How can we start the conversation about sexuality in the local church?

In November 2020, the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), which is a coalition of evangelical networks and organisations in the C of E, published a film called The Beautiful Story, offering the outline of an ‘orthodox’ response to the current discussions about sexuality in the church. It received a quite mixed response; from many, particularly evangelicals, it was well received, but others were very negative. Some disliked the timing, following straight on from the launch of the LLF material from the Church of England, not least because some people who had been involved in developing LLF featured in the CEEC film. Others objected to the content, and still others (of a range of position) disliked the inclusion in the last five minutes of discussion about the future of the C of E, and the possible need for differentiation or separation within the Church on this issue. I personally felt that this last discussion really distracted from the main content, and that the film would have been much stronger without it.

But the positive aspect of the film was that it was well produced, featured a good diversity of voices, and actually meant that evangelicals and other orthodox in the Church were speaking up in a narrative that has mostly been dominated by other voices.

This week CEEC has launched two more short films, with two more to come, offering resources for use in the local church as conversation starters (or scene setters) on this issue. Supporting notes are included. (CEEC has also produced films and resources on the questions of race and of abuse, but for some reason these have not attracted as much attention.)

The first one, ‘Can we remain silent?‘, explores why we need to have conversations about Scripture, the gospel, and sexuality, difficult though they might be, and why remaining silent on this question has been so unhelpful. It begins being rooted in one of the Pastoral Principles of the C of E, and is very well produced, with an excellent diversity of voices in terms of experience and (to some extent) theological emphasis. It notes the stark contrast between the widespread lack of conversation within the church, and the endless focus on sexuality in the discourse of contemporary Western culture and media.

There are quite a few hints from different people of the theological direction in which they are heading, and the presence of a number of people who see themselves as gay or same-sex attracted is important. I don’t suppose that this will persuade those who disagree with the theological position of those in the film (so-called ‘Side B’ gay Christians, who are clear that being a disciple of Jesus means either being single and celibate, or other-sex married, are sadly often dismissed as suffering from ‘internalised homophobia), but their voice is of crucial importance in this debate.

It is helpful that the question of the need for courage in the face of very strong views in contemporary culture is named explicitly, and there is a strong note of confidence that Scripture and (historic) Christian theological understandings of sex and sexuality are good news. I suspect, again, this sense of confidence won’t impress those campaigning for change in the Church’s doctrine—but this is primarily a film for those who are open and interested, or already sympathetic with the Church’s current doctrine. I think Ed Shaw is a particularly helpful voice in both this and the second film.

I am planning to use this as an introduction to teaching on Scripture and sexuality, as it offers a helpful setting of the scene for beginning the conversation.

The second film, ‘Starting the Conversation‘, offers key principles for how we should conduct this discussion in a positive and helpful way. The starting point is to listen well, so that the discussion begins with listening to assumptions, questions, and concerns. The second principle is to teach humbly; within this, there is quite a strong emphasis on the importance of teaching, which was already mentioned in the first film. I think some people will react against this, on the basis that we all need to make up our own minds, and we don’t want our vicar telling us what to believe! Yet it is hard to ignore the importance given in Scripture and in the Church’s liturgy, particularly in the ordinal, to the teaching role of those who are appointed as leaders. Despite all that has been going on in culture, despite the long engagement in the C of E (through the Shared Conversations and the LLF process), I do feel that there has been a vacuum of leadership and a vacuum of teaching. I wonder where we would be now if the House of Bishops had decided, early on this debate, to offer a confident exposition of the Church’s doctrine of marriage and sexuality, rather than the consultation process that is LLF. One thing that does come through quite strongly is that many ordinary congregation members are actually longing for help, direction and teaching, and avoiding this responsibility is actually a pastoral failure.

The third principle is ‘Be Patient’, not least because this issue touches on big, complex, personal questions. I have several times been asked to offer an evening’s teaching on sexuality, and my response has been ‘That is just not enough time!’ The fourth principle, ‘Seek Help’, is key for those in leadership, who often feel isolated and ill-equipped to address these issues, not least in the context of a busy and demanding schedule. The final principle is ‘Looking forwards’, though this is primarily about the wider theological context—a new day is dawning, which puts all these conversations into a much bigger context.

The two further films that are in production will address the subject of why this is an important question rather than one on which we can simply agree to disagree, and whether there is a possibility of ‘accommodation’, finding a solution to the questions that face us which will satisfy all parties. I think I can anticipate what the final answer to these questions will be! But the acid test of them will be the extent to which they manifest the principles of listening well, teaching humbly, being patient, seeking help, and looking forwards.

For me, these films represent a welcome shift of focus. In the last couple of years, CEEC has begun to work together well and to be more organised, recognising that that ‘boring but important’ questions such as who is elected to General Synod, need attending to. But these films now offer engagement with the content of the issues here, and this has to be central if we are to shift from just politics and campaigning.

But it might seem strange to be talking about ‘starting the conversation’ when the C of E appears to be on the brink of making some sort of decision about the way ahead. Yet, in my experience, this is spot on. Despite all the debate that has been happening in certain quarters, my own experience is that most people in most churches still don’t really know where to begin. And they have not found LLF to be particularly helpful; one person in my church said ‘Well, it was mostly fine, but it seemed to avoid the actual questions we are asking!’

If you are interested in my own exposition of what I think Scripture says about sexuality, see my articles here and here. On the question of same-sex relationships and the biblical texts, see my Grove booklet here. For a very helpful pastoral exploration of issues around trans, see Andrew Bunt’s booklet here.

I am genuinely interested in responses to these films from all perspectives—but only in genuine and well-intentioned observations. Moderation will be more active than usual!

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223 thoughts on “How can we start the conversation about sexuality in the local church?”

  1. These are very good videos, I remember seeing the Beautiful Story one when you first highlighted it here and thinking “we need more of this”.

    My only concern, and it is minor, with these new videos is I don’t think the weight of responsibility is pitched quite right. On the one hand the recognition (echoed in the post) that much of this is a failure of leadership, of the responsibility to teach on sexuality and gender being abdicated, is good and needed. But at the same time, I think there needs to be parallel and consistent effort to encourage people to be better informed themselves, to take initiative and individual (and parental) responsibility is just as vital, and this wasn’t really touched on. We can’t solve the problem of bad and/or absent teaching with over-correcting into dogmatism, which is what we risk if this whole endeavor isn’t a mutual one.

    It is not good enough to simply ‘teach well’, people must be engaged to ‘listen well’ too.

    Appreciate that’s rather subjective, and others won’t have heard that in the voices here..


    • That’s an interesting observation. But unless people are provided with good resources, I think that exploration is rather difficult.

      Here’s a question: how many churches have book stalls these days and encourage reading?

      • “Here’s a question: how many churches have book stalls these days and encourage reading?”

        I imagine not many at all, but I think it probably wouldn’t be hard to change if the resolve to do it was there. The scope to do this is perhaps greater than it’s ever been too; why limit ourselves to books, when we can expand to ebooks, video, podcasts, links to documentaries, radio etc. Soul Survivor Watford has a church library/shop I seem to recall, one that includes multiple media types, and their teaching resources often cite the material they’ve been using and encourage others to use it.

        When’s the Psephizo podcast starting? 😉

  2. I’m not looking for this to be a to and fro with Mat,
    but I main responsibility is to teach well. It may never have been taught before! Or it has been drowned out.
    The main point is a one of sowing, as per the parable.
    But here, as Ian points out this takes time (and is an (re)iterative process.
    As for personal responsibility to find out more, there is a difficulty today in finding reliable information in the confused and confusing clamour of agitants for change inside and outside the church.

    • Don’t misunderstand me, I also believe teaching to be of prime importance! My point is that changes in attitude and conviction can’t be achieved (at least not at the scale we need) by teaching alone, and thus the learners have a responsibility too.

      The sower needs to sow good seed, of course, but he will have a easier and more fulfilling time of it if the ground is well-tilled. 😉

  3. I genuinely wonder of the place to start is not with the issues of sexuality etc, but further back, with some clear teaching on the value of faithful, committed, healthy relationships and the place of sexual expression within those relationships?

    I am worried that commitment-free sexual encounters are damaging to both men and women alike, and if the church can teach anything in this area (apart from “Don’t do it unless you are married”) it might be a positive start, from which to begin to explore all areas of human relationship.

    The “Don’t do it unless you are married” argument has caused real harm to a few couples, some of whom married in lust and repented when they realised they had married the wrong person.

      • Yes it does. If you are not a Christian repent and believe the gospel. Then read Ephesians especially 5:17-33 and then all that the Bible says about the relationship both good and bad between God and his people and between Christ and the Church and between the man and the woman, noting the essential asymmetry involved which rules out all sexual activity other than between a man and his wife.

        Phil Almond

    • This is a good point. My best mate married just so he could have sex. He’s now divorced.

      My counsel would be to ask where you got the idea that commitment free sex was damaging? I was also taught such things, but where does the idea come from? It comes from the idea that it’s wrong. Therefore it must be wrong for a reason, therefore the reason must be that it’s damaging. Science has taught us to ask for evidence, rather than deciding the answer beforehand. In my experience, what is damaging is the insistence that something is so, therefore we must find a reason for it.

      Fine if you think something is wrong, that’s a faith thing. But don’t try and justify your belief with psuedo science or any thing else!

      • …. well, any `friend’ of mine who married – and stated that this was why he married would rapidly be an ex-friend. This is monstrous – you simply don’t muck people about like that. And everybody really does understand that this is vile without having to be told.

        If having sex was the only thing on his mind, then he could have solved it in different ways (eg by buying one of those orgasmatron machines featured in a Woody Allen movie that I once saw) that don’t muck other people about.

        • But this is a direct result of the ‘no sex before marriage ‘ rule. Religious fundamentalists teach this without thought of the consequences.

          Surely the fault lies with the teaching rather than my friend? He was only doing what he was taught.

          St Paul also taught it – he said it is better to marry rather then burn with lust. I suggest you take it up with the teachers rather than my friend!

          • Origen – no – absolutely everybody understands that it is dead wrong to consider people as sex-objects (which is what your `friend’ was doing when he married – if what you say is true). People *do* understand this intuitively without having to be taught it by any teacher.

            Of course, it’s nice having somebody else to blame – you can always blame it on the teacher (as Eve did when she listened to the Serpent who was teaching her about the commandments of God).

            Why do you think that prostitution is considered to be something very, very wrong? That is a situation where, for exchange of money, two people agree to commitment-free sex. Yet this is illegal. And it isn’t only Christians who consider prostitution to be very, very wrong; most of our law-makers, who formulate laws on matters such as prostitution and rape wouldn’t consider themselves Christian.

            Nevertheless, many of the principles governing current definitions of rape (e.g. if the woman says yes, but is drunk at the time – and then decides that it was all a mistake – the law declares that this was rape) show that the non-Christians also understand that something very serious is going on when carnal activities take place and that there isn’t really such a thing as `sex without commitment’ which doesn’t turn out to be damaging to both parties.

            The only Christian teaching appropriate for your `friend’ would be to tie a knot in it.

          • He was only doing what he was taught.

            I doubt he was taught the “go out and exploit someone else” part.

          • Jock –
            1 Corinthians 7:8-9
            Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

          • To everybody else here (since the comment by Origen Adams is beneath contempt)- now you can see clearly how this `Origen Adams’ fellow twists Scripture to get a meaning that Paul clearly never intended. He is telling us that Paul taught us that it’s OK to treat women as sex objects – and to get married *just* to have sex; he’s telling us that Paul taught that it is quite all right to go out an exploit people.

            One would have to have a very twisted one-track mind to begin to imagine that it might even be possible to make a case for this.

            Now we know what we are dealing with.

          • On the contrary. I’m suggesting that St Paul is clearly wrong, and evangelicals then trying to work out why Paul had said this, are then coming out with ludicrous reasons why instead of rejecting Paul’s abusive teaching.

            One of the things we were taught was if you slept with someone then you were joined to them and had to be subjected to spiritual warfare prayer to break the soul bond!

      • Therefore it must be wrong for a reason, therefore the reason must be that it’s damaging.

        That’s quite a big logical chasm you’re jumping there. Philosophers have argued about what makes something ‘wrong’ for millennia; I don’t think you can just skate over the whole consequentalism vs deontology vs virtue debate with a blithe ‘therefore’.

        • I think you’re missing my point. Evangelical fundamentalists have always tried to make the bible sound reasonable and logical rather than just adopting something as a faith position.

          One of my evangelical friends became a Roman Catholic, so had to adopt certain faith positions even if they were ludicrous. Like the blessed Virgin was without sin, or a piece of wood in a glass case at the front of the church was actually part of the Cross and you needed to line up to venerate it, a bit like Anglicans queue up to celebrate communion.

          You don’t have to invent some reason why an article of faith exists, just accept it, or not as the case maybe.

          The arguments for women priests, for example, would have been much easier if people had said that the bible and tradition had got it wrong, instead of resorting to convoluted scripture bending.

          • I think you’re missing my point.

            I think you’ve missed mine, as nothing you’ve written addresses ethics at all.

    • Is there an important point here about the problem of teaching which is simply prohibitive (“just don’t do this”). It strikes me that much of Christian teaching is not simply prohibitive. Indeed, one of the more revolutionary aspects of Jesus was his tendency to teach what you should do as well or instead: e.g. it’s not enough to just not murder, you ought to turn the other cheek etc..

      When it comes to sexual ethics we’re hung up on the prohibitions, and have lost sight of any positive teaching. The central question is not whether the Bible condemns gay sex or not. The central question is what are gay people to do. Likewise, the central question is not whether sex before marriage is forbidden. Instead the central question is how are straight men and women supposed to relate to each other and build loving relationships.

      • Thanks for the comment. I think I would agree with you in part. Yes, we need to be much more positive; see my articles on What is a Biblical understanding of sexuality?

        I am not sure the ‘central question’ is ‘What are gay people to do?’ I would reframe it as ‘What does it mean for us to have physical sexed bodies created in the image of a non-physical unsexed God?’

  4. My sermon for today is based on 1 John 2:27.

    All this business about `teaching about sexuality’, `conversation about sexuality’ is completely unnecessary for a believer.

    Anyone who is a Christian (i.e. has the anointing that John speaks about in 1 John 2:27) understands full well that carnal activities are between one man and one woman in life-long relationship. They also understand *why*; they know full well that, as well as violating creation ordinances, deviation from this messes people up. They simply don’t do it on the `love thy neighbour as thyself’ principle.

    All these `conversations’ and all this `teaching’ show that `the church’ is basically trying to attract people who are not Christians and actively overlooking the fact that they are not Christians.

    Holy Scripture tells us that certain truths are written on our hearts and minds, so it is simply false to take the view `oh thank you for all this wonderful teaching – without it we would never have known.’

    Compassion towards sinners who fall short of the ideal is another matter – the church should certainly engage in that – but let us not pretend that people are unaware of what sin is.

    • John’s letter makes no mention of marriage, or sex etc so Im not sure of the relevance. ‘Truth’ can cover many things, and John seems to be concerned about false teachers trying to lead believers away. False teachings probably specifically about Jesus and God.

      The problem today is that same-sex sexual relationships are being taught as being ‘good’ in God’s eyes, perhaps not through a sermon but certainly in other ways. I know of an individual involved in CoE ‘ethics’ who has been actively holding seminars teaching church members that such relationships are good and should be encouraged, based on his understanding of Scripture (ie the traditional understanding is wrong).

      So I would have thought that teaching is necessary to counteract this? Unfortunately many seem to be falling for such false teaching, primarily because they take such people as knowing what theyre talking about.

      • Peter – the whole point is that everybody who `teaches’ that same-sex sexual relationships are good in God’s eyes *knows full well* in the innermost depths of their being that they are exchanging the truth for a lie. Those who hearken to such teaching *know full well* in the innermost depths of their being that they are exchanging the truth for a lie. 1 John 2:27 is relevant; it makes it clear that this is crystal clear to those who believe.

        • I dont think that’s true. Many genuinely ‘feel’ it’s perfectly ok and if someone then teaches them from Scripture that God says it’s ok, then not surprising they go down that road.

          • ‘Many genuinely ‘feel’ it’s perfectly ok…’

            It’s certainly possible that people convince themselves it’s OK, and feelings will be a part of that. But many of us would say that if you are truly seeking to do God’s will, you cannot be guided by the Holy Spirit yet fail to discern God’s intention for how you should behave in this pretty fundamental aspect of life. As ever in human affairs, you may get the answer you want according to whom you ask your question: we humans are all expert at that kind of thing (even little children who know whether to present their request to mum or to dad!).

          • Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Roms 1:32

            Paul seems to suggest that deep down people are aware of what is right and what is wrong. I think that it is sometimes best to cut out all debate by telling opponents that there is no real need for debate for they know in their hearts what is right and they are simply fighting their own conscience.

            Lots of debate is simply a smoke screen that hinders getting to the real issue that we are sinners who need a Saviour,

          • Don: But many of us would say that if you are truly seeking to do God’s will, you cannot be guided by the Holy Spirit yet fail to discern God’s intention for how you should behave in this pretty fundamental aspect of life.

            Well said but it is possible to keep up appearances without the Holy Spirit having much to do with it. Conservative evangelicals are experts at maintaining immaculate facades and these videos have that feel of well-rehearsed authenticity about them.

            The liberal advantage in this debate is that their displays of vulnerability/authenticity always seem more genuine. The enemy might be leading them astray but nobody suspects them of faking anything.

        • It’s so difficult to know where to start when responding to these comments. It’s like you’re all from the planet Zog.

          If we don’t agree with your thinking, then we don’t have the Holy spirit… How can we respond to that thinking? I could respond in kind that you know full well from the inner most depth of your being how offensive and wrong you are, but I don’t think you do. Maybe you’re happy being on another planet.

          • Origen Adam – actually, rightly or wrongly, it has been standard Christian teaching for centuries that people have the basics of right and wrong written on their hearts and minds. Indeed, from the opening of the Westminster confession, we get

            `Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable;’

            You may think this is a load of rubbish – that’s fine. But this outlines how Christians view the `love your neighbour as yourself’ commandment and deviation from it.

            I’m sure you’d agree that we don’t actually have to explain nicely to Vlad Putin that his invasion of the Ukraine is very very wrong. Similarly, anyone governed by the `love your neighbour as yourself’ command will only engage in carnal activities in the context of a lifelong relationship between one man and one woman, who intend to have children together.

            If you consider this to be another planet then I for one am very happy to be there.

          • Jock – Yes, but you’re saying that everyone has your point of view written on their hearts. Whereas you know that other Christians have differing points of view. Obviously I know Christian teaching, but your views certainly ain’t written on my heart!

    • Jock

      I know where you are coming from and have sympathy with what you are saying. Nevertheless in various NT books issues related to sexuality are dealt with explicitly for Christians. We need teaching because we are easily deluded by the world. Non-Christians, I agree, need the gospel.

  5. Since we’ve been asked for well-intentioned responses to these two videos, I hope my comments will be taken as such:

    (Perhaps CEEC should think again before putting out a video on YouTube called ‘Starting the Conversation’ with the ‘Comments are turned off’ notification underneath!)

    It’s only my personal reaction, but I really don’t like the soupy background instrumental track and the irrelevant cuts to mountain scenery etc. The production values are fine but this clichéd style of presentation (once you twig what they’re doing) is actually distracting, unnecessary and even annoying. The circular process of presenting a series of clips from a disparate group of Christian leaders who are each airing their experience is presumably designed to hook watchers of the videos in to something which they’ve yet to engage with? But it’s so late in the day that it seems a bit like signing up raw recruits as canon fodder in a particularly vicious war.

    I noticed comments which give the impression that for Christians the sexuality issue is about listening to Jesus and wanting to please him. I think that kind of approach exemplifies the shallow arguments of a shallow kind of Christianity which leapfrogs over the essential (foundational) understanding about the nature of God, his purpose in creation, his boundaries, human rebellion, his laws, his judgement – all of which set the scene for the incarnation, salvation and being born again as a Christian. If the argument is ‘I don’t want my sexual proclivities to upset Jesus so I’ll set them to one side’, that presents the issue as if it’s similar to ‘I’ll stop smoking because it annoys my boyfriend’. They may both be kind and thoughtful attitudes but they rest on my current feelings rather than the solid reasons for not continuing with the activity. If I might use an analogy (painful for some!), the argument for Brexit was never the (spurious) £350million for the NHS on the side of a bus, it was about the much more fundamental question of sovereignty!

    But I do wonder (and I think Ian implied it too) why this more concerted effort to address the sexuality issue is only just creaking into life now. In my view it’s at least 10 years too late. And it is nowhere near to offering the necessary clarity and solidity of argument that should be readily available to every church member. Many within the Church of England may have assumed we had to wait until Rowan Williams had departed before normal service could be resumed. But when it became clear, almost immediately, that his successor was of a much closer mind to Rowan’s than had been expected, that was the time for evangelicals and others to make clear that the church’s official teaching on sex and marriage was not up for grabs. Yet they gave Justin Welby a free ride as, click by click, he (perhaps influenced by others) ratcheted the church towards its current liberal position. During those years of Pilling Report, Shared Conversations, Synod machinations, influential appointments, and now LLF, it was the time to produce a clear, concise document which would have laid out the biblical position and placed the valid arguments for, and a defensive ring around, the C of E’s official position on sex and marriage. It was also the time to inform the church’s hierarchy, publicly, privately, and unambiguously, that the revisionist trajectory would not be tolerated.

    But we are where we are. There’s no point in crying over what’s past but there’s every reason to learn from it at breakneck speed. The question is, on what should we spend our time and effort to the greatest effect for God, for our church, and for the poor confused victims of social Marxism which has captivated our nation and its population? It remains my personal opinion that continuing to thrash around in the weeds of LLF will absorb precious time, sap people’s strength, cause some to be worn down and join the revisionist ranks and leave the rest ever more demoralised and isolated.

    I would argue that, even now, whatever skills are on offer at CEEC should be put to a thorough and solid presentation of God’s design, his boundaries, and his expressed will on sexual issues. It could be done in the medium both of booklet and video: short, factual, coherent, honest, respectful of both God and man, and winsome. But please no manipulative techniques or ‘this is my experience’ guff! It should then be distributed right across the church, where some will use it to start bonfires and where for others it might well be the key to unlock their minds from the pernicious ideology that is captivating so many minds, institutions, and even whole nations.

    • Don – thanks for pointing out that we were actually supposed to watch it. As a result of your comment, I watched some of it – before I couldn’t take any more.

      I wonder if there is anybody at all who will say, `oh thank you – without this video we would have never known.’

      I wonder how a similar style would apply to other basic commandments that are written on peoples hearts and minds – such as murder. Could we do a nice happy non-judgemental video explaining to people who might not be aware of it why murder is such a bad thing and why we should try to live our lives without committing murder?

    • Good comment, Don.

      As I say in relation to Rev 17 (When the Towers Fall p 211): ‘We see then why the symbol of the prostitute is so apt. Sin is infidelity towards our Maker, causing us to want to hide our nakedness, and fornication is the wilful repetition of that infidelity in the domain of procreation, which is God’s power of creation delegated to the creature. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what was evil in your sight,” confessed David after his adultery. Advanced though it is in technology and scientific knowledge, western civilisation – portrayed as a woman rather than a beast because it once knew God – has reduced itself to an obsession with sexual intercourse and erected around it an entire counter-religion, an entire philosophy of personal identity, rights and self-fulfilment. Self-gratification is valued more highly than bringing up a family. Even motor cars are marketed with images of sexual Eden.’

      Paul says: put to death what is earthly in you, i.e. fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire (Col 3:5-6). This is why the wrath of God is coming – and specifically on our generation. The warning is repeated in Eph 5:6.

    • But I do wonder (and I think Ian implied it too) why this more concerted effort to address the sexuality issue is only just creaking into life now.

      This does rather point out how silly it is to claim that those on the traditionalist side of the debate ‘won’t shut up about sex’. In fact that side has been very late, and incredibly reluctant, to start talking about sex, while the other side has been talking about it incessantly since the nineteen-twenties.

      Just count up the material produced by each side during the last decade alone and I’m sure you’d find a vast imbalance in favour of liberalisation.

      By contrast the conservative side engages in this whole debate reluctantly, tentatively, and would love nothing more than to never have to talk about sexuality ever again.

      Of course what the liberalising side really means by ‘why won’t you won’t shut up about sex?’ is ‘why won’t you just give in and agree with us, do we have to talk about it more until you give in?’

      • Yes, projection (accusing your opponent of the intentions and actions which more accurately characterise your own position) is a very noticeable tactic in today’s political and social battles. Sometimes it may be a calculated form of dishonesty, but often I think people just can’t help revealing their own true selves through their assumption that everyone else must really be thinking in the same way that they do. Of course it’s just another way of playing the man rather than the ball!

        • Haidt, The Righteous Mind – how ‘conservatives’ understand ‘liberals’ better than vice-versa.

          I am just an independent (strongly opposed, as truth seekers must naturally be, to ideologies of all kinds) and frequently get misrepresented by liberals at an average of one misrepresentation per line – examples are legion.

          Conservatives understand liberals because (a) they possess and understand the human nature and its carnal side, (b) liberals are relatively simplistic (equality, care – concepts assumed to be straightforward and self explanatory).

          • What vast and ridiculous generalisations from you again Christopher. Your self righteous posturing is quite staggering.

    • I’m not sure why you people want to “wage war” on oppressed minorities in the first place. I find it mind boggling. Trans people number about 0.5% of the population but are currently being vilified in the media and by the government. The Christianity that I first knew was on the side of the oppressed but the religion that is espoused on here by the ‘Rev’and his acolytes sides with the oppressors. It’s a different gospel.

  6. I’ve lived under what some call the historical Christian sexual ethic my whole life and came out as gay in my late teens. Here’s the problem I have: straight leaders don’t live under or teach that ethic to straight people.

    Why are straight people taught to persue marriage and leave singleness as a plan B and gay people taught a completely different thing?

    Evangelical teaching has consistently been hypocritical, made worse by the fact that queer people like me live under active homophobic abuse from that movement’s leaders. I can show the receipts.

    Until I see straight evangelicals discerning a call to singleness for the sake of the kingdom for themselves, not just imposing that life on other people, I am going to continue to be extremely skeptical in trusting what they say

    • Thanks Simon—and sorry for the delay in moderation. I think you are right, and that is why it is vital that we hear the diversity of voices that are present in the video, including gay people who are other-sex married, and gay and straight who are single.

      • I guess my point is I don’t see the evangelical church teaching anyone seek singleness.

        Yes, straight single Christians exist, but churches don’t teach straight people should *choose* singleness. Marriage is esteemed highly as Plan A, as a Christian’s primary source of sanctification. Singleness is plan B. This is the opposite of what Jesus and Paul teach.

        Telling gay people to be single sounds bible-y, but it’s going to continue to be hypocritical while nobody is suggesting that for straight people.

        So it’s not just a matter of starting to speak about sexuality. Evangelical churches actually need to recognise and fix the errors in their teaching and repent of the unfair burden that’s placed on queer people.

        People outside the church can recognise that while that continues, listening to straight married men telling them not to get married is hypocritical. I’m inside the church and I’m saying this too.

        We don’t just need to start the “What do we do about gay people” conversation. We need to ask “What can queer people of faith tell us about where we’ve gone wrong?”

        Gay people are not the problem here

        • The bible teaches that both singleness and marriage are equally honourable. Some people might have a calling for singleness but that’s not quite the same thing as simply stating that singleness is a good thing (as is marriage).

          It’s true that many evangelical churches don’t appear to value singleness. They promote marriage in such a way that singleness appears to be some kind of personal failing – or an awkward fact of circumstances.

          In the context of the Christian faith a same-sex attracted individual will probably remain single (although some do marry). There’s no denying that a young person would see that as some kind of intolerable burden – especially in a society that now celebrates same-sex relationships.

          • I think it’s fair of me to say that “marriage and singleness are equally honoured” is what the evangelical church teaches when asked, but not what it practices, and not what comes out in the was when all their teaching is considered

          • If I asked *any* of my straight Christian friends whether they considered or were taught to consider singleness for the kingdom before they got married, they all say no, and they all recognise the problem.

            This is what all gay people are taught and so I can’t help but think that the evangelical church doesn’t believe what it says it believes. It just asked gay people to believe and live it on their behalf

          • Simon, historically a calling to singleness had a social role applied to it. Applicants to the priesthood but also nuns and monks took vows to give up various forms of worldliness, including marriage, to serve the church.

            Protestants don’t require clergy to remain unmarried and any calling to singleness takes on a more personal form (if it exists at all) in the context of Protestant churches

            Although very few people have the more idiosyncratic calling to singleness, the requirement is still that all single Christians are abstain from sexual relationships (irrespective of the fact that some people are more willing/capable of doing that).

        • Simon, that is interesting, and I agree with you a failure—but I also wonder if there is a generational/cultural thing here too.

          When I cam to faith in the 1970s and into the 1980s, singleness was a big topic, and I (like I think many evangelical men) actively thought about singleness. Perhaps the biggest influence for evangelicals then was the example of John Stott.

          It is hard now to think of prominent evangelical leaders—or any prominent leaders—who are single and advocate for singleness.

          • Stotty was as gay as they come. He wasn’t a good role model for single men, it was an oppressive church and society which made him celibate. It was sad what was done to him so please stop being offensive to his memory.

          • Origen – people do not need role models. In fact, role models are invariably bad news. In fact, following after a role model basically means that you give up thinking and let somebody else do your thinking for you.
            `Role model’ is not a Christian concept.

          • Shouldn’t that give us all pause for thought?

            The evangelical men who were actively thinking about singleness in the 70s and 80s, would be in their 50s and 60s today. They are the leaders of the Church. They actively thought about singleness, and pretty much to a man rejected it.

            Now they turn to gay men and women in the Church and want to teach that we ought to embrace, not merely singleness after some dating and thinking about it in our teens and 20s, complete celibacy from the age of 16. We understate this by pretending we’re just talking about sex. We’re not. We’re talking about telling people that for them there is to be no sex, no kissing, no dating, no romantic relationships, no flirting, no attempt at any of it ever. To tell someone at 16 that they are in effect a monk or nun, though they did not choose it, their vows have been effectively taken on their behalf, except they don’t get to live a monastic life, is an alarming huge thing. I worry it is far too casual about recommending celibacy, when Jesus and St Paul are pretty cautious about it. And the fact that those at the forefront of wanting to teach this appear to have so consistently rejected singleness for themselves is worth reflecting on.

          • AJ Bell: Now they turn to gay men and women in the Church and want to teach that we ought to embrace… singleness

            There is no requirement for anyone to ’embrace’ singleness. A Christian can be either single or married and both states should be considered equally honourable.

            Before the mid-20th century the only sexual identities were male and female – identities which are obvious to other people. Now we focus on patterns of attraction and have to “come out” as whatever we decide we are.

            I don’t suppose we will return to the previous set of cultural limitations anytime soon and some Christians who identify as gay/SSA will probably find that situation intolerable. Others will cope somehow. Every “hard teaching” in the Bible asks more of some people than others.

        • Btw, I explore the question of singleness in my exposition of scripture and sexuality here:

 (see particularly point 8)

          and also comment on this in relation to families and children in this post:

          Ironically, in our culture, we appear to see singleness as failure—but also are more and more reticent about parenting and having children.

          • No, I’m James. Origen was my favourite theologian when I was at uni and we had to pick a nickname to go online.

      • Hi Ian,

        Can I ask you what age a person who experiences same sex attraction must reach before you are happy to refer to them as “a gay person”? Aged 14? Aged 16? Aged 18? Aged 20? If you don’t use the term for a young person do you agree that the reason why you do not is because their feelings may be in flux? If that is so is the reason that you are willing to use the term for an adult because you believe that gayness is something which is no longer in flux in adulthood? Do you see same sex attraction – while sinful when acted upon – as something God given – just as God given as heterosexual attraction?

        As this issue became front and centre in the five years I have been in the UK my initial decision was to treat same sex attraction as an orientation which God may want someone to have while not wanting it to be indulged. However I have since decided that that is not a right conclusion – I believe that sex specific teaching in scripture reveals that the normal order of things is that biology cause different orientations in men and women. And therefore we should view same sex attraction – while not sin – as brokenness. Something which God wishes to heal as much as any other form of brokenness which we experience. Brokenness being injury to human beings which results in their having an increased tendency to sin in particular ways.

        So I don’t believe that we should speak about gay people – and if I am right and my reasoning for my view is correct we also certainly shouldn’t talk about gay Christians (because this not only suggests someone’s attraction is something permanent but it then groups it with their Christian identity – when our Christian identity must sit above all descriptions of our roles, or personality, or attractions, anything about us).

        • Do you have any idea how it affects your psyche to be you’re ‘broken’ all the time? It’s like having Tories telling lies to you all the time, on and on and on. It really matters you ill after being subjected to it for many years. It’s fine if you want to be offensive to us, but do recognise the harm that your do.

          So you don’t want to call us ‘gay’ either? It’s up to you. You’re the type who dead names trans people too I guess. Let me remind you of one of the fruits of the Spirit: kindness. Know them by their fruit.

          • Hi Origen,

            I ask that you read the other main post I have made here which asks the key question – is same sex attraction God given – or brokenness? I presume from your reply that you believe your same sex attraction to be God given – that this is why you resent yourself being considered to be broken – but I ask that you read the post in case it leads you to see anything about my views which align with yours.

            I recognised that there is brokenness in my life – I have never been uncomfortable with the idea. To say that I am broken is to say nothing more than as a result of injury I have been oriented – and still remain somewhat oriented – in a way that is likely to lead me to sin in a particular way.

            One form of brokenness is that people as a result of rejection from parents begin to seek attention in their life. In my case it led to a need to prove myself in areas in which I had ability. It never occurred to me during my life that only if people specifically empathised with my orientation towards seeking attention would I have felt truly cared for. Nor have I ever felt the need to be referred to with a word which implied that I was stuck with a lifelong orientation towards seeking attention. This wouldn’t have helped me to feel more cared for – it would only have prevented me from moving forward believing that God intended to bring healing in these things. I don’t equate my being cared for with how much people specifically show interest in my orientation towards seeking attention.

            I believe that those who feel differently to me on these things are externalising their refusal to accept the extent of the demands God makes of us in order to be right with him.

            I explained above that I believe that the bible reveals that to be of a particular sex is intended to cause us to have a particular orientation. I am open to your using the Bible to present a different view of orientation and its relationship with biology.

      • The problem with gay people marrying straight people is extremely problematic. I would suggest it’s highly abusive to bury parties, and extremely irresponsible of the people encouraging them to marry. In my experience, marriages have always broken down and hurt both parties. Of course there are a few exceptions, but these are very few and far between. Saying we need these few to be positive role models is highly irresponsible and should be discouraged.

    • I can give you an example of a `straight evangelical’ who discerned a call to singleness for the sake of the kingdom. Try William Still

      who remained single – and seemed to advise everybody else to do the same. I know of one case (from approximately 1960 – before I was born) when he considered one of the young men in his congregation (a student at the time) to be a great candidate for the ministry. He persuaded the man to dump his girlfriend. The girl wasn’t a serious enough Christian for William Still and anyway he seemed to think that church ministers should remain single.

      Many years later, the man in question was heard saying `mine is a wasted life’ (on grounds of having remained single and having taken the advice of W.S.).

      • Right, and that’s what’s being asked of gay people here. I’m really just asking for the double standard to be recognised and owned

        • Simon – I guess my main question for you is: why on earth does it matter to you what some `leader’ or `teacher’ says?

          My parents both attended Aberdeen university (at different times). They both attended William Still’s church when they started and both independently made a sharp exit, because they rapidly reached the conclusion that the man was a total loony. They liked his exposition of the Holy Writ, but then there was something utterly insane and manipulative about the way he felt that it was his job to interfere in boy-meets-girl situations and tell people what to do.

          I was married in a registry – and not a church – basically because my wife and I both felt the same way about churches and their views on marriage – basically you’re expected to listen to somebody telling you how to get married. (The mind boggles. What are these `how to get married’ courses like? Is this something along the lines of the sex education class from Monte Python’s `The Meaning of Life’)?

          For the record – I have nothing at all against two men deciding to live together if they think that the alternative is a sad and lonely life. I *do*, however, strongly object to carnal relations in any context different from one man and one woman in lifelong union who want to have children together. But people don’t need to do that just because they live together.

          I’d say that you – and only you – can discern whether or not living together with someone else is a good idea for you – you’re not going to get any help from any `leader’ or `teacher’ – and the example of the fellow I knew – let’s call him Joe (because that was his name) – who hearkened to William Still and ended up with a sad and lonely life as a result should tell you that you need advice or approval from a leader or teacher like you need a hole in the head.

          Mind you, it was probably good for the girl – anybody who listens to a church leader on such matters is a total loser. He dumped her – and she ended up happily married to someone else who was not a total loser.

          • Why on earth would you objects to other people’s “carnal relations”? Why would you even think about what other people do in bed, it’s just bizarre.

            It’s so obviously immoral to be heterosexual these days. There are far too many people on the planet. But I’m not going to object to what they do in bed as long as they use contraception. What’s immoral is creating another mouth for the planet to feed.

          • Origen – OK – so you show utter contempt for God’s creation.

            Well, you have indicated on this thread that you are homosexual. I don’t see that as a real problem (unless, of course, having-it-off is of extreme importance to you – then you would have a major problem irrespective of your sexuality). You have also indicated that you are depressive, which is more of a problem.

            But all of this is utterly insignificant in comparison with your main difficulty-of-life. But you have indicated that it would be a total waste of my time (or indeed anybody else’s time) trying to explain this to you.

          • Jock – I’m “a depressive”? I think it’s you who is showing utter contempt for God’s creation here! Why is it “more of a problem?

            And whether I’m “having it off” or not is really none of your god-dammed business!

            So what exactly is my “main difficulty-of-life”?

            Your nastiness certainly belongs on this blog. You’re definitely in the right place!

    • Simon, I respectfully recommend that you cease referring either to yourself or to other gay people as “queer”. That epithet has for many years been used by those who wish to vaunt their utterly contemptible attitude to us, and it has cast a cloud over the lives of generations of gay adolescents. By using it yourself, you are sending to our oppressors the message that they are in the right.

      • I’ve received plenty of contempt from fellow Christians for being gay. Also. Gay people sometimes are right about some things. I think you’re better off accepting that gay people exist if you want them to trust you more.

        • Simon, this has nothing to do with whether gay people exist. Of course they exist: I’m one of them. My point is that you do neither yourself nor other gay people any favours by adopting the derogatory language traditionally used by homophobiacs – allegedly Christian or otherwise – to signal their hatred of us. As for trusting people, I wouldn’t trust anyone who used such language to refer to us.

          • Hi William, I misread your comment as one trying to tell me not to adopt [gay or queer] language from a concervative point of view. I thought the people you were referring to as being hated were conservatives, by gay people – I clearly got the wrong end of the stick.

            I used to find the word queer uncomfortable but I’ve warmed to it because it implies solidarity with all LGBT+ people, not just gay people. I would never apply it directly to someone who doesn’t want it applied to them.

            It’s meaning has shifted over the years as it’s been intentionally reclaimed by the community

          • I also don’t like the word ‘queer’, but it had been adopted by some people as a means of reclaiming the insult and taking away it’s power. Wasn’t ‘christian’ an insult too originally?

          • The reclaiming of queer by gay people happened in the 1990s. Most of the people who use it today didn’t hear it as an insult. It is now an identity adopted by those who have only been to Pride marches sponsored by Coca-Cola and Facebook and where the police cars are covered in rainbow flags. It’s an entirely faked form of outsiderness.

        • Simon:

          There are two things that I would like to say about that. Firstly, there are no such entities as LGBT+ people. That initialism does not denote any logical category of persons, any more than, for example, LGBR (lesbian gay, bisexual and reincarnated) does. Its function is to try to make it difficult for people to accept or to say that they are gay, lesbian or bisexual while declining to support the bizarre theories and unreasonable demands of “gender identity” activists. In fine, it is a trick whose object is to restrict people’s freedom of thought and speech.

          Secondly, you say that “queer” has been “intentionally reclaimed by the community”. What community? Not by the LGBT(Q)+ community, because that doesn’t exist; it’s just an illogical fantasy. It has been “reclaimed” only by those people who choose to call themselves “queer”. It is used for broadly the same purpose as LGBT(Q)+, and like the latter, it is being imposed on the public simply by strident, relentless repetition.

          • I don’t think I have such negative views about the LGBT community. At church we have a strong LGBT group which are very supportive of one another. Community is something that we create, and the many LGBT. communities are the gay/LGBT community.

            LGBT like ‘gay’ is a moniker that we use to talk about the 10% of the population. If you say gay or LGBT then everyone knows what you’re referring to.

            I’m guessing by your comments that you’re anti trans. I don’t claim to understand all the ins and outs, but what I do know is that 0.5% of the population are being bullied so I’d rather stand with the oppressed than with the oppressors.

          • At church we have a strong LGBT group which are very supportive of one another.

            Then what’s the problem? That doesn’t sound very marginalised or oppressive to me.

          • Joe S – You’re joking aren’t you? I never thought I’d even get married, and especially not in church, and I didn’t expect to be married by an evangelical heartthrob from my youth!

            My vicar from home could only say the prayers in the capacity of a friend as he is a minister in the church of England.

            We are a community that is supportive of one another precisely because most other evangelicals are against us.

            You’ve only got to dip into a blog like this to witness the hate and bullying that were are subjected to.

            I suggest you go on social media and witness the hate that people have for trans people at the moment. Bigots like the ‘Rev ‘fuel this hate by constantly churning out negative articles about us.

            Why people bully minorities is beyond me, but oppressed we still are sadly.

          • What I meant is that you seem (according to your own words) to have found a supportive community within a church setting.

            Why is there the need to make others conform? Don’t read the ‘hateful’ comments on conservative blogs. Conservatives aren’t going to stop your group from meeting. Campaign for your point of view on LGBT matters but allow for conservatives to do likewise. If conservatives show up in your social media spaces and their comments make you feel unsafe, block them.

          • Joe S – There’s no need to make others confirm. Imagine the ‘Rev’ supporting us, lol. It’ll never happen.

            What we do want, however, is the same allowances given to us that other minorities have been given. For example we would like to be married in church, there could be flying bishops where parishes who want this could operate under. This has been done for other groups. We only want to be treated in the same way.

        • Origen Adam:

          Using the insulting language of abusers doesn’t take away its power. It merely tells the abusers that their despicable attitude is the correct one.

          “Christian” means simply a follower of Christ. If it was ever regarded as an insult, it would not have been because there is anything about the term itself which implies an insult – there isn’t – but only because some people regarded Christians with contempt. The word “queer”, by contrast, has long been used precisely because it implies hatred and contempt.

        • Origen Adam:

          It’s a free country, so any groups of people are free to associate with any other groups of people and to call their association a community. However, THE LGBT community, comprising lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people en masse, does not exist. It is just a fiction, invented to manipulate people.

          I’m not sure what you mean by anti-trans. I know that people are born with their sex, not assigned it by anyone; that there is no factual basis for the notion that anyone is born in the wrong sex; and that it is impossible to “transition” from one sex to the other. I am opposed to telling young people, or encouraging them to believe, that any such transition is possible. I am also opposed to the practice of giving young people puberty blockers, which stunt their natural development, or cross-sex hormones, which permanently distort it. That certainly does not mean that I approve or condone the bullying of people with the trans delusion, or that I stand with oppressors.

          • William Fisher – You can say that about any large mass of people. The evangelical community is a fiction, the church is a fiction, because they’re all disparate groups. But referring to the gay community is just a shorthand for saying they have common values, I be don’t think it’s done to manipulate people, unless you think that some nominal head of the gay community has a grand master plan.

            I guess it’s anti-trans have the views that you have about gender dysphoria. As I said, I’m no expert, but I wonder if you’re confusing sex and gender? As far as I’m aware no-one is claiming to change their biological sex, rather they’re changing their gender.

        • Origen Adam:

          It is not “gay community” that is used to manipulate people – nor did I imply that it was – but “LGBT community”. The message which it is designed to send is that, if you are gay, lesbian or bisexual, then you are positively obliged to support the transgender delusion, and that you are being a traitor to this fictional “community” if you don’t. As I have made clear, no such obligation exists. I don’t know about a grand master plan, but quite a number of former gay/lesbian organizations have been trans-jacked and re-branded as LGBT(Q)(+), and some of them, e.g. Stonewall, have now started to harass LGB people who dare to express their dissent from gender identity ideology and “queer theory”.

          Gender is a grammatical term, as in French LE vin (masc.) and LA bière (fem.). It is frequently used, incorrectly, as a synonym for sex. It has also been given a number of other meanings, which change in chameleon fashion to suit the exigencies of the speaker. But no matter what games are played with the words sex and gender, being a man or a woman is entirely a matter of sex, i.e. being male or female, and we are born with our sex, not assigned it. If someone born male claims to be a woman, or if someone born female claims to be a man, they are claiming a change of sex, which is a biological impossibility.

          • The term “same-sex attracted” is no longer restricted to the evangelical sub-culture. Search for it on Twitter and you’ll see it mainly used by secular gay men and lesbians – to stress the fact that they are not same-gender attracted (Stonewall’s preferred definition for homosexuality).

    • When I was helping lead my CU, the only people UCCF would provide to speak on singleness were married! It got beyond a joke, but UCCF were very controlling and wouldn’t let us seek speakers fun elsewhere.

  7. “There are quite a few hints from different people of the theological direction in which they are heading, and the presence of a number of people who see themselves as gay or same-sex attracted is important.

    Why do you belive that to be the case? As you have noted, it doesn’t really carry any weight with those who disagree with the conservative perspective.

  8. Thanks for this Ian. I haven’t watched the videos yet, partly because, although I’m from the Church of England I’m currently a member of the Methodist Church. I was struck by your comment: ‘I do feel that there has been a vacuum of leadership and a vacuum of teaching.’ Methodism’s unhappy experience demonstrates this in sharp relief. There has been virtually no public teaching on this question, simply a process undertaken to reach a particular conclusion. My own local church went straight to a vote with no prior discussion at all. Predictably it voted overwhelmingly to allow same sex marriage. So I do encourage all who care about this to engage with these resources and have well informed discussion. Praying for all in the CoE.

      • I suspect many of our Christian forebears (and not from so long ago) would be mightily shocked at what is happening now. But it happens to be our lot to live in these peculiar times and we have to face up to them, rather than live in denial, while remaining faithful to our Saviour. We should also beware assuming we’re in the midst of something unique: the same fundamental issues present themselves over and over again, just in a different guise!

      • Wesley’s ‘Thoughts Upon Methodism’ probably sum up what his response would be, written in his 80s:

        ‘I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.’

      • I’ve received plenty of contempt from fellow Christians for being gay. Also. Gay people sometimes are right about some things. I think you’re better off accepting that gay people exist if you want them to trust you more.

          • It’s surprising how restrained the conversation is. However, I’d be the first to bail if the likes of Ezekiel, Isaiah and Nehamiah etc joined the fray. Seriously though, if one wants to discuss the topic of sexuality one would need to go ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’. Not me! Let the dead bury the dead.

          • Steve – yes – I kind of agree with this.

            I can’t imagine I would ever darken the doors of a church where there was the slightest question over these matters.

            Yet, in the C. of E. (and also the C. of S.) it seems that the standard Christian understanding is now some sort of minority position.

            Curiously, the Eric Idle documentary on `Being Normal’ from Rutland Weekend Television sprang to mind (with David Battley playing the normal person – and Gwen Taylor playing the wife, who was shocked to discover that her husband was normal, but bravely decided to stand by him)


            What looked like a total joke back then (1975) looks as if it could be true now.

          • One of the difficulties Jock is simply knowing which churches believe what. Outside of the Anglicans and Methodists, not many churches, least of all the free evangelical movements, have a declared doctrinal statement.

            You can read between the lines to a degree, and find things implied in a vision/about us section on a website, or from looking at who they partner with (are they a member of the EA etc), but you won’t always have the luxury of knowing in advance.

          • Hello Mat,

            Yes – you’re right that a-priori, before rolling up to a church, one may be able to look at indicators, but one won’t be sure of anything, until one has actually attended a service, spoken to members of the congregation and spoken to people in a leadership capacity.

            Having said that, one of the good things about lock-down was that just about everybody had on-line services – and this certainly helped me formulating my views here.

            One really has to attend a church, but with smaller groups, one can usually get a pretty good idea rather quickly through the service, church coffee afterwards and some conversation, of the general gist.

            Note that those people who come on here (to Psephizo) advocating a loose view of carnal activities – gay sex being no big deal, that sort of thing – invariably seem to take an extremely loose view of Scripture on many other matters. That’s (probably) OK for discussions here; it lets us see the other side of the coin, but I’d never go back to a church if there were such people setting the tone.

            It does mean, though, that you can probably understand the attitude towards carnal activity without having to bring up or discuss such a distasteful subject – simply ask them if they believe that Jesus really was transfigured, if he really did turn the water into wine, if he really did say the parable of the prodigal son (and that it wasn’t Luke’s invention). You’ll be able to infer the attitude towards carnal activity from the attitude towards matters such as these.

            In all of this we have to be extremely careful and have an attitude of Christian compassion. There are Christians with major besetting sins in their lives and temptations towards sins that those of us discussing here simply do not understand. Such compassion does not (of course) extend to exchanging the truth for a lie or tolerating the truth being exchanged for a lie.

          • But I have worked long on the gospels and been able to develop a method that has successful predictive force, of which Luke’s substantial composition of the Prodigal Son (not an original idea) is one fruit. And I have been one of the most vociferous UK campaigners against the sexual revolution for 2 decades. For scientific, statistical, logical and commonsensical reasons. And the common denominator is the quest for truth. It is not possible that people who care about the truth will expect the truth to conform to their preferences – that is the world’s way of looking at things.

      • You’re right – at least in terms of the British Methodist Church as a denomination. And actually it will help the wider Wesleyan/Methodist movement in Britain once the current institution is gone. So it’s sad at one level, when you think of the great gospel zeal of the Wesleyans, the Prims, the Bible Christians and the rest. But there are exciting possibilities with evangelical Wesleyanism that can really serve the wider church in evangelism and holiness.

  9. Jock,
    I have a lot of normal friends.
    I don’t invite them to my home but I write about them in glowing terms.
    I am a champion of all…well, most things normal.

  10. It’s important that there’s good, patient, humble and clear teaching and I like especially the second video. But I still maintain that the fundamental question is not actually about sexuality at all, but an argument over what constitutes holiness of living.

    • deacongill – I’d agree with this, although how we deal with others in these matters is a vital part of holiness of living.

      But certainly, someone who is absolutely faithful to his wife (I’m not saying that Vlad falls into this category – but let’s assume just for the sake of argument that he does) – and who then goes on to invade the Ukraine causing huge amounts of mayhem and destruction could hardly be accused of living a holy life. So there are indeed very important ingredients to holiness of living other than issues pertaining to sexuality.

      In fact, Vlad’s actions in the Ukraine make sexual deviance look like a very minor ripple on the Richter scale when it comes to holiness of living.

      • In fact, Vlad’s actions in the Ukraine make sexual deviance look like a very minor ripple on the Richter scale when it comes to holiness of living.

        Remember that the severity of sin is not to be judged by its effects; that’s utilitarianism, not Christianity.

        As C.S. Lewis put it, in the middle of the second world war:

        ‘That explains what always used to puzzle me about Christian writers; they seem to be so very strict at one moment and so very free and easy at another. They talk about mere sins of thought as if they were immensely important: and then they talk about the most frightful murders and treacheries as if you had only got to repent and all would be forgiven. But I have come to see that they are right. What they are always thinking of is the mark which the action leaves on that tiny central self which no one sees in this life but which each of us will have to endure or enjoy—for ever. One man may be so placed that his anger sheds the blood of thousands, and another so placed that however angry he gets he will only be laughed at. But the little mark on the soul may be much the same in both. Each has done something to himself which, unless he repents, will make it harder for him to keep out of the rage next time he is tempted, and will make the rage worse when he does fall into it. Each of them, if he seriously turns to God, can have that twist in the central man straightened out again: each is, in the long run, doomed if he will not. The bigness or smallness of the thing, seen from the outside, is not what really matters.’

  11. Trying to value family and marriage is a shockingly lonely place for all of us.

    We had a conversation with an Anglican bishop recently and yet the Bishop steadfastly could not, or would not, say what marriage was. You end up feeling very, very unsupported.

    You are equally unsupported in the academic world. In the N.T. Jesus was asked about Tax and Jesus asked to see a coin and then asked whose head was on the coin? That response was Jesus saying “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God. So did Jesus ever tell them what tax was when he was asked about tax? NO

    Jesus was asked about divorce and did Jesus ever tell people what divorce was? NO – He tells us all what marriage us in response to the question about divorce. So we have the academic world lying to us and telling us that Jesus spoke about divorce when he doesn’t. Then we have the academic world pretending that Jesus was speaking about “marriage of the time” – You only have to read the text in the N.T. to realise that Jesus did NOT talk about societal views about marriage of the time at all.

    So where do ordinary Christians turn, when NEITHER Church nor academia nor society will tell anyone the truth?

  12. Sorry – my mistyping. The sentence:
    “Jesus was asked about divorce and did Jesus ever tell people what divorce was? NO – He tells us all what marriage us in response to the question about divorce. ” should be written as “Jesus was asked about divorce and did Jesus ever tell people what divorce was? NO – He tells us all what marriage is in response to the question about divorce. ” Us should have said Is – sorry

    • Good points, Clive. I find basic flaws in David Instone-Brewer’s theory. The fact that Jesus was doing a reorientation (not separately from the perspective of John the Baptist) means that we cannot assume any relevance for contemporary first-century discussion or social considerations – though we need to be fully aware of these just in case.

      • As John Witte Jr. (Professor of Law, Emory University, USA) states: “All … [Western] models of marriage started with several basic assumptions … inherited from classical Greco-Roman sources.” Witte defines those sources as Plato and Aristotle, the Roman stoics, and classical Roman Law. That is—not the Bible.

        John Jr. Witte, From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition (2d ed.; Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 3, 17‒30

        • Colin
          If as the title of Wittes work (“From Sacrament to Contract”) suggests that *sacrament* is his starting point , then the Bible is not relevant to the topic as its content on marriage surely precedes the sacramental understanding!

        • Maybe he doesn’t take into acoount the bible and its Hebrew histories. It is not Western culture.
          I wonder into what cultural history the commandment to honour your father and mother, spoke?
          And Colin, I’m unsure of the point or points you are seeking to make in relation to the whole of Ian’s article, in particular, relating to “scripture, the gospel and sexuality”. The underpinning theology.

          • Geoff,

            Indeed, that is his very point—Western culture re marriage and divorce is not based on “the Bible and its Hebrew histories.”

            My point is that we think we are expounding biblical teaching, but reception history is firmly rooted in a Graeco Roman/Roman Catholic view of marriage. And I suggest, so as not to discredit the traditional evangelical position on sexuality (which I affirm), we should be more careful distinguishing between reception history and the biblical teaching on marriage and divorce.

        • Dear Colin

          It is very trendy, but seriously flawed to say that religion has nothing to do with marriage when it very clearly does.

          In my text of May 2, 2022 at 7:52 am I clearly showed that Jesus does NOT teach us what divorce and showed that such a response was common with others response he gave by the illustration of Jesus’ response to the question of tax when he doesn’t tell anyone what tax is.

          Jesus was, of course, using scriptural texts from the Old Testament which predate the Greco-Roman sources referenced.

          In Matthew chapter 19 (and also in Mark’s gospel, Jesus tells us:
          “4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

          Both quotes come from the Old Testament. In marriage it is God who joins together in a lasting way.

          • Clive – well, I’m afraid that some parts of this discussion are above my IQ. Jesus didn’t tell anyone what tax is, because he didn’t have to.

            Yes – it is God who joins together in a lasting way – we understand this – has anybody said something here that contradicts this?

            Divorce existed, everybody knew what it was – and understood that God disapproved of it (except in case of marital infidelity) – was Jesus really expected to give a definition of what divorce is?

            My apologies – I’m failing to understand what the point is here.

          • Clive – as to religion and marriage: as I understand it, marriage is a creation ordinance, from Genesis 2.

            Religion did not enter until Genesis 3. The first recorded religious act was Eve listening to a sermon, given by the Serpent, on the commandments of God and taking it seriously. This is the first religious act recorded in Scripture and it comes *after* the ordinance of marriage.

            So maybe religion does have something to do with marriage, but marriage came first, before religion entered.

  13. Hello Colin,
    Which reception history/theory do you subscribe to? Or are you totally untethered?
    As Colin McCormack points out, the the bible pre-dates sacramental understanding, as indeed you note. So far, I’ve not seen anything in Ian’s pieces that even hint at a sacremental, as a reception history understanding of marriage, though I stand to be corrected.
    I’m not sure how far, if at all, those advocating for SSS/M look for sacramental support.

    • Geoff – for those of us who don’t understand the jargon – could you explain what `reception history/theory’ is?


      • Hello Jock,
        Colin Hamer, over the course of time has on a number of occasions mentioned reception history, and I don’t want to misrepresent him here, but it seems to be on occasions when he doesn’t accept something, usually theological doctrine that has been handed down the centuries.
        A simple search will reveal some reliable information.
        Extended, and I think Colin would part company with the theory at this point, it can form the basis for much of the progressive, scripture revisionism today.
        Colin, and please correct me in this, gained a doctorate now in book form “God’s Divorce: Understanding New Testament Divorce and Remarriage Teaching.”
        Colin has promoted in comments on Ian’s articles, a biblical understanding from the OT that God, in effect, divorced Israel.
        Colin, if he recalls, is aware that I don’t agree, but may put my understanding down to reception history. But that is likely to be far too simplistic.

        • Geoff – ummm – OK – thanks for the summary; it is helpful. I also googled `reception history’ and got one source that tried to explain the idea.

          When we read Holy Scripture and we’re looking to understand what Jesus had to say on marriage, it is as clear as a bell what he is referring to. We know the creation ordinances in Genesis 2 and 3; we know what Scripture means when it says that Abram married Sarai and when it says that Isaac married Rebekah; we know what God means (and what Jesus means) by marriage.

          Any technicalities that people may have added later (e.g. involving sacraments) or anything emerging from Graeco-Roman traditions or, indeed, any weird and wacky ways that people may have received biblical texts down through the ages (including anything that had crept into the traditions at the time of Jesus in 1st century Palestine) really has nothing to do with the case.

          I had one very good friend (now deceased, who lived to a ripe old age), an atheist and communist (and I think also an anarchist) who didn’t get married in the church because she didn’t believe in God and didn’t get married in a registry because she didn’t believe in the State. Nevertheless, she and her man were absolutely faithful to each other for 50 years (and had 4 children together) until he died. I’d say that that fulfils the definition of marriage that we can infer from Genesis.

          • Hi Jock,
            Indeed, your friend’s marriage did fulfil Scripture teaching. Before the Middle Ages marriage was entirely a matter for the couple themselves and their families— and registration of marriage by the state was largely a 19th century invention. So both those concepts belong to “reception history.”

        • Hi Geoff,

          It was Christopher Shell I was replying to who holds a view of marriage/divorce close to the Roman Catholic view which has arisen in reception history—by which I mean the accumulated teaching of the church in post apostolic times. John Witte’s point is that all forms of marriage are rooted in reception history. My point is that we are appealing to Scripture, not culture on SSM, but by and large reading the cultural understanding of marriage back into the Bible. It is a sort of double standard.

          Regarding the divorce of Israel Jeremiah 3 and Isaiah 50:1 teach that. Thus the new covenant is a new covenant—not a renewal of the old covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-32).

          • Colin,
            It is a new covenant in as much as a statute id a new statute. It may or may not replace previous statutes. Or it may be a new statute that consolidates previous statutes. As does the New Covenant in the blood of Christ.

          • Or Colin,
            It could be suggested that you are subscribing to reception history/theory of Replacement Theology.

    • Geoff,

      If this was addressed to me, I have no idea what it means: “Or Colin, It could be suggested that you are subscribing to reception history/theory of Replacement Theology.”

      Perhaps you have misunderstood me. I do not see reception history as a valid tool in biblical theology. However, I understand it plays a part in Anglican theology. So even though I attend an Anglican church, I think perhaps I am on the wrong blog.

  14. I believe that the key question is – what IS same sex attraction?

    Is it God given? If it is it would mean that the only thing the church needs to do is welcome people with same sex attraction just as they must welcome people with a range of personality types. Many personality types increase the likelihood of people sinning in particular ways – for example extraversion might lead someone to seek attention – or shyness might lead someone to avoid necessary confrontation.

    Or is same sex attraction – while not sin – brokenness?. Broken this is injury that leads us to have a specific tendency to sin. If it is brokenness it is one of many kinds. The way in which we can best be of service in respect of brokenness is for us to be intimate with God – this leading to our own brokenness and inclinations being healed – and then have ordinary contact (nothing unique) with those who are broken and need the healing that comes from intimacy with God. The reason brokenness isn’t instantly healed is because the whole point of brokenness is that it is an area of our life which is resistant to submission to God. Brokenness is like a grooved road being ridden on with a bicycle – the bicycle doesn’t seem to go where it needs to – but that’s because we haven’t reached the point where all of us is making the bicycle go where it needs to go. Said another way brokenness to be healed will in many cases demand absolute devotion to God.

    No-one’s brokenness has ever been healed by specifically focusing on it. No-one is more deeply reconciled to God by focus being given to anything which is not going to be part of their heavenly identity – by such things being more deeply understood (our obligations to those who are broken are therefore no different to the obligations we have to all people). The key component of being transformed is not that our tendency to sin be understood but that we understand and respond to God. We should focus on loving people – their being wanted by God and by us – and they’re needing to be reconciled to God – not upon their brokenness. People’s brokenness isn’t them – it is baggage – giving it focus only leads to people treating their brokenness as being even more them (since it is leading to their being given greater attention).

    In the first video a woman says:
    “If anything it seems like speaking into this from a biblically faithful perspective will turn people away from Jesus and the very last thing that I want to do – and those I am in community with want to do is turn people away from Jesus. We’re convinced he is the most important person for anybody to get to know”.

    These words reflect a belief that the gospel is about people getting saved – when it is a revelation of the greatness of God whether or not people get saved. We shouldn’t be asking how we can make every same sex attracted person feel accepted – that isn’t our job. Our job is to reflect who God is – and – just as in the gospels – some will turn to God while others will walk away disappointed – even when they directly encounter the son of God.

    • Please stop referring to us as broken. It’s very demeaning and can lead to a lot of self hate. Imagine being told that you’re broken again and again and again. It can really get into your head. Why not tell people they are God’s wonderful creation? Try to be uplifting to people rather than putting them down all the time. Maybe think how you would feel if you were told you were broken all the time! It’s all about being kind to others. How would you like to be treated yourself?

      • Hi Origen,

        It isn’t a case of one or the other. We can be both God’s wonderful creation while also being in some ways broken. I agree that if we related to people as if only one of these was the case that that would be unloving – and to the extent to which it was knowing also dishonest.

        Please see my reply to you elsewhere here where I explain my own brokenness and how I relate to it.

        I don’t understand why you say “Try to be uplifting to people rather than putting them down all the time”. I know that my brokenness isn’t my fault – do you know yours isn’t yours? I hope that if not you soon do. Only the way in which you respond to your brokenness is your responsibility.

        • ‘Brokenness’ was a Leanne Payne thing that we were subjected to in the ex-gay movement. Our bible was her book The Broken Image and a whole cult-like movement called Desert Streams and Living Waters was based on it. We were all broken in need of fixing, and the mantra of ‘brokenness’ was instilled in us.

          I haven’t heard of the word since so it’s very disturbing to see it reappearing. I’d hoped this philosophy had died a death since most of the ex-gay ministries packed up.

          For me it caused a lot of harm. If you’re constantly told that you’re broken all the time then it can start to affect your well-being. I would implore you to stop thinking of yourself as broken and think of yourself as a beautiful human being created in the image of God. Much more healthy in my opinion.

          • Our bible was her book The Broken Image

            There’s the problem and on-going challenge. Cult-like movements do emerge in Christian communities. The damage they do shouldn’t be underestimated.

          • I would implore you to stop thinking of yourself as broken and think of yourself as a beautiful human being created in the image of God. Much more healthy in my opinion.

            Pride is a deadly sin, it’s hardly healthy.

          • Origen Adam:

            I agree broadly with what you say. However, speaking as one who has studied the history of the ex-gay movement – but thankfully never got enmeshed in it – I don’t think that the expression “ex-gay brokenness” would be entirely inappropriate.

      • And finally you said “Maybe think how you would feel if you were told you were broken all the time!” But as I explained above this is exactly what I don’t believe we should do (I only comment here in the hope of having same sex attraction be understood rightly). I specifically said above that I DON’T believe in relating to people by giving their brokenness special attention. Those who make a habit of doing so are parading their self-righteousness – they are using the same sex attracted as a means of elevating themselves.

      • Origen,
        Thanks for your comments they are highly relevant. Such pyschological methods as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, can be helpful in looking to trace the thoughts on which the feelings, or emotions are based and then look to trace the evidence for those thoughts. And those thoughts can be basic, but profound.
        As someone who has had clinical depression and who has benefitted from CBT before becoming a Christian, it can be employed in Christian counselling, but ultimately it engages with that vey taboo word, doctrine and starts with looking away from ourselves, as Philip suggests, to God in Jesus Christ.
        If we stick to the question of brokenness, it would be looking to Jesus, who was broken for you. That is to be pondered – arms spread open for you it is there that the length, depth, height, width of Christ’s love for you is demonstated and applied.
        All the king’s horses, all the king’s men couldn’t put humpty together again. But the King can. In his brokenness for you. True love to counter counterfeit and sometimes replacement loves of physical, body, material, cultural, social, spiritual kinds.
        Jesus is life in all its fullness.

        • Thanks Geoff, I also suffer from clinical depression, firstly inherited from my mum, then from a homophobic assault in street where I was left for dead, but mainly after years of repression in the ex-gay movement which led to a breakdown and psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic, which has now become well known. The therapy wasn’t that helpful but they told me that unless I reconciled my faith and sexuality I would end up in hospital again. Thankfully I took their advice and had a church wedding to my partner just before the pandemic. It’s been a long road and I don’t want people suffering in the same way that my peers and I have. Which is why I struggle to understand why the horrible author of this blog wants to subject more people to torture. I was the best Christian I knew but eventually ended up in hospital because of it.

          I don’t think the idea that Jesus was “broken for you” very helpful these days. In the gospels Jesus teaches us just to ask God for forgiveness. He doesn’t say to rely on his broken body or anything like that and God doesn’t need someone to break for him to forgive, he just forgives.

          • Origen Adam:

            I’m sorry to read that you wasted part of your life on chasing the “ex-gay” chimera, but glad to hear that things eventually worked out well for you.

          • Thanks for that Origen
            We disagree signficantly substantially over the death of Jesus, and possibly over the Person of Jesus. Forgiveness came at an eternal cost to Jesus.
            I find difficulty in understanding your words, “I was the best Christian I knew.” This really isn’t the place to be discusssing matters of some pastoral and personal depth, but I’d ask in what way or ways?
            From comments you made some years ago on this blog, I think I remember correctly that you have studied theology and I do wonder what have been your biggests influences and influencers, so much so that they continue to guide your life, and the place of scripture, in your studies and life. But this isn’t really the right forum.

    • The like your analogy with personality types. Last year I discovered that the vicar of my previous church was a narcissist. Although he wasn’t the malignant type, almost everything he said was probably a lie or a manipulation. In some sense he couldn’t do otherwise but I looked up to him and his church was the first church that I joined. This whole ‘awakening’ experience to 15 years of deception (which is a form of abuse) has put me off joining another church. But I have to accept that his personality type is just another form of brokenness in this world (although it would help if such people could be screened out of church leadership roles).

      • Joe,
        I’d be a little wary of relying too much on personality types. The Myers – Briggs model was an embraced flavour of the month in the NHS leadership. I think it may also have migrated to the CoE in some quaters.
        What was intersesting was that NHS senior management came from within s narrow band of personality types.
        I wonder how much that would apply to the current crop of CoE ministerial encumbants and hierarchy.
        I do take your point about screening.
        Christian discipleship embraces and challenges all secular categories of personality types.
        All sin and fall short of the glory of God. All need Jesus and his righteousness.

        • Myers-Briggs… back in the 1980s, when I was an ordination candidate, our DDO was Michael Scott-Joynt (later Bishop of Winchester). He seemed big on Myers-Briggs and a group of us spent weeks exploring personality types, mixed up with a bit of Jung. I get the impression it’s now regarded as a bit out-dated, and personally I regard it as a bit like those IQ tests used by groups like Mensa (and for 11+ entrance tests for grammar school)… all a bit simplistic.

          • Indeed, Susannah.
            I think it can be traced to Jungian roots but it is a lomg while ago now since I looked into it.

        • Geoff, I accept that ‘personality type’ has a more general meaning – applies to everyone in some shape or form. Perhaps I should have said personality disorder – the specific form of narcissism that is recognised as a disorder (detrimental to the person affected by it and those around them).

          My former vicar should not have habitually lied to and manipulated others but I can also see that this was an instinctive response on his part – a form of brokenness that cannot easily be changed (partly because a narcissist will never admit to having any faults and will resort to more lies and blame shifting when caught out doing something wrong). So in this pattern I see similarities to same-sex attraction (if we as Christians are to accept that same-sex behaviours are sinful)

          • Joe,
            I’d be even warier of attributing “personality disorder” to anyone, as in mental health services, it has a specific meaning. It’s like “walking on eggshells” might be a popular level understanding of a relationship with someone with a personality disorder.

          • I’d be even warier of attributing “personality disorder” to anyone

            I get that but it must apply to somone – so the brokenness comparison with same-sex attraction seems appropriate to me.

            I’ve read a great deal about narcissism this past year – it took me about a month to really understand the subject. I don’t think I’m wrong about my previous vicar (and close friend) and he turned into a vicious bully when he lost ‘control’ of me. He has all of the core traits (grandiosity, sense of entitlement, rages (cold fury), controlling/manipulative, lack of empathy etc) and many of the minor quirks asssociated with someone “scoring high on narcissistic traits”. I’m more certain that my mother is full malignant NPD – a woman so toxic that most of her children will never speak to her again or even attend her funeral.

          • Recently people have started talking, in Christian circles, about narcissism more than about sin and self.

            With narcissism it can always be the other guy that has a problem (the woman started it; the snake started it). With sin and self it is the man in the mirror. The latter is the Christian perspective.

          • Anton The entire human race has a personality disorder?

            Well, I didn’t quite get Philip’s distinction between God given (?) traits that lead to specific patterns of sin and various forms of brokenness. Isn’t brokenness the human condition but with all of us having distinct versions of it?

          • Christopher Recently people have started talking, in Christian circles, about narcissism more than about sin and self.

            Well the topic has become more of a talking point in the last year because of a certain Duchess. It’s a serious problem if you do have a narcissist in your life – so greater awareness isn’t such a bad thing.

            Churches are also ideal hunting grounds for narcissists (possibly the original wolves in sheep’s clothing) so all safeguarding teams should be given some training on the subject.

          • According to Romans 5:12-21 and elsewhere we all face God’s condemnation from birth onwards and are born with a nature inclined to sin – ‘in the flesh’ because of which we cannot please God. This, not ‘brokenness’ is the fundamental true diagnosis of the human condition.
            Phil Almond

          • Christopher Each one should look in the mirror.

            I’m not referring to the more common usage definition of narcissist – self-centred individual or attention seeker.

            Narcissistic abuse is a real thing. The John Smyth case highlighted how abusers exploit both personal and institutional vulnerabilities. He charmed the socks off some people while abusing others. Smyth also knew how to exploit systems of trust. His ‘type’ rarely find themselves in a clinical setting where they can be assessed by experts (they don’t volunteer for therapy). And not all abuse is physical.

          • Joe S – I empathise with you. I had a friend who I suspect has NPD. He needed somewhere to stay for a week so I let him have my spare room, but he stayed for 18 months. The explosive rages that I was subjected to was shocking, but he is sweetness and light to everyone else. After he left I realised I’d been had, the loss of rent had run up £6000 on my credit card, yet the awful things he’s said about me to others and the abuse on Facebook by him and his friends is unbelievable, yet to most people he is a respectable member of society.

            Obviously I have a problem with you equating this behaviour as like same sex attraction. It’s like people who quote Romans 1 at us: we are like murderers and thieves apparently. LGBT people on the whole are actually the nicest, gentle, generous people you’ll ever meet, but we have to put up with abuse like this from fellow Christians.

            On a wider point, I feel that the type of people who crave leadership are narcissists who want to control other people’s lives and love the sound of their own voice. And when we ‘rebel’ they just go ballistic!

          • Origen, those are the typical red flags of a narcissist. Diagnosis is always risky but the trusting nature of Christians communities makes them vulnerable to the manipulations, excuses, false pleas of contrition, victim posturing and endless lies that are the instinctive response of the narcissist. It is a subject (the clinical definition) that churches would do well to be briefed on – especially safeguarding teams.

            Yes I see parallels with same-sex attraction – as in the condition itself is a feature of the individual and unlikely to change. We obviously disagree on whether the expression of that condition is sinful.

            Most cult leaders fit the NPD pattern (and some churches operate like cults) but narcissists don’t necessarily need to be “in control” of others – they just need to feel/believe that they are in control of any situation. Some people will only encounter the charming side of the narcissist but those interactions, which can seem like normal pleasantries to the other person, are manipulations from the perspective of the narcissist. They lack empathy and don’t care really about the well-being of anyone else. Typical controlling behaviours are the more malign manipulations they utilize when charm doesn’t get them what they want. The other method of control is withdrawal – doing a disappearing act or sulking.

            Rages are the biggest red flag of all but you will find that others often adapt to theses displays of explosive anger by “walking on eggshells” ie. not doing anything to ‘provoke’ the bully/abuser.

    • If it’s brokenness to be healed, and which God wants to heal, shouldn’t some people be being healed?

      Instead we see no healing. Even gay men and women who prayerfully embrace heterosexual marriage are pretty clear: their same sex attractions, their gay sexuality, is still always there.

      I fear it is not only wrong, but positively dangerous to teach that healing can only come from absolute devotion to God. The stories of Jesus healing people in the Gospel would make it at least questionable. But worse, it implies that if you’re not healed it’s because you lack devotion, and done so simply to provide an excuse for the extraordinary lack of “healing” we observe.

  15. I’ve just skimmed through this morning. The word ‘brokenness’ seems to be being misused. It should only describe the feeling one has when first coming before God in utter desperate need. Like ‘check’ before ‘checkmate’; it’s the knowledge that one has nowhere else to go. It seems inappropriate to talk about every odd personality disorder , acknowledged or otherwise, as ‘brokenness’.

    • ‘Brokenness’ has entered modern Christian terminology from secular psychotherapy, which is where it should stay. If it has any valid Christian meaning, it is that the human race without exception ceased to function as it should after the events of Genesis 3.

      • I hadn’t heard the term `brokenness’ (neither in Christianity nor in modern psychology). Maybe I should get out more. It is (of course) appropriate to describe what happened to mankind in the fall.

        As usual, Christianity is light years ahead of modern psychology, both in understanding the problem and in understanding the solution to the problem.

        • Jock
          I disagree. The Bible says that because of the Fall we all face God’s condemnation. ‘Condemnation’ and ‘Broken’ do not mean the same thing.
          Phil Almond

          • Phil – possibly you’re right – but I wasn’t taking `broken’ to mean `innocent victim’ here (which I think may be the way that modern psychologists use the term).

        • It has been a buzz word for a while. NEAC3 Caister 1988 people were asked to bring to one session an artefact that symbolised their brokenness. Most stayed away.
          A CT cartoon had a wife introducing her husband to the vicar with ‘Richard apologises that he is not sufficiently sexually broken’ or something like that. Apologies if I have got the details wrong.

          • Well, I’m not sure whether I’ve needed to get out more all these years, or to be pleased I haven’t.
            But if brokenness means involves God bringing us to the end of ourselves, before revealing himself, there needs to be more, it is suggested.
            Brokenness brings to mind a chorus sung years ago:
            Spirit of the living God,
            Fall afresh on me.
            Spirit of the living God,
            Fall afresh on me.
            Break me, melt me,
            Mould me, fill me.
            Spirit of the living God,
            Fall afresh on me.

            Spirit of the living God,
            Take control of me.
            Spirit of the living God,
            Take control of me.
            Break me, melt me,
            Mould me, fill me.
            Spirit of the living God,
            Take control of me.

  16. Just watched the first video presented by black people and female priests, the very same people whom the church discriminated against in the past. The irony is staggering.

    I think it’s still trying to present a negative as a positive. ‘We have good news.’ No you don’t, your views are bad news to LGBT folk.

    It’s all the usual bigots presenting too. Hardline evangelicals or anyone from Dundonald is hardly representative of the CofE. Is Dundonald even in the CofE anymore?

    • “Just watched the first video presented by black people and female priests, the very same people whom the church discriminated against in the past. The irony is staggering.”

      But, on the other hand, you could say that the inclusion and platforming of those who the church would have once excluded or belittled is a good thing. Evidence of positive change, no?

      • Or is it only positive representation when the platform is used to speak views you agree with?

        That’s a bit harsh, as I’m pretty sure you don’t really think this. I do however think that critiquing the video on the basis of it’s diversity is a dead-end, and *can* make people look very silly. Not everything is cynical tokenism, whichever standpoint it’s advocating. If this were a video from the other perspective, and similarly produced, this critique would have come from someone else…

        Also, while we’re engaging, I think you’re right about the danger and unhelpfulness of ‘brokenness’ to describe specific aspects of human experience (often sexuality and mental health), and we should avoid it unless talking of ‘humanity’ in a general sense (and even then, I prefer corrupted or fallen). I also agree that ‘queer’ is something of a strange word; still being used as a pejorative by some, but being used positively by others.

        ‘Queer theology’ can mean very different things depending on who’s saying it.

          • You and Mat have been especially nasty to me in the comments section. And the so called ‘Rev’ keeps on bullying us with his constant drip drip of articles.

            I suggest all of you look up the fruits of the Spirit. The fact that you don’t display any of them makes me wonder if you are truly born again!

          • Origen – well, I’m sorry you feel that way – although looking over my comments I don’t see anything that I’d want to withdraw.

            Particularly the stuff about (a) putting a clearly wrong interpretation on Paul’s words – and then (b) stating that Paul was clearly wrong and (c) blaming bad life decisions on bad teachers.

            But if you see me as the enemy in this, then you got the wrong man.

          • It’s this comment I was referring to. I have responded already but maybe you haven’t seen it?

            Accusing me of having utter contempt for God’s creation: I’ve no idea what you mean but it’s not a very kind accusation.

            Asking me if I’m having it off just isn’t very nice. I haven’t delved into your proclivities.

            Calling me a depressive and holding my illness against me is just not nice. If someone discloses something personal then it is only right to treat them with respect. That you don’t calls into question your salvation.

            You’re just like your bedfellow Mat, accusing me of everything under the sun and then denying it and refusing to apologise. Know them by their fruit.

            “Origen – OK – so you show utter contempt for God’s creation.

            Well, you have indicated on this thread that you are homosexual. I don’t see that as a real problem (unless, of course, having-it-off is of extreme importance to you – then you would have a major problem irrespective of your sexuality). You have also indicated that you are depressive, which is more of a problem.

            But all of this is utterly insignificant in comparison with your main difficulty-of-life. But you have indicated that it would be a total waste of my time (or indeed anybody else’s time) trying to explain this to you.”

          • Sorry Origen, I think you must be confusing me with someone else.

            I am very rarely, if ever, heated in these comments, certainly not recently, and I don’t recall ever having a slinging match with you, or anyone else for that matter.

            I am sorry you think that of me.

          • Correction, I believe we have engaged in the comments once before, some while ago now, when this blog’s host was censoring you for some of the things you were saying and deleting comments.

            Though I don’t remember what post this was.

          • Amongst other things, you called me a coward. You apologised for one thing but refused to apologise for calling me a coward.

            Yes, the ‘Rev’deleted many of my posts saying they were abusive when they weren’t but because he’d deleted them people chose to believe him rather than judge the posts on their merits.

            He also kept putting inverted commas around my name, but I’ve never seen him so that to anyone else. I presume he was treating me as he would like me to treat him so I’ve put his name in quotes every since.

          • Origen – well, in that post you *did* express a problem with people having children – that was the main thing that I did (and still do) react badly to. So although my response may have been over-the-top in the way I expressed it, I’m not going to apologise or retract.

            I don’t hold the fact that you’re a depressive against you; you stated clearly in another place that you *did* suffer from clinical depression. And if you are, then it *is* a serious difficulty of life. You have met people on here who share the problem and may be able to help you with it (although, thankfully, I am not one of them).

            Recreational sex – well, we strongly disagree on this – I have come to the conclusion that it is *always* a bad idea and that people need it like a hole in the head. Of course, you’re right that what people do in the privacy of their own home is none of my business.

            Look Origen – if it is of any value to you, I do wish you well, even though it doesn’t come across like that. We do disagree strongly on many things – and I’m sure you wouldn’t want me to be dishonest.

          • Origen – perhaps you had very good reason to think that my post was nasty. Your post annoyed me and I *was* nasty in response – I accept that.

            But I’ve just read your response to Matt Sheffield where you have a problem with the fact that he called you a `coward’.

            I only read / contribute to one other blog, which is Craig Murray’s blog – and any nastiness that you perceive here (being called a coward) is small potatoes compared with what is going on there. I don’t see anything wrong with the exchanges there; when people genuinely hold different heart-felt positions, the exchanges can become rather heated (even when they are trying to keep on-topic, which is generally the case on CM’s blog).

            If someone called me a `coward’, I’d probably respond by borrowing a sentence from a Raymond Chandler novel, `What makes you guys so tough? Do you pickle your nuts in salt water, or something?’ I don’t think I’d take it hugely seriously.

            I’m just suggesting that perhaps you’re taking some things a wee bit too seriously?

          • If your definition of ‘nasty’ includes being called a coward, and you’re prepared to hold me to account for this insult many months later (on comments, to reiterate, that I don’t even remember making and can’t find), then like Jock I feel you have a particularly thin skin. Which I consider odd, given that my impression is you give as good as you get in the comments….

            That said, if you can point me to the article where I made these insults, then I will revisit them and, sincerely, if you are owed an apology you will get one.


          • The thin-skin is a result of depression that was primarily brought on my repressing my sexuality so much it put me in hospital.

            The nastiness shown here to LGBT folk is just the way you lot are. The Christian religion is something that we practice, it’s about doing good things in society. It’s not about dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s or whether you tithe your spices. It’s about caring for the orphan, welcoming the refugee, visiting the sick.

            If you’re not doing these things, or not displaying the fruits of the spirit, chances are you’re not actually a Christian.

            I’ve no idea where Mat called me a load of names, but like Jock, when I said I was hurt an apology was refused.

            Sure I should be more thick-skinned, but my depression was caused by people like the so-called ‘Rev’ forcing me to repress my sexuality. And what angers me most is that he is advocating more of the same for the next generation of young LGBTs.

          • The Christian religion is something that we practice, it’s about doing good things in society.

            Um no it is not. It’s about God incarnate dying on a cross to save us corrupt, evil humans from the bondage of eternal death to which our sins condemn us.

            If you want to do good things in society join the rotary club.


          • “I’ve no idea where Mat called me a load of names, but like Jock, when I said I was hurt an apology was refused.”

            I will not apologise for things I don’t remember saying, don’t believe I would have said, and for which no evidence has been provided. Any apology on the basis of what may have been said, or on behalf of another would be both insincere and hollow, so I will not do you the disservice of offering such an apology.

            “The nastiness shown here to LGBT folk is just the way you lot are.”

            My tone and style in the comments is less combative than most, but the simple fact of my general agreement and association with Ian Paul on some these issues evidently renders me part of the problem and beyond toleration, whatever I may actually say, do or believe….

            If you want to gauge how hostile I actually am I suggest you ask people like Andrew and Penelope, whose comments often elicit the most fierce responses from the regular commentators here, but I doubt they will cite me as one of the problems. We are cordial, if disagreeable. 😉

            “Sure I should be more thick-skinned, but my depression was caused by people like the so-called ‘Rev’ forcing me to repress my sexuality. And what angers me most is that he is advocating more of the same for the next generation of young LGBTs.”

            Do not be so quick to assume that the people you’re engaging with have not experienced some of the things you also have, or that they are incapable of empathy on those grounds.


          • Origen And the so called ‘Rev’ keeps on bullying us with his constant drip drip of articles.

            Which is also not a very nice thing to say.

          • I’ve not even said here I wanted an apology from you Mat! All I said is that you refused at the time. A forced apology is not something I would want anyway. If someone apologises for something, it means they recognise the need for it, and genuinely feel sorry.

            It would be on one of the LGBT posts but as there are so many it would be like looking for the needle in the haystack. As far as I remember you accused me of being a coward because I’d posted a comment early in the morning. I then told you that I work nights and it was my night off but when you work shifts you can’t move your sleep patterns around. You apologised for judging me about the comment but when I asked if you would apologise for calling me names you refused. I think your words were: ‘that still stands.’

            I suggest just looking at the tone of your posts. If someone indicates they’ve been upset by your comments, it’s no use just telling them to grow a pair.

            I notice that you’re judging me again: nowhere have I said that other people don’t suffer from depression. All I did was tell my story after Geoff disclosed that he suffered from it. I notice that you haven’t accused him though. I wonder why.

          • S – I suggest you read more of the gospels rather than something made up in later tradition. Particularly the end of Matthew 25. Those who aren’t doing what the rotary club does are going down!

          • I suggest you read more of the gospels rather than something made up in later tradition. Particularly the end of Matthew 25. Those who aren’t doing what the rotary club does are going down!

            You picked the wrong name. You’re not Origen, you’re Pelagius.

          • When others read down this sub-thread of comments, I think they will be most confused…

            1. I think it is abundantly clear that while you weren’t ‘demanding’ an apology, you nevertheless seemed to expect one from the outset. You were the first to make reference to alleged ‘nasty’ comments in response to a question that had nothing to do with that at all (and could hardly be described as nasty in itself) and were also the one who asserted I had not apologised immediately thereafter, as if in expectation of one…

            2. There is nothing wrong with the tone of my posts, that I can see, on this thread or any other. You have reacted to my comments about your interpretation of the videos with assertions of nastiness that suggest a long-standing grudge of some sort. This is doubly confusing, as I was actually agreeing with you on some things, and hold no such grudge myself. You have avoided entirely the substance of said comments…

            3. My comment about not making assumptions was not a judgement. It was simply an assertion that other people here, on both sides of these arguments, have perhaps experienced similar things to you, and yet come to different conclusions. Not agreeing with you doesn’t mean we can’t empathise with you, or haven’t ourselves been victims of the very same sorts of abuse. I only point this out because you seem to think you are a in a unique position, assailed by everyone, when you are only assailed by opponents of your own making….

            I am sorry if this endless back-and-forth has ruined the end of your week, it has slightly ruined mine; but I would rather it not ruin our weekends. I pray you have a blessed Sunday among fellow faithful.

            If and when we engage again in the comments, as I’m sure we will at some point in the future, I hope that we can both embody a spirit of forgiveness.

            I will say nothing else in this sub-thread.

          • Mat Sheffield – I (for one) think you did your best in this exchange.

            This is the first time I encountered Origen Adams – and I wasn’t fully aware of what I was dealing with. He expresses views which are (in my opinion) utter rubbish, contradict the clear and plain Word of God and which (in my opinion) deserve a sharp response. Of course, Newton’s law applies here: to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – and no doubt he (reciprocally) thinks the same of my views.

            The problem is that he does seem to be incredibly sensitive and very quickly gets overwhelmed by the negative reaction.

            I personally don’t want to contribute to making things worse for him than they already are – and therefore I regret having responded to him (since I clearly can’t be supportive of him on the matters that seem to be of vital importance to him). Next time he appears, I’ll leave it to people who have a more sympathetic approach and might be able to help him (I saw that Geoff engaged in a good way).

            But in the exchange between you and Origen, I (for one) thought that you did your best here.

          • Mat – “I will not apologise for things I don’t remember saying, don’t believe I would have said, and for which no evidence has been provided.”

            The evidence is here as you request:

            I don’t think ‘courteous’ springs to my mind when I re-read it! I didn’t think my comments were abusive, but ‘Rev’ deleted them and labelled them ‘abusive’. Unfortunately we only have his word on that as mine are gone.

            What upset me, besides the judgemental remarks, was how you wrote sentences and put quotes around them making out that they were things I said, and then demolished them . I never wrote those words!

            “*slow clap*” doesn’t seem particularly ‘courteous’ either.

            What irks as well is writing a diatribe and then saying at the end, ‘Oh by the way God bless!’ Both you and Jock have done it. If you’re going to be horrible to someone, just leave it at that. Don’t bring God into it or any patronising blessing!

            I’m glad ‘Rev’ isn’t commenting – he’s on license at the moment for after several complaints to the church authorities about his abusive behaviour! Its difficult to know how to stand up to a bully. Note how he puts my name in quotes, and also calls me a coward. As far as I’m aware I haven’t made derisory comments about anyone else on here, but maybe think how you would respond if nasty articles were published about you every couple of weeks for many many years. Also consider how difficult it is for one of the subjects of the articles to come here and try to defend themselves. Its like going into the lion pit to be mauled.

            BTW I’m not looking for an apology, I’m just pointing out to you the behaviour, which you deny, which seems to be less than courteous.

          • S – you’ve lost me with the reference to Pelagius. Could you explain what you mean? I notice the Wikipedia entry says “He was tall in stature and portly in appearance. ” Maybe you’re referring to that?!

          • My comment from the article seems apposite:

            November 21, 2020 at 12:40 am

            I’ll try and summarise the points I made in my comments that were deleted because I think they’re important for people to think about:

            1) People in less tolerant countries might read these articles and comments and use them to deny LGBTs their rights.

            2) Freedom of speech is great, but when you’re publishing what people might see as hate material, then you have to accept that other people have the right to their freedom of speech and the right to reply

            3) Why spend all this energy attacking a minority of the population who might be as little as 2 or 3 percent?

            4) Articles that are published on here are often seen as inflammatory by the people referred to in the articles. We see it as abuse, so it appears deeply ironic when we respond negatively and our comments labelled abusive! Why write horrible things about people and then get all upset when they respond?

            5) Is it really appropriate for a minister of religion to be publishing such stuff? You might expect it of Nick Griffin or some other ‘phobe, but a minister of the established church? Really?

          • I evidently did you call a coward, and did apologise then, so fair enough. I had not remembered.

            You are owed recognition of that fact, which is the only reason I’m commenting again.

            But I maintain that nothing else I said is really problematic. I was not quoting you, but was rather parodying and paraphrasing the argument you had made by pointing out you were inconsistent and having it both ways. You advocated free speech, and yet called for censorship in the same comment, undermining your own point. What you later clarified in a subsequent comment is irrelevant, as I was responding to what you had said, not what you later would say. And incidentally, as you can see from the comments on that post, we did continue to discuss the actual point afterwards.

            “*slow clap*” doesn’t seem particularly ‘courteous’ either.

            But it’s hardly a savage put-down, or direct insult. It’s exasperated sarcasm, justified by the nature of the comments to which I was responding. Ian lets a lot of things past moderation in the comments that I wouldn’t allow, so it seems to take something exceptionally vitriolic or vile to be removed. Maybe I should be the one claiming to be a victim of your harsh words? I think my case is probably better.

            “What irks as well is writing a diatribe and then saying at the end, ‘Oh by the way God bless!’ Both you and Jock have done it. If you’re going to be horrible to someone, just leave it at that. Don’t bring God into it or any patronising blessing!”

            Believe what you want. I meant it. I’m pretty sure the bible says something about blessing those who persecute you, so maybe I should be asking to to reciprocate given that you think I am complicit in LGBT oppression? Bless me, your personal persecutor!

            “BTW I’m not looking for an apology, I’m just pointing out to you the behaviour, which you deny, which seems to be less than courteous.”

            Congratulations, you win. You have proved beyond doubt that Mathew Sheffield is not a universally and flawlessly courteous man; rather he is given to lapses of mild sarcasm and the occasional patronising jibe. Our images of him as a paragon of virtue have been shattered!

          • S – I’m just trying to work out what particular aspect of Pelagianism you’re referring to? Can you be more explicit rather then just responding with a huge article?

          • I’m just trying to work out what particular aspect of Pelagianism you’re referring to?

            Oh right. Your apparent insistence that Christianity is about doing good works.

          • I’m not trying to win anything. I hadn’t had any interaction with you since the one where you were horrible to me, so when you appeared I remembered the way you judged me and didn’t want an abusive interaction which I made quite clear.

            You then made out that I was telling fibs and got others to attest to your being a paragon of virtue, so I have found our first interaction and your response is just sarcasm.

            I now wish to stop our conversation, but feel free to respond with more invective.

          • S – I can’t see much in Pelagianism about good works, but maybe that’s the fault of Wikipedia?

            But yes as I’ve written, I do think Christianity is about good works. As Jock writes, these things are written on our hearts, and so when people don’t display the fruits of the Spirit, or don’t do good works, then it follows that maybe they don’t actually have the Spirit.

          • But yes as I’ve written, I do think Christianity is about good works.

            Right, well, you’re wrong. Christianity isn’t about what we do at all. It’s about what God has done for us. Lose sight of that and you lose sight of everything.

          • It’s about what God has done for us

            And specifically what God has done for us that we did not deserve.

            You seem to think that those who do good works are somehow proving that they deserve salvation while those who don’t, are showing that they do not. And that is a most damnable heresy.

          • Jock – in normal parlance it is considered impolite to talk about somebody to somebody else in front of them. How do you think I feel reading this?

            “This is the first time I encountered Origen Adams – and I wasn’t fully aware of what I was dealing with. He expresses views which are (in my opinion) utter rubbish, contradict the clear and plain Word of God and which (in my opinion) deserve a sharp response.”

          • S – I think this is what is called a ‘straw man’. You invent something and accuse your opponent of it in vehement terms. I’ve never said that people earn their salvation. I think God forgives if we repent and seek forgiveness.

            “You seem to think that those who do good works are somehow proving that they deserve salvation while those who don’t, are showing that they do not. And that is a most damnable heresy.”

          • I respectfully disagree.

            Yes I know. You are utterly wrong.

            I think Jesus was trying to show people what religion is really about.

            Not about this, though. You’re right there. He was.

            It’s not about tithing, or having the perfect theologies, rather it is about caring for orphans, widows, refugees, those in hunger, those without a roof over their heads, the oppressed.

            No; it’s about realising that you are corrupt, sinful, that you deserve nothing but eternal death, and throwing yourself on God’s mercy.

            The caring for orphans, widows, refugees, etc — all that follows on from the realisation. Those things are not what Christianity is about. They’re secondary — they are symptoms, not the real core of the matter. What it’s about is God’s grace.

            There are loads of groups about trying to do good works. If you think that good works are what it’s all about, if that’s what you think is at the heart of it all, then you should leave the Church alone and join one of them. But there’s only one place that teaches God’s grace in saving the undeserving, and that’s Christianity.

          • Well I think it is you who is “utterly wrong!”


            What matters to God is not whether you have the correct thoughts, or go to the correct church but practice “justice, mercy and faithfulness.”

            What matters to God is that you repent.

            If your heart isn’t in these things then the sad reality is you’re not part of God’s universal church, however much you delude yourself.

            I may well not be, of course. But if I am, it’s not because of any widows or orphans I’ve cared for. I haven’t earned it by feeding the hungry. God’s Kingdom doesn’t have any price of entry, it’s not ‘look after five refugees and get a season ticket to Heaven’. Admission is by invitation only, at the sole discretion of the proprietor.

          • The proprietor makes it clear when he separates the sheep from the goats, that this is a salvation issue. If you don’t do the things that you say only rotary clubs do, then you’re gonna burn.

            If you think we can earn our salvation by doing good works then I can see why you have such problems. But I can only repeat: if your religion is about us and the things we do, and not entirely about God and what He has done for us, then it’s not Christianity.

      • The problem is rather that these who have been excluded have pulled the ladder up after them and joined the oppressors in oppressing other dispossessed people. I remember when Joel Richards started an EA campaign against LGBTs, thinking to myself ‘but he’s black!’ So sad.

  17. The second video: why on earth would you want to start a conversation with someone at church about sexuality or gender? Haven’t you got bigger fish to fry? We might so be nuked this week.. Surely there are bigger questions like food poverty or inequality between rich and poor?

    Some of them sound sincere but deluded. ‘All we’re doing is listening to Jesus’ as if other Christians don’t listen to Jesus too. ‘Everyones welcome’. No we’re not, stop lying. You’re beginning to sound like Boris.

    • The second video: why on earth would you want to start a conversation with someone at church about sexuality or gender?

      I don’t want to, and I doubt anyone else who holds to the conservative sexual ethic does either; but the people who want the church to change its teaching will keep starting such conversations unbidden until they get what they want, so unless those who think that would be a disaster are prepared to do so too then they will be constantly on the back foot.

        • So the oppressed are to blame

          I don’t believe I wrote that anyone was ‘to blame’. You asked why; I answered the question.

          • You wrote that the oppressed keep on raising the fact of our oppression. You would rather we kept silent and remain in our place.

          • You wrote that the oppressed keep on raising the fact of our oppression.

            That’s not really a fair characterisation. You should read what I actually wrote and not try to tendentiously gloss it.

            You would rather we kept silent and remain in our place.

            Actually no: I’m a firm believer in free speech and free debate, I want all issues argued in the public square. I think that’s how we get closer to the truth; I think that silence leads to error. It’s the Protestant in me.

            But for that to work, for debate to bring us closer to the truth, both sides have to enter into the debate. If one side cedes the terrain then we don’t get to the truth, so it’s the duty and responsibility of both sides to put forward their best arguments. That’s the only way we can work out what is correct.

  18. Brokeness continued…
    On a personal level, singing the chorus (above) was a significant part of becoming a Christian.
    My dad had died, early February. A local CoE minister carried out the funeral. He invited my wife and me onto an Alpha course.
    The course started and Pentecost arrived.
    The minister invited us to a charismatic eceumentical meeting that evening. It was raucous. I’d not been anywhere like it and if it hadn’t been for God’s miraclulous intervention at my dad’s death in hospital, I’d probably have left.
    But we sang the chorus and as we did so it came to my mind that my intellect needed to be broken, and a prayer in my thoughts mixed with the words of the song, for my intellect to be broken!
    At that stage, wanting to be master of my own destiny, in legal practice, intellect was held in high regard, esteemed in practice, and in solutions, answers, advice.
    Some will conclude that God answers prayers!
    At a prayer meeting last evening, one of the prayer requests from our church sponsored missionary Bible translators, was for their young family to live a life of faith!
    Be careful what we pray for! Our idea of living a life of faith (radical dependence?) may not be God’s (counting everything as loss). It could expose what we trust and rely on for our identity, safety, security, significance rather than on God. Indeed we may be shaken to our very core, of who we are, our very existence; broken, empty, grieving loss: malleable clay in the hands of the Potter: a shattered image remade and reformed: an empty vessel to be filled by and with Him; in poring; in breathing Holy Spirit life eternal; a resurrected new life, now.


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