeed it’s vital that they do it, and that those on the Unionist side, do the same, because it’s only by having those two cases put as best they can be that the people can then make their decision as to which route to take.

        And similarly when what’s at stake is not a decision but the truth: in a trial, both sides put forward their best arguments to explain the evidence, that the jury might be best placed to determine which is true. Or in science: often you see scientists lining up on the two sides of a question, such as whether the universe began at a single point and expended or whether it has always existed pretty much as it does now, and each making the best case for how their conclusion fits the evidence. And by that process the truth emerges.

        So there’s nothing wrong with beginning with a conclusion and building a case for it. It’s, indeed, necessary for the advancement of knowledge and of society.

        But the key is, it’s fine — it’s good — to do that as long as you’re clear that’s what you’re doing and you don’t try to pass yourself off as an impartial observer.

        • The SNP said themselves at the time that it was a once in a generation referendum. For most people thats at least 25 years, not 6. Either they were dishonest at the time, or dishonest now.

          • The SNP said themselves at the time that it was a once in a generation referendum. For most people thats at least 25 years, not 6. Either they were dishonest at the time, or dishonest now.

            I agree entirely but that’s not really germane to the point I was making about it being important to have both sides of the case put as well as possible.

        • No-one could call that a conclusion, because by definition a conclusion comes at the end whereas the ‘conclusions’ you describe come actually at the beginning!

          What you are describing is an hypothesis not a conclusion.

          • No-one could call that a conclusion, because by definition a conclusion comes at the end whereas the ‘conclusions’ you describe come actually at the beginning!

            Ah, you may be confused by jargon. I’m using the word ‘conclusion’ in the philosophical sense of ‘the thing which this argument is trying to convince the audience of’. There’s no sense, in this use, of chronology: the conclusion comes at the end of the argument, but it could have come anywhere in the chronological process of developing the argument: at the beginning, if the writer of the argument knows at the start of what they want to convince the audience (such as a defence barrister who knows before they start that their conclusion will be that there is sufficient doubt about their client’s guilt that they should not be convicted), in the middle, if someone starts thinking and halfway through decides what they think and then decides to structure the argument towards that; or at the end, if it’s only by working through the argument that the writer decides what they want to convince people of.

            I know it’s confusing that the same word, ‘conclusion’, is used in general parlance to mean the chronological end of a process, but that’s not the sense in which I meant it.

  2. There will never be constructive agreement between two world views. One that takes its ethics and morality from a supreme being revealed through his word, and the second who reject this authority and decide on their ethics and morality depending on how they feel or on what the effects of edicts have on other people. The problem is that our liberal elites reject the first world view, but the church contains those from both camps. One would have thought 50 years ago that this was impossible – but here we are. Arguing about language changes nothing. I regret that the word gay has been stolen and even more that God’s rainbow sign has been appropriated by the gay lobby. Using either in church is a red rag to the bulls of conservatism. If we think gay Christians are by definition sinners, then perhaps we should call everyone adulterous Christians! Because judging by recent church scandals that is who we are. You can understand why LGBT churchgoers think our morality is very selective.

    • The way of having constructive dialogue between 2 world views is to be critical of worldviews! Anyone who begins with a worldview is asking for trouble. What is the worldview based on, after all? How is it to be justified? So it is simple. Rule out dogmatists who think it is fine to begin with either a worldview or what purports to be one but may be only a desire or something. Limit discussion to truth seekers, who know that an initial framework is just one step in an argument and just as much in need of critical scrutiny as all the other steps.

      • Anyone who begins with a worldview is asking for trouble.

        Is it possible for anyone not to begin with a worldview? Of course people may change their world-view as a result of new information that they cannot integrate into their previous world-view, but I don’t see how anyone (other than the youngest child) can start without a world-view at all.

        • I think that the worldviews that we begin with are not tabula rasa. They are based on the tautological (self-evident) and on the evident.

          If we start with (a) the law of non contradiction and (b) the presuppositionless empirical approach, we will get an awful long way.

          • I think that the worldviews that we begin with are not tabula rasa. They are based on the tautological (self-evident) and on the evident.

            I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at.

            By the time anyone becomes an adult, they will have a world-view, I think. It may be ill-formed; it may be vague; it may be more gaps than actual solid conclusions. It will necessarily be based on incomplete information, as they have not had time to assimilate much information. But nevertheless, they will have a view of the world, a paradigm through which they filter such new information as they encounter.

            From that point on, it is impossible for them to begin anything without a world-view. Any new project they embark on will begin with trying to fit into the world-view they already have. A world-view is the map we use to navigate through the world, built up from our previous experiences and conclusions. We cannot, when beginning an intellectual journey, lay aside our map and start as if we were tabula rasa; we might like to pretend we can, but we can’t, really. Our map is always there and from it will will always begin to guide our steps. But when we discover that our map is incomplete, or that our map does not in fact match the territory as we move into new areas, then we have to update the map — and that updated version then becomes the starting-point for our next moves.

            Consider C.S Lewis, who had when he began teaching a materialist, atheistic world-view; encouraged by acquaintances, he began to look into Christianity, and at first tried to fit it into his world-view; eventually he could not, and was forced to either dismiss Christianity, or update his world-view. Unable intellectually to do the former, he ended up doing the latter: ‘the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England’.

            But he didn’t begin that investigation into Christianity without a world-view; he couldn’t. None of us can.

          • So you think there is no difference between someone who assumes a worldview and one who is critical of all worldviews? But there is. There is a large difference.

            Many might hold a worldview (others can’t get their head round anything so large so stick to following received ‘wisdom’ piecemeal topic by topic, even though this results in thinking that is not joined-up. But some do so having tried to examine its foundations critically, whereas others do so through mere preference, in an unexamined manner. You will certainly agree that that is a very important difference. In fact, the latter is not really a worldview at all.

          • So you think there is no difference between someone who assumes a worldview and one who is critical of all worldviews? But there is. There is a large difference.

            I can’t answer that question because I don’t know what you mean by ‘assumes a worldview’. I have a worldview, a way I think the world works. You also have a world view. I could imagine saying I hold my worldview. But I’m not sure what it would mean by ‘assume’ a worldview. I’m not sure how that verb applies. Could you explain what it means to ‘assume’ a worldview and how that is different from ‘having’ or ‘holding’ a worldview?

            Many might hold a worldview (others can’t get their head round anything so large so stick to following received ‘wisdom’ piecemeal topic by topic, even though this results in thinking that is not joined-up.

            I normally try not to be nit-picking about mistypings — goodness knows I make enough of them — but in this case I think I am going to ask you where you intended to but the end of that parenthetical, because exaclty where it ends is rather vital to the correct parsing of the sentence and I don’t want to make a mistake and start talking at cross-purposes.

            But some do so having tried to examine its foundations critically, whereas others do so through mere preference, in an unexamined manner. You will certainly agree that that is a very important difference. In fact, the latter is not really a worldview at all.

            Oh, certainly, some people never think to examine their world-view, and may even have a vague or self-contradictory world-view, while others are constantly checking their world-view for logical consistency, comparing their world-view to the world itself, noting any discrepancies between the two, and adjusting as needed.

            But that’s not at all ‘not really a worldview’. The person who examines their worldview critically still has a world-view. We couldn’t operate in the world if we didn’t have some kind of world-view. For example, we all have a view on, say, how likely it is that we are the subject of a vast conspiracy, constantly spied upon by agents in disguise. Most of us think that is (for various reasons) quite unlikely; the paranoiac, by contrast, has a different world-view in which it is almost certain. But that doesn’t mean that paranoiac ‘has’ or ‘assumes’ a world-view and I don’t: we both have world-views, but they are different world-views. If I were to disassemble my bedside lamp one day and discover a listening device in the stem, I might be forced to update my world-view to be rather closer to the paranoiac’s.

          • The brackets close after ‘joined up’.

            It’s only my usual point that although we all have a worldview, for some it is rationally and evidentially arrived at (and is therefore provisional) whereas for some it is acritical, a mere matter of preference – and there is the world of difference between the 2, so they should not be treated as being on a level or even as being the same sort of thing.

          • Everything is provisional. Even St Paul knew that. I’m glad to hear you say it Christopher.

          • Why are you glad to hear me saying it when I have previously already said it so many times?

            However what I said was not that *everything* is provisional, but that it is good practice to treat theories as provisional because provisional means subject to possible future refinement and improvement. It is, in other words, a doctrine of optimism about how much we can discover (we can never limit it, for it could always be more), whereas your perspective seems the opposite: a doctrine that emphasises how little we can discover – apophatic and pessimistic. How anyone would know in advance whether the limits of knowledge would be great or small is a mystery to me; but the sum total of knowledge increases rather than diminishing.

          • A. I was referring to viewpoints, but ought to have made that more plain, apologies.

            B. There are some views you express with such certainty as to disallow the possibility of provisionality. So you therefore do not quite abide by your own maxims. (Your views about same sex relationships being a prime example).

          • You don’t get me here. Every theory is provisional in the sense that it can be refined and details filled in – and potentially even abandoned. But it is obvious that the millions of issues in life will range from very clear-cut to very obscure. If you have heard me being certain about things, then that must have been concerning some of the very clear-cut things, many of which must certainly exist if standard deviation holds true. There is a peculiar and unthought-out dogmatism that *everything* but everything must be obscure. Which is as unevidenced and odd as expecting everything to be very clear.

            Secondly I never hold ‘views’ on anything – the incoherence of the word ‘views’ (on which word so much liberal argumentation rests) has been oft exposed. Nor do I hold private stances – I just try to go with the statistics and with patterns of evidence.

          • Even here you express a view Christopher. You are always expressing views, and pretending that they are unprejudiced. You are not exempt from bias.

          • You are always expressing views, and pretending that they are unprejudiced.

            I see the pot has returned to his favourite theme of the kettle’s blackness.

          • On the contrary – my views are certainly biased. Always have been, always will be. The mistake comes when we pretend they are not.

          • Why force people to call something a ‘view’? To do so is to force them to use an incoherent too-broad word. There are evidenced perspectives/views and unevidenced ones – they are not the same thing, so the same word should not be used for them. That is very different from saying that they do not exist. What I am saying is that 2 things exist rather than one.

          • And that’s just another of your views Christopher.
            I’m not forcing you to use any word.

          • Pure relativism. The advance of science has been on the understanding that relativism (as opposed to relativity) is self-refuting.

            It is also a short circuit. Do you notice how many times you end up in that short circuit without making any advance? We have only a certain amount of time on earth, and those many who have made advances have followed a different way.

          • You are making a very general statement about a complex issue. Thomas Kuhn explores relativism and scientific advancement and is worth reading. It’s by no means as clear as you try to make out.

          • No, Kuhn was accused of relativism because he noted how typically paradigm B replaces paradigm A with the implication that C will follow and then D and so on ad infinitum. But the only reason these paradigms replace one another is the pressure of *evidence*.

            Whereas what we are getting from you is evidence-free. You are saying ‘Views are all, and all is views’. Who cares about views? The only thing that matters is the evidence supporting those views? Our task is therefore to measure that evidence comparatively. To see which theories or paradigms or views fit the empirical data best and fail to break the law of noncontradiction.

            It will then become plain (science 101) that the multiplicity of views which you are wanting us to treat as being all of equal value simply because they are views (what isn’t? As though we are supposed to be impressed by that) vary on a scale from extremely convincing to extremely unconvincing.

          • Kuhn was accused of relativism, an accusation you repeat. It doesn’t make it so. Read around the matter. It’s not simplistic.
            This is off topic.

          • Kuhn was accused of relativism, an accusation you repeat. It doesn’t make it so.

            Surely according to you, the claim that Kuhn was a relativist is just ‘a view’, and the claim that he wasn’t is also ‘a view’, and as they are both ‘views’ then each is as valid as the other, and you shouldn’t be claiming that he is wrong and you are right?

            Or is this another example of your ‘one rule for me, another for everybody else’ arguing style where whenever anybody else makes a claim you say, ‘that’s just your view’ but whenever you make a claim it’s, ‘no, this isn’t just my view, I’m right, read up on it’?

  3. The testimony of many LG individuals is that they feel they are that way inescapably.

    Meta-analyses have highlighted that one of the most significant correlations with being LG is coming from a non-intact family structure.

    That would also help explain why much more people than before seem to be LG in particular cultures. In those cultures there are much more non-intact family structures than before.

    How does this connection work. If your origins estrange and disaffect you, there cannot but be a reaction to that. Are we seriously expecting there will be no reaction?

    We are talking about this as one very significant correlation – not saying it is connected to the other correlations like birth order and testosterone.

    So in a way the sexual revolution is to blame. I use the language of blame deliberately, because in (for example) the absence of an uncommitted father (largely the fault of norms that dare to tolerate such things – this would never previously have been the case, but the retreat from marriage and commitment initiates the inevitable slippery slope) there is practically irresoluble pain. As there is in all aspects of non intact families. Such things are increased exponentially by the sexual revolution, but unnecessarily because the sexual revolution ought not to have been adopted or legislated for, and people were warned at the time about this by the clear sighted and commonsensical.

    How then can we simply affirm this very common type of LG? To do so would be to affirm the evil of those who made the family structure non intact. Do we affirm evil? No, we oppose it, and strongly?

    There is an even worse point. Those who point to the existence of this category of LG as evidence are precisely the same cohort of people who birthed it. Of course it will be there, for it was *you* who caused it. Just like those who say (in the wake of thousands of years of contrary evidence) ‘Of course, marriage has major problems as a system’, when it was their loosenings that made it so. You can’t cause phenomenon X and then say ‘Oh my goodness, look at phenomenon X’. Phenomenon X at which you affect to be so shocked would not be there in any significant way but for the wheels that you yourselves put in place.

    • My family structure was entirely intact, very happy, and I’m gay as a daisy. Really, you must stop trying to pathologise us to explain our sexuality.

      • Here I agree with Jeremy – the wider attempts to pathologise gay people per se is disgraceful (and I have been guilty of it in the past). It’s down to individuals with their individual therapists / professionals to work out what it or isn’t happening psychologically in their own lives.

        • Indeed, Peter, and individuals’ sexuality is not the least business of the church. I would not pry into Ian’s married life. The church should not pry into mine. Just to add to Jeremy’s comment, my parents were the most loving people, and I enjoyed a privileged and lovely home life with my four brothers. Sexual orientation is not a pathology. There are many heterosexual people who had abysmal childhoods. That doesn’t make their orientation a pathology either. Sexual orientation is just something you have. And yet the theological vilification of gay and lesbian people goes on. A hospital chaplain is stripped of his post, even though his work is deeply compassionate and his care of people has been exemplary. That vilification is appropriated by hateful people as a mandate to abuse and attack gay people. It’s potentially very dangerous and harmful, however it is sugar-coated with niceties. At the extreme end, there is language like the Nigerian archbishop’s diatribes. At the ‘genteel’ end, there is pleasantness, but the insistence that all gay people should remain celibate for life. It’s all basically carnage.

          Meanwhile, gay and lesbian couples live their lives, care, commit, love tenderly and intimately, support one another through times of distress, bring life and gifts to their churches, care for their neighbours.

          The church should stop trying to be the ‘bedroom police’. We are not living in Cromwell’s puritan England. We are each, by God’s grace, trying to respond to the very greatest commandments of all: to love God, and to love our neighbour.

          And if, in conscience, some think that part of that love of God is to only love a partner of the opposite sex, then that’s something they can do as well. But instead, a history of pathogising, associating with murderers and bestiality, and frankly… it’s pathetic. The problem for Andrew is that it’s kind of hard to “be nice to gays” if at the same time you’re telling them that their deepest, most private and precious and sacrificial love for another person is – theologically – vile to God.

          The best we can do, I suggest, is to personally live in accordance to our own conscience, and accept that others will do that as well, and where we differ, to prioritise the love we can still have for one another, as Christians, and I think to his credit that at least is something Andrew is trying to encourage. It’s just that the ‘vilification’ still hurts, others, marginalises, frankly demeans.

          Incidentally, on a lighter note, I love that expression of Jeremy’s: ‘as gay as a daisy’. God bless him. There should be no shame in committed intimate relationships of love, or indeed in our orientation.

          Best wishes to you too, Peter. Grace of God be with you.

          • Most Christians would have disagreed with these statements as little as 20 years ago. Nobody (except gay people) would have said the same thing 40 years ago. I don’t know how old you are but surely you can remember a time when you thought otherwise?

            What is your honest opinion of the gay/ssa individuals who still honour the traditional Christian sexual ethic?

          • I can remember a time when I disapproved of gay and lesbian sexuality. At the time I was strongly influenced by a church I attended which said it was wrong. Over time I came to the view that gay and lesbian sexuality could be beautiful, and acceptable to God.

            My honest opinion of gay individuals who choose to honour the traditional Christian ethic is: I respect them. That is their choice. They are trying to live in fidelity and givenness to God.

            That said, I simply don’t think all gay and lesbian people are meant to stay celibate all their lives. If they feel personally called to celibacy, may God bless them. But I personally believe gay and lesbian sexual practice can be fine, so I would worry that some people would suffer repression and not live the way God may have longed for them to live, in committed, devoted, intimate sexual relationships with people they would love and care for.

            We all know there are different views on this in the Church of England (which I belong to). I believe our sexuality is given to us by God. I don’t think it should be locked up in celibacy, unless in a very positive way certain individuals feel specifically called to stay single.

          • If you don’t mind answering more questions:

            How do you feel about the traditional sexual ethic being taught as a moral absolute (like love your neighbour as yourself) and not conditional on anyone’s personal inclinations/circumstances? Would it matter if this view was held/taught in the context of “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”?

            Does your use of the words “committed, devoted” imply that you consider these things to be advisable/beneficial or that you believe there is some form of limit on what is permissable?

          • If the idea is that one should not pathologise, then are we seeking to stop the advance of knowledge? or to police which sorts of questions can or cannot be asked? Neither is admirable one bit.

            Ways in which LG people are on average significantly different are precisely the same thing as pathological data about them as a class or category. Compelling other people that they must not think about or discuss such things will not make that a whit less true, but it will make us see the would-be controllers in a new and not flattering light.

          • Do you mean ‘taught’ in church or ‘taught’ in schools as well.

            If those are the beliefs of a church community, then I respect the right of that church community to teach what they believe to be moral absolutes in their church. Other churches then, of course, deserve the same respect if they hold different beliefs on sexuality and teach their different views accordingly.

            If we are talking about schools, I do not agree with religious absolutes on sexuality being taught in schools as ‘the only moral way’ in which sexuality can be expressed.

            I do agree with you that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ but I do not regard caring and committed gay and lesbian sexual intimacy as a ‘sin’. On the contrary, it should be a blessing.

            However, if a PPC and ordained minister have sufficient agreement and support in their own church community to couple gay sex with sin in general, that may be a conscience issue, and I believe right of conscience (and associated fidelity and love of God) should be respected, within the confines of an individual church.

            In response to your final question (and forgive me if I don’t answer further questions): I don’t see it as my position to ‘permit’ anyone else’s sexual expression, unless anything non-consensual is involved, or there is abuse involved. Even then, that’s a matter that just needs reporting to the police and safeguarding authorities.

            With regard to how I see sexuality ‘best-framed’ (in my opinion, but not as a law to be imposed on others), ideally I would say sexual intimacy benefits hugely from the commitment of marriage (I am married myself). However, I know many relationships that are committed, devoted, and beautiful, even though they are not inside marriage.

            I leave it to God, and the individuals concerned, as to how precious and valuable that is.

            If you are asking whether I believe sex can be expressed outside of commitment, all I can say is that is not my way.

            Thank you for your courteous and pleasant enquiries.

          • Thank you for your replies. This topic can easily generate a lot of mutual distrust so I appreciate your willingness to answer these questions.

        • But Peter:

          (1) Why is it all psychological? Some is, but some is physical, some is circumstantial, some is societal. That gives a truer and more comprehensive picture.

          (2) Are said individuals biased or not on (of all topics) the topic of themselves.

          (3) You are not, surely, saying that we ought not to seek understanding through observing the larger patterns thrown up by the statistics? (As a statistician, you cannot be saying that.)

      • Hi Jeremy

        You make several large mistakes here:
        (1) Not reading ‘the question’. It is written in black and white: ‘We are talking about this as one very significant correlation – not saying it is connected to the other correlations like birth order and testosterone’.

        (2) Assuming that there can be only one explanation for something, that applies to all. Why?

        (3) Thinking that one random solitary individual disproves a large-scale point. That is the fallacy of anecdotal evidence but (worse) it is a retreat to a vanishingly small scale where only a large scale will do.

        Of course, the point you were seeking to disprove was not being made anyway – see (1).

        What remains true is the disproportionate correlation with non-intact families; and what also remains true is that the quantity of such families was artificially inflated by the sexual revolution. So back to square one.

        • Christopher

          When two gay men, with very different views on homosexuality, ask you not to pathologise their sexuality, I would respectfully suggest that you stop digging.

          • I entirely refuse. People in life may well be motivated to ask others to avoid questions that might bring house-of-cards edifices crashing down. That is precisely why they ask others to avoid those particular questions! I’m not saying that is necessarily the case in the present instance though.

            Telling others what questions they can and cannot ask?? That is controlling; and secondly selectivity or cherry-picking is of the essence of ideology/anti-scholarship.

          • Christopher
            I wasn’t telling you to do anything. I was politely suggesting that, after Jeremy and Peter asking you not to pathologise their sexuality, your continuing to do so is unhelpful.

          • I don’t remember pathologising the sexuality of either. Show me where I did that. You are speaking quite inaccurately.

            I mentioned that one very important factor in the homosexuality of not an insignificant number is that they are victims of the sexual revolution vis-a-vis what society or family they have found themselves in. And also that there are other unrelated pathological factors that have been found (testosterone levels, birth order; and I could have added early experiences of abuse, a rural setting for men, a college setting for women, lesbian parenting for girls, and so on). What on earth has any of that general large-scale talk got to do with 2 random precious individuals?

          • Christopher

            I can hardly be speaking inaccurately when you use the term ‘pathological’ factors in your response to me.
            What it has to do with two individuals is that you are pathologising their sexuality, as they have pointed out.

          • I think it is probably 3 times that I’ve asked: if I am pathologising the sexuality of individuals then point out where.

            First, I was not doing so unless you can point to where I was.

            Second, I would not be in a position to do so, not knowing enough about the individuals.

            Third, I was speaking about a widespread large-scale pattern not about anything small-scale.

            Fourth, I said from the outset that that particular widespread large-scale pattern applies to some and not to others.

            Are any of my 1-4 inaccurate, looking back at the discussion?

    • Im not sure what you mean by ‘non-intact’ families. If it’s simply, for example, when the parents split up, then I would be surprised if that is the case. I personally think there is a correlation between the relationship between the same-sex parent and the child who later develops same-sex attraction, though it is not limited to the parental relationship as other relationships may have an influence. I also dont rule out genetic or other physical factors – I suspect it’s a combination.

      I know some have an issue with talking about ’causes’ but I dont, and Im gay myself. Indeed it has often been the gay community itself that has insisted that one is ‘born’ gay and therefore ‘fixed’ for life. Neither is true, in my opinion.


      • When you say ‘I would be surprised’, what studies are you relying on?

        The idea, at which you hint, that there is a correlation with weak father and domineering mother is one that has a long history, and took root before discussion of this topic became ideological and political. It was based simply on observation and study.

        So besides non-intact one should talk of dysfunctional parental framework as well. Essentially there is an issue with family set-ups disproportionately being suboptimal.

        • It’s not studies rather observation, both from my own personal experience and that of others I have known. Including myself, I cant remember any male friends or acquaintances who identified as gay whose parents had split up. In fact I can only think of some straight people whose parents split or divorced.

          I know that’s anecdotal evidence, but I think such evidence can actually reflect reality more than formal ‘studies’.


    • Christopher, while I would staunchly defend your right to express your opinions, no matter how sharply I or anyone else may disagree with them, I suggest that it might be a good idea if you were to stop deprecating – even if only by implication – the families of people whom you don’t even know. Not to put too fine a point on it, I think that it’s sickeningly arrogant of you.

      • Let’s define what point is actually being made. I have mentioned that very many apparently are non-mainstream sexually because of the wrong turns made by societies and hence by families within those societies.

        Nowhere have I even hinted that that applied to any particular individual – or if I have, point it out or retract.

        Even if I had said any such thing (and generally I do not have the knowledge to do so – but if I had had) it would be an instance of telling the truth. Is that something you object to? Good people rejoice in it.

        Moreover, that pattern was explicitly said to apply only to a portion of now-homosexual people.

        And moreover, other parallel and alternative patterns were named (testosterone levels, birth order – and many more could be added, and have been by me above more recently) that – by their parallel and alternative nature – show that the main pattern I was talking about applies only to a portion of now-homosexual people.

        It’s just data. Data doesn’t care whether we like it or not; facts don’t care about our feelings. You discriminate between the data you like and that which you don’t. But lovers of truth don’t do that, and it is not only dishonest but also arrogant – expecting things to go away because *we* want them to.

        • The truth, Christopher, which “good people rejoice in”, is that you find homosexual practice personally disgusting. You find it offensive to your sensibilities. You don’t distinguish between the various sorts of homosexual practice, a point that Penny has put to you many times. You don’t engage with the fact that heterosexual married couples – Christian ones at that! – engage in anal sex. You are unable to say why lesbian sexual practices are wrong, other than to find the whole thing squeamish. You are unable to describe the telos of the clitoris. You are unable to recognise the instances of faithful, stable, married same sex couples. You imply, above, that particular same sex married couples have caused unhappiness to family situations of which you have no knowledge.
          This is the data you have presented us with.
          Whilst facts don’t care about feelings, people do. And if the facts presented are skewed, then it is clear that people’s lives can be put in danger. Care is called for in presentation of what might be thought to be facts but are in fact prejudices.

          • Thank you for such a sane overview, Andrew.

            As for “very many apparently are non-mainstream sexually because of the wrong turns made by societies and hence by families within those societies.”

            Gay and lesbian relationships *are* mainstream in UK society. That is apparent in society’s acceptance and affirmation, it is apparent legally, it is apparent in workplaces. We have grown up and moved on.

            Whereas once society was rooted in prejudice towards gay sexuality and criminalised it, in 2021 gay and lesbian couples are part of the mainstream, whereas organisations like Christian Concern are now regarded as marginal, not mainstream, and in the eyes of society, frankly weird and sad.

            In your own case, Christopher, I have no idea whether your views are founded purely on Christian conscience and fidelity; or on selective data you cite to confirm your bias against gay sexuality; or whether you simply have a personal revulsion against gay and lesbian sexual acts.

            But please don’t suggest that gay and lesbian couples are not mainstream. They are hugely valued members of our society, workplaces and many church communities. And please do not impugn the families of gay and lesbian people. These families are simply a cross-section of the UK population – the good, the bad and the ugly – whether their children are gay or heterosexual.

            To suggest these families are problematical, because (as I suspect) you personally find gay sexuality problematical, is not science: it is prejudice.

            Gay people are not the problem. Nor are their families, any more than anyone else’s families. I think you are fixed on dogma, not data. And I think that colours and influences your application of data, rendering your assertions and conclusions unsafe.

            When I say ‘unsafe’ I mean that with actual concern, because of the harm and damage that can arise from attempts to marginalise people, to frame them as ‘problem’, when actually they are valued and productive and decent members of the UK mainstream (and in many cases Christians, and valued church members too).

          • Hi Andrew

            Certainly this looks almost the most inaccurate summary of what I say that I remember. I will explain why.

            (1) You say I don’t comment on a whole list of matters, whereas the truth is the opposite: anything I am ever asked to comment on I do comment on, because I believe in straight answers to straight questions. That covers a good deal of what you say. Far from being evasive, I can see that evasiveness is dishonest and have always distanced myself from it. Ask a question – I will address it.

            (2) Am I aunable to recognise the instances of permanent, stable and faithful SS couples? I am well able to know that in a world of 7.5bn people almost anything will be found somewhere, and repeatedly make the point. McWhirter and Mattison who addressed this topic directly (among many others) found the faithful to be – in homsexual contexts – a tiny fraction, whereas among childhood sweethearts of the pre-’60s generation presently dying out, the tiny fraction was the unfaithful.

            (3) The oddest and most inaccurate part of your presentation is the emphasis on ickiness and squeamishness. Is it likely that someone who emphasises ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’ would be emotion-driven rather than rationally driven? Nor will you find evidence of my basing arguments on emotions. Were they so based, they would not*be* arguments. So you summarise that I find certain sexual or quasi-sexual practices icky. But you can’t find places where I have said that nor based anything on it. Summaries are supposed to be of a central oft-repeated message.

            (4) As for the telos point, I expect I am able, but (quite contrary to what you say) have never been asked! 😉

            (5) ‘Particular same-sex married couples’? Which particular ones are these?

            I recognise your presentation as perhaps incorporating a succession of cliches of how liberals view non liberals on this matter. The trouble is that I am an independent thinker and as such am always being misunderstood. I am probably sometimes an unclear communicator, but I do use plain English, and I think it is the fact that I do not think along well worn lines that throws people.

            At the end you say ‘This is the data you have presented us with’. To the contrary I have spoken a great deal about homosexual matters and have scarcely said one of the things you claim – or if I have, show me where.

          • Hi Susannah

            I go to great lengths to be truthful and accurate , so boy does it hurt (and fail to ring true) when you speak of selectivity or a pre-existing bias. No. That is not only me, it is everything I most detest and stand against. But by speaking here we can get to know these things about one another, and understand one another better. Within debate, I am strict that the emotional has very little part, since the present activity is a rational one. When researching for What Are They Teaching The Children? I had only these criteria for whether I would cite studies:
            -are they tolerably up to date and local to the part of the world that is being focussed on in the present writing?
            -are they large scale?
            -are they based on a random sample?

            The point is the colossal statistical discrepancies that the largest-scale studies evince on key matters like health, longevity, promiscuity, disease. They are not pretty. One could not select, since there is scarcely a study in existence that puts homosexual people even equal to heterosexual (let alone superior) in these centrallyimportant behaviours and outcomes in these categories. And that even at a time when heterosexual track records are plummeting.
            So if you ask what what I say is based on, it is real lives, reality, as seen in statistics. Not studies of ones and twos or tens and twenties, who may or may not be typical, but of hundreds and thousands. But rather than go round in circles, read up first – there are plenty of other summaries longer and better than my own.

            Looking at these realities is of supreme importance. How else are we to tell whether we are speaking accurately, apart from by looking at large-scale studies. If homosexual individuals disproportionately have absent fathers, then rather then say ‘Hey ho, there are lots of family types’ (which is totally untrue, since families are formed in one way only, and all other types – which are limitless – are actively manufactured rather than just happening) actually feel for the poor children who are deprived of their father (or mother) and do not want to be (there is nothing they want less) and it kind of ruins their whole life. So there will be an inevitable reaction within their own life against this situation. Which would not happen in a society where absent fathers were not socially acceptable. So that all that pain would go away. So you see how very much it matters. My position is moral because I want that pain to go away, and for the structures to be in place to make sure it is minimised. I can only conclude that the other position – which seems to me not to care – is immoral.

        • I am not aware of any evidence that the testosterone levels in homosexual people are generally different from those in heterosexual people, but even if they were, it would be a non sequitur to infer that such a difference was pathological (as you have done in a previous post); it would be simply a difference. The same applies to birth order.

          “It’s just data,” you say. It would be interesting to know where you get your alleged data from.

          • Christopher

            And, as I have observed before, many faithful, married, other sex couples engage in ‘non-mainstream’ sexual intimacies, which are not open to procreation. This is not a phenomenon of the ‘sexual revolution’ or permissiveness. This was probably even truer in the days before reliable contraception.

          • What is the relevance of that point. Nobody denied the observation anyway. So you have made a point that is neither relevant nor disputed. The discussion had already moved on to how we can affirm or reject these things, whether there are principles for doing so.

            More damagingly, you are saying that is X happens X is fine. Accordingly, if Hiroshima happens, Hiroshima is fine. But it isn’t, so there is a fault in the reasoning.

          • Christopher

            Not at all. I am saying, specifically, that sexual intimacies such as fellatio and cunnilingus are fine and perfectly mainstream. Not that all things are fine.
            On the contrary you have asserted that non reproductive sex is not fine, since children are not a by-product.

          • And, as I have observed before, many faithful, married, other sex couples engage in ‘non-mainstream’ sexual intimacies, which are not open to procreation.

            You mean, like kissing?

            I am saying, specifically, that sexual intimacies such as fellatio and cunnilingus are fine and perfectly mainstream.

            You’re making the unjustified leap, though, from ‘they’re fine in some contexts’ (eg, within a faithful lifelong marriage) to ‘therefore they are fine in all contexts’.

        • Christopher

          A question and a response.
          What is non-mainstream sexually?
          As I think I have said: I don’t discriminate between data I like and data I dislike. I am entirely disinterested in whether gay men are middle children or come from broken homes. Because it doesn’t matter one jot why people are gay. Like straight people they bear the imago dei.

          • OK yes, and my point was that if that’s the case then you are not interested in information, even though information is the only way one can tell whether one’s perspective is correct or incorrect, and it makes quite a difference which of those 2 it is.

            Non-mainstream is not according to design/function.

          • Christopher

            OK. If my perspective is that stable faithful gay relationships are blessed by God, how does scientific evidence about homosexual aetiology make that correct or incorrect?
            Secondly, what sexual behaviours would you regard as not according to design/function?
            Cunnilingus? Fellatio? Intracrural intercourse? Mutual masturbation? None of these is procreative. All are mainstream.

          • We have covered this many times. Babies are proof that one’s doing the right thing biologically. Comparable proof for other scenarii is entirely lacking.

            ‘God’ can be appealed to to support ‘me’, and that is very convenient, since statements about God are so difficult to prove or disprove. That does however give no reason for us particularly to believe what you say about God. The God to whom you appeal is presumably appealed to because of the Biblical tradition. None of that tradition says what you are now saying. Present western culture does, however, so I think we can see what is going on.

          • However if you want a brief summary of the purpose of sex:

            (1) No theory that says pleasure is the purpose and babies are a byproduct can stand. That is for at least 4 reasons:

            1a: Babies are ten trillion times too important to be a mere byproduct;

            1b: Being a byproduct sounds like they are unexpected, which in preparation and upbringing terms is never a good idea.

            1c: There is no integration in the theory. Babies and pleasure proceed along parallel lines without ever meeting each other or the connection between the two being explained. And that is what happens if pleasure is prioritied over babies.

            1d: The disaster of western society in the last 60 years is a cautionary tale to those who would prioritise pleasure over babies. Of course immature people will do just that. And leave us with the legacy of damaged children and families – do they care?

            (2) If we say that babies are the purpose and pleasure is integrally connected to that purpose, then we are by contrast on the right track:

            2a: Survival of the species means the more pleasure the better in the way we evolve. Hence the clitoris, hence standing upright and doing much better since we start doing so.

            2b: The design of the body and the whole life cycle is massively predicated on the reproduction principle. The many differences between men and women in physiology and cycles largely devolve to that one thing.

            2c: For healthy people, multiplying and reproduction and the joy of babies and of parenthood is an ultimate pleasure. Hence it is hard to separate or unpick it from the concomitant pleasure of sex. Where does one stop and the other begin?

          • You ignore one of the pertinent questions here Christopher.
            What sexual behaviours would you regard as not according to design/function?
            Cunnilingus? Fellatio? Intracrural intercourse? Mutual masturbation? None of these is procreative. All are mainstream.
            So would you seek to prohibit such activities? Or are they perfectly acceptable.

          • Christopher

            Information such as whether gay men are often middle children tells us nothing at all about the morality of homosexual relationships. It tells us nothing about whether your views are correct or incorrect.

            As I have observed before much sexual intimacy – gay and straight – is not ‘according to function’ if by that you mean potentially procreative, but it is still very much mainstream!

          • A question-mark remains over whatever is not according to function. That is not terminal, because there are other means of investigation we can move onto. Suppose that phenomenon A is never seen to become more mainstream without a general increase in promiscuity and STIs accompanying it. Suppose further that it is never seen to become more mainstream without a general increase in divorce and absent fathers being part of the background to that. In such circumstances moral people will naturally care about the children and grown-ups who are violated by these latter becoming so much more mainstream than has historically been at all necessary.

    • If only it was that simple to do so. However in this age of gender culture wars and identity politics, unlike the Bible, the descriptions of what constitutes ‘ man ‘ and ‘woman’ appear to be confused and in dispute.

      • Yes Chris, I was aware of that however adding adjectives isn’t helping. I still think sticking to men or women works if we would do it.

  4. I personally doubt David Bennett was “deeply grieved” by the ACNA statement. In the US the public representatives of Side B (celibate gay Christians) are far more committed to Identity Politics than their UK counterparts and Bennett seems to be just as willing to play the language game of victims and oppressors.

    Celibate gay Christians (how is that any less clunky than same-sex attracted?) are simultaneously in a position where they suffer unwarranted slights from fellow Christians and also have a great deal of cultural power as members of the now ‘revered’ LGBTQ+ victim group. Most of them (at least in the UK) don’t want the attention of either these things but the Americans (Revoice etc) seem to revel in possibility that there might be a Side B float at next year’s Pride parade – which, of course, the mainstream LGBTQ would never tolerate.

    Perhaps being a public face of Side B is a thankless task but the ACNA statement isn’t so wrong and Bennett’s ‘drama’ isn’t so right.

    • Not sure what you’re getting at here, but there is a pretty wide spectrum within the ‘Side B’ population when it comes to how far one should be involved in elements of mainstream LGBT+ culture, if at all, and additionally there are members of Side B who prefer to refer to themselves as same-sex attracted, not as gay/lesbian/bisexual. Often these folks find themselves maligned by folks both progressive and traditional – and on top of that I am sure there is much theological disagreement within the Side B camp itself. The vast majority of people are trying to find a community where they feel at home, not trying to become some kind of celebrity ‘victim’.

      Regardless, David Bennett is a faithful servant and I’m not sure you can judge whether or not someone else felt ‘deeply grieved’ by something!

      • What you say is more or less true of the situation in the UK but go listen to the latest Revoice or LifeonSideB podcast – it’s ID politics on steriods. Maybe it’s just the public faces of Side B who feel a need to do this and, as you say, it’s a way of finding community but the folks at ACNA aren’t so wrong to question it.

        There’s no question that right now, in this cultural moment, being a member of the LGBTQ makes someone ‘special’. It isn’t surprisimg that even those who understand the idea behind using the label same-sex attracted might want some of the higher status or cultural power that comes from putting rainbow flags or pronouns in their Twitter bio. It breaks down when they claim to be representatives of the LGBTQ community (as Bennett often does) because many Side A and all non-Christians regard Side B theology as ‘hateful’ or ‘harmful’.

        Another problem that seems to be creeping in (as a consequence of promoting LGBTQ identities) is that straight people feel they can’t say anything about this subject because it’s not their “lived experience”. At some point even well informed and nuanced straight observers are going to think “Nah, it isn’t worth it” and all evangelical churches end up quietly affirming (like HTB) because nobody wants to risk being labelled a ‘hater’.

          • Sure – if you turned up there with your boyfriend and introduced him to everyone as your boyfriend nobody would bat an eyelid. They would be far more concerned if you admitted to shopping in Aldi.

          • All evangelical churches are heading in the same direction. Some will get to affirming sooner than others. What’s appealing now (if a church wants to remain popular) is a form of don’t ask, don’t tell. Don’t risk being known as that anti-gay church. Point out how nice that gay couple you know are. Indulge anyone gay/ssa in the church who gets defensive about their ‘identity’. Make a song and dance about not doing that thing that nobody does anymore – like change therapy. Pretend to care about outreach to the LGBTQ community.

            All of which does nothing except move a church on to the next level of inclusivity. 90% of your church members under the age of 30 don’t understand what’s so wrong with committed, loving gay relationships anyway (OK they know it’s only a few old men in leadership positions who are blocking progress on this issue)

          • Exactly. And those same people generally have not a clue about the science nor the counter arguments. So who would listen to them (apart from people who don’t care about facts or reality)?

          • Christopher

            Do explain where the ‘science’ about sexual orientation tells us anything about the Church’s doctrines.

          • Do explain where the ‘science’ about sexual orientation tells us anything about the Church’s doctrines.

            This is shaky ground for someone who is pushes hard the idea that the ‘science’ about disorders of sexual development tells us anything about what the Church’s doctrines on the trans issue ought to be.

          • S

            There is no such thing as disorders of sexual development.
            There is no correlation between having VSCand being trans.

          • Hi Penny

            This is a much ploughed field, so why are you putting science in inverted commas. To do that, surely you would have to have hyper-scientific qualifications that could enable you to cast aspersions on accredited scientists. But what qualifications are those?

          • Christopher

            No, answer my question first. (If Ian allows. He must be pretty fed up by now.)

          • Well, I reject the premise of the question because the inverted commas are illegitimate. Having removed the inverted commas, I then find I don’t understand the question. Do you mean that the results of scientific enquiry inform our formulation of accurate doctrine? They certainly point our understanding in the right direction, and since I don’t separate doctrine from worldview (being sceptical of dogma), that means the answer in that case would be yes.

            Otherwise I am not sure whether you mean ‘…about what the church’s doctrine is’ (which we already know, so surely you can’t be asking that) or ‘…about what the church’s doctrine should be’. The latter case I have already addressed. The church (like everyone else) should believe accurate and true things, and the scientific/empirical method is well designed to discover those things.

          • There is no such thing as disorders of sexual development.

            Of course there are; you keep mentioning them, unbidden.

          • S

            VSC or what is known as intersex are not disorders, simply variations. You can choose to pathologise them. But you are wrong.

          • Christopher

            I used inverted commas because some of it is not science and much is not disinterested.
            Which leads me to respond yet again, no one is arguing that sexual orientation is immutable. Although some people, like me, do (seem to) have an immutable sexual identity. Mutability or fluidity only appears to matter if you think that being straight is the moral, ethical, normal and canonical choice. I don’t. So I don’t really care how rigid or mutable sexual orientation is. In the same way that I don’t care if someone is gay because they are a middle child. Information may be mildly interesting but it doesn’t always lead us to the truth. That is to idolise science, which is also a social construct.

          • VSC or what is known as intersex are not disorders, simply variations

            They are disorders, because that is the word for when things don’t develop correctly. For example: speech disorders, vision disorders, hearing disorders, nerve disorders, etc etc.

          • The church (like everyone else) should believe accurate and true things, and the scientific/empirical method is well designed to discover those things.

            Yes but (and it’s an important but).

            The scientific/empirical method is well designed to discover how things actually are. But we live in a fallen world, and theology is not concerned just with how things are, but how they ought to be, and no amount of knowledge about how things are can reveal how they ought to be: for that we need God’s revelation to us.

          • S

            Don’t develop ‘correctly’? Do tell me what is correct? Or rather, don’t because it will be something about bodies only functioning correctly if they can produce offspring.

          • Don’t develop ‘correctly’? Do tell me what is correct?

            What is correct is the way something is supposed to be, assuming it didn’t develop incorrectly. Like someone with deuteranopia has a vision disorder because their eyes didn’t develop correctly.

            Or rather, don’t because it will be something about bodies only functioning correctly if they can produce offspring.

            Infertility is a disorder, yes, obviously: if a body can’t produce offspring then it is not fully-functioning. But of course that’s not the only way in which a body can be disordered. A body can be perfectly fertile but still not properly functioning because of other disorders — someone can be fertile but deaf, for example, or fertile but have a stammer.

    • Let me tell you, like David B I am also grieved by the ACNA statement, especially the last one. It attempts to push me into a corner and remove from me the right to talk to you in my language about my experience of life and Jesus.

  5. I believe that the ACNA bishops were responding to not simply the term “gay Christian” but to what that means in light of the ReVoice Conference held within the PCA a year or two ago, and at which Pieter Valk spoke. Another term is “spiritual friendship,” meaning a relationship between two Christians who experience same-sex sexual attraction that is characterized by emotional and physical (but non-sexual) intimacy. Someone even spoke of holding ceremonies to recognize a commitment to such a friendship. When this idea is propounded, it sounds like affirming to an alcoholic that frequenting a pub just to enjoy the atmosphere, the camaraderie, and the sports on TV is a perfectly acceptable way of spending time – what is the harm in all that, if you don’t drink.
    It’s a way of seeing how close to the edge of the cliff you can get without falling off. It’s also a way of maintaining much that feeds same-sex sexual attraction as a way of life and possibly (I don’t recall that this is recommended by Valk or others who share his views, but it would seem to be consistent with what “being gay” means) getting involved in a “Gay Men’s Chorus” or other similar gatherings or groups.
    In short, it is not just words, but a specific word, “gay” that carries a huge amount of baggage, suppositions, and connotations. Add to that the idea of “committed spiritual friendships” and one has a fused powder keg awaiting a match.

      • He is being not an hypocrite and acknowledging that two gay Christians that fall in love and feel romantically towards each other while always feel the desire and need to express that love in the ways that humans do, one of which is sexual. To say that there is no difference between your friendship with your spiritual director or mentor and that with your wife is not believable. One would think it says more about those proposing such an idea.

        • I am attracted to women. But if I have a friendship with a spiritual mentor (I do), that doesn’t mean I want to have sex with her. The thought has never crossed my mind.

      • Yes we all need them.

        But then it comes down to what a deep spiritual friendship is.

        What it is to be a friend to someone depends greatly on the context and the person being cared for.

        In the last twelve months the way in which we have been friends to others is by making sure that we don’t spend a single second making even the slightest physical contact with them. That happened to be an external factor but it could just as easily have been something specific about one person – such as for example their being dangerously allergic to peanuts.

        Is it wrong to act towards people aware of their facing challenges we don’t? I relate to myself as an individual. Am I wrong for behaving towards myself aware of my particular frailties? I have for years found myself to be sufficiently needy because of hurt that I am not able to look at the bodies of women. Any time. So when walking along the street I will for example deliberately turn away or close my eyes – it was that important to my continuing on a right course inside. Am I less than a friend to myself in acting in this way? Am I denying myself a fundamental human right? Anyone who is earnest about being a follower of God will be able to tell you things which at least some other people are able to do which they know that God is saying they should not. Being a friend to others involves being sensitive to all of these realities.

        So no – people’s being able to be physical with other people isn’t a fundamental human right – and its existence isn’t always a sign of deep friendship.

        Is loving people such a complicated business? Will Jesus one day hold us all to account in respect of matters so complicated it took many sentences on forums to agree what it is we are expected to do? It would seem from this forum that it is. The individuals that make up the human race have an extraordinary array of differences – ensuring that godly love be extremely individual in nature – and yet despite the fact that there are people who are same sex attracted who are part of that extraordinary range of people it seems that we have to do the very thing that the ACNA was hoping we wouldn’t do – group people in clunky ways – or otherwise fail to care for them. Why do we? See my other comment here why I explain that we do not – and should not.

  6. Is there a group in the church for everyone who is being mistreated by their boss at work to gather and provide each other encouragement? Is there a group in the church for workaholic bosses to gather and seek grace and forgiveness for the damage they do? I could of course go on with any number of groups. No- the reason we don’t have such groups is because we consider it the job of all of the body of Christ to listen to those who are hurting – to provide care – and it’s also the job of all the body of Christ to lead those who do wrong into the presence of God through repentance and mercy. But whilst both those things are true that is not an accurate way of thinking about the body of Christ – we don’t revolve our discipleship plans around particular hurts and particular failures. Instead – as a whole church – we are seeking to pro-actively grow people until we are mature. We don’t do this by running a “how to be a good boss” event one week and a “how to be a courageous and forgiving employee” event the next – the way mature disciples are grown relates to spiritual foundations – not to earthly contexts – we don’t focus all of our efforts towards putting out fires and treating burns. If we do the only thing we will end up with is lots of fires and lots of burns.
    Hopefully it will be clear how this relates to responding to those who are victims of injustice in respect of their sexual experience – and those who persecute them.
    Some will resist this analysis on the basis that the church will never be fully obedient – that we need to recognise particular failures. But what may be wrong with our church may not be wrong with all – we are required to make decisions who we mix with in respect of our growth in Christ – we may refusing to do that – instead of following God without condition we may be saying “I will serve you as long as I get to rescue this particular group of people and as long as you make them rescue me”. If I am wrong – if there are in fact no churches with mature Christians (it’s that simple – these are nothing more or less than issues of Christian maturity) I suggest that it isn’t a problem only for those who aren’t typical in respect of their sexual attraction – it’s just another example of the way in which people are called to obey God while being unfairly treated by a disobedient church. In such cases (Paul for example was totally abandoned at times) we have God’s comfort and fellowship as our bread. And God knew long before we knew that it would be the case. And like Paul we should assume that it’s a sign we are called to something great – to higher leadership. To giving to others without receiving from others.
    The point that the article makes – that we use all kinds of terms to describe groups of Christians – and therefore why not ones concerning our sexual attractions – does not follow. Consider these groups – those who are right handed, left handed and ambidextrous – grouping people in this way has no secondary effects. But grouping the church into leave voting Christians and remain voting Christians will have effects beyond revealing who they voted for – some may for example see leave voting Christians as racists and remain voting Christians as elitists who believe that the world should function to serve the elite. And so there are groupings we must avoid – we must find some other way of speaking (there are probably better examples than the one I provided!). We must be alert to the way in which our grouping people will have effects we don’t intend. That’s why the ACNA has WISELY decided not to group people. It doesn’t matter how eager we are to use terms according to how WE have defined them – we aren’t the only people who HEAR the terms.
    On that note the article says that the ACNA pastoral statement attempts to deny people the opportunity to describe themselves in their own words. But that isn’t what it does – no matter how we think WE should use words we aren’t prevented (and the pastoral statement isn’t trying to prevent anyone) from relating to people as they identify themselves. If we understand the gospel we are of course not trying to clean people up so that they may walk into the presence of God presentable. Instead the pastoral statement was explaining how when WE have the choice as to what terms we use we should act and why.
    Finally can I point out a possible double standard that some have concerning these issues of labelling. If we are concerned about labelling people we should show it in every context. We cannot for example object to people being labelled homosexuals because the Bible doesn’t refer to the term homosexuals but in the next minute wish to protect the right of people who believe and experience same sex attraction to call themselves gay Christians. If grouping people in respect of their sexual experience or actions has consequences in one context then it also has in the other.

    • left handed? It is untrue that this characteristic has no consequences. I had an employee from India whose father broke her wrist when she was a child because she was left-handed.

      • Pretty self-centred example of mine Bob (I probably wouldn’t have thought of it if I wasn’t a right hander). Hopefully my point is still intact…

  7. I try to be accurate when I’m speaking. It’s not as geeky as it sounds. There is so much sloppy thinking around and it shows itself in words which promote confusion. My pet hates at present are ‘they’ (some mysterious authority figures), ‘someone’ (as in someone ought to do something), and ‘the diocese’ (probably meaning the bishop or diocesan secretary). In church circles clearing up what we mean is really helpful. It removes the feeling that we are serving an incomprehensible system, where things magically happen, money drops from the sky and it doesn’t matter what we believe. Putting a name and clear explanation to something creates a refreshing culture in an era of spin and fake news.

  8. Thank you for the analysis
    May I point out one error:
    “At GAFCON in 2018 there were sessions on sexuality but it was noteworthy and disappointing that they were overwhelmingly run by and attended by white Westerners ”
    The three sessions were organised and run by myself (Sri Lankan retired academic living in Australia) and the Dean Sydney Anglican Cathedral Rev Kanishka Raffel (Sri Lankan born in London).
    I do agree that it was disappointing to have so few ‘non-whites’ at the session.

    • Dear Patricia, I am sorry for my misrepresentation of the GAFCON 2018 sessions and of you and Kanishka personally in my wording and am trying to find a better phrasing. My primary concern, based on attending I think 2 of the 3 seminars, was that, as you confirm, there were “so few ‘non-whites’ at the session” (in stark contrast to the conference as a whole) and so sadly there was not the sort of conversation that clearly needs to happen within GAFCON and that I suspect it was hoped the seminars would enable. I then merged that in my mind and wording with the fact that most if not all the presenters were based in Australia, UK or North America (please correct me if that is also wrong) and failed to acknowledge that two of you are Sri Lankan. My apologies for that error and thank you for highlighting it and correcting my account.

  9. Even those who are ‘conservative’ on the issue of human sexuality have recognised that the Church of Nigeria does not begin to abide by the Lambeth 1.10 resolution. There is a question of whether they should face discipline for this.

    And it was inevitable that the ACNA would somehow begin to split apart over this issue as it is doing over the ordination of women. They are not part of the Anglican Communion and so not of course Anglican any way. But as other groups of Christians who have banded together over particular issues have found, when you don’t leave room for views other than your own, then you generally find yourself in a group of one.

    The whole issue is becoming a joke and Andrew’s observations only highlight how ridiculous the grandstanding over this matter can become.

    • “There is a question of whether they should face discipline for this.”

      Is this a rhetorical question? Words on the internet carry little pathos, and I genuinely do not know if this is an honest question expectant of an answer or a tongue-in-cheek cry of despair at the high likelihood that there will be none…

      Do you believe discipline will be exercised over his matter? What might it look like if there was…

      • It’s a real question surely? TEC were disciplined by the Primates meeting and their participation in various meetings limited back in 2016. So why should the Church of Nigeria not face similar sanctions.

        • Forgive my cynicism. 🙂

          I do know what you meant, I am simply wondering if you believe it will happen? I personally do not think anything substantial will result, even though it arguably should, other than perhaps a carefully-worded statement.

          • I am glad you have called it homophobia Mat. It needed to be said. I don’t think there will be any real discipline, so I agree with you. I suspect this Province will exclude themselves from the next Lambeth Conference in any case.

            I’m not sure why anyone pays much attention to what ACNA say. It’s a tiny grouping founded on a single issue and already divided by another issue.

  10. I am not going getting into a discussion as to whether this applies to the LGBT issue, if the Apostles had taken the line that their understanding of the Bible overruled observed experience of the Holy Spirit at work, would Acts 10:1 to 11:18 and Acts 15 have happened and would Christianity be just a Jewish Sect? Looking at the fruit and interpreting the bible accordingly, must have a place somewhere.

    • In Acts 15, the turning point was recognising that this was part of God’s purpose expressed in Scripture. It simply isn’t the case, here or elsewhere, that the Gentile mission was about experience overturning what Scripture said.

  11. I find the author’s term ‘faithful orthodox gay Christians’ to be somewhat misleading. This is tant amount to saying that anyone who is celibate and gay is ‘orthodox’, while the much larger number of Christians who are gay and not celibate are ‘un-orthodox’.This a a very very questionable polemic -especially in view of the recent statement of the Archibshop of York, who included these words in his recent address to the Church of England’s General Synod members:

    “Thirdly, we believe God is calling us to be younger and more diverse. We need to look like the communities we serve in all areas of age and diversity. And this does mean all areas of diversity; and it does mean believing in and supporting children and young people in ministry; and it does mean facing up to our own failings to welcome and include many under-represented groups, particularly people with disability, supporting the recent launch of the Anti-Racism Task Force, committing ourselves to the LLF process and our already agreed pastoral principles so that LGBTI+ people are in no doubt that they, along with everyone, are equally welcome in the Church of England.”

    This did not limit Anglican orthodoxy to gays who are celibate – valuable though such people are, who, like Roman Catholic priests and R.C. and Anglican Religious; have committed themselves to celibacy according to the description by Jesus in Matt.19:12 “For the sake of the Kingdom”.

    However, As Jesus says, in the very same verse of Scripture – there are other eunuchs who have been created so: “From their mother’s womb!” -They have no other way of exercising their sexuality! This does not mean that their Christianity is ‘un-orthodox’!

    • It is a bit odd that you should take one sentence uttered by an Archbishop in an address to Synod as overturning the doctrine of the C of E.

      I am not sure that the early Christians felt their goal was to ‘look like the communities we serve’. The evidence suggests it was rather different.

  12. “A Gay is a Gay, they cannot be rightly described otherwise. In the same vein, we cannot describe people as ‘Christian Murderer’, ‘Christian Adulterer’ and ‘Christian terrorist’; neither should we even have ‘Gay Christian’ or ‘Gay Anglican’.”
    -Archbishop Henry C. Ndukuba

    I greatly dislike the modern trend of pathologising disagreements/perspectives into ‘phobias’ (homophobia, transphobia etc), but here is an exceptionally strong argument in favour of it. The elevation of the qualified ‘gay’ christian to the august company of adulterers, murders and terrorists is nothing short of sensationalism born from a fear of what has not been understood.

    Whether out of choice or out of ignorance is a matter for others better acquainted with the intricacies of the African Primates, but this is plainly homophobia. Andrew is right to call it what it is.

    • Thank you Mat. I think that needed to be called out for what it is. Believing that gay sexuality is wrong is a conscientious view that can be held sincerely, in faith, based on a reading of the scriptures. But to vilify a whole group of people by associating them with murder, bestiality etc is both immature and crossing a line into hate speech.

      • I was not aware a comparison to bestiality had been made by anyone but I, sadly, would not be surprised if it had. There is much we could argue about here, but choosing to agree on the substantive issue is far more important.

        This brings great shame on the archbishop, and if he is not challenged it will bring shame on those who chose to remain silent as well.

        • The two are placed in similar context in the Torah, so that is a comparison of sorts. However, a large difficulty here is the idea that if one is comparing A and B on one point one is comparing them on every point! Quite a leap. All one is doing is saying A and B have at least one thing in common. Which will be the case for almost any A and B one can mention.

          • I do not think the Archbishop of Nigeria was comparing murder and homosexuality as if they were sins of the same type. He was comparing them as sins of the same degree. This is an important distinction that I do not think you are ignorant of, and so I did not feel I needed to justify it further. This is semantics, and I’m not really sure what you’re asking or what response you’re looking for from me, if any.

            While I do appreciate what you’re trying to say in relation to the Torah treating bestiality as broadly similar to other sexual perversions (in the sense that they are all ‘unnatural’; deviations from the normal or expected) I do not think this is a helpful observation in this context, and that is putting it charitably.

          • I think people should just comment on phenomena as they are, not how we might envisage or construct them to be. That is how our understanding progresses. As soon as people start saying ‘We should comment on A but not on B’ they are policing what can and cannot be talked about, which is what those in charge of a society (media, elites, social media moguls) love to do, but are rightly regarded with suspicion for doing.

          • On the ‘degree not type’ point, I do agree that that was what he meant. A hard one to calculate. If we take murder as premeditated by definition, then it is the ultimate conscience-deadened violence. It is a short-term matter. Whereas destabilisation of families and societies by (typically) promiscuous patterns that are outside both the family tree and the parameters set by health is something that works long-term and affects the lives of millions because of their norms being reset for them in a direction contrary to stability – its effects are not seen within a few seconds and progress only gradually, so there is a danger of greatly underestimating them. It has often been said that direct cause-effect things are easy to see, whereas things that are one remove from being a direct cause can work under the radar but there is nothing stopping them having n times more effect than the direct causes. At least we have this difference: one (of untold evil) devastates lives and families, the other societies. In the last 50 years reset sexual norms, the flight from family trees, have paralysed both church and society and emptied them of their power.

        • Mat and Christopher,
          Degrees or hierarchies of sin?
          to have This is a central point; key I’d suggest.
          Not sure this is for you Christopher? It’s probably more for Mat.
          It is a genuine question of some theological heft: are there degrees of sin? A hierarchy? And it is far
          Maybe to have degrees of sin, is akin to recognising “white lies” as none lies and extrapolate that into other areas of living.
          Liturgy: Anglican Confessions of sins in thought, word and deed in a liturgy seems to be setting out a level playing field, an equality of sin.
          Even within living memory, there was a recognition of “living in sin,” that is living together outside male and female marriage and there was such a thing as fornication. How quaint!!!
          How grievous is sin, to our Holy God ? How grievous is my sin to God? How costly is it to God? How grievous is it to me?

          • This should really be a separate conversation on an entirely different post. 😉

            For what it’s worth though, I do believe that there is a ‘hierarchy’, yes, at least in the sense that some sins are objectively more damaging than others and so deserve a different scale of punishment, at least from a human perspective. I think you could also argue that God hates some sinful action more than others (idolatry for instance), and that this is reflected in the books of the law, but I’d like to keep this general…

            However, at the same time the spiritual reality is that it doesn’t matter what the sin was; the very presence of even the tiniest amount is enough to cause separation from God, so all humans are in exactly the same predicament. (Where’s Phillip Almond? 😉 )

            These two ideas exist in tension with each other. I do not think you have to chose one.

            My problem with the Bishop’s words is not that he’s perpetuating a hierarchy, but that he does so in a profoundly ignorant way, and one that is especially damaging.

          • Idolatry: exactly. In general the NT rates sexual sins as among the top serious ones. Jack Hayford has written on this: they rank towards the top in how serious they are, as well as towards the top in how understandable they are. We can see this ourselves in the way that sexual abuse or sexual sin can mess up a person’s life in a very fundamental way.

          • Knowledge? He just makes analyses like: if Paul were to mention 5, 10, 15 sins or so, would sexual ones typically be included or not? Or even (Romans 1) if he were to mention only one.

            And secondly is there anything intrinsically particularly bad about sexual sins? Answer – yes, because of the degree to which they can muck up precious lives.

            The first point is simple Bible analysis, the other is common experience, both of which are readily known without reference to Jack Hayford.

          • Christopher

            I think murder, stealing, domestic abuse, and greed muck up people’s precious lives as much as adultery.
            Rape and sexual abuse are particularly harmful, but then they aren’t sexual sins.

          • He makes rather jaded and biased analyses Christopher. He isn’t convincing. Paul says comparatively little about the matter and does not seem to have been speaking from any broad understanding, he was addressing particular issues.

          • He makes rather jaded and biased analyses Christopher. He isn’t convincing. Paul says comparatively little about the matter and does not seem to have been speaking from any broad understanding, he was addressing particular issues.

          • “And secondly is there anything intrinsically particularly bad about sexual sins? Answer – yes, because of the degree to which they can muck up precious lives.”

            A woman loving another woman, tenderly caring about her, committing to her, sharing sorrow and joy with her, sharing sexual intimacy with her, and all the loveliness of two people’s shared life journeys and sacrificial givenness to each other… that does not “muck up” precious lives, it deeply enriches them.

            I recognise your use of the word “can”, but the things that can mess up lesbian women’s lives are the things that can also mess up straight couple’s lives: lies, infidelity, concealment, unkindness, selfishness, emotional coldness, bullying, unreasonableness, physical or emotional abuse… those are things that can “mess up” lives… and it’s demonstrably obvious that those can happen in straight relationships as well as lesbian ones.

          • When we speak of people being violated (something which suggests damage to their core being) it is often sexually that we are talking.

            Penny’s ‘I think’ is irrelevant because the topic was what the NT thinks – Jesus in Mark 7, 10 (bis); Paul in his vice lists, and in his selection of homosexual behaviour as a stand-alone paradigmatic sin.

            Paul says not much on the topic, Andrew? What topic? He makes vice lists and sexual sins occupy a decent proportion of these. How else are we to measure? This is therefore the no.1 way of measuring and it shows he rated their sinfulness/harm highly.

          • “How else are we to measure? “
            By the overall thrust of the NT. Jesus seems to place self righteousness, judgmentalism, hypocrisy and lack of care for our neighbour as the most significant sins.
            Yes, Paul says relatively little about the matter of homosexuality. And nothing about what we call stable faithful same sex marriage. When he does talk about same sex matters he addresses particular abuses.

          • ‘And nothing about what we call stable faithful same sex marriage.’ You are surely aware that that is simply not the case. The whole range of relationships we see in the modern world were known in antiquity, and Paul’s comments reject all such relationships, regardless of form.

            This is very well known in the literature…so why, repeatedly, in these comments do you make these kinds of spurious assertions? I don’t understand it. It persuades no-one.

          • You must also surely be aware that sexual sins features prominently in all Jesus’ ethical teaching—not more important than others, but not less.

          • Exactly, but that does not make the other sins any less. The NT summary I gave places sexual sins towards the top in seriousness, and pride and lack of mercy being regarded as more serious is quite compatible with that.

          • Christopher: well, the episode of the woman caught in adultery shoes clearly that Jesus thought the sin of hypocrisy was considerably worse than the sin of adultery.

            Ian: how do you know Paul was aware of faithful, stable same sex relationships and what we now have as same sex marriage? Where does he evidence that?

            Do you not think it is possible that in the case of human sexuality Paul was writing with some unconscious bias? Is that absolutely impossible? Could he not have some poor experience of sexuality and be psychologically incapable of writing impartially about it?

          • Christopher: well, the episode of the woman caught in adultery shoes clearly that Jesus thought the sin of hypocrisy was considerably worse than the sin of adultery.

            No it doesn’t. It shows that Jesus thought that all who sinned deserved the chance to repent.

            Ian: how do you know Paul was aware of faithful, stable same sex relationships and what we now have as same sex marriage? Where does he evidence that?

            Do you not think it is possible that in the case of human sexuality Paul was writing with some unconscious bias? Is that absolutely impossible? Could he not have some poor experience of sexuality and be psychologically incapable of writing impartially about it?

            This is quite special: to go from demanding rigorous evidence for a quite normal, uncontroversial claim to putting forward totally baseless speculation and demanding it be considered as just as likely as any alternatives in the same message.

            Usually this hypocritical arguing style of yours, where you claim that anything anyone else says is ‘just their view’ and demand evidence but then put forward your own unevidenced claims as being worthy of consideration unless people can produce evidence against them — effectively reversing burdens of proof willy-nilly to benefit yourself — is hard to pin down, because you take care to separate the two styles enough. But this one I’m keeping a record of, it’s so blatant.

          • Oh S do tell us how you know that Paul definitely wasn’t writing with any unconscious bias. I can’t wait to see your evidence.

          • “You must also surely be aware that sexual sins features prominently in all Jesus’ ethical teaching—not more important than others, but not less”

            Ah so there is no hierarchy of sins then.

          • Oh S do tell us how you know that Paul definitely wasn’t writing with any unconscious bias. I can’t wait to see your evidence.

            As soon as you show your evidence that Paul definitely wasn’t aware of faithful, stable same sex relationships and what we now have as same sex marriage.

            I mean are you so un-self-aware that you don’t realise you’ve been caught bang to rights here? I suggest you stop digging.

          • “Paul definitely wasn’t aware of faithful, stable same sex relationships and what we now have as same sex marriage.”

            There is no evidence. That’s the point. It’s all simply speculation.
            Now do tell us how you know Paul wasn’t writing with any unconscious bias, other than your usual Cluedo answer.

          • Now do tell us how you know Paul wasn’t writing with any unconscious bias, other than your usual Cluedo answer.

            I don’t need to provide any evidence. You’re the one making the claim that Paul was writing with unconscious bias; therefore you have to produce evidence for your claim. If you can.

          • Everybody writes with unconscious bias. It’s called being human. If you think Paul was somehow exempt, please say.

          • Everybody writes with unconscious bias. It’s called being human.

            No they don’t. ‘Unconscious bias’ has been debunked as a psychological theory. Investigations to find unconscious bias have proven not to be statistically repeatable.

            But even if we pretend for the sake of argument that it hadn’t…

            If you think Paul was somehow exempt, please say.

            … your claim was:

            ‘Could he not have some poor experience of sexuality and be psychologically incapable of writing impartially about it?’

            Please provide your evidence that Paul had ‘some poor experience of sexuality and [was] psychologically incapable of writing impartially about it’.

            You made the claim. Presumably you have some evidence for it. Otherwise it’s just baseless speculation and should be dismissed out of hand, right? That’s what you say when anyone else makes a claim: you ask them to provide evidence, or you say it is just speculation and dismiss it.

            So: provide your evidence. Or admit that your claim is just speculation and we should dismiss it.

            And, seriously, do you not get how you are coming across? I mean it’s funny, but man, for your own reputation’s sake, stop digging.

          • Just which bit of the part where I said “There is no evidence. That’s the point. It’s all simply speculation.” didn’t you understand?

            As for unconscious bias:
            Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

            Unconscious bias is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and often incompatible with one’s conscious values. Certain scenarios can activate unconscious attitudes and beliefs. For example, biases may be more prevalent when multi-tasking or working under time pressure.

            Paul wrote with unconscious bias. Every writer does.

          • Just which bit of the part where I said “There is no evidence. That’s the point. It’s all simply speculation.” didn’t you understand?

            The bit where you demanded evidence for the claim that Paul knew about faithful same-sex relationships before you would take it seriously, but then expected your baseless speculation about Paul’s sexual history to be taken seriously despite having no evidence for it whatsoever.

            Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.

            Yes I know what ‘unconscious bias’ is. It’s been debunked. If you test the same person for unconscious bias on different days, there is no correlation in the results.

            Unconscious bias simply does not exist (at least in the form you claim). It’s a fiction, like ‘power posing’, or ‘unconscious priming’.

            But this is off the topic of your hypocrisy in reversing burdens of proof to suit yourself.

          • Andrew comments ‘Paul wrote with unconscious bias. Every writer does.’

            Yes, but what we have of Paul in the NT isn’t merely ‘what Paul wrote.’ It has been long accepted by a wide range of believers that God is speaking here through Paul—not through everything Paul said and did (he is not God incarnate) but in these writings.

            When you treat the NT as merely human, you are stepping outside historic Christian orthodoxy. That is where I think we differ.

          • When you treat the NT as merely human, you are stepping outside historic Christian orthodoxy. That is where I think we differ.

            Andrew will now demand evidence that the NT is not ‘merely human’. Let’s see if he can do it without at the same time making any other massive unevidenced claims of his own that he expects to be taken seriously while putting the burden of proof on his opponents.

          • Thank you for acknowledging the unconscious bias Ian. I fully agree that God is inspiring Paul – literally the Holy Spirit was speaking through him. That does not mean that the human characteristics of a writer are simply overridden. To believe that is quite orthodox. But it is a point of difference of extent between us.

          • ‘Ian: how do you know Paul was aware of faithful, stable same sex relationships and what we now have as same sex marriage? Where does he evidence that?’

            a. the literature shows us very clearly of the range of both relationships and view in the ancient world. I trust that you have read the article here on that:

            b. Paul is clearly immersed in his own cultural world, as a heap of studies demonstrate.

            c. Paul in Romans 1 echoes Jewish critique of pagan sexuality.

            d. In his few negative statements, Paul avoids the available language of asymmetric sexual relationships (erastus/eramenos) and instead reaches for the LXX terminology of general prohibition.

            Once again, we need to note that all these facts are really well established in the literature. I don’t really understand the point of basing your argument on trying to by-pass these things.

          • Yea, I’ve read that article Ian and as the comments that follow show, it is far from conclusive. Even conservatives commenting on that thread are not convinced. It is far from clear or proven that Paul was addressing what we have as same sex marriage.

            Your point B above that Paul was clearly immersed in the culture of his day is completely double edged. Yes of course he was. Hence his unconscious bias.

          • Your point B above that Paul was clearly immersed in the culture of his day is completely double edged. Yes of course he was. Hence his unconscious bias.

            ‘Double edged’ in the sense that when it appears to back up your opponents’ points it’s ‘far from conclusive’ but when you want to use it to back up yours, it’s so obvious it’s to be taken as read?

            Not so much ‘double edged’ as ‘double standards’.

          • It’s far from conclusive because the types of same sex marriage in Ancient Greece or Rome were quite different to what we call same sex marriage. They were rare and exhibited an imbalance of power and lack of love and respect. Quite a different species.

          • It’s far from conclusive because…

            Yes, we get it: when your opponents make a claim, no amount of evidence will ever convince you. You’ll pick at the tiniest hole and claim that it invalidates the whole point.

            But when you make a claim, without a shred of evidence, you’ll expect it to be taken seriously unless your opponents can prove it’s not true, even though it’s impossible to prove a negative.

            Your double standard is clear as day and on display for all to see.

          • The fact that the types of same sex marriage in Ancient Greece or Rome were quite different to what we call same sex marriage is hardly the tiniest of holes!! It’s the complete picture.

          • Ian

            This seems to be a reply to Geoff do we’ll see where it lands.
            I disagree profoundly with your assertion that same-sex relationships were common in antiquity and Paul would have known all about them.
            That is like saying 21stC ethics are very similar to those of the Tudor court.
            Same-sex relationships were known and, largely approved of, in ancient Greece. Tyry were known, but much less common and most often disapproved of in Greco-Roman society in the 1st Cs BCE and CE. Men could use their male slaves of course, but slaves were not considered men and some reformers (such as Paul?) disapproved of such behaviour.
            Nero married other males, but he is hardly a model of moral probity.

          • Christopher

            I do think. But much of the NT appears to agree with me. Also the Hebrew Bible. So my thoughts must have been formed by reading scripture!

  13. I’m surprised that Andrew Goddard neglects the comparatively greater political and legal weight behind LGBT identities, when he writes: “The concern about “adjectives to describe different sorts of Christians” appears particularly strange. Such qualifiers are everywhere, not least because every Christian has many other identifying characteristics with which they may describe themselves and which may well be conjoined with describing themselves as a Christian (or even as a church)”

    The difference between conjoining the gay identity with Christian is because (as American scholar, Joshua Gamson has described),: “Lesbians and gay men have made themselves an effective force in this country over the past several decades largely by giving themselves what civil rights movements had: a public collective identity. Gay and lesbian social movements have built a quasi-ethnicity, complete with its own political and cultural institutions, festivals, neighborhoods, even its own flag.”

    Black is my ethnicity. However, unlike gay or lesbian, for my self-labelling as a Christian to be conjoined with businessman, or evangelical doesn’t imply that those latter descriptors are quasi-ethnicities.

    It would be naive to pretend that the term ‘gay’ dies not connote immutability (whether actual or constructive)

    It would be naive to pretend that ‘gay’ does not imply: “a fixed essence: a self with same-sex desires”

    To highlight concerns over the use of the term is being disputatious over trifling semantic differences as the reference to 2 Tim. 2:14 Implies.

      • Don’t say that too loud, for otherwise the whole language of ‘orientation’ and ‘homosexual/heterosexual’ will go up in smoke.

        • Except it won’t. My sexual orientation is firmly fixed. I couldn’t be as gay as a daisy, however hard I tried.

          • So all science is decided by reference to PCD? I thought it was decided by reference to large samples of people.

          • Christopher
            Not always. Sometimes it’s very small samples of people.
            But the really interesting question is: why pathologise homosexuality?
            No one (so far as I know) researches the aetiology of heterosexuality.
            Why is that?
            And, if scientists did find out what ’causes’ homosexuality, what will societies do with that knowledge?

          • ‘No one (so far as I know) researches the aetiology of heterosexuality.’ Actually, that is not true. It is called Attachment Theory and is a basic part of developmental psychology.

            During their second year, children become aware that there are two biological sexes, and there is a process of attachment to their parents in line with this realisation. I remember very clearly noticing the process in my son.

            Girls remain attached to the person that they have been physically attached to in the womb and through breast-feeding—their mothers—whilst, in normal development, boys have to *detach* from their mothers and *attach* to their fathers, and this appears to be at the root of many aspects of the differences in male psychology.

            There is good evidence that the failure to do this accounts for the development of male gay orientation.

          • This early developmental basis explains why male gay orientation is stable.

            Conversely, the research evidence also points to instability of female same-sex attraction, particularly in the first decades of adulthood.

          • Ian

            Can you cite the research for this?
            Also, why does it matter? As in what is the problem with homosexuality?

          • Here you hold some 10 unfathomable positions. Can I have a show of reasons that would support anyone agreeing with them?

            (1) First, if a scientific position is based on a small sample, then…
            not only would every scientist on the planet have preferred a larger sample if they could get it – in fact, the larger the better…
            but also the smallness of the sample by definition compromises the assurance with which we can view the conclusion as being definitive.

            (2) The fact that ‘no-one researches X’ is irrelevant because it is only relevant whether X is worth researching!

            (3) If no-one researches X then X is prime territory for research as soon as possible because it looks like a gap in our knowledge!

            (4) In the present case it is not remotely true that no-one researches it.

            (5) The principle that you lay down ‘No-one researches it and therefore no-one should’ is clearly a non-sequitur, and is more like the reverse of the truth.

            (6) That principle seems to be dangerously based on baseless things like fashion ‘It’s not the done thing, the fashionable thing, to research it’. Well, so what? What is the force of that point, even if the point be true?

            (7) It also seems to apply pressure to keep away – much as might be applied in the playground or in unhealthy work environments – ‘It’s against our ethos, I would advise you not to touch that with a bargepole’. That is exactly what poor James Caspian had to put up with when he made his research proposal. Of course, it raises the question of why are these people so keen to limit knowledge or indulge in cover-ups. There will always be a reason: in this case, to preserve the social ignorance on which their position depends.

            (8) As mentioned earlier, why would only one thing ’cause’ homosexuality? Why cannot the picture be more complex? And how much of life is direct cause-effect anyway?

            (9) To know something’s origin would be an important breakthough that would have ramifications in very many directions, many of which would be unpredictable.

            (10) But you are talking as though we now lack that knowledge. That is to a large degree incorrect.

            Abandon liberalism! It is the regular experience that a liberal contribution of 5-6 lines will exhibit up to 10 inconsistencies.

          • Christopher

            Lisa Diamond’s research was based on a small sample.

            Caspian’s proposed research was to be based on a tiny sample – 1-4 detransitioners. Naturally, his university ethics committee wasn’t happy with that sample size. They were, understandably, even less convinced when he changed the parameters of his research (not being able, he said to find those who had medically transitioned) without resubmitting to the ethics committee. Little wonder they turned him down.

            I did not state that no one should research the aetiology of heterosexuality. I wrote that no one does and am still awaiting Ian’s citations. I do not think Attachment Theory ‘proves’ anything about the causes of heterosexuality. And it is, in any case, a theory based on Western families and relationships.

            My view that researching the aetiology of homosexuality is pathologising does not mean that the subject should be touched with a bargepole (though I do believe it opens, potentially, a can of worms). It means that, so what? People are gay. Does it really matter if they identified more with one parent than the other, that they were a middle child, that they have – an as yet undiscovered – gene, that it’s hormonal foetal influence, that they have abandonment issues, that they were seduced by someone of the same sex?

            No. These things only matter if you believe that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and that, because it is aberrant, it needs an explanation. Whereas heterosexuality is normal and natural and canonical. Well I, like most people do not believe that homosexuality is disordered or aberrant. And I do believe that pathologising it is harmful, even sinful. To believe that gay and trans people’s existence and experience are up for debate is like asking a holocaust denier onto a documentary about Auschwitz.

          • Once a year, my four brothers and myself meet together to commemorate our mother’s birthday (she is deceased). We have done this for each of 16 years since her passing. We have never done the same for our father.

            My four brothers were far more attached to our mother than our father. I am far more attached to my father than my mother.

            Of the 5 of us, 1 is gay, 3 are heterosexual, and 1 (myself) transitioned and is now married to a woman (however you each care to define that).

            There is no pattern to our attachments and orientations. In fact, my experience is that often daughters idolise their fathers.

            As Penelope says, this is a theory that seems to have been promoted to support a preconceived idea that being gay or lesbian is a de-railing of normal development and by implication some kind of problem.

            It’s not.

            Being straight is just being straight.

            Being gay is just being gay.

            Being lesbian is just being lesbian.

            There is no problem.

            The problem exists for those who have a preconceived dogmatic view about sexual orientation.

            Meanwhile the rest of British society just gets on with loving.

          • Christopher

            The point I forgot is that whether sexual orientation is immutable or malleable does not matter one jot either.

          • Penelope: “The point I forgot is that whether sexual orientation is immutable or malleable does not matter one jot either.”

            Such a good point.

          • Hi Penny, I kind of assume that the information about causation is well known—but it clearly isn’t.

            ‘Children who experience parental divorce are less likely to marry heterosexually than those growing up in intact families; however, little is known about other childhood factors affecting marital choices. We studied childhood correlates of first marriages (heterosexual since 1970, homosexual since 1989) in a national cohort of 2 million 18–49 year-old Danes. In multivariate analyses, persons born in the capital area were significantly less likely to marry heterosexually, but more likely to marry homosexually, than their rural-born peers. Heterosexual marriage was significantly linked to having young parents, small age differences between parents, stable parental relationships, large sibships, and late birth order. For men, homosexual marriage was associated with having older mothers, divorced parents, absent fathers, and being the youngest child. For women, maternal death during adolescence and being the only or youngest child or the only girl in the family increased the likelihood of homosexual marriage. Our study provides population-based, prospective evidence that childhood family experiences are important determinants of heterosexual and homosexual marriage decisions in adulthood.’


            Chris Cook, involved in LLF, produced his own summary of research on causation. He notes that the non-social environment, in utero and in early childhood, is a significant factor, though for some reason he ignores the above evidence of social environment. He also notes the importance of fraternal birth order, though sets aside the evidence of testosterone as indicated by ring finger length, even though ring finger length is correlated with fraternal birth order.


            The best description of multi-factor causation that I have come across is Thomas Schmidt ‘Straight and Narrow’, despite being quite old.

          • Disordered or ordered? Immutable or malleable? Both Penelope and Susannah say study of such things does not matter.

            Can I quote you on that?

            Study is (or prioritises) data.

            No data, no understanding.

            But if understanding ‘does not matter’, then you are not even in the debate.

            And to be outside the debate is to be in an inferior position to someone who loses it.

            If you don’t care about truth or accuracy (and every finding is interrelated with multiple ramifications) then where are you coming from, and secondly why be on any discussion forum? It defeats the object.

            Meanwhile those who love truth continue the exciting quest of discovery.

          • “The point I forgot is that whether sexual orientation is immutable or malleable does not matter one jot either.”

            Our law on protected characteristics is founded on orientation not being mutable or malleable, as is the campaign against ‘conversion therapy’.

            If you are content to say orientation is indeed malleable, you pull the rug from under both these things.

          • Good grief.

            Penny was saying that being gay is not, of itself, a problem. It isn’t. It is a problem for certain people because of their dogma, and for other people because of their prejudice. Those two can overlap, but the problem is external to the gay person. It is other people with the problem.

            And whether the origins of sexual orientation are ‘in utero’ or the result of nurture, or both, it remains the case that it is other people with the problem.

            When my life loves me, cares for me, sacrifices for me, shares joy and tears with me, and I with her… do I agonise about what made her attracted to women? Of course not. It does not matter. What matters is that we love one another.

          • ‘Penny was saying that being gay is not, of itself, a problem. It isn’t.’ But that is just a bald assertion. It is not an argument. And I don’t see how restating your assertions is helping this discussion.

          • “ ‘Penny was saying that being gay is not, of itself, a problem. It isn’t.’ But that is just a bald assertion”

            A bald assertion?? I’m sorry Ian maybe I have misunderstood you. Do you think that simply being gay IS a problem? Do you agree with the Archbishop of Nigeria? One moment you are saying he is homophobic and the next you are questioning the basis on which you have said it!

          • Don’t quite know how to enter this sub thread at the right place but thanks to Ian (March 4 at 8.26) for giving those links about causation. I hadn’t seen them before.

          • Leslie, thanks. The difficulty with this conversation is that things that were quite well established earlier in the debate have been lost in the waves of polemic (sometimes from both sides).

          • Suz: “When my wife loves me, cares for me, sacrifices for me, shares joy and tears with me, and I with her… do I agonise about what made her attracted to women? Of course not. It does not matter. What matters is that we love one another.”

            Ian: “But that is just a bald assertion. It is not an argument.”

            Ian, you could be right, but can’t lived experience be part of the argument? Doesn’t it count for anything?

            LGBT+ people get very used to being talked *about*. But surely some of the most powerful points in this never-ending ‘argument’ are the descriptions of ‘lived experience’ of the people who are being talked about. Otherwise we just become ‘abstracts’ in dogmatic dispute, and our experience gets discounted from debate.

            My wife and I absolutely flourish in our relationship, and that happiness and well-being heals, enlivens, and feeds into my spiritual life. In short, what some other people problematize, in actuality is the opposite of a problem. It’s a blessing. By reporting my experience I do so in the slight hope that my experience may be taken into account in the formulation of church arguments, adding to the experience of the church, and persuade some people to re-think.

            At the very least, one hopes that in a lengthy discussion about gay people, when a gay or lesbian person offers their view and experience of what you’re all talking about, some value might be attributed to it, as a component in the arguments.

            My argument is: if intimate gay sexuality is not a problem for the people involved, who report its benefits and blessings, and you are all taking about them, is it just possible that the problem does not lie with those who are gay and lesbian, but with the dogmatic tensions that undoubtedly exist in church organisations, which are exemplified by the very disputes you detail in your original post?

            And fundamentally, how should we as Christians navigate divergent views, without descending into rancour and unkindness? Goodness knows, we all need grace and love in this, but I put it to you that the shared experiences of gay people should be the last things to be marginalised.

            None of this disrespects your own conscience and integrity, and I really want to stress that. I regard you as a person who loves God and is trying to live with fidelity and kindness.

            Lastly, this is a holiday week for me, hence I chose to pay a visit to your website, but I am not here to ‘invade’ your blog and my general policy is not to engage. Just offering some input this week. Grace, peace, love and joy to you in Jesus Christ.

          • Ian

            Of course it’s an assertion. One with which the Archbishop of Canterbury, the CoE, and Lambeth 1.10 formally agree.
            You, like the Archbishop of Nigeria, may not agree. But that would put you at odds with church teaching.

          • My argument is: if intimate gay sexuality is not a problem for the people involved, who report its benefits and blessings, and you are all taking about them, is it just possible that the problem does not lie with those who are gay and lesbian, but with the dogmatic tensions that undoubtedly exist in church organisations, which are exemplified by the very disputes you detail in your original post?

            The problem with this is that you could equally say:

            ‘My argument is: if casual sex is not a problem for the people involved, who report its benefits and blessings, and you are all taking about them, is it just possible that the problem does not lie with those who sleep around, but with the dogmatic tensions that undoubtedly exist in church organisations, which are exemplified by the very disputes you detail in your original post?’

          • Christopher

            Of course you may quote me on that. Data on immutability or fluidity proves nothing beyond being evidence on the fixedness of sexual orientation in certain cultures at certain times.
            It does not prove whether immutabilty or fluidity is moral nor immoral. How could it?

          • Ian

            Conversion therapy is not based on the premise that orientation is immutable. That is a common error (although, for some people, like me, orientation is immutable).
            Fluidity most often occurs without conscious choice: people find themselves attracted to someone of an other sex. It is not willed, still less forced.

          • Still don’t know how to enter the end of this sub stream but listening to Susannah I accept that the lesbian or homosexual relationship can feel great for some. Actually, wonderful. This is not argumentative but I know some speak similarly of polyamorous relationships would you be happy to go there too – I’m not meaning practically but in argument?

          • Leslie, not sure if you’re talking to me, but personally I wouldn’t feel well-placed to discuss polyamory, because it’s simply not my experience. I think I watched a Louis Theroux programme on it once, but I just don’t know much about it. Apart from my wife, I don’t want any other. I know she feels the same. We’re just happy together. That’s not a commentary on other people. The key qualities whatever the relationship, I guess, are fidelity, trust, honesty, care, kindness.

          • Penny, I don’t think anyone raised the question of whether immutability or fluidity were moral. They are just phenomena that we find out about, and in so doing we increase our understanding. When we increase our understanding of any topic, that has ramifications and interconnections in all connections. That is why any increase in understanding and knowledge is good. You were saying things like ‘Why does it matter?’, but increase of knowledge always matters, being an advance away from ignorance and towards greater understanding. This is something that people ought certainly to support: least of all to oppose.

          • Christopher

            I agree up to a point. But, although some scientific enquiry is neutral, not all is. Some research on IQ, for example, has been very dubious. And infecting black people with syphilis without telling them was downright evil.
            I simply don’t get what the benefitssuch ‘facts’ about the aetiology of homosexuality
            are, except as I said, to pathologise a natural variant in sexuality.

          • Thanks Susannah, yes it was your piece about your relationship with your wife which you spoke about very movingly. I know that not so many have knowledge about polyamourous relationships but some triplets speak almost the same as you about their loving, wonderful (and sexual) relationships. My query was whether you would allow your arguments to be expanded to include polyamory?
            Some brush this issue not wanting to go there but I think it does need to be answered. The bipartisan nature of common marriage comes from the male/female link but once that is removed what are the arguments for not accepting polyamory? If love, care and commitment are all that are required then why not?

          • Hi Penny

            (1) On IQ, I am not sure that most people would be happy unless all groups measured precisely equal, which is never remotely going to happen in any comparative study on any topic, partly because of the margin of error and partly not. Of course, the expectation (or rather hope) of perfect equality is an impossibly high bar for anyone (let alone non-researchers) to expect others to cross. When you research, it is just that – you never know what the results will be, and indeed you *must* never know. Results day always brings surprises. In my experience, in practice most would not be happy with any IQ research at all. But there is a massive problem with that: controlling what we can and cannot know. And no-one has the authority to do that, so that we do not know how to regard those who somehow think they do have that authority. Are they setting themselves above us? Or above due process? Or trying to hide something?

            So I think it could simply in effect be the comparative-IQ topic to which you are objecting rather than the inadequacy of the research.

            (2) On syphilis I plead ignorance of the history. I am aware only of more recent history when certainly some groups score higher than others, and worryingly high at this stage in the story: the same groups across all of syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV/AIDS.

            (3) When you speak of pathologising there is no great difference between pathologising and understanding. To fail to pathologise is to fail to understand. And to fail to (wish to) understand makes debate of this or any nature pointless. But anyone who values understanding will continue to debate and research, so that any breakthroughs in understanding will emanate from their quarter.

          • I do however think that the word ‘natural’ must inevitably ring alarm bells. What does ‘natural’ mean? Anything at all that is attested in nature – whether helpful, harmful or indifferent – is thereby natural. So being ‘natural’ is a too-vague word with too-vague implications.

            Whereas if you are using ‘natural’ in any narrower sense, you are asserting what needs first to be demonstrated, so that does not work either.

      • Certainly, research has revealed that sexual identity (i.e. how orientation finds expression in actual behaviour) exhibits fluidity, more so in women than men.

        However, in several Western jurisdictions, the notion of ‘constructive immutability’ has gained legal acceptance.

        I’ve addressed this in an essay which I wrote last year:!AssphAYLL1d4geUfC3vPIa-oX5ws3A

  14. I know my plea for just men and women many see simplistic but all the words from the LGBTIQ+ vocabulary are about what I do sexually. Why must I or anybody be labelled by what I do or want sexually? Let me be a man or let me be a woman.

    • “Why must I or anybody be labelled by what I do or want sexually?”

      The answer’s at least fivefold:
      1) People are no longer sensible enough to accept that there are many benefits of
      privacy – particularly regarding the most intimate details of their lives.
      2) This change in attitude has allowed a public obsession with sex (and currently
      homosexual sex in particular) to command the attention of the population whether or
      not they wish it and despite it doing much harm and creating a lot of unhappiness.
      3) The witness of Christians and its inherent affect on public morality (which would once
      have challenged this destructive public obsession) is in marked decline.
      4) Far from expressing their concern about this situation a good many Christians are
      instead choosing to find fault with their brother and sister Christians who remain
      willing to speak directly on the issue.
      5) And on virtually all counts the scientific (biological) facts are given no intelligent
      hearing in either the secular or Christian world.

    • Actually, they are not. You could be a gay man or woman and be completely abstinent. Just as you could be a straight person and be completely abstinent. Being gay, bi or straight is to whom you are attracted, not (necessarily) what you do about it.

        • True Leslie, but equally if people choose to be open about those aspects of their lives, as in ‘I am lesbian’, that’s should be equally fine. What’s often bad is erasure. Gay and lesbian people experience erasure. Take public notices of appointment of new bishops. Those notices sometimes refer to wives, but I have never seen one refer to a same-sex partner. Of course, that’s also because they would be unlikely to be appointed if that was the case, but that’s exactly part of the hiddenness… ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’. And theology that vilifies gay sexual practice drives people into hiddenness about their sexuality.

          I’m pretty much with you in principle. I’d be comfortable going further and saying ‘people are people’. But fundamentally, it should be left to an individual to decide what they want to define about themselves.

          Just my thoughts.

          • The highest positions of leadership in the church are available to anyone willing to pay the price. Jesus was the greatest leader there ever was or will be and he never sought to advance through the religious hierarchy. Instead he preached a kingdom where the only thing that prevents us from being the greatest is our willingness to become the servant of all – to give whether or not we receive. It’s only the path to earthly religious structures that may be closed to us for any number of reasons.
            There isn’t a single minute of politicking required to be a faithful follower of God. And praise God for that. I don’t have to please anyone except God – the fact that people disapprove of me is unable to defeat what ultimately happens to me.

        • True. But whilst heterosexuality remains the default and gay people still suffer discrimination, it is entirely understandable that the labels of gay and bi are being owned as a badge of identity and solidarity.

          • Ian

            That’s true (in the UK at least). But I said still suffer and I have seen two reports this week of gay men being beaten up in homophobic attacks. The situation for trans people is becoming less safe, despite legislation.
            The statements by the Bishop of Nigeria and ACNA show that gay people are still unsafe, in churches, as well as in the wider society.
            And, whilst conversion therapy remains legal, they will continue to be unsafe.

  15. I agree Leslie. Christianity says that we are all valuable to God – none of us more or less valuable than anyone else. Our righteousness doesn’t change this nor our sin. I believe that the way in which I can love people most faithfully is to act towards people as I would towards myself – to look at both myself and others through God’s eyes and therefore to see myself and others united in common humanity and status – to resist attempts by anyone or even by the people I am seeking to love to put people in special categories.

  16. I may have many adjectives attached to me as to what I think or do but don’t boil those things into me to describe my essence. I am a man or a woman.

  17. As a postscript, all the LGBTIQ+ descriptors are about sex. My argument is that a Man or a Woman is as far as we need to go in describing who we are. As Teddy Roosevelt wanted no more hyphenated Americans (Irish-American, Italian-American, Native-American) we need to stop describing ourselves with sex descriptors. Let Man and Woman suffice.

    • “all the LGBTIQ+ descriptors are about sex”

      Except that even this is false, or at least a very limited understanding of the language.

      L,G, B (P and A) are classifications of Sexuality (the expression of ones sexual nature towards another). T* (as well as X and a few others) in contrast is/are classifications of Sex (the nature of one’s being), and the myriad other letters denote a spectrum of positions between and around these two poles, which is what people commonly use the term Gender to describe.

      And even this is a gross oversimplification.

      I am not arguing in defence of these labels, but unless you understand why they are used, and what people mean when they use them, you will never appreciate why a phrase like this (“Let Man and Woman suffice”) will be heard as woefully inadequate by people in the LGBT+ community.

      *and it is not as if the feelings of acceptance about the inclusion of T with the LGB are wholly supported either.

      • Hi Matt – Oh I do understand why man and woman is not enough for the LGBTIQ+ (and more) community because of the contemporary desire to make sex and its practice inherent in the description of who we are. Man and woman has a sexual part obviously but not as a descriptors of the person.

  18. Thanks for your considered response to my comment today, Mat.
    I don’t know where this may appear in the order of comments
    The nub of this whole topic, to me is how it centres on the horizonal, on humanity with no mention at all of our thrice Holy God and how it has largely exluded the topic of sin, in human nature and in thought word and deed.
    You seem to have sought to differentiate between hierarchy of sin, in relation to human consequences is concerned, or in relation to the law. That would draw us into questions of the nature and purpose of human civil and criminal law as well as into the distinction between law and morals and common good.
    And that is even without giving any consideration of the nature and purposes of God’s laws (which include but are not limited to natural law).
    It is interesting that you raise the question of idolatry.
    This whole topic, to me, is but a reflection of the idolatry of human identitarianism, a centrifugal spin of the worship of self, a wholesale rejection of the first commandment.

  19. I notice a lot of the conversation on this blog is like jousting. One horseman charges along tilting at orientation whilst the other charges along tilting at practice. They obviously miss each other because they don’t agree on what to aim at and get annoyed at each other for not playing the game.

    • Yes, I agree. None of it is helpful or enlightening, and it is not within the spirit of the ‘Comment Guidelines’ above.

      I would really like Christopher, as well as Andrew and Penny, to reconsider their approach here.

      • I very much agree with Leslie. Which makes it interesting, though not surprising that you have singled out Andrew, Christopher and myself.
        Andrew can speak for himself, but it strikes me as significant that you single out his approach and not that of his frequent and often rude interlocutor ‘S’.
        I have not written anything either unkind or untrue and other commentators, such as Susannah, have agreed with my points. Indeed my objections to the pathologising of homosexuality were exactly the points made by Jeremy and by your friend Peter Ould. Christopher, however, continued to question their identity as gay when they had asked him not to. I find it problematic that I must reconsider my approach to the caricaturing of my views, by commentators such as Christopher, James and ‘S’. I will self-censor if I am being unkind or sarcastic (my besetting sin), but I will not self-censor my beliefs, nor my responses to what I see as theological and ethical nonsense.

        • Penny, as mentioned above, and as can be checked, nobody even began to pathologise any individual. But do quote where I did so, if that is incorrect.

          Indeed, I said that the pathology picture is on the complicated side, with apparently quite different causes running in parallel, with even some of the major ones not applying to plenty of individuals at all.

        • But this whole thread consists of people scoring points by making grand claims and not engaging in discussion with the actual thread of argument.

          I have said if before—but I don’t know why you all bother, as you don’t appear to be persuading each other at all. It appear to be an exercise in filling the thread with more of your own points.

      • No problem. Although what I have always intended is Reepicheep-like enthusiastic assault on the principalities and powers (in the shape of presiding ideas, not their sometimes sincerely mistaken champions) that steal, kill and destroy – and have noticed that a milder approach is in danger of giving the message that the issues are regarded as being of milder importance, with the result that intolerable things go on being tolerated and nothing ever changes (and am in addition quite sure that many people are not being honest with themselves, since there are good reasons for thinking they cannot possibly believe some of the things they say they believe) – there can be such a gulf between intentions and others’ perceptions. Now of course I just classify mistaken perceptions as having been formed through inevitable partial ignorance of the true intentions of others, and that would be right, but it is being too hard on people to expect them to understand others’ intentions straightaway.

          • That must change in some way. I express the relative degree of my incredulity with precision; to express it otherwise would be to be inaccurate to what I actually think, which would count as not telling the truth, which would be a serious matter. And of course there are times when genuinely incredible claims are made.

            That is my rationale, and I liken it to sports teams fighting fiercely on the pitch and having a pint afterwards. The fierceness is testimony to the seriousness of the issues. The separation of ideas from personal issues is basic to rational progress, otherwise the latter keep getting in the way like a roadblock. Suppose CS Lewis fought his corner strongly for a theory at the Socratic Club, that has no connection with the later pub bonhomie. Alas, I am not he, and few of us are.

            Genuine refutation is one way in which a discussion moves forward; it depends on first having taken in what the other person has said. So the refuter is often a listener by nature. But even if the other person has been misunderstood, they can still always explain wherein they have been misunderstood, so that is fine. Advance is still possible.

            I wonder whether for example the LLF discussions were predicated on the good faith of all participants. One hopes good faith will be ubiquitous, but that is certainly never something that can logically be assumed. Ideology is everywhere. (Ideology is one thing that makes people not engage. But there is another thing that makes people not engage – ideas that seem clearly wrong, whether because of self-contradiction or because of not ringing true to observable reality.)

            Also such set-ups as LLF (or indaba etc etc) can dictate, on no authority, where the middle ground has to be, rather than being thoroughly suspicious of polarisation, something that is never seen in genuinely academic nuanced contexts. Living in a society that downplays truth/accuracy, one always particularly examines processes to make sure that those processes are friendly to the pursuit of truth rather than just to everyone ‘getting along’. Psephizo is a market leader here, maximising rigour and minimising censorship. So many controversial forums (fora?) cannot cope with the quantity of unmanageable or troublesome material they attract.

            I hope people are never in any doubt about (a) how much we should value truth and progress in the truth; (b) how cut-and-thrust among different individuals pooling what they have to offer will advance the truth wherever listening is to the foreground and censorship in the background; (c) the importance of Christian gentleness and kindness.

        • Ian Paul
          March 5, 2021 at 9:42 am
          Your incredulity towards the claims of others doesn’t actually help the discussion at all!


          Christopher Shell
          March 5, 2021 at 12:06 pm
          That must change in some way.

          You are the only one who can change that for yourself Christopher. But let us all agree that as an aim?

          • Agreed. [I like your spectacular rise through the ranks from Naughty List to Grand Inquisitor in one move though 😉 ]

    • I’m not sure what point you are making Leslie? Do you think the Archbishop of Nigeria crosses any kind of line? Do you not think his statements puts lives at risk? Does he make a distinction between homosexual orientation and practice? I am genuinely confused by what you are trying to say.

      • Hi Andrew – I tend to be baffled at the way this blog works and how to reply to contributions that have no reply button underneath but I see yours does. So that makes things easier. I wasn’t sure what you were asking about but looking upwards I think it may be about my remark that people are missing each other’s points?
        If so what I was trying to point out was that one side argues from the internal desires side (orientation) whilst the other argues from acts (practice). The one side sees the others as attacking who they are as persons whilst the others see they are being (deliberately?) ignored and made into awful Aunt Sallies.

  20. It’s less of a joust (two combatants, equally equipped and matched) and more of a melee (many combatants, differing weapons and styles; a brawl).

    There is a tendency to see it like that, but I for one think there’s a value in it too. I have learned more from throwing the occasional punch and observing the styles of others in the heat of the argument than I might otherwise have done at the back of a lecture hall or with my head on a book.

    For all the occasional tediousness, there is much value in it and much that would be lost if Ian Paul were more censorious with his moderation.

    • I agree. In fact I think Ian’s approach is quite liberal and tolerant.

      The problem with over-censorship and over-moderation is you end up with a smaller constituency, basically in a bubble or echo chamber, who are talking to each other, but the feel of the ‘agora’ is gone.

      I used to belong to the Live Journal ‘Christianity Community’ and at its height it was a fantastic forum with thousands of posts a month and a really fascinating cross-section of different Christian traditions, and even people of other faiths and none. I learnt so much from the interactions. In being challenged, it pushed you to really think about your own beliefs, why you held them, and on what grounds. And it introduced new approaches to spirituality, and not just your own.

      Then a rather macho, verging-on-fundamentalist moderator got co-opted, and he started banning people, and handling the forum in what seemed to me like an unnecessarily confrontational and aggressive manner. What had once been a wonderful ‘agora’ with hundreds of regular contributors, wilted away, until today there are only two regular contributors left.

      Admittedly Live Journal itself is greatly diminished, but the Christianity forum in particular just died. The moderator in question, who was a pastor, left his church and when I last checked was forging a career in finance.

      So I respect that Ian is light touch, as indeed I respect Ian for his love of God, and his communication abilities. He must get frustrated that focus often gets lost in our discussions, and topics get de-railed. But I find it really interesting to follow conversations between people trying to explain very different views on things.

      Through this site I have found some individuals, from very different theological stances, with whom I have found trust and respectful dialogue offline. Also, as someone with some so-called ‘liberal’ views, I really find reminders of my evangelical ardour, and why that still matters to me, on this site: for example, Ian’s recent post on Creation was deeply moving. In other aspects of spirituality I am deeply conservative (Carmelite practices) and I think the reality is that many Christians are a mixture of traditions and experiences, and if we can find grace, we can learn from one another without abandoning those aspects of our faith that are most precious to us.

      We need more Christian forums where respectful debate and discussion take place. And I appreciate that Ian does allow quite a lot of cut and thrust. I respect him for that.

      • Some discussions here often seem to me like watching theological ping-pong. Who can keep going the longest (and have the last word).

        Generates a lot of heat – but -very little light.

        • Yes, some truth in that. Maybe there should be a maximum of 5 posts on any one article Ian writes. That way it would make everyone think carefully what constructive comments they wanted to make, not waste comments on negative ping-pong – a bonus would be that there would be fewer dominating participants and a broader distribution of (hopefully carefully thought out) comments.

          That said, Ian’s site, Ian’s rules. End of!

      • Thank you Susannah. Broadly, I agree. I have met some interesting people here and Ian does, usually, moderate with a light touch.

  21. There is a withering ( albeit longwinded) critique of Andrew Goddard’s piece in a podcast defending the ACNA statement and refuting the idea there can be such a thing as sexual orientation if one believes in biblical anthropology by Matt Kennedy and two other ACNA clergymen on

    • Yes, if one finds seemingly outrageous comments on here it is always good to look at what Matt Kennedy and his chums are saying to see just how extreme some views out there really are. I can’t even recognise myself as belonging to the same religion, let alone any Anglican affiliation.

      • I was rather bemused by Matt Kennedy and his chums view of english evangelical anglicans: far too moderate and gentlemanly and compromised by membership of an erastian State Church. I also came a more learned ( though overlong ) piece by an Edgar Noble on the Institute of Religion and Democracy. ( I gather that this institution was a significant shadow presence at Lambeth 2008 resourcing the Africans). As someone quite outside this world reading this stuff was quite an education!.

    • I don’t know why there is an issue with sexual orientation being real. I know I’m attracted to men, the handsome ones anyway lol (Ryan Gosling, hello!), but not to women. That is why my sexual orientation is ‘gay’. It simply describes how I feel towards others. The question is – does God want me to follow through on those sexual feelings? I have come to the conclusion He does not. And even though I often doubt His love for me, I look at the cross and think ‘wow’.


      • There’s never been an issue with its being *real*.

        There have been two issues. (a) Why it is presented as *innate* and essential to an individual’s core identity (like sex or pigmentation) despite the balance of evidence; (b) why it is presented as *immutable* when the reality is far more complex.

    • “I completely disagree with and condemn this language. It is unacceptable. It dehumanises those human beings of whom the statement speaks. I have written privately to His Grace The Archbishop to make clear that this language is incompatible with the agreed teaching of the Anglican Communion….”


  22. “When we undervalue sex we dehumanise others. When we overvalue sex we dehumanise ourselves.”
    Timothy Keller, tweet, 5 March 21.
    Discuss this parallelism.

    • Substitute the word sex with food, work, home, and many other things. It’s a very general and not totally profound point.
      People have very different sex drives. For some it’s a daily thing. For others it’s a rare thing. So it’s very difficult to put some numerical value on it.

      • Sex is about who someone is as a person. It’s not all about sex acts. It’s about how you feel, and what that feels like. It’s about a vibe you have, or may pick from others. It’s not always forefront, but it’s residual in a person. It’s an understanding of yourself, as much as an understanding of others. Sex just goes on – a lot of the time subconsciously – because it’s who you are and how hormones and mindset interact. Sex is something we should feel comfortable about, and like about ourselves. It is liberating when you recognise, understand, and like how your sexuality operates. I am very much femme and receptive (if labels are any use). I like that about myself. I am happy in myself when I feel it. I connect very well with some butch women, because our vibes are symbiotic, and their being butch can make me feel receptive, and liberate me to just be me, unashamed, and feel receptive and strong. We are all different. Sex doesn’t have to be an obsession. There are many other things in life that matter. But sexuality has so much potential to make you feel alive, and happy, and opened up to yourself.

        When we repress how we really feel, that can be so damaging and diminishing. That is the danger for many people of so-called ‘conversion therapy’. It closes down parts of your sexuality that ought to be open, lovely, life-affirming.

        Sex and sexual orientation, of themselves, are not a problem. They’re a blessing. They’re us. Who we are inside, and how we feel. To take the Keller comment, I find it a bit trite. If we undervalue sex we also risk dehumanising ourselves as well as others. We risk closing ourselves off from who we are. And if we place too much emphasis on sex, like anything else, it may put things out of balance, not only for ourselves but for others as well.

        It’s not about one or the other. What matters is just having a happy, unashamed enjoyment of our sexuality. Beautiful if shared, and expressed, with a person we love. But also beautiful if expressed in the kind of people we are, in our lives, in community.

        • Hi Susannah and thanks for your last reply to me somewhere on this blog which I struggle with in trying to insert something at the right place when there isn’t a reply link at the end. However if this makes sense, yes it was your piece about your relationship with your wife which you spoke about very movingly. I know that not so many have knowledge about polyamourous relationships but some triplets speak almost in the same way as you about their loving, wonderful (and sexual) relationships. My query was whether you would allow your arguments to be expanded to include polyamory?
          Some brush this aside not wanting to go there but I think we should address it for surely it needs to be answered. The bipartisan nature of common marriage comes from the male/female part but once that is removed what are the arguments for not accepting polyamory? If love, care and commitment are all that are required then why not?

          • Hi Leslie,

            As I mentioned before, polyamory is a subject I just don’t know much about and I feel uncomfortable to talk about subjects I’m fairly ignorant of.

            I have previously said to you: “The key qualities whatever the relationship, I guess, are fidelity, trust, honesty, care, kindness.”

            I really believe that. Those qualities are at the heart of the relationship I have with my wife.

            Can those principles be used to apply to polyamory? Setting aside any religious doctrine, I’d say yes.

            However, as you say, there is the obvious point that relationships involving 2 people may have a different dynamic (and challenges) than a relationship between 3 or more people.

            I don’t accept your point that “the bipartisan nature of common marriage comes from the male/female part”. I am married, and it is female/female. So yes, I would remove that premiss as being necessary for marriage.

            I think I see where you’re going…. that if the statement “The key qualities whatever the relationship are fidelity, trust, honesty, care, kindness” is true for bipartisan relationships, then on what grounds would that not apply to a relationship of 3 or 4?

            I think those qualities probably are key in that case as well (although what fidelity means in that context might need some exploration by someone, and trust could be challenging I suppose).

            I didn’t say “love, care and commitment are all that are required”. I said they were key qualities. But there are other aspects that will matter to different people in different relationships. Like the balance of the sexual relationship, orientation of whatever kind, shared interests, sense of home, in some cases the desire to have children, in some cases the desire not to have children etc etc… and in the Christian context, any doctrinal beliefs we have about sex and relationships.

            My difficulty is that I have no experience and very little knowledge in the subject of polyamory. I know, for me, the sense of givenness to another person really seems to work in part because of the intimacy of shared life and home together. I can imagine that can work in polyamory, but I can’t personally relate to it.

            But… my view… if say 3 people love each other, and sincerely give themselves in relationship (with all the sacrifice and care that involves) and it helps them in decent lives and kindness to other people… in short, if they are in a kind of covenant… then I can imagine their homes and love could have a sort of sanctity in them, and that God might see that, understand that, and want blessing and grace for them.

            Many Christians would very much disagree. Plus, I’m not signed up to that. It’s not at all my thing. I guess, from a socially liberal standpoint, I just don’t think it’s my business to assert rules about it. As with all people, I want blessing and grace for them, if at all possible.

            I apologise if all this is not very helpful. I don’t want to get all theological about it (time/commitments/lack of insight about subject).

            Behind so many divergences of Christian opinions there are background issues: what is the bible? what kind of authority does it have? is it all true, and in what way? how should it be read, interpreted, understood, and lived out? what is the nature of inspiration at work?

            So you’re not going to get the same answers about polyamory from all Christians. And then there’s the additional factor of marriage, what it is, and whether sex should only take place after marriage?

            There are so many discussing points which is perhaps why I’ll step back and repeat a third time: “The key qualities whatever the relationship, I guess, are fidelity, trust, honesty, care, kindness.”

            I am not employed by the morality police. I have enough moral challenges of my own, when I come in prayer before God. Dressed in rags. Lord have mercy.

          • Hi Susannah – Thanks for your long reply below. I know that mentioning polyamory is sometimes considered a “No, No” in the gay and lesbian community because it seems like a trap. The trap being if you extend the arguments for same sex then you are falling into accepting that sex is fine with anyone as long as the correct adjectives are used – trust, honesty, kindness etc. What used to be called licentiousness, lasciviousness etc.
            The opposite argument is that kindness, care, love etc are wonderful but the appropriateness of sex doesn’t extend everywhere.

          • I think I am getting the hang of how to get comments in the right place Susannah (I hope). I added a bit later last night. As I understand it the two sides are like this:-
            LGBT – People who love each other, care for each another, feel for each another, share with each other, are honest with each other may, if they so wish, sexually arouse one another.
            Non LGBT – Agree that all of the above emotions are good and life affirming but that sexual arousal is not appropriate between some of the people we share these emotions with and one of those is people of the same sex.
            I think that’s the difference. The frustrating thing and why I said they are like jousting partners tilting at different targets as they rush past each other is that the LGBT side angrily say that the other side is denying them their humanity (who they are), whilst the other side tries to hit the body (the physical side) ignoring the personal feelings and internal vulnerability of those they are trying to knock down.
            The LGBT side need to come to grips with the argument that it is not who they are but what they do that is challenged and the non-LGBT side need to come to grips with the real felt experience of the others and not just magic it away.

          • There is a lot in what you say, Leslie. I apologise for being brief, but my time is short, and this is the last day of my holiday, and the last day I will be on this site (at least, until another holiday).

            I really appreciate what you say about how if a person is non-LGBT they need to try to listen to the felt experience of a gay or lesbian person, and not just think it needn’t exist or to use your words ‘can be magicked away’.

            And yes, conversely, I do think sometimes LGBT people shout ‘homophobia’ when in some cases the non-LGBT person are not trying to condemn ‘who they are’ or ‘what they feel’ but simply don’t agree (on faith grounds) with the practice.

            The trouble is that there are feelings, and faith, involved and emotions can run high, and discussions can get over-heated, so that the two sides are just talking their own lines of argument, like cars going in the opposite direction on the motorway.

            What to do?

            I think we have to be honest.

            Some Christians – in sincere conscience, based on what the Bible says – just can’t accept the practice. If I believed the Bible was always right about everything, being honest, I’d tend to agree. I am not convinced that the bible-writers thought man-man sex was okay. However, I don’t see the Bible as infallible for every society in every age on every point… people wrote from inside the limitations of their own contexts, cultures, societies, or religious traditions. But nevertheless, I believe I should respect a Christian, if she says, ‘I just can’t in conscience affirm that practice.’

            The thing is, as a Christian who is lesbian and (as you know) in a really happy, flourishing, caring and committed relationship… I don’t feel I have to ‘defend’ my relationship. I know the blessing of it, I share my life with God, I have my own living relationship with God, and I also know there are plenty of other Christians (and much of society) who affirm my kind of relationship.

            So I just live my life.

            My love and care for my wife just seems so precious and decent and life-affirming that there isn’t a debate going on, except among some people, but that’s not a debate I can really control. They will believe what they will believe.

            Obviously I’d like these other Christians to respect my conscience and sincerity of belief, as I respect theirs.

            What I really believe in, for these endless debates some people have, while the rest of people get on with their lives, is that we should agree to disagree, and should do so with love and grace. Because love is the biggest challenge, and we find that love in Jesus Christ, whatever our views on sexuality. We find love and grace, and unity as children called to God, in Jesus Christ. That’s where unity is found – not in uniformity.

            So I believe in ‘Unity in Diversity’, and I think the Scottish Anglicans are feeling their way into something like that, and I think that’s what most bishops and probably most people in the church of England want… respect for different consciences, but an absolute commitment to keep on meeting the practical needs of our parishes (which to a great extent is where God is), and getting on with life and service and givenness in Jesus Christ.

            I can go with that. It’s up to others if they can. The mainstream ‘centre’ of the Church of England is those Christians in thousands of parishes up and down the land who serve their local communities in so many ways. To most of them, sex is not the big issue. The big issue is the sick, the bereaved, the homeless, the depressed, the lonely, the poor… and these Anglicans are just getting on with that. They don’t want the Church to divide. They love their parishes. And that is where I see God most in action, day by day. I see in them the reality of love in action, and practical compassion.

            Now there may be sincere and conscientious differences of opinion on sexuality. But maybe we should all just get on with our Christian lives, and accept we will disagree, but we can also all be Christians, and pray for one another’s flourishing, and go… and help the neighbour who is suffering, frightened, in need of our givenness.

            It’s the last day of my holiday, but even today (and being honest I am not a stellar example) as a registered nurse I was called to an accident in my village… so what could I do, and what would I want to do, but help. Our lives are about more than doctrinal disagreements. Our lives involve neighbours, and life is not easy.

            But we are called to love, and to try (as best we can) to give ourselves to God and to our neighbours.

            And I just get on and give myself to my wife, and she does the same to me, and in that, we’re not defending ourselves to anyone else. We are just being us. And have found such blessing, happiness and joy. This is not some sexual deviation. This is just our lives, and in our commitment and marriage covenant to each other there is sacrifice, sad times, bereavements, hard work, sickness, and all the realities of what commitment means. Most of it nothing to do with sex. But my sexual orientation simply only goes one way. It’s not up for debate.

            What’s up for debate for each one of us is: ‘When I was hungry did you feed me? When I was sick did you visit me?’ What’s up for debate, above all else, is the commandment to love, and I can only speak for myself, but I know I an dressed in rags before God when it comes to that. There is so much more I should have done in my life, and so much more I still should do.

            But the instinct so often, is to look at the person ‘over there’ and point the finger at them.

            I must sign off. But thank you for the exchanges we have had on this page. I have appreciated your moderate and reasonable exchanges. Thank you.

          • Blessings to you Susannah and thanks for taking time during holidays to engage. May work be peaceful and satisfying.

          • Hi Susannah – Though not necessarily to you, please feel free to depart from this if you wish. I tried to put down what I thought were the differences in perspectives of the LGBT and non-LGBT views of same sex acts. I’m respective of your settled feeling and understanding of a committed same sex relationship howwever what I want to add is the following.
            I used the word ‘appropriate’ which is rather a gentle word but perhaps we can use it about behaviour. David was an adulterer and murderer neither of which was appropriate for a man of God but I’m sure we shall meet him in glory rejoicing in the goodness of God, however that doesn’t mean that his behaviour was right.
            There are many variations in our behaviour as people but that doesn’t mean everything is acceptable and right.
            Far better someone who steals from a supermarket than someone who violently robs an old couple in their home – but that doesn’t mean what they do is right
            Far better someone who tells a lie about their qualifications in court than someone who commits perjury and has someone unjustly imprisoned – but that doesn’t mean that it is right.
            In the same manner far better someone who lives a committed same-sex relationship with a partner than someone who promiscuously sleeps around – but that doesn’t mean that they are right.
            I will accept some who happily have sex with their same sex partner but that doesn’t mean it is gender appropriate.

            However, this doesn’t usually resolve the matter because the LGBT side wish to have their sexual practice accepted in like manner to the gender appropriateness of heterosexuality and will strenuously rebut any who will not accept an absolute equivalence.

          • Hi Susannah

            When you say ‘simply disagree (on faith grounds) with the practice’, this is a common misconception. Generally speaking it is ‘simply [cite evidence to] disagree (on statistical and scientific grounds) with the practice’.

      • Substitute the word sex with food, work, home, and many other things. It’s a very general and not totally profound point

        Food’s a good example. People have different ‘food drives’; some have natural, healthy desires for food; some have an over-active desire for food, end up eating too much and harming themselves thereby; some people have a desire to eat things that aren’t food.

  23. Andrew,
    The tweet relates to what it is to be human or “humanising”, not a one of reducible to mere appetites, nor a one of numerical value nor a one of “totalising” a profundity.
    The question bears some relation the ABoC statement, as set out by Matt.

    • Food, work and home relate to what it is to be human. So does health. So do many things. What’s Keller’s obsession with sex?

      • Andrew,
        They are different categories as you well know. The tweet is relevant to this post and topic although, as far as I know, it had no direct or indirect link to this blog post.
        Unlike food, work, home, which are more in keeping with workplace motivation and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
        Where on earth did your last sentence come from?
        It bears no relation to the reality of Keller’s his ministry as a pastor, writer, preacher, apologist, Christian.
        Where’s the evidence for your assertion? You are better than that.

        • Geoff: I’m not at all convinced they are different categories.
          Keller is a complimentarian. He is opposed to homosexual expression and possibly even orientation. He tends towards literalism when it comes to the bible. His tweet, and other expressions of his concerning sexuality, are about control of what others should think and do concerning their sexuality. I don’t find anything he has said or written convincing or edifying.

          • I don’t find anything he has said or written convincing or edifying.

            But that’s just your view, isn’t it? And therefore of no more or less value than anyone else’s view.

  24. You are off a tangent again Andrew, again with mere categorisations and assertions which make no attempt to to give any credit or consideration to the considerable weight of his Christian theology and emphasis, preaching and teaching. In fact in light of all the material I’ve read and listened to, which is quite a lot, including a number of books I ‘d say that you are substantially misrepresenting his ministry and where its emphasis lies, so much so I doubt if you’ve read much of him, personally.
    I thank God for his ministry and influence, as do many worldwide from different denominations.
    As I said before, Andrew, I am (more and more) convinced you and I worship different Gods.
    But enough, goodbye.

    • There is only one God. Different people may worship God in different ways, with different emphases, temperaments, and understandings. But God is God.

      Andrew is a Christian. I’m clear he worships God. I assume you do as well. We are one in Jesus Christ, whether we want to be or not. It’s not about uniformity. It’s not a test with a pass mark. It’s about God’s faithfulness, love and givenness to us, and our faith and love and givenness to God. No doubt expressed in different ways. That’s okay. Do we love our God? I believe each one of us does. Can we love God better? Always. But is our heart’s love of God pleasing to God. Thankfully, yes.

      If we keep narrowing down the people we say are ‘really’ Christians, and say others aren’t, I think that can be judgmental, and presumptious, and divisive. God alone knows who we are in our hearts. If we try to make other people pass our tests of what entitles us to be a Christian, we end up being judge, we end up dividing into sects. Will the last person who is perfect please switch off the light?

      I think we should try to believe the best in people. And try to understand the love God has for another person, and how precious they are. And if they have different views on things, try to realise that we too fail tests before God.

      Almost certainly you and Andrew and I worship the one, the everlasting God, God in three persons, and I think we should leave the rest to God.

  25. Susannah,
    There is so much in that I disagree with, which has been covered many times by others in Ian’s blog and comments, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Is this your doctrine, dogma, which you try so hard to avoid? On what is it based? a question asked by Colin was it, in the comments on Ian’s article on Bible interpretation?
    But for one , Andrew is on record as saying that he doesn’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
    The question is, which God. We can talk about God in the abstract, till the cows come home, in effect a contentless god but as soon as we mention Jesus, God incarnate of the Gospels, He is divisive, with continued rejection, hostility, opposition, and mockery same as in his bodily birth, life death, resurrection and ascension.
    Two, do you really believe Islam’s Allah is the God of Christianity? Islam certainly doesn’t. Easter festivals are not for them, nor partakers of holy communion.
    Neither is Christianity pantheism. (Nor universalism)
    Three, I wasn’t judging Andrew by saying we worship different God’s merely stating my belief drawn from his comments on this site. Neither did I say Andrew wasn’t a Christian. That may be
    your conclusion drawn from my belief that we worship different Gods but that would be based on your judgment of me that I am, therefore it would follow that Andrew isn’t. Why should that be of any consequence to him, me or you. Andrew is satisfied he is.
    Four, I don’t think Andrew has articulated what is the exclusive Good News of God in Jesus Christ.
    Maybe you could also help with that articulation.
    Every blessing to Andrew and to you in the name ( person) of our Father, the name of the Son and name of the Holy Spirit.
    (Andrew, apologies for talking about you, without you, but it is difficult to respond to Susannah without mentioning you by name.)
    But I’ll not get drawn into this any further as it becomes what Ian has described. Neither of us is persuaded by the other.

    • “Andrew is on record as saying that he doesn’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus.”

      I most certainly am not! Please produce evidence of that. I am astonished you would make this claim Geoff. As a lawyer you ought to know better.

      • Geoff: this is not about some investigation of what people believe, or whether they believe the same way that you do. If you would like to e mail me, then I’d be happy to continue the conversation more personally.
        I have answered you on this point on a number of occasions before and I am sure if you search the threads you will find that. But I continue to find you rude and offensive here and ask you, please, to cease and desist. As a lawyer you will understand that. I have been very clear about my belief in the bodily resurrection and you must not slander in the way you have done.

    • Geoff,
      Plenty of your points are reasonable subjects to discuss in themselves. I mainly wanted to make the point that I regard Andrew to be a Christian. However, we had already diverged from ACNA and sexuality, so I’ll not stray further off topic. I do thank you for your blessing and may the grace of God be with you.

    • Geoff, Andrew G has objected to your claim here about his belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Could you either substantiate this or withdraw the comment please?

      • Ian,
        It was cumulatively drawn from comments made over the last few years, (if I remember correctly it was a conclusion I drew from comments made in relation to a prominent Anglican, now abroad, who said he didn’t believe in the bodily resurrection) I do withdraw it as Andrew has written here that he clearly believes in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and I am pleased to stand corrected and apologise for misrepresenting his ( your, Andrew) beliefs. Thank you Andrew for your unambiguous clarity and correction of me.

  26. Ian,
    It was cumulatively drawn from comments made over the last few years, (if I remember correctly it was a conclusion I drew from comments made in relation to a prominent Anglican, now abroad, who said he didn’t believe in the bodily resurrection) I do withdraw it as Andrew has written here that he clearly believes in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and I am pleased to stand corrected and apologise for misrepresenting his ( your, Andrew) beliefs. Thank you Andrew for your unambiguous clarity and correction of me.

    • Geoff,

      Thank you for your detailed and courteous response to me (above). I think we both agree that here is not the place to develop all the issues we touch on, as we would be meandering away from the topic Ian originally posted. But just to say: I appreciated the tone of your comment to me, and its rationality, and its avoidance of unpleasant rancour. Your questions are serious and challenging. I am clear we disagree on probably a lot of things, but I find your approach reasoned and reasonable, and that allows scope for grace in conversation, which I don’t find with everyone on this site. Some are so rude and abrasive, and that just saddens me. I was grateful for the blessing you invoked. For sure, I appreciate that, for we all need God’s help and grace. Susannah.


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