How do we handle the complexities of the Bible, sexual ethics, and contemporary culture?

Sam Evans writes: Earlier this year I had the opportunity to study a module in Christian Ethics.  I was both daunted and excited. Once I’d vaguely orientated myself in the worlds of Plato, Aristotle, Kant and others, I thought I was ready to explore some contemporary issues.  Little did I realise that I would actually find the minefield of contemporary Christian Ethics more complex and dislocating than the historical philosophical ethics I’d just studied.  As so often happens when studying something new that interacts with your faith, I soon entered the pit of deconstruction, questioning everything, and tried to gradually crawl back up the other side where I could hope to have gained something useful for church leadership.  Thankfully I’d ‘been there before’ so wasn’t too alarmed to be in the pit!  Of course it was not an easy or painless exercise. But it highlighted to me the importance of rigorous theological training for church leaders, the value of studying with people from a wide range of traditions, and taught me skills that I desperately need as someone in church leadership trying to navigate the cultural mine field that we currently find ourselves in.  I think most of us would agree that right now there’s a lot at stake.

The essay title I choose was about same-sex marriage.  However, I now find myself using much of what I learned to understand and critique some of the current debate around race and power, another highly charged, sensitive and important conversation where nuanced, intelligent debate can be difficult.  I choose to try and understand the debate about same-sex marriage, and same-sex sexual relationships more generally, because it seems to me that it is hugely important and controversial.  Personally, I have a number of Christian friends who have different views on how to interpret what the Bible says about sexuality.  There are also people who are members of our church who would describe themselves as ‘same-sex attracted’ and, of course, most of my non-Christian friends find any possible view that isn’t all-inclusive or ‘tolerant’ to be morally reprehensible.  This meant that I felt both wary of entering such an emotionally charged debate but, at the same time, I felt that I couldn’t side step the opportunity to read widely and think thoroughly about something so relevant to now.

Another reason I choose this question, is because of the kind of person I am.  For whatever reason, I am a person who is extremely ‘sensitive’: sensitive to the body-language and feelings of others and sensitive to cultural pressure. This means that when I try to enter into difficult conversations that have significant ramifications for the feelings of other people I can find it difficult. But stepping back and being able to read through the vast array of literature and spectrum of views at my own speed meant that I could start to grapple with the ideas themselves more logically and actually employ my frontal cortex!  This was extremely helpful in better understanding Christian views of same-sex marriage.  However, what I didn’t expect was to find myself grappling so intensely with questions of hermeneutics, more widely.  What I didn’t expect was to find myself wondering, ‘er…ok.  What do we do with the Bible then?’

The place of Scripture

It seems to me that contemporary ethical debates within Christianity are tied closely to our views on the place and authority of scripture in our thinking.  This is not to say that, for example, someone from a more liberal tradition or a ‘virtue ethicist’ doesn’t see the bible as having authority.  But, the journey from text and tradition to contemporary practice may be quite different from someone with a conservative or deontological approach.  And, although this can sound rather complex, because it is, the scary thing is that we all do this hermeneutic work, just often at a more subconscious and un-informed way, sometimes within our own echo chamber.  Thus it is so important, particularly for those of us who find ourselves in church leadership, to give careful thought about how we use the Bible and how this informs the ethical conclusions we come to. Reading the Bible in context, informed by up to date scholarship is challenging enough. But reading it alongside early church creeds, in conversations with other theological traditions, in a way that informs our ethical conclusion is tough.  But, cries of ‘the Bible says so’ from the one side and ‘proof text!’ from another are not adequate responses. We simply can’t afford to be lazy and we must, as Paul charges Timothy, make every effort to ‘rightly handle the word of truth’ (2 Tim 2:15).

When it comes to contemporary ethical issues sometimes the Bible might seem to say nothing or little about a current debate.  Regarding same-sex marriage, on face value, the Bible actually says nothing, because it wasn’t a consideration.  Of course, the Bible does speak a number of times about same-sex sexual relationships, in a consistently negative tone, but these texts are both surprisingly sparse and often the issue of sexuality is more of an example than the main point being made.  And of course, within New Testament letters we have the added complication that we’re ‘reading someone else’s post’ and trying to reconstruct the other side of the conversation. How tempting it is to throw up our hands in despair and give up!  However, as several scholars argue[1] when we stand back and view the biblical narrative as a whole there are strong indicators about what the Jewish view of marriage was really about and this does have implications for this current debate.

Reading the grand narrative

For example, the opening chapters of Genesis highlight a sexual difference that needs to be overcome, mirroring the fundamental difference between God and humanity, heaven and earth that Yahweh labours to overcome.  The meta-theme of reunification begins in a broken marriage, and broken world, and ends in the marriage of heaven and earth, with a world restored.  So we see that a debate around marriage isn’t merely a battle ground of six or seven ‘proof texts’ but requires a holistic reading of a grand narrative, as well as the contexts of each individual text.  Of course, other opinions on the Meta narrative are available.

But what do we do with the individual texts that do address same-sex relationships?  Do we disregard them as too difficult to understand or impossible to culturally transpose?  Tempting, but no. Surely Jesus’ own interpretation of scripture could be a guide to our hermeneutic and, for example, Jesus’ appeal to the creative vision of Genesis 1 and 2 and the Mosaic Law is relevant.[2]  Further research may also suggest that both Jesus and Paul used ‘shorthand’ when talking about sexual morality:  For example porneia (Matthew 15:19) as an allusion to Levitical law about sexuality[3]  or arsenokoitai (1 Cor 6:9) as an allusion to Leviticus 20:13. [4]  If this is the case, a consistent biblical sexual ethic begins to emerge, as Jesus and Paul expound sexual boundaries[5] in a way that we could view as universal.  So we begin to see that an exploration of contemporary Christian ethics requires an understanding of both meta-narrative and individual texts, with a detailed understanding of individual contexts and allusions that may link together multiple texts.

However, it’s not enough to grasp the texts in context, or even the overall narrative emphasis. It is important to be aware of how these texts have been used.  For example, I found it both disturbing and illuminating to read Michael Vasey’s historical accounts of abuse of biblical texts to hurt and abuse gay people.[6]  This is clearly inexcusable. Multiple voices also highlight the effect of the western church often presenting some kind of inherent sexual perfection in heterosexual people or idolising marriage and the nuclear family.[7]  It is so important to listen to these stories of pain and hurt and respond appropriately.  In this way subversive ethics can play an important role.  But, it is also important to hear the voices of those who grapple with same sex attraction and yet call for celibacy[8] and the views of the church in the global south who seem to view affirmation of same-sex marriage as another example of ‘western imperialism’ attempting to impose liberal ideology on the developing world.[9]  Personally, I was surprised at the spectrum of views and arguments from all sides.  There are many competing voices from both traditional and revisionist ‘sides’ sometimes with contradictory arguments from the same ‘side’.  Taking account of these views is challenging but illuminating.

Contemporary Culture and the Doctrine of God

I think we have to also be aware of contemporary philosophical moves within culture more broadly.  For example, Timothy Keller,[10] drawing on Alistair Macintyre,[11]  highlights the shifting concept of ‘justice’ that undergirds cries for equality.  There are, indeed, competing visions of justice.  So, within the conversation about sexuality, we have to be aware that within a postmodern call for justice, group identity is primary, and that groups that are ‘superior’ (white, heterosexual, ‘cisgender’ male) are deemed inherently oppressive and, therefore, must be silenced. We have to be aware that such an ideology is deeply resistant to the New Testament vision of unity, where ‘group identities’ are always subordinate to a superior allegiance to Christ[12] and that an overemphasis on systemic sin, undermines a biblical view of ‘original sin’.[13]  So much more could be said, and Macintyre and Keller’s analysis of postmodern critical theory is illuminating for almost any contemporary ethical consideration that revolves around a cry for justice.  We have to ask, which vision of justice and which set of beliefs are behind it?  Is this form of ‘justice’ consistent with a biblical call for justice? Something similar could be said about definitions of the word ‘love’. What kind of love? Furthermore, we have to consider what the church’s role is when cultural morality shifts? Do we fall into pragmatism (‘that’s the way things are now’) or is the church’s role to critique and sometimes resist cultural and ethical movement?

I think that more recently I’ve become aware of a final category to consider when dealing with contemporary ethical decisions: the doctrine of God. It seems to me that the temptation to remake God in our own image is great. Our anthropological perspective can so easily pull God down to our level. If that is so, we have to be wary of our tendency to do so and make room for the ‘otherness’ of God. According to Matthew Barrett, contemporary theologians have so often created

…a God whose immanence has swallowed his transcendence, a God that can be controlled by the creature because he is not that different from the creature. [14]

In other words, the God we worship is not confined to my view of love, my view of mercy or my view of justice. It is a dangerous game to limit God and we must, I think, pay attention to the guardrails of the historic church, its theologians and its creeds.

Listening in Love

It is not an easy feat to carefully consider contemporary ethical issues, such as current debates about sexuality or race and power, from a Christian perspective.  However, as any good virtue ethicist will tell you, the effort of studying scripture holistically and contextually, listening to other voices and making an effort to understand and critique culture has a profound effect on you.  We can become more loving through this toil.  For those in Church leadership, particularly, it is a labour of love that may be painful at times but is part of the calling.  Yes, it turns out that reading and studying the Bible is sometimes extremely challenging and understanding a particular issue will take time and effort, stretching our small brains to full capacity. But surely this is the kind of servant leadership that Christ requires, the kind of costly worship worthy of the transcendent and almighty God.  In working these things out we can be become more aware of the beautiful, varied literature found in the biblical texts, we can discover more about our own hidden prejudice, learn to listen better to others and humble ourselves before God as we seek to serve others.


Sam Evans is a staff member and part of leadership team of a church in Leeds, foodie and a proud Welshman. He previously worked as a high school Special Needs Co-ordinator, music and English teacher, with particular interests in disability and adoption.  He is married to Hannah and they have three children.

[1] Alastair Roberts in David Shaw, True to Form – Primer Issue 3 (FIEC, 2016); Ian Paul, Same-Sex Unions; Key Biblical Texts, 1st edition (Grove Books Ltd, 2014); Matthew Schmidt, quoting ‘N. T. Wright on Gay Marriage | Matthew Schmitz’, First Things<https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/06/n-t-wrights-argument-against-same-sex-marriage> [accessed 27 February 2020].

[2] John Goldingay and others, ‘Same-Sex Marriage and Anglican Theology: A View from the Traditionalists’, Anglican Theological Review, 93.1 (2011), 1–50 (pp. 15–19).

[3] Preston Sprinkle, ‘Resources’, The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender, ‘Paper 5’, p. 2 <https://www.centerforfaith.com/resources> [accessed 23 February 2020]; also Sam Allberry, Is God Anti-Gay? (The Good Book Company, 2013), p. 41.

[4] Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction To New Testament Ethics, 1st Edition edition (London: T & T Clark International, 1997), p. 382; Goldingay and others, pp. 27–28.

[5] Thistleton in Timothy Bradshaw, The Way Forward? Christian Voices on Homosexuality and the Church, 2nd Revised edition edition (London: SCM Press, 2012), pp. 168–69.

[6] Michael Vasey, Strangers and Friends: A New Exploration of Homosexuality and the Bible (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1995).

[7] Ed Shaw, The Plausibility Problem: The Church And Same-Sex Attraction, First edition (ivp, 2015), pp. 96–106; Jenell Williams Paris, The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are (IVP Books, 2011), p. 172; Vasey, p. 4.

[8] Ed Shaw; Allberry; David Bennett, War of Loves (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2018).

[9] Goldingay and others, pp. 1–10.

[10] ‘Tim Keller – A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory’, Life in the Gospel, 2020 <https://quarterly.gospelinlife.com/a-biblical-critique-of-secular-justice-and-critical-theory/> [accessed 3 September 2020].

[11] Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? – Which Rationality?

[12] John M. G. Barclay, Paul and the Subversive Power of Grace, p. 21.

[13] ‘Tim Keller – A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory’.

[14] Barrett, None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God p. xvi.


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329 thoughts on “How do we handle the complexities of the Bible, sexual ethics, and contemporary culture?”

  1. Thank you Sam/Ian. 2 things jump out at me:
    1. The section “we have to be aware that within a postmodern call for justice, group identity is primary, and that groups that are ‘superior’ (white, heterosexual, ‘cisgender’ male) are deemed inherently oppressive and, therefore, must be silenced. We have to be aware that such an ideology is deeply resistant to the New Testament vision of unity, where ‘group identities’ are always subordinate to a superior allegiance to Christ[12] and that an overemphasis on systemic sin, undermines a biblical view of ‘original sin” seems to have huge parallels and connections to our discussions/disagreements around racism.
    2. Sam writes “we have to consider what the church’s role is when cultural morality shifts? Do we fall into pragmatism (‘that’s the way things are now’) or is the church’s role to critique and sometimes resist cultural and ethical movement?”
    I have been reflecting on this the past few days. Personally I don’t speak out critically about much as I’d taken a line of ‘not judging those outside the church’ and wanting to be known more for what we are for than against. However the recent emphasis on racism has challenged that. BUT do I then only speak out on issues that are culturally acceptable? I don’t want to alienate non Christians before they even start exploring Jesus and I certainly don’t expect them to live in the way of Jesus. How and when do we speak out and on what? (not expecting answers, just processing)

    Reply
    • I’ve battled with this and found 1 Cor 5 very helpful. My 2 biggest roles in church life caused conflict here. In one sense for myself making the highest private demands, and as a worship leader I was probably seen as being part of the ‘public face’ of the church and so needed to be careful, but in reaching out as often a first contact in ‘evangelism’ my stance has been accepting and welcoming anybody at face value regardless (not condoning behaviour but not my place to judge)

      “9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

      12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked person from among you.’[d]”

      Reply
    • I have no idea what an overemphasis on systemic sin undermines a biblical view of original sin means. Surely original sin is systemic in that it orientates us all away from the good? Systemic sin infects every human institution and has the capacity to corrupt. Systemic sin is endemic.

      Reply
      • Thanks Penelope, I may not have been clear there. I think that the christian doctrine of original sin both affirms and critiques some of the postmodern philosophy that calls for justice. It affirms that we are all corrupted and therefore systemic sin (such as systemic racism) is very likely to exist. But, Keller makes the point that it suggests that all sin is systemic and nothing can be individual. I think this goes too far. I think it could also make out that some cultures are corrupted, sinful or evil and others aren’t- which is surely pretty dangerous.

        Reply
  2. Sam. Thank you for this piece. I particularly appreciate the honest vulnerability you express in the work of doing bible and theology today. I can relate to that.
    One response. I do not understand what you mean when you say ‘The opening chapters of Genesis highlight a sexual difference that needs to be overcome, mirroring the fundamental difference between God and humanity, heaven and earth that Yahweh labours to overcome.’ I do not find sexual difference as something that needs ‘overcoming’ there. In fact sexual difference is not discussed at all in any detail – they are just created male and female. And in what way does sexual difference mirror the difference between God and humanity, and where you find that expressed? Thanks again. I may be misunderstanding your point here.

    Reply
      • This statement also baffles me. I am not sure what needs to be overcome here. God is not sexually differentiated in the same way as male and female are. His personhood is tripartite whereas humans are singular. That he chose to create male and female each having a singular personhood and and the Word began flesh in the form of a man, is the way he has chosen to reveal Himself to us as maybe as the only real way we can relate to him on terms we can understand. Why should this be problematic?
        Keller ‘s article is right on on the nail IMO.

        Reply
    • Perhaps, Sam is applying the later aspects of a “grand narrative” to the Genesis text.

      Certainly, the union of Adam and Eve is the archetype to which Christ harked back in clarifying God’s unrevoked intent for marriage.

      There is distinct asymmetry in the adversities pronounced by God on Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:16 – 19), which accords with sexual difference.

      It was to Adam, rather than Eve, that God declared: “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

      Pope John Paul II said of this effect of the Fall: “This ‘domination’ indicates the disturbance and loss of the stability of that fundamental equality which the man and the woman possess in the ‘unity of the two’: and this is especially to the disadvantage of the woman” (MD, 10)“

      Accordingly, it would be valid to state that God’s plan of redemption seeks to overcome this disunity.

      While God is transcendent, there is also a similar sense in which sin has caused mankind’s loss of our intended spiritual kinship with God.

      Eph. 5:32 establishes the broader spiritual narrative of union between Christ and His church overcoming mankind’s loss of unity with God through the Fall.

      Ultimately, in the John’s vision of heaven and earth in union (Rev. 21:2 – 3), mankind’s disunity with God is ultimately overcome, as the faithful are described as the bride:
      “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ”

      Reply
      • Hi David

        Somewhat to my surprise, I like the JPII quote. But, at the risk of going off topic, the difficulty I have with the marriage metaphor is that both the spotless bride and the unfaithful wife, Ezekiel et seq, play upon a problematic, misogynistic trope. Not that this is unusual in classical and late antiquity literature.

        Reply
        • Hi Penelope,

          All anthropomorphisms and spiritual metaphors are inherently incapable of defining the transcendent.

          However, as St. Clement explained: “ These are but honorable phrases which we may use, not because they really describe the Eternal, but that our understanding may have something to lean upon.” Therefore, when “the Hebrews mention hands and feet and mouth and eyes and entrance and exits and exhibitions of wrath and threatening, let no one suppose… that these terms express passions of God.”

          So, as Paul explained, “ 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (1 Cor. 13:11)

          That said, the OT idealisation of womanhood represents a definite emergence from absolute patriarchy.

          In Prov. 31:10 – 31, far from basking in the coverture of her husband, the virtuous woman is portrayed as enterprising, industrious and wise decision-maker, who is publicly lauded for her own endeavours.

          Similarly, the main protagonist in the Song of Solomon doesn’t particularly exemplify domesticated femininity.

          So, the result of fraternal resentment and imposition is that she’s no stranger to hard manual outdoors tasks, as proven by her long-term exposure to the elements. For that, thIs exemplar’s appearance provokes feminine disdain: “Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I had to neglect.” (Song of Solomon 1:6)

          If we’re going to talk about problematic tropes, we might also discuss the feminist movement’s own problematic mythopoeia whereby patriarchy was framed as a reaction to mankind’s matriarchal prehistory. As Gloria Steinem put it: “ Once upon a time, the many cultures of this world were all part of the gynocratic age. Paternity had not yet been discovered, and it was thought … that women bore fruit like trees—when they were ripe. Childbirth was mysterious. It was vital. And it was envied. Women were worshipped because of it, were considered superior because of it…. Men were on the periphery—an interchangeable body of workers for, and worshippers of, the female center, the principle of life.

          The discovery of paternity, of sexual cause and childbirth effect, was as cataclysmic for society as, say, the discovery of fire or the shattering of the atom. Gradually, the idea of male ownership of children took hold…”

          I’m with Cynthia Eller on this issue, when she wrote: “And the gendered stereotypes upon which matriarchal myth rests persistently work to flatten out differences among women; to exaggerate differences between women and men; and to hand women an identity that is symbolic, timeless, and archetypal, instead of giving them the freedom to craft identities that suit their individual temperaments, skills, preferences, and moral and political commitments.”

          https://movies2.nytimes.com/books/first/e/eller-myth.html

          Despite some people finding empowerment in such a crude stereotype, it is a deeply misogynistic metaphor that lacks any of the emerging nuance to be found in the aforementioned biblical examples of womanhood.

          Reply
          • Hi David

            Thank you very much for your answer. I agree that the woman in Songs undermines concepts of femininity, both ancient and contemporary. I also agree that there many women in the Hebrew Bible and the NT who are depicted as strong and independent, but they are still figures in a patriarchal landscape, as are Athena and Hera.
            I still find the bride/whore metaphor problematic. Metaphor may point to the transcendent, but it can also reveal our deepest anxieties and prejudices.
            That said, I do agree with you about Steneim’s mythology of matriarchy. Ironically, I think that type of feminism has resulted in gender critical ‘feminism’ where women are defined by their femininity and by their reproductive ability.
            I supported the Greenham Common women, but really disliked their depiction of women as inherently nurturing and men as hawks. This seems to me to be playing into misogynistic stereotypes.

          • So if women have had nurturing babies as a central role for multiple thousands of years and men have frequently fought during that time, is there nothing to be said for sociobiology? Have they somehow suddenly 100% escaped this history and heritage, despite the women still having much of their life story defined by the childbirths and children and the men still being stronger?

            Not ‘liking’ that is irrelevant. Reality doesn’t care whether we like it or not.

          • “Reality doesn’t care whether we like it or not.”

            ‘Reality’ might have been influenced by social conditioning and is relative to that. A few hundred years of doing things differently will change ‘reality’.

    • Thanks David. I wasn’t particularly wanting to argue this but giving it as an example of something that some scholars point to in the text which is quite subtle. Maybe I didn’t write it very clearly, and it’s probably controversial. However, I’ll try.

      I think that NT Wright makes the point that the building binaries that begin with ‘heaven and earth’ and end with ‘male and female’ (in Genesis) are bookended by the marriage of heaven and earth in Revelation, and are therefore really important, highlighting embodied difference. Gen 2:18 ‘kenegdo’ – sometimes translated ‘suitable helper’ means ‘equal but opposite’ and the Genesis 3 judgements really underline ’embodied’ ways that men and women will be tempted to sin against one another. I’ve also heard Alastair Roberts talk about links in the hebrew poetry between ‘formless and void’ and the post lapsarian M/F work of filling and forming. So we could say that at the moment when heaven and earth were separated the text has a particular emphasis on men and women turning on one another. Anyway, I think that Paul’s vision of marriage in Eph 5 seems to be an ‘overcoming’ of these judgements and sinful patterns, reversing the embodied ways that M and F tend to sin against one another (not exclusively, obviously). So, I suppose I’d say that the Hebrew texts sometimes highlight particular M/F tensions and embodied sins (such as rape) that particularly highlight the horror of sin and need to be overcome for humanity to exist as Imago Dei.

      Does that make sense?

      Reply
      • Sam. Thank you for taking time to respond. I am with Chris Bishop in his response above. This needs a long coffee as I am not completely getting what you are saying here! Briefly I do not think creation is helpfully spoken of as ‘binary’. Nor is God. Genesis has always been prone to an over literal application of what is poetic language. Day and night, land and sea, light and dark are all on a spectrum and include everything in-between. So is being male and female. And nowhere is God’s own being binary let alone sexually differentiated. I am not sure if you are suggesting that the image of God is divided in humanity and this is only ‘overcome’ through the union of the marriage 0f man and woman? Which of course leaves anyone – and any other forms of relating – outside marriage not in God’s image. You may not be saying this of course. Sorry – a bit in haste.

        Reply
  3. This, I think, is the article by Keller, cited.
    https://quarterly.gospelinlife.com/a-biblical-critique-of-secular-justice-and-critical-theory/

    It obliquely refers to the doctrine of God when mentioning transcendence, which is omitted in the categorised four (secular) views of justice.
    Lightly touching on the doctrine of God, I picked this up from a tweet by Andrew Wilson,
    – “There is nothing that troubles our conscience more than when we think that God is like ourselves.” Calvin
    As a layman I agree with the gist of the whole canon, big picture(s) biblical theology hermeneutics which is not at odds with systematic theology. Topics are to be viewed within big pictures.

    Reply
  4. Sam, sounds like you’re a terrific job and are an ideally placed person to do work like this.

    A few things pop out from the text:

    ‘Different views on how to interpret’ – (a) Are we seriously expecting that in a world of 7bn people there will be only one view? It follows that the fact that there are different views is not worth remarking on. (b) The word ‘views’ is unusable because it covers everything from preferences to hard-won research conclusions. Those clinging onto the former are abusing the process by claiming equality with the latter. (‘After all, they’re all ”views”, ergo they are all equally worthy of consideration.’ I’m sure you can spot the fallacy here.)

    ‘Interpret’ is also a much abused term. It covers exegesis done by any who have expertise in background, whether linguistic, cultural, sociological, historical etc etc.. A lot of people claim to be able to interpret who have none of that.

    Finally the fact that the debate is emotionally charged means only that people desperately *want* it to be decided in one particular direction, and try to terrorise others by their emotions. But emotions are not relevant since facts don’t care about our feelings. Good that you do care and are obviously an empathetic kind of guy.

    Reply
  5. You really didn’t give a conclusion to any of the arguments. Or are you saying its up to the individual. BUT one must also listen to what the bible says and the teachings of the Lord

    Reply
    • Hi Peter,

      He did but he did not make them the high point of the article.

      I appreciated his priorities. Our problem, as he explains clearly in the article, is that we are failing to go from big to small when analysing biblical teaching on sexuality. Instead we go from small to big – we strangle a verse of the bible seeking to make it match the overall vision of sexuality we think the bible ought to create. This is simply irresponsible – unacceptable. I see this as so much of a problem that I consider any contribution that emphasises the big to small component to be a step forward.

      Reply
    • From an Evangelical perspective I find the comment “listening to other voices” to be on a similar trajectory to “shared conversations” and steering towards the same shipwreck – if the intention is missiological, hermeneutical, therapeutic, reparative and redemptive engagement then the only voice I will listen to is the transformative and meta-narrative voice of the Lord Jesus Christ speaking through Scripture and the Holy Spirit will not contradict that voice – there is no spiritual discernment outside that voice.

      Reply
  6. I’ve had some deep problems with the same sex debate, mainly with how we’re handling talking about it and what it’s revealing about how we see each other.

    The ghastly antipathy, polarisation, mud slinging etc makes me feel physically sick. How can that fit with saying “I love God” when clearly not loving each other enough to even talk civilly to those who disagree? I’m fine with being angry about things, that’s right and normal within certain guidelines.

    I’m also fed up with the agenda of sexuality debates being set as same sex and gender issues. I’m not being “all lives matter” about it, of course debate about the abusive and inhuman treatment of people of varying orientations is needed along with a healthy theology of what God says on those issues. The bible is full of sex and breeding, good and bad. I think the single pressing issue mustn’t be allowed to obscure a much needed wider debate for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

    Reply
    • “The ghastly antipathy, polarisation, mud slinging etc makes me feel physically sick. How can that fit with saying “I love God” when clearly not loving each other enough to even talk civilly to those who disagree?“

      I agree Liz. It is truly regrettable. And it is another reason why the product of Living in Love and Faith must produce some trajectory in which this polarisation is ended. The only possible way for that to happen will be a “both/and” approach rather than an “either/or” one. There needs to be an approach where both ‘sides’ in this matter can be honoured, supported and welcomed openly. The days of bishops, priests and deacons having to hide who they are and pretend that their partners do not exist should have been over decades ago.

      Reply
  7. “As so often happens when studying something new that interacts with your faith, I soon entered the pit of deconstruction, questioning everything, and tried to gradually crawl back up the other side ”

    Yes.

    Thank you for your honesty.

    Reply
  8. I am tired of arguments making excuses for the prejudiced morality of bronze aged goat herders. Everyone makes their own decision about what is moral or not; morality is not handed down by an imaginary father, it is created by society. If you are heterosexual and happy in your relationship, good for you. But keep your prejudices to yourself and your nose out of other people’s business. Their is no “original sin” gifted us by a supreme being, and no need for “redemption.” As one of our wise forebears said “man is the measure of all things.”

    Reply
    • You have a very patronising attitude towards our ancestors. Reminds me of something Stephen Fry once said. But I suppose it’s common for each generation to be more arrogant than the last. Btw during the Bronze Age humans devised the first writing systems and invented the wheel – when was the last time you invented anything?!

      Reply
  9. To be a Christian you follow Jesus Christ, that is precisely what the word means. Yet the current zeitgeist (and it has been around before) is to be dismissive as the Bible and yet Jesus Christ was NOT dismissive of Scripture.

    Jesus Christ requires us to look at Scripture holistically and that is extremely difficult. Yet too many people simply turn to saying one part of the Bible is wrongly stated whilst simultaneously raising up other parts of the Bible that suit their personal views. There is a huge difference between saying parts of the Bible are wrong and trying to reveal what the Bible says holistically. These two positions are not the same at all. The former is currently popular, the latter is as difficult today as it has always been.

    The contemporary secular views are compounded by the House of Bishops wanting to support current culture more than proclaiming Jesus Christ.

    For example, in the marriage debate when Jesus Christ was asked about divorce in the gospels he does not reply by telling the people what divorce was – Jesus Christ replies by telling them what marriage is (and that is even clear in the Koine Greek). Yet contemporary culture has people simply dismissing Jesus Christ telling us what marriage is because of the question he was asked instead of looking at Jesus Christ’s clear statement of what marriage is that he says to us all. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus Christ tells us the truth.

    As another example, the Bishop of Newcastle is leading a group clearly heading into saying Christians are homophobic because that is what the contemporary MSM wants to hear, when that is clearly untrue. The real problem is that when Christians accept others as they are and help them to change in God’s time, many of those thaat Christians accept as willing to change come from a society that IS homophobic, but it doesn’t mean Jesus Christ and Christians are homophobic at all. Yet the Bishop of Newcastle is leading a group preparing the ground to label Christians as homophobic when they are not all because that is what current society’s MSM want to hear.

    ( https://www.anglicanrevivalwales.org.uk/articles.html has an article “Are Christians homophobic” that is short and to the point)

    We have to show others that we do not treat Scripture as untrue but we are trying to understand Scripture holistically as Jesus Christ asks us to do.

    Reply
      • You have missed the point that the Christian faith itself shows that Christians are not homophobic with the other side of the coin being that if Christians accept people into their Church as they are as the starting point for growth and change then inevitably some will be homophobic. It is the same with racism, you start out by thinking you are not racist but the more you learn about it the more you realise that you are racist in unexpected ways. The same is true of homophobia. We are all fallen people.

        None of that excuses the Bishops and the MSM labeling all Christians as homophobic when they are not.

        Reply
        • This is true. Despite supporting BLM and equal marriage, I am probably unconsciously racist and homophobic. And, of course, growth and change are hoped for outcomes of church communities and an encounter with the gospel. But change does not turn black people into white any more than it changes gay people into straight. The change we should hope for, surely, is that we notice the beams in our own eyes.

          I am not aware that the Bishops have labelled all Christians as homophobic. I think we need a citation for that assertion.

          Reply
          • Dear Penelope

            You obviously didn’t read the first entry before commenting on it. The first entry said: “Yet the Bishop of Newcastle is leading a group preparing the ground to label Christians as homophobic” and then kindly think about what the phrase “preparing the ground to..” means when you read the Bishops draft text for the report.

            This all puts in perspective your expression of impatience.

          • For you Penelope and for Andrew who seems to have merely jumped on your band-wagon:

            The reference is the report and video “Pastoral Principles for living well together” released in the last week of January 2020 as the indicator of what is to come in “Living in Love and Faith”.

            The Archbishops and Canterbury and York have been extensively pushing for Unity but how is Unity even remotely possible when hateful labels are thrown at Christians? The Bishop of Newcastle is the the Chair of the Church of England Pastoral Advisory Group and, as part of “Living in Love and Faith” released a pre-report and a video called “Pastoral Principles for living well together”.

            In that video at 00:57 the Bishop directly say this process is about LGBTI+. At 1:11 this is connected by her with 6 “EVILS”. At 2:30 the direct link is made by Professor Helen Berry to disagreeing theologically about same sex issues.

            So this video equates Christians with the 6 EVILS and LGBTI+ and with disagreeing theologically about same sex issues.

            The Bishop of Newcastle, made an oath to defend Christianity, an actual promise. Yet in this video and report she does NOT defend Christianity. That is Hypocrisy – ironically, one of the same 6 evils that she states and blames Christians for in the video.

            Christians are NOT homophobic and yet she chooses to join in the unsubstantiated chorus of saying Christians are homophobic when they are not.

            Any Bishop of the Church should be stating clearly the truth that Christians are not homophobic at all so that those few human beings
            who make that mistake can hear the truth. Yet labeling all Christians “homophobic” is a terrible, hateful injustice.

          • Dear Clive

            Of course I read it and am aware that the Bishop is leading one of the LLF groups. Al of the groups contain people from many different backgrounds and churchmanship. I noticed that you mentioned Helen Berry, but did not mention Ed Shaw. I have just watched the video on the Pastoral Principles and cannot think what on earth you are referring to. Are you suggesting that prejudice etc. aren’t evils? Or that modelling courteous and loving disagreement is a bad thing?

        • Clive. I have gone to the video and the pastoral principles report out of sheer curiosity – and having had some involvement with the emerging Living in Love and Faith material. You gave very precise timings as to where you feel your point is proven. I went to them and found nothing at all there to support your claim about homophobic labelling of all Christians. You offered no actual verbal quotes though so I am none the wiser. The participants on the video, comprising a range of folk in relation to sexuality, seem to get on fine with diverse views. No labelling by them either. So I can find no actual verbal support for your claim that the bishop or this video is ‘labelling all Christians “homophobic”‘. With all respect I think you have significantly misunderstood what is offered there.

          Reply
          • What do you mean by ‘views’. The word ‘views’ is so broad as to be meaningless. It encompasses a spectrum from preferences to hard-won research conclusions. How then justify using it?

    • “As another example, the Bishop of Newcastle is leading a group clearly heading into saying Christians are homophobic“

      Could you please provide some evidence for this claim Clive?

      Reply
      • No evidence provided I’m afraid Clive. As chair of a working party the Bishop of Newcastle is preparing the ground to explore a number of issues, and to label Christianity as homophobic.
        But institutionally the C of E is rather fearful of homosexuality – which is why a significant number of bishops, priests and deacons have spent decades being unable to be honest about their views and, in some cases, their personal lives. It’s just one reason why the Archbishop of Canterbury made his speech at synod in February 2017

        Reply
        • Dear Andrew

          You clearly have not read or seen the evidence I provided to you and Penelope.

          I have done expert witness for the Courts 17 times (in England, Wales & Scotland whose laws are different) and have constantly ensured that what I say is backed by facts and evidence. Therefore your presumption that what is said can be dismissed simply by demanding your particular version of evidence stands out as extremely odd.

          I have given you evidence at September 6, 2020 at 11:17 pm, I have never expected others, yourself include, to like evidence but it is what I have given to you. What I will not accept is you using it as a technique to stop further discussion.

          Reply
          • Clive – do see David Runcorn’s reply above. I am afraid that I too can see no evidence to support your claim. Please do come back if we have missed something?

          • Please see my reply above as well Clive. You have offered no evidence to support your claim. The video is a group of Christians, two of whom at least having very different views, disagreeing well and respecting each other’s integrity.
            They are proposing a set of pastoral principles which churches may share to debate with grace.

          • I don’t agree with you, but when I wrote “What I will not accept is you using it as a technique to stop further discussion.” that is exactly what I meant. The basis of discussion is that nobody is asking everyone to agree. And, yes, I did give precise timings, and I don’t agree with you at all.

          • Clive: I don’t see anybody here, least of all David, or Penny or myself, trying to use any techniques to prevent any further discussion. No idea, once again, what evidence you have for that. I can see that you don’t *want* any further discussion, but that’s quite different.
            I have met with the Bishop of Newcastle several times. I would be grateful if you withdrew your accusation as it evidently very unfair.

          • Dear Clive

            It’s not a technique to stop further discussion, whatever that means.
            There is no evidence in the video you cited of the Bishop and the pastoral group declaring that all Christians are homophobic.
            Some principles are advanced for discussing this contested theology well and gracefully.
            Affirming and non-affirming Christian’s have found a way of disagreeing in charity.
            Where do you find the evidence that Christians are being criticised as being homophobic?

          • Dear Penelope

            You say “It’s not a technique to stop further discussion, whatever that means.” and then you say “….Where do you find the evidence that Christians are being criticised as being homophobic?” repeating exactly the same technique all over again.

            History is about to repeat itself all over again. It was Christians who campaigned tirelessly to abolish slavery and it was British forces who enforced it world-wide and sometimes even gave their lives to do that. Yet we have to apologise for slavery again, and again, and again, and again. This is exactly what is going to happen over subjects such as homophobia. I have nothing to apologise about for seeing what is to happen because history will reveal itself when “living” is published and the MSM label all Christians as homophoblic, because House of Bishops said so, even when Christians are not.

          • Clive: you say that you “have done expert witness for the Courts 17 times”, but then when someone actually asks you for evidence you say they are using a technique for stopping further discussion?! What???

            You came here to make an accusation about a bishop. When asked for evidence you provided something that then three people said contained no such evidence. Alarming that you then still won’t provide any!

          • No, Clive, I am repeating my question to you: where have you found evidence, in the video you cited, that all Christians are being accused of being homophobic?
            Andrew, David and I can’t find the evidence, even at the timings you have given. So where is it? What are we missing?
            Some Christians campaigned to end slavery. Others, both in Europe and the US, campaigned to keep it. No one is forcing you to apologise for slavery, but we are being reminded that white privilege is still a thing and descendants of slaves are still not free. I am glad that the horrific recent events in the US and the BLM movement is encouraging us to question white fragility. It’s a gospel imperative.

  10. My problem with this thoughtful piece, is that in retrospect it is really only saying; I have read a lot about this, it is all far more complicated than I thought, so lets fall back on some fairly simple but vague notions. I agree with David Runcorn, I have no idea what the reference to Genesis might mean. The biggest and most serious problem, is the application of the idea that our group identities are subordinate to…..Christ, this is a very helpful insight. However the way the article drifts we would be unable to challenge slavery and another comment above mentioned BLM. Given that a big point of much of Pauls writing was to teach: love God, no idols, love man (no covetousness- wanting more than enough) give no offence to those outside, we have rather strayed from the point. I don’t believe that Jesus and Paul were really saying ‘and you might be interested in Leviticus’. By focusing on the sin of the world, against Pauls advice (commands?) and going soft on divorce and child abuse we are rightly condemned by the world. Judgement begins in the house of God, but I don’t believe it the same sex attracted that will be getting His attention first, expelling the wicked is going to cut attendance a bit, I’m keeping my head down. Lord have mercy….

    Reply
    • Hi Mark,

      Are you sure it didn’t reach conclusions?

      The author confesses to being shy in the context of controversy and highly charged feelings but I think that anyone who writes an article which points out that God’s heart for marriage is revealed in the primary themes of the Bible – in God’s relationship with his people – instead of a few isolated verses – is saying something huge, and in my opinion, complete. Anything to which God plans to hold us accountable must be easy to understand – it must exist in the main and the plain. If you read some of the comments under the article this is I believe a key point that is being missed – we have allowed ourselves to think that God expects PhD level examination of biblical texts in order to not fall into sin. That is preposterous. We aren’t all PhD level analysts…

      To say that marriage is a mirror of the divine human relationship is in my opinion the same as saying that the essence of being male, certainly in marriage, is to lead by establishing an environment of justice by pouring oneself out. And the essence of being female is to exercise faith expressed in specific submission (alongside mutual submission – both mutual and specific submission exist in the trinity) that God’s ultimate intention – to show mercy – ONE IN WHICH I BELIEVE FEMALES ARE INTENDED TO BE THE LEADERS) will only be expressed when it exists within an environment of justice.

      I think this is the key issue of sexuality and scripture at the moment – we must reject even the conclusions which we ultimately support if they aren’t presented in a way that seeks to answer two questions:
      – What part does this verse or passage play in revealing the overall message of scripture?
      – How should this passage contribute to our overall understanding of scripture?

      Ian, you have in recent months been knocking it out of the park in my opinion. You are of course an extremely bright person but you are using your intellect in an incredibly humble and Spirit led way. I think that in difficult circumstances you are exercising outstanding servant leadership. Even your exchanges with those antagonistic to you are well handled and in my opinion are bearing fruit we may not yet see. I cannot imagine how much good is coming from it. It certainly is bringing great encouragement to me. God bless you.

      Reply
  11. “we have to be aware that within a postmodern call for justice, group identity is primary, and that groups that are ‘superior’ (white, heterosexual, ‘cisgender’ male) are deemed inherently oppressive and, therefore, must be silenced. We have to be aware that such an ideology is deeply resistant to the New Testament vision of unity, where ‘group identities’ are always subordinate to a superior allegiance to Christ[12] and that an overemphasis on systemic sin, undermines a biblical view of ‘original sin”

    Certainly, in the church, group identities *should* be subordinate to our allegiance to Christ.

    The reality is that racial solidarity can and does undermine that subordination to our allegiance to Christ.

    We can all express allegiance to Christ by endorsing the propositional truths that undergird Christ’s numerous challenges to Jew-Gentile segregation without ever seeking to overcome the collective inertia that prevents taking practical steps to heal the racial divide.

    This broad-brush statement by the author also dangerously dismisses the critique of white solidarity as being invariably based on the false (cultural Marxist) assumption that merely to be a “white, heterosexual, ‘cisgender’ male” imputes the inherent guilt of oppression.

    In fact, there’s another (scriptural) use of broad characterisations to challenge and condemn sinful group solidarity.

    When Paul speaks of “Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews” (Acts 20:19), he does not mean that every Jew was inherently bent on conspiring against him.

    He does mean that such a hostile response was characteristic of most Jews of his day.

    Also, what should we make of Christ’s broad declaration: “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24)

    I’d suggest that affluence is generally obstructive to salvation, without being invariably so.

    Equally, when Jesus castigated entire cities for their impenitence (Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum) Matt. 11:24, we can understand that he was rebuking the collective inertia which characterised their rejection of His divinely endorsed call to repentance, rather than any inherent guilt imputed by their mere co-location.

    So, as Paul confronted Peter (Gal. 2:11), allegiance to Christ actually demands that we challenge the immoral solidarity that characterises specific groups, whether ethnic, geographical, or religious, while rejecting any notion of imputed guilt.

    And it’s majority bias that makes it all too easy for those who are largely unaffected by racial bias or same-sex sexual attraction to roundly reject the “post-modern call for justice” without lifting a finger to organise or promote a Christian alternative to it.

    Reply
    • I think Sam is wrong to say that postmodernism calls for privileged groups to be silenced. Surely it calls for vulnerable groups and absent voices to be heard; to be treated with equal dignity and have equal agency. So far, so very Christian, Gal. 3.28.

      Reply
          • So far as being deplatformed goes, those being deplatformed are by definition disadvantaged (vulnerable) and those getting a platform and providing a platform are lording it over them. That stands to reason.

          • Christopher

            Not at all. Most people being de-platformed are not in the least vulnerable. Their de-platforming may be unjust, but they are, most usually, the privileged and those 3ith a voice.

          • Where is your evidence for this ‘most’? Recently pro lifers have been deplatformed. Far from being privileged they are highly marginalised, and are deplatformed only because people are scared stiff of the truth of what they say.

            If the deplatformed were so much part of the establishment then the establishment would look after its own and prevent the deplatforming. So their deplatforming proves that they have no such support, they are marginal, sidelined and without societal support, as indeed one would expect of anyone that got deplatformed

            They then have to suffer the indignity of the elites telling them that they themselves are marginalised and the deplatformed are the true elites. So elite in fact that they have no voice.

          • It’s pan-cultural. Christ Church Oxford would not allow an abortion debate to go ahead. So the arguments could not be put. They were silenced because of some silly self-important students who would not even have known what those arguments were, let alone been able to counter them. I tested this out in a EN correspondence a few years ago. The correspondence extended over more than one year. (See What Are They Teaching The Children?) No-one could produce even one youngster who even knew what the counter arguments for SSM were, let alone was able to counter them. Tony Abbott is harassed for holding to normal Christian/Catholic doctrine on ‘abortion’ and SSM (see today’s Times letters). So much for a third of the people in the world, then. Together with the other 20% (Islam) who are also on their side. Politics and media are full of the ”progressive” elites, and they are the ones who are never silenced. Jules Gomes was banned from Oxford Town Hall by a jobsworth with a tenth of his understanding.

            There is a whole litany of people who have been disinvited.

          • Christopher

            I do not understand what you mean by counter arguments to equal marriage. If children are brought up in conservative Christian, Muslim and Jewish families, surely they know why SSM might be counter to their beliefs. If they belong to a secular culture, why should they figure equal marriage as a bad thing?
            Tony Abbott is not being derided because he holds conservative Christian views, but because he’s a racist, misogynistic sh*t.
            I wouldn’t ban Gomes from anywhere. Let people see what an egregious apostate he is.

          • Dear Penelope

            Abbott supported an Australian military officer who transitioned to become Catherine McGregor, so he is far from being homophobic or transphobic.
            As argued by Abbott’s sister Christine Forster (herself a lesbian): ‘It is nothing short of dishonesty for commentators and politicians who do not know Tony to label him a homophobe and a misogynist for the purpose of scoring cheap political points.’
            Julia Gillard attacks him for voting against SSM omitting to mention that she voted against it as well.

            So Abbott is NOT the “racist, misogynistic sh*t.” that you call him at all.

          • Penelope, you are repeatedly confusing culture with belief. They are quite different. Belief by definition is evidenced (it means that you can present comparative evidence that something is more likely to be correct, real or actual than not), whereas culture is just imbibed with mother’s milk without necessarily having any backup evidence.

          • The main counter arguments were rehearsed in 2013, so you must have come across them.

            You are not seriously saying ‘It’s my culture.’ counts as an *argument*? What marks would that get at university?

            They include:
            (1) If marriage is not a recognition of how families and family trees actually form, then that’s wrong in 2 ways: it (a) sidelines something objective and also (b) replaces that with something vague and slippery. A backward step.

            (2) It is a universal rule that everyone has 2 parents. It is a second universal rule that one is male and one is female. For there to be a universal rule for everyone who ever lived (countless billions) is impressive and raises that rule far above any pretenders, because the way that science inevitably forms is to have a foundation on the things that are surest and most definite, followed by those that are next most definite and so on. Our worldviews and policy could scarcely depart from that principle that the surer something is the more basic it is to our overall understanding.

            (3) There is no reason not to give formal recognition to other bonds, e.g. some tribes have formal friendship ceremonies.

            (4) Like much of the sexual revolution, demanding marriage is parasitic. It is just like women saying they want to be as badly behaved as men in the ways that men are badly behaved. It is not to do with making things better, it is to do with the juvenile ‘You can’t have something that I haven’t got.’.

            (5) Comparing people who sleep with the same sex with conjugal couples is not comparing like with like, because of (1)-(2). One is in line with biological reality and the other is not. Quite a difference.

            (6) You can’t equalise that which has the imprimatur of biology in the shape of a child with that which does not. Quite a quite a difference.

            (7) What is so special about the number 2? There is only one way that 2 is exclusively special: that every baby has exactly 2 parents. 2 is an exclusive number only re parenting not re sex or bonding. But since parenting is always (obviously!!) male-female, that amounts to an own goal for the would-be progressives.

            (8) Male-female reproduction is a delicate miracle that has evolved through billions of years.

            (9) Male-male sex remains (and has no prospect of not remaining, not motive not to remain) pre-civilised re average promiscuity, as does female-female re average transience. The quintessence of the juvenile/adolescent sexual revolution in other words, and as such a detriment to society.

            (10) It is vanishingly rare to find anyone who identifies as homosexual who even disapproves of (9) at all.

            (11) Or indeed who speaks against the multiplicity of dangerous sexual practices which are more than averagely prevalent among men who have sex with men.

            (12) Which practices are our 12th point.

            There is no point saying (11) is not true. Have you seen the disease rates and their discrepancies? As quoted in WATTTC? a given man who has sex with men has more than a thousand times the chance of contracting HIV/AIDS compared with one who does not. Go on – brush the stats under the carpet. We’ve kinda noticed you’re doing it.

          • Dear Clive

            I am glad that Abbott has been supportive to particular trans and gay people. Nevertheless he is on record for homophobic, misogynistic and racist comments, and, I discover, anti-Islamic ones.
            So I stand by my belief that he is a four letter fellow: an appropriate shill for this shoddy and corrupt government.

          • Christopher

            Belief is not, by definition, evidenced. People believe in all sorts of things for which there is scant evidence.
            Yes, we are influenced by our cultures. Hoe could it be otherwise?
            I am not going to reply to you other points in detail because, yes, we have been here before except to point out that feminism is about equality (as I said in a previous exchange) not about women behaving as badly as men. And that SSM, like OSM, involves 2 people.

          • Christopher

            I must add that all couples, gay and straight, enjoy sexual intimacies of many varieties. None of which go against biology – whatever that means.

          • Hi Penelope

            I don’t understand any of your points.

            First: ‘Belief’ has more than one definition in the dictionary. You are behaving as though it had one alone. Therefore you are wrong. However, any definition that is not ‘thinking X is most likely to be true’ is intolerably vague, and is thereby ruled out of playing any part in precise discourse.

            Second: How is dumbing down to someone else’s level not an example of equality? Of course it is an example of equality. If someone hitherto got ten out of ten for maths and dumbs down to the six out of ten level, then they are now *equal* with the six out of ten people. How can they not be?

            Third: you repeat the same cliche about different sexual practices which was not the point I was making here. COnjugal union receives a biological imprimatur in teh shape of a child. That proves that it is what biology intended. When we examine same-sex ‘sexual’ practices, that is not the case. There is no ‘seal’ to demonstrate that this is what nature intended. We can, however, guess, since nature by definition intends the propagation of species.

          • Christopher

            It was you who said belief is evidenced. You didn’t then add that there are many shades and meanings of belief, some of which don’t matter because they don’t mean what you mean by belief.

            Second, what do you mean by dumbing down? Is it your belief that support for SSM is, somehow, dumbing down? And what is your evidence for this? And please don’t just say the cultural zeitgeist. I refuse to believe that someone like David Runcorn’s support for same-sex relationships has anything to do with popular culture.

            Conjugal union does not always receive an imprimatur in the form of a live child. It didn’t in my case. It is one telos of marriage, but even the CoE wedding service states that it is not the only one.

          • Hi Penelope

            None of this is to the point.

            1. To repeat: although there is more than one meaning of ‘belief’, all the meanings apart from ‘regarding as true more likely than not’ are too vague to consider when we are having a precise debate, so there is effectively only one meaning.

            2. Dumbing down is not our topic. It was just something that came up in my challenging your assertion that equality has nothing to do with going down to a lower level. I gave an example of going down to a lower level producing equality. So equality can sometimes have to do with that.

            3. The telos cliche was, again, not the point. The point is that the child imprimatur is something that exists in nature. And it not only exists but abounds. By contrast (to no-one’s amazement who understands what biology is all about) there is of course no corresponding imprimatur when it comes to people of the same gender trying and failing to replicate conjugal union.

          • Evening Christopher

            You assert that there is only only one real meaning of belief. That is your belief. You produce no evidence to support this claim.

            I don’t understand your point about equality going down to a lower level. I don’t think I argued that. I don’t even know what it means.

            The telos of sexual intimacy is hardly a cliche. But, as the marriage service asserts, one telos is union and companionship. Something which all couples, gay and straight can hope to attain. Gay couples are not trying to replicate a conjugal union. They are a conjugal union.

          • Christopher: you seem to be repeating the simplistic cliche that sex is simply for reproduction. You clearly could not be more wrong.
            The first reason marriage is given in the C of E marriage service is for the ‘delight and tenderness of sexual union’. Next comes children. Next comes mutual support.
            Yours simplistic approach is troubling.

          • It would be troubling if it were my approach.
            What is it with the liberals that they pursue the same pre-ordained lines again and again with no sensitivity to nuance. Do they expect every conversation to cover the same ground interminably? For sure they regularly seem to forget the answers given, making this endless repetition a frightening reality.

            My point was that babies prove that the act of marriage is what nature intended, and that no such proof of any kind exists or could exist for homosexual acts. Therefore my point was nothing to do with there being more than one purpose of sex or not.

          • Christopher

            What is it with (some) conservatives that they pursue the same pre ordained lines again and again without sensitivity to nuance.
            I think we know now:
            That you believe anal sex is intrinsically dangerous
            That because some gay men are promiscuous, they shouldn’t – or cannot
            – aspire to the discipline of chaste marriage
            That feminism is bad for culture and society and that it is about women behaving as ‘badly’ as men
            That the natural and biological telos of marriage is procreation.
            You have repeated these points many times.

            They are not convincing. Nor is your belief that babies prove that the act of marriage is what nature intended. Firstly, nature does not intend, secondly, human couples can and do reproduce outside the Act of marriage. Thirdly, what do you mean by proof? Does not the delight and tenderness of sexual union of gay couples not ‘prove’ that their relationships are entirely natural?

            That biology intends anything

          • Hi Penelope

            You are wrong at every point by my count. I believe none of the things you ascribe to me. The things you ascribe to me are merely the closest things to what I’m saying within the liberal way of understanding (some of which are not especially close to what I am actually saying): the tropes that you think you recognise when in reality I am saying something new that is not part of your understanding. Let’s go through the points one by one.

            1. I am not a conservative endemically – albeit a person might *after* examination of the evidence end up being anything. What I am is a truth seeker. To be a conservative is to be one kind of ideologue. Truth seekers would sooner die than be any kind of ideologue.

            2. I do not ‘believe’ AS is dangerous. It is dangerous whether I believe it or not. My ‘belief’ has no effect on the facts at all.

            3. ”Some” gay men are promiscuous? No – it can be summarised as being a promiscuous culture in the main. McWhirter and Mattison ‘The male couple’ had difficulty within their large-scale survey in spotting a single faithful male couple.

            4. Feminism is not about women behaving as badly as men. That is not a part of the definition of feminism. It is something that happens within feminism.

            5. The telos point I just refuted and you returned to it as though nothing had happened. I can’t easily disentangle fertility from sexual joy. It is only in corruption (babies are such a burden! and all that) that they seem disentangled.

            6. If a baby pops out at the end it is quite clearly proof that (as it were) you used the slot machine in the manner its inventor intended. I don’t know how you can deny that.

            7. Humans reproduce outside ‘the act of marriage’?? Do they? This sounds like SciFi. The act of marriage is well known to be another name for sex. It is also well known that biblically sex is union i.e. is marriage hence 1 Cor 6.

            8. Delight and tenderness will be felt by any one night standers or lusters. Won’t they?

            4.

          • Christopher

            I am as much of a liberal as you are a conservative, I suspect.
            If Mcwhirter et al cannot find a single faithful same-sex couple, they cannot have looked very hard. Point them in my direction, I know several.
            Yes, anal sex is risky. So are other sexual practices. And bearing children has, historically, been the most risky of all.
            Not all gay male couples practice anal sex.
            If, as you believe, sexual congress constitutes marriage then, yes, a one-night stand may involve the tenderness and delight of the marriage service.
            We are never going to agree on this. I think it’s a shame that, because you believe gay people are inherently promiscuous, they should be denied the discipline of godly marriage. Perhaps we should deny marriage to promiscuous straights too.

          • ‘Straights’ is an odd word, which is why most cultures have not had such a word. However-

            Male homosexual couples are not intrinsically or by definition promiscuous, but are now and likely always will be averagely promiscuous in practice and in reality (which is all that matters). First, because men are like that left to themselves, and it takes a man to know men. Secondly, because there is no reason not to be – rejecting the discipline of family life is a vote for perpetual adolescence, and presumably a deliberate vote.

          • There you are Penny – you are a woman so you could not possibly understand what men are like!

            Christopher, you really don’t do yourself any favours do you!

          • Andrew, I take it therefore that you believe that men understand women just as well as women understand women.

            Yet the former do not have inside knowledge and the latter do.

            How then is your position tenable?

            This is one of my beefs with liberals – that they are more interested in what they think (in a lordly manner) ought to be the case rather than with reality.

          • Christopher: I don’t believe there are any generalisations to be made about men and women in the way you do here. It’s the kind of stereotyping that conservatives often do.

          • Christopher

            I am shocked that you know so many unregenerate men.
            My family, friends and acquaintances, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, humanist comprise many men, none of whom are the priapic monsters you portray.

          • Penelope, when did I say that I was one of the anecdotal brigade who conclude what men or women are like from the random selection they happen to be acquainted with? I have always been, as you know, someone who relies on surveys.

          • Andrew, if female infidelity increased and male didn’t then it sounds like a lot of females were being unfaithful with unattached men. Or even that it was now 40% less uncool for females to admit to this. So your idea that this does not add up is false. However, since I don’t agree with current definitions of infidelity I find it hard to get my head round this.

            On the last 500 years, I must admit that your lordly commands to send me scurrying around for information you could easily retrieve yourself (and propensity to utter a patronising ‘Thank you Christopher’ when I do so) say a lot about your character. I quoted in WATTTC the official statistics since 1750 where ‘illegitimacy’ had been constant 1750-1950 at 2-5% with the exception of the Napoleonic and World Wars. Now of course it hovers round 50%, a quite colossal difference. In the light of this kind of change in stability of unions (for everyone knows that cohbaitation is quite massively less stable than marriage statistically: that at least is one statistic you will not have trouble finding for yourself), then of course infidelity will increase. Are you suggesting that lack of respect for stability (in terms of actual formal commitments) increases tenfold in society and infidelity at the same time diminishes? You must be suggesting that, but it is beyond laughable.

          • “Are you suggesting that lack of respect for stability (in terms of actual formal commitments) increases tenfold in society and infidelity at the same time diminishes? You must be suggesting that, but it is beyond laughable.”

            Nope. I’m suggesting that the stats we have a pretty flaky. We don’t have any clear definition of what infidelity is. We don’t know how anonymous the survey was. We don’t know how the questions were asked.

            People are notoriously reluctant to give up info about their private lives, even in anonymous surveys.

            As to what happened 500 years ago – I simply suppose that there was a great deal more fluidity about personal intimacy then. Read the Canterbury Tales for a start. Read Giles Goddard’s piece in Via Media also.

          • So you kick the ball into the long grass becaause of an agreed definition problem – this is an absolutely classic liberal tactic, similar to the correlation/causation one. They have not even begun to produce arguments against the point made against them – they are just aiming to close the case because of a technicality.

            Whatever definition of infidelity we use, it is immaterial. Where the expectation is that unions will be less stable, that has been normalised, so therefore any kind of infidelity will be less of a big deal, so therefore it will happen more.

            However, there is all sorts of statistical data for more precisely-defined things than infidelity which are relevant: partners per year, longevity of marriages, etc..

          • Definitely not kicking into long grass. It’s already bogged down in the long grass and I want to get it out of there.
            Studies I have read show that rates of adultery in N America are actually lower now than in the 1980s.
            In the 1500s many more men committed adultery with women – apparently. But that was perhaps because women had noses and ears cut off if they dared do such a thing.
            I am glad we live in a more civilised world than that.

          • What are the names of these studies you have read?

            Adultery and divorce will fall in aggregate though not in average if significantly fewer people marry in the first place.

        • Well, Christopher, you haven’t produced any evidence that infidelity is on the increase, despite you being an ‘evidence’ person.

          Reply
          • My comment below 11.9.20 07.39 Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 2005 – female infidelity had increased 40% in previous 40 years whereas male remained stable. That however was before grindr, tindr etc.. How is infidelity even defined now? The less marriage, the less easy it is to define. An example of the macro-pattern that while the brave new world fails to make men any better it does succeed in bringing women down closer to their level.

            You are surely not arguing that in a period where number of sexual partners has so increased infidelity has somehow not increased??

          • If female infidelity has increased by 40% but male infidelity has remained stable, who are all these women being unfaithful with – each other?

            And your evidence for how things have changed over the last 500 years Christopher?

            Giles Goddard has written an interesting piece on this in the Via Media blog. He is reviewing a book called A secular age by Charles Taylor. Check it out Christopher. It makes a great deal of sense and puts your claims in a wider perspective.

          • This is the abstract from the journal you quote Christopher:

            Infidelity is perhaps the most complex issue encountered by couple therapists. Although clinical literature, opinion, and speculation on this topic are abundant, research literature is sparse. What little available research exists is, in most cases, neither robust nor helpful to the practicing therapist. This article provides, in both narrative and table format, a comprehensive methodological review of the available research literature on infidelity from 1980 to present. Topics addressed in the narrative include the lack of a consensus on the definition of infidelity; design challenges, such as retrospective research, confidentiality, measures, and variables; and sampling issues, such as diversity and randomization. Throughout the article, we offer suggestions for future research.

            So if researchers can’t even agree on what the definition of infidelity is, the research isn’t likely to be very robust is it?

            Your evidence is too thin Christopher I’m afraid. And it’s clear that evidence will not even be clear, even supposing it is found.

          • You see, Christopher, you are still going on about this brave new world in which men don’t become better and women become worse.
            This is after your response that feminism’s aim isn’t to make men better.
            You can’t even define infidelity. If people have multiple partners is that infidelity?
            You cannot tell us when this healthy society existed in which there was no adultery and no anal sex.

          • I never mentioned a society in which these things did not exist, so can you withdraw the clearly false allegation that I did so.

            This is yet another example of the liberals repeating something oft-refuted: they continue to treat the question as all or nothing. If one person in the past sinned, that makes the past bad. If one person in the present fails to sin, that makes the present good.

            Why not repeat before breakfast (lol): ”we are not talking all or nothing” – in a large world one will never find either all or nothing. We are talking percentage increase or decrease, and we will only bother to mention that when the increase/decrease is substantial and noteworthy.

            In our society within living memory these things were far, far lower.

            As to the definition of infidelity being unclear particularly these days, I am not sure why you tell me that when I have made the same point myself more than once. There is a very great deal more promiscuity – it is more accepted by definition in a subChristian culture – and your position that that does not prove more infidelity is not only disproved by every statistic and social trend but is also an example of saying that people will disobey taboos more when they are in place than when they do not exist, a strange position to take, particularly when evidence has not been cited.

            As for citing papers, I have cited a few. Now it is your turn. As they say, put up or….

      • Thank Penelope. I think that it can do exactly what you’re saying and I celebrate that. We’re working hard on trying to listen to different voices and make changes, and it’s well worth the effort. I affirm that aspect of postmodernism. But I’ve also seen it can lean towards silence of privileged groups and am concerned about where this might lead.

        Reply
        • Thanks Sam. I think some privilege needs quieting, at least for a time.
          But voluntary silence would be preferable to forced silence, I agree.

          Reply
  12. An interesting piece. Ive looked at this issue for many years as it’s personal to me, and still conclude that God does not approve of gay sexual relations. Ive often found the arguments posed by those who do approve are lacking in evidence or are down right falsehoods – such as the Bible only condemns same-sex sex in relation to rituals or abuse. But I also understand the motivation for the ‘other’ view – to lessen suffering due to loneliness, to give all the possibility of a long-term loving relationship etc. Those are valid aims, but not at the cost of twisting and negating God’s view. It is a struggle, believe me, and Im no ‘saint’. But I couldnt look the Lord in the eye whilst taking a different view.

    A local minister who recently took up post teaches that gay sexual relations are as valid as any other and has made his church ‘open’. Im not sure if there are any gay couples in the congregation who are open about their relationship, but if so I would assume they are fully accepted. An individual who teaches ethics within the Anglican church has done courses through this church promoting same-sex relationships as perfectly good and not condemned by God. I doubt if I could attend such a church.

    But the church needs to be balanced in its teaching. For example, teaching on divorce differs widely as that seems to be another issue on which people are confused (or uninterested) regarding Biblical teaching. It is now very common for divorced Christians to remarry in church, and noone bats an eyelid. But I suspect Jesus does.

    Sam also makes the valid point that churches typically idolise ‘family’ and actively encourage individuals to get together, marry, have children and then bring all to church. Well it boosts numbers I suppose. But ironically it is at odds to Paul’s teaching, which was you should stay single unless you cant control your sexual impulses because the time is short and you should be more concerned with doing God’s work and not be distracted. Yet if a church leader said that today they’d be laughed out of the pulpit! So people interpret as it suits them.

    Peter

    Reply
    • Hi Peter,

      I agree that churches are apathetic about divorce and remarriage.

      You might find the video at the link below (warning – it’s long) to be a helpful launching pad for your own thinking. I’m not giving it a tick – I am however confident that it raises much of the necessary content with which we must grapple.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2pC6ZikbYo

      Reply
      • Philip You write … ‘churches are apathetic about divorce and remarriage’. This is a very sweeping statement. Do you mean every church and church member? How do you know? What evidence do you have for this claim? I have taken marriages of couples where one or both have been divorced. But I always took great care over helping them prepare, as do all the ministers I know. Of course if your position is that someone divorced should not be allowed to remarry by your reading of the NT – then we simply disagree. But that is no way the same as claiming that you care and I, and others like me, are just apathetic.’

        Reply
        • So Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Mark spoke trenchantly only to be taken to have said the exact opposite? And this is his best attested saying.

          Reply
          • There is a very well argued position on these texts, supported by the research of David Instone Brewer, noting that Jesus is responding to the Hillel-Shammai argument about ‘any reason divorce’.

            Thus, Jesus is not saying that there isn’t any reason that would justify divorce; he is saying that ‘any reason’ is not good enough grounds for divorce.

            I am quite surprised if you are not aware of this Christopher.

          • The topic has come up several times, including formerly on psephizo. On those occasions I have shown where and why I differ from DIB.

            Essentially, the issue is whether Matt tends to have first hand material that Mark does not have within the Markan parallel passages.

            DIB assumes too easily that he does.

            I dispute DIB’s position on that thoroughly, nor do I think he has addressed the point enough – but my dispute is not necessary anyway, because in any case the Matthean changes are so rabbinic and Matthean, reflecting the sorts of questions on sub-points that would have been raised over the Mark text AD70-90.

            It takes a rabbinist (a Matthew, or indeed a Brewer) to see the full import of ‘for any cause’, a seemingly innocuous phrase that would pass the layman by.

            Maurice Casey gave weight to this saying in Mark, while bewailing its 20th century effects. My agreement on the first point is exceeded only by my disagreement on the second, for the topic of which he speaks is a hateful one (not least when one thinks of the poor deserted spouses who would never have been in that situation pre sexual revolution when social expectations were more mature). So three cheers for Jesus. He is standing up for the innocent deserted when no-one else would; one would think that any kind person would do that immediately. There is no area of life where the maxim ‘give them an inch and they will take an ell’ is so well illustrated, and I have always agreed with Anne Atkins that some topics are simly off limit at any age (why drag in such negativity unnecessarily? Go big on the happiness instead. Goodness how gloomy are the topics that the sexual revolution drags into common currency), just as one would not speak of drugs etc to primary school children. When I was young whether to admit divorcees into the Mothers’ Union was a hot topic. Most of them were victims of culture, Germaine Greer, etc.. How wonderful to have a world with som many fewer hurting children. Societal expectations and peer groups are 2 key factors, as is the Christian culture that brought about the tremendously good statistics in the first place. In 1958 less than one couple per 1000 people divorced per year. So why then do people inaccurately say that is not possible? Esolen in Defending Marriage final chapter hits the nail on the head.

            So societal expectations, peer groups and Christian culture are 3 main factors. A fourth is that people pass through emotionally-affected periods in their lives (adolescence, menopause etc etc) when they are not themselves and act accordingly, when emotions overcome rationality; but there is currently social pressure (usually coming from the guilty parties and their peers) to censor that point. The more affected gender in that respect is the female (both suffer in teens, but females also in 40s-50s) and sure enough females initiate twice as many ds as males. The effect of short term emotion will only hurt more people with the new law that exalts short termism and emotionalism, while shunning promise keeping and faithfulness.

            And a fifth is that men and women do not sufficiently understand each other, which is not to say that they ought not to make the effort. Data a through the eyes of a man is very different to the very same data through the eyes of a woman. If a man acts in manner b he does not mean what a woman would mean by acting that way.

            A sixth is that men and women rank the seriousness of certain things differently (whence: ‘You started it.’; ‘No: you started it.’ – spoken in good faith by both parties.).

            A seventh is that having 2 full time jobs puts pressure on family.

            A eighth is that people marry later, so said 2 full time jobs happen when they have decreasing energy. Feminism is partly to blame for the last 2.

            An ninth is the infantilisation of culture, so that it can be seen among the more successful and stable cultures that there are certain behaviours that have simply been forsworn with maturity (tiffs and tantrums) and that would bring shame if displayed by a person of a certain age; but this is not the case with the other cultures.

          • Christopher

            I think you will find that infidelity is more to blame for divorce than Germaine Greer.

            Working class women have always worked. Households needed two incomes. The stay at home wife is a product of middle and upper class households. It has little to do with feminism. Though where feminism has fought for equality at work, it is, of course, to be applauded.

          • Re Mark and Matthew, I gave 2 patterns pointing to the fact that we ought to be looking at the Mark and not the Matthew:

            (1) Matthew rarely if ever has new first hand information to add in Markan contexts. So we would expect additions to Mark to be Matthew rather than Jesus.

            (2) These particular new additions are very Matthean.

            To which we can also add:

            (3) Inconcinnity. The logic no longer makes sense in Matthew. The ‘any and every reason’ that is added at the start is not followed through. The remainder (before we get to the never-married eunuchs, who are not directly relevant) reads like a blanket and strong prohibition on divorce tout court. Which is perfectly logical after Mark’s beginning, but ceases to be so once Matt has made the change. This kind of failing to sustain changes made at the start of a pericope is standard (it is indeed very difficult to sustain them) – Goodacre NTS 1998.

            (4) An introduction saying that ‘any and every’ will not do ought to lead to a main treatment saying which circumstances will do and which circumstances will not. Otherwise the teaching will be confusing. But we don’t get any of that detail. One can be a eunuch and fail to marry, but one can’t opt out of Christian marriage. Contrast Mark here. Mark hangs together, and its message far from being confusing is crystal clear.

          • Get greater than before. There have been huge changes for the worse in marital/promiscuity/faithfulness patterns. These give the lie to your picture that things have always been much the same in terms of unfaithfulness.

          • Christopher: where is your evidence that infidelity is greater now than it has been in the past? That seems to me a huge assumption.

          • Andrew –

            Apart from the fact that you divide history into 2 parts (the fuddy duddies and the enlightened scions of the present moment??) –

            I can only quote from WATTTC. I thought we had discussed this before.

            ‘Even in the USA – the country worst hit by the sexual revolution – and even as recently as the mid1990s (as much as 30 years into that revolution) it was reported by 3 separate studies (Laumann 1994, Greeley 1994, Wiedermann 1997) that 80% of married people had never been unfaithful to their present spouse. But that comes from a culture where the vast majority married, something which has since changed. Call this a 70-75 percent faithful adult populace, allowing for singles. But nowadays(less than one single generation later) far fewer are even in putatively faithful pairings let alone actually faithful pairings. So you do the math. In fact the math is easily googleable.

          • And I think I have explained carefully before why I don’t trust a self promoted book published by one of the most conservative organisations there has ever been. Find me some peer researched papers that have all the right cross checks and balances.

          • Eh? You fell into the perennial trap again – the only portion of this dreadful self-promoted book I quoted was entirely peer-reviewed studies. Indeed my portion of it is largely a review of peer-reviewed studies and their conclusions. That is what said portion consists in. I have probably made that point at least 12 times.

          • Yep. You keep self promoting it. And I’m afraid I’m never persuaded.

            If it’s a proper peer reviewed study of the issue that demonstrates that infidelity is more common now than it was 150 years Avon then please have it published by a reputable university department.

          • Which does not address the perennial question. Which is: How many of the scores of peer reviewed studies cited by my abominable 71 pages in this abominable book do you respect?

          • Which of the peer reviewed studies looks specifically at the question I asked you to evidence? Do give the reference here and then we can look at it. You’ve made a specific claim about Comparative levels of infidelity – although you haven’t given any dates, just vague ‘then’ and now. Let’s have evidence!

          • Journal of Marital and Family Therapy April 2005. In the preceding 40 years female infidelity ‘within committed relationships’ (hard to define) went up by 40% and male remained constant.

            But that was before we had tindr, grindr, tumblr (I expect I have got most of these wrong). If (a) infidelity is bad, (b) failure to even have thoughts of fidelity in one’s purview in the first place is therefore naturally going to be regarded as worse, because the assumption is that fidelity is good. Both (a) and (b) are opposed to fidelity and (b) is what is currently increasing so astronomically, in the period subsequent to said study; though (a) is also increasing.

          • Which is incidentally yet another example of the pattern that feminism does not make men any better, it just brings women further down towards men’s level.

          • Thank you Christopher. I wlll see if it can be found. A link would be useful.
            And which studies have been done to compare levels of infidelity now with say 500 years ago?
            And what punishment would you impose for infidelity?

          • Christopher

            It is not feminism’s aim to make men better. That is the sphere of philosophy and religion.
            As I keep telling you, and you keep ignoring, feminism exists to campaign and fight for equality and equity for women in culture, society and the Law.
            Or, as I might put it – to smash the patriarchy.
            Figuring women as noble and better than men is both myth and a patriarchal trope.

          • Which patriarchy would that be? The partiarchy that holds sway in the country where by law dads are so disposable and downgraded that children do not even need a father whereas they do need a mother, and all the while fatherlessness is the main common denominator of those in prison?

            Explain..

          • I have certainly never claimed it is feminism’s aim to make men better. I have however claimed it is their achievement to make women worse. (Less mature in the sense of less giving and more self-centred.)

          • Christopher

            I think you have described patriarchy perfectly. A society where women bear the burden of child rearing while men escape their paternal responsibilities.

          • Excellent. (Well, not excellent at all, actually.) Now how does that reflection on patriarchy (father-rule) relate to our anti-father society where fathers are so downgraded by law as to be classified (in definance of the evidence) as an optional extra whereas mothers are classified as essential?

          • Interesting that conservatives always valorise mothers, especially stay-at-home mothers, until they become single parents and then somehow it’s their fault, or, rather, that of society that men abandon their parental responsibilities

          • Single mums were far less of a thing outside the sexual revolution. And no-one in their right mind would adopt that.

            Mothering Sunday is massively popular from what I see in my shop. Good thing too. You are surely not a killjoy who disapproves?

          • I loathe Mothering Sunday.
            Especially in its sentimental adoption of a day when mothers are idolised.
            Very unbiblical.

          • Idolised? Just appreciated, and it is the least they deserve.

            So you add up all the altruism and self sacrifice of mothers through one year (even one day can be eyewatering) and your plan is that, having already not been recognised financially with a penny, they never be formally recognised with any kind of appreciation from the beginning of their lives to the end?

            Does that sound like a good plan?

          • Not at all Christopher, mothers should be well rewarded for the work they undertake. Unfortunately, capitalism and particularly late capitalism, usually means they have to work in paid employment to keep a roof over the marital home.
            Most women don’t have the luxury of choice.

          • Yes. And feminism plays its part. Frantic have it all lifestyle is progress? Frantic have it all lifestyle at a time when so many more labour saving devices have been created is progress? Capitalism invents jobs that involve shifting round money from A to B to C and back again. Capitalism (less savoury parts of) is not a given. For the nth time the problem is the abandoning of Christian culture. Just abandon Christian culture and see how bad things can get.

          • “Frantic have it all lifestyle is progress? Frantic have it all lifestyle at a time when so many more labour saving devices have been created is progress?”

            Who actually believes most young parents want frantic have it all lifestyles? Have you seen how much houses cost recently Christopher? To simply exist and pay rent or a mortgage both parents have to work. 3 bedroom terrace houses cost over £300,000 where I live – and that’s in the South West. You can at least double that in London suburbia. £600,000 for a house. What kind of salary do you think teachers or nurses earn? Let’s say £30,000 in London. (That’s very generous for a nurse in years 5-9 of career) So a couple in their early thirties might be having a baby and the mother wishes to give up work outside the home to devote full time to child care. They need a house. They might realistically get a mortgage based on both salaries for about a third of the price of the house. Who is going to buy the other two thirds for them?
            Which world do you actually live in Christopher??!!
            Do you think anyone can afford children and a ‘Frantic have it all lifestyle’ if they work in the public sector?

          • As you can guess, I am with you 100% of the way. The abandoning of Christian culture and the exalting of capitalism to the detriment of full time mums (in which feminism is also implicated) have had bad effects.

          • I see. So you reject the views of evangelicals who say that our capitalist leaders have been appointed by God?

          • I strongly reject it for legion reasons, which I have gone into in WATTTC?. Anyone whose guiding star was capitalism would never have my vote, strong though the strengths of capitalism are. Nor do the present western leaders get my vote at all, though it is unsurprising we do not get the leaders we could have when there are so few horses in the race.

          • As I said, Christopher, nothing to do with feminism, nor a frantic having it all lifestyle, just a wish of parents to rent/buy a house, and to feed, educate and entertain their offspring. This takes at least two salaries for the basics, let alone fripperies.

          • An answer which gives not the slightest explanation of why things have not always been thus, nor of why people have to work harder in an age of more labour saving devices. In that respect we’re going backwards, and going backwards is always unnecessary, since you already know and are able to implement the more advanced better way. Whatever has not always been thus does not need to be thus. If an economy sets itself up on a capitalist and/or feminist model, then this will be the result; if a nation sets itself up on a Christian model, then mums will be able to stay with their young children as so many of them want to do.

          • Christopher: things have not always been thus because of the rise of capitalism post war and since the 1960s.
            Your caricature of feminism is laughable. As is your caricature of liberals.

          • Yes, obviously. And for the nth time it was the gratuitous abandonment of Christian culture in favour of the me-generation that allowed the selfish aspects of capitalism to hold sway in the first place, just as they allowed the selfish elements of feminism. It is not a law of nature that this sort of capitalism had to come in, let alone at that particular date.

          • Christopher: two observations which don’t seem to occur to you.
            1. It isn’t always ‘mums’ who want to stay with their children or who are best suited to doing so. Sometimes ‘dads’ do, and sometimes both want to be able to share it. That is absolutely nothing to do with feminism. It’s about equal opportunities. Or, if you don’t like that phrase, freedom of choice. Or, if you don’t like that phrase either, common sense.
            2. Christian culture isn’t the same thing as government. But very worryingly, on this very blog a couple of weeks ago, some of your fellow conservative evangelicals were claiming that God appointed people like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, and so God must know what God is doing. I find the whole idea of God making appointments in this way that completely laughable at one level, and the idea that anyone believes that quite alarming. Surely we aren’t puppets?

          • Common sense? Common sense is precisely what tells us that the two sexes are not interchangeable, not even remotely, though their propensities and abilities clearly overlap. You are speaking as though they are – which both kills biological reality and kills romance. Two odd things to want to do.

          • In terms of childcare and young years guidance the only thing I can think that isn’t interchangeable is breast feeding. What else did you have in mind Christopher?

          • What I had in mind was clear-cut division of parental duties without which completely unnecessary time is wasted in discussion, which may then be inconclusive! If dad is in charge of certain spheres and mum of others, not only does that remove confusion and allow complementarity to flourish, but it also thirdly saves much time. Win – win – win.

            Breastfeeding is not hermetically sealed from the rest of life. It creates (or is part of) a particular unique mother-child bond. This and the father-child bond are each vital. No way are they interchangeable, nor do people ever seem to cite evidence that they are. It is an odd thing to believe.

            The internal and obvious differences between men and women will normally give a clue to how this division is to operate. On average men are more left brained, women more likely to see shopping as a 3D experience rather than a duty, and to make much of apparently small things, living in the present moment. Women are more likely to agree with people they already like, and to thrive with a teacher they like. Women are (alas) more likely to have deep same-sex friendships. Emotions are less central in a man’s life. Lewis’s one was that a father can accept more easily that the child has been naughty at school – more able to be objective about this. Man of vision, woman of love is not a bad binary. Just as wives thrive on love but husbands on respect. The whole rejection of the difference upon which romance thrives is just yuck.

            Given all of this, discrete roles (like in a football team or workplace) seem like common sense.

          • It does not occur to me that there are stay at home dads? How do you know what occurs to a person who is not yourself? It ought to be obvious that things that are widespread in a culture will be known about by inhabitants of that culture, and also that it will seem patronising if they are ‘informed’ of things that are common knowledge.

            Some of ‘my fellow conservative evangelicals’ think the USA and UK leaders are appointed by God? Which is one reason why I do not classify as being in the same category, but rather in the categories independent; truth-seeker; evidence-based person. Evangelical is always a good word, whereas conservative depends on the circumstance as to whether it is a good stance.

          • Good grief!
            I agree that breast feeding is not hermetically sealed from the rest of life.
            I am afraid I find the rest of your comment to be extreme stereotyping and vast vast generalisations and I can agree with none of it. I find it totally alien and can’t even begin to engage with it.

          • So Andrew thinks that talk about averages is extreme!

            Talk about averages is *balanced*, by definition.

            You have just written off the vast majority of cultures that there have ever been, who would not even have spoken in terms of averages but just in terms of difference. The question is: should they listen to you (and why) or should you listen to them?

          • Talk about averages? But you don’t. You use the word average just once, and that isn’t an average but a meaningless generalisation. No evidence. Just a frightful stereotype,

          • So in your world (a) men and women can be expected to score equal for every characteristic, despite the intolerably unlikely nature of that coincidence and also despite the fact that studies of legion topics do not bear it out?
            (b) The vast majority of cultures have been labouring under the illusion that men and women are significantly different for 99% of history, until the liberal ‘intelligentsia’, so intelligent that they are armed with no statistics, came along to enlighten them.

            What a dull (and imaginary) world to inhabit where men and women are interchangeable. The difference is the very spice of life. Children understand that. Who would want to have less advanced understanding than a child?

          • Christopher: the topic is bringing up children. Not differences between men and women. I am saying that in terms of who stays home and brings up children, men and woman are interchangeable, apart from breast feeding – and there are ways around that.

            But of course, because of the rise of capitalism very few couples have the luxury of such a choice. Both have to work, and harder than ever before.

            As usual you make such vast generalisations that your assertions make little sense.

          • No – the idea is that men and women are different and complementary for a purpose, which necessarily affects their physical and emotional make-up – all the more so because of the millions of brain interconnections that undergird them. The obvious differences in biology and physique and hormonal balance etc etc are not isolated but are interconnected with everything else, within the most incredible interconnection mechanism in existence. Or do you disagree?

            If we sensibly consider that home and family are a full time job (more, at times; less, at others) then that works absolutely ideally within the model of differentiated roles already outlined (cf. football team, workplace). Where there are 2 centre forwards or 2 bosses jostling for position it does not work, and the other roles also get neglected.

            The only reason that there are now 2 full time jobs and not nearly enough time for home and family is that Christianity was selfishly abandoned in favour of individualism and capitalism. It is not as though society cannot work with one at home and one outside, since it already has demonstrably done so for ages. So people are made to work harder in an age of more labour saving devices. I thought we were supposed to be sponsoring progress, not stress and exhaustion, which are a massive regress and epic fail.

          • Goodness this is tedious.
            Christopher: if home and family are a full time job, what I am saying is that it does not matter if a man or woman takes that full time job. Both are equally suited to doing so.
            Or are you saying that it should be a woman ?

          • I should think it vanishingly unlikely that 2 genders as different as they are would somehow be precisely equally equipped for such a role.

            But tellingly you asserted without evidence that they were. What was that assertion based on?

            The homemaker role is highly unlikely to be coveted more by men than by women. If women care so much more about shopping per se, it seems to stand to reason that they also care much more about the precise identity of the household items and décor that are shopped for. Which gender in your experience cares more on average about the details of the kitchen, or about sharing recipes, etc.? Second, I would suggest reading Belinda Brown on how in practice (whatever the theory says) women so very often do not respect or commit to men who earn less than they do.

          • Christopher: I find it, literally, incredible than you would hold such gender stereotypes. Unbelievable.
            Let’s simply stop women holding roles such as lawyers, bankers, doctors.

            I love music, and recall when I was about 14 watching a TV programme of Andre Previn conducting the LSO. There were no women in the orchestra. I asked my father why that was. he replied that it was because women could not produce the same tone from an instrument as men so the LSO did not allow them in the orchestra.
            Same with newsreaders. Angela Rippon was the first women on the BBC to read the news. I recall opening the door for her when I worked at the BBC and wondering how on earth anyone had thought that women could not read the news. It was of course because it was thought no one would believe them.
            I can’t quite believe you hold such views as you express. My experience is that both parents make decisions about child care and upbringing. As far as I am aware, that is the only way to do it.
            I think Ian’s wife is a GP. Let’s ask if she has no respect for Ian as he (probably) earns a lot less then she does.
            Let’s sack all the men who are chefs or interior designers. How could they possibly know what they are doing? (according to you)

          • But one of the nonnegotiables is that people should be able to fulfil all their talents. Remember I said homemaking is a full time job – sometimes more and sometimes (in earlier and later years) less. There is a 10 to 20 year window in the middle (and I do believe in early marriage, but only within the context of a more mature culture) when children need more attention. Modern life is over frantic otherwise (unnecessarily so, since to become more frantic at a time of more labour saving devices – all so that the GDP and living standards can increase, which at our level of western prosperity is the last thing we actually need), and capitalism and feminism have a bad record re effects on family life. Do you disagree, and if so on what basis?

            The Previn and Rippon cases are nothing to do with what I think.

          • My further mention of ‘averages’ fell on deaf ears? Stereotyping is literally impossible when all we are doing is talking of averages. Averages which often paint a picture of significant clarity. However, your mention of the Previn and Rippon cases (hoping that they get my seal of approval?) was an inaccurate exercise in stereotyping.

            It is startling that you want to disregard women’s own wishes. Even in the USA (www.gallup.com, 7.10.15) a quite recent large-scale survey found that 56% of mothers with under-18 children would be happier at home looking after their children. (It reminds me of the many polls that say how much people really desire lifelong marriage, something which brashly promulgated norms snatch from them. The people I meet day to day bear no relation to those thrust upon us by the media.) I hope you and others will take seriously the need for a panoramic vision rather than seizing on one angle and thinking it is everything. Gain that is not net-gain is loss.

            A related question: what are the areas of life where you disagree with the PC received wisdom of this particular random tiny age and tiny culture? I do find that some are so scared of being in (not a minority but) a perceived minority that they scarcely join the minority in anything, and consequently conform, show no independent thought, and on that basis cannot be said to have opinions (just herd instincts) at all.

  13. Hey folks, have we forgotten …… a long time ago,……. it started with pushing penises into anuses. Did we really need the Bible to comment on this??

    Reply
    • Leslie: women don’t have penises so what you say rather ignores lesbian same sex activity.
      Many married heterosexual couples engage in anal sex – which I would guess they have always done, and the bible doesn’t comment about it.
      It is thought that main sexual activity of homosexual men is not anal sex.
      So I am afraid I find your comment is all very confusing. Could you please clarify the point you are trying to make for us?

      Reply
      • Andrew, Im not sure how you know ‘many’ straight couples engage in anal sex. But even if it is many, that doesnt make it appropriate. No doubt it has become more common due to its widespread depiction in porn. But it seems obvious to me, and the medical profession, what the anus was designed for, and it wasnt for the insertion of foreign objects!

        And just because the Bible doesnt specifically comment on that particular behaviour does not automatically imply it’s ‘good’, whether or not it’s in the marriage bed.

        Peter

        Reply
        • Hi Peter: I know because of studies done in the subject. It’s surely important to be informed about such a contentious issue? One such study suggests that between 30 and 35% heterosexual couples in the States engage in anal sex. That prevalence seems very many to me, not just many. So I was being quite conservative. I’d think 20% was many.
          Studies suggest it was prevalent among ancient Greeks and Romans. Not least, it was an effective method of contraception. The perversion of it, which was men with boys, is what Paul is thought to be addressing.
          I’m not suggesting the bible says it’s good, but is neutral about it. I’m also well aware that many people – presumably you among them – find the very idea disgusting.
          The truth probably lies somewhere between ‘30-35% straight people like doing it’ and ‘It’s disgusting’. And I think that truth is probably neutrality.

          Reply
    • Ok thanks. In which case it is just incorrect. But I agree that the bible doesn’t, and doesn’t need to make any comment about the activity you describe.

      Reply
  14. I think that’s such an important question Andy. I think there’s also a Biblical Christian vision of ‘speaking prophetically’ which often means speaking out when it’s unpopular. When something’s culturally popular it’s easy to ‘speak out’ but really just be ‘virtue signalling’. It’s not an easy balance. And no doubt some of us will go far either way.

    Reply
  15. OK though even if the survey you quote accurately reflects the population as a whole a large majority, around 70 %, don’t engage in it. And within Christian and Jewish circles probably even fewer couples practise it. The medical profession has highlighted a number of health implications, particularly for women, so perhaps the majority are taking heed.

    Peter

    Reply
    • That may be so Peter. I think evidence is unclear on that and sexual activity is obviously a very private thing.
      Crossing the road has health implications and is probably far more dangerous, statistically.
      The point still remains that some seem to find the very idea disgusting whilst others enjoy it. I’m not convinced there is any argument put forward to say that within marriage it is immoral, is there?

      Reply
      • I think how the anus works speaks volumes as to its proper purpose as designed by God. In general, we shouldnt go against His design otherwise we just ask for trouble.

        As for crossing the road, for the vast majority of people and for the vast majority of the time, no ill effects are experienced, except for inhalation of particulates etc, but hopefully electric cars will resolve that problem, at least to a large extent – bring back horses I say! (yes I know they occasionally ran over people). That is not the case for anal sex, which inevitably affects the relevant muscles which have a different purpose.

        But perhaps we should leave the argument there.

        Reply
        • PC1. I think I know what your views would be on oral sex then … but even so I find your approach to sexual intimacy and expression highly functional – more the physical mechanics of ‘mating’ than what most of us mean by the varied expression of love making. The language of ‘design’ and ‘function’ does not get close to describing what is expressed in the most familiar expressions of human intimacy. May I also presume you think that kissing (or certain forms of it) also fall within ‘going against His design’ too?

          Reply
          • Natural law seems to be one of your great assumptions Christopher.
            Natural law so far as animal behaviour is concerned seems that same sex sexual activity is pretty normal in a number of species.
            Natural law suggests that the majority of fertilised eggs are aborted naturally in very early pregnancy.
            Natural law suggests that people find ways of contraception that are artificial in one way or another.

            Moral law is another area you seem unclear about, and want to strive for some absolute truth.
            Moral law as we have it suggests that morality is relative to culture and time. So consuming pork etc is immoral in some times and cultures. Use of artificial means of contraception are immoral in some cultures.

            I suggest that evidence shows that nothing is so straightforward as you suggest.

          • For immoral you should write ‘regarded as immoral’.

            Animals and SS behaviour: (Many things are ”same sex behaviour” but not homosexual (lads down the pub…).) So: animals and SS sexual behaviour:
            1. Dog and table-leg etc is just mating season hypersexuality.
            2. Relatedly: It is very rare for animal behaviour to be exclusively same sex. E.g. the fabled zoo penguins.
            3. Same sex *affection* is rare in animals.
            4. Artificial domestication involves a degree of emasculation.
            5. In what other matters do you take your lead from the animal kingdom? We are self aware not instinctive.

            Miscarriages. Conceptions are half male and half female. Births are 105 male to 100 female. ‘What a piece of work is woman’. Being XX women have a complete backup in place. They are physically more complex than men. Through the ages they have rightly been specially treasured. that treasuring is biologically based. It takes more to create a woman than to create a man. Have you noticed that atheists suddenly ”become” believers when they say ‘Look how God destroys those foetuses’? That was the conversation I had with Evan Harris ex-MP.

            Natural law suggests that people find contraception. I have to say that that is not one of the main things one learns when one studies natural law! It is probably a sociological or anthropological truth?

            I want to strive for absolute moral truth? No – just we are living in a universe which is only one way (if one wrote a space-time formula for it there would be only one correct answer). It is hard to see how universes could be different from that. So there will always be answers to questions as opposed to no answers, which makes it foolish not at least to try and seek out those answers, for of one thing we can be sure: they are there for the finding and are not illusions.

            It’s not morality that is relative but perceptions of morality, our grasp of morality will (obviously) not always be equally accurate.

          • David, call me Peter.

            I was being quite specific about anal sex and the very obvious and specific function of the anus. Tongues are designed for licking, so oral sex and kissing are fine within a marriage. Is it getting hot in here?! lol

            The only reason you can have the ‘intimacy’ you describe is precisely because of how God has so designed our bodies, including our brains. But we should not forget that physical pleasure is not the ultimate aim of love-making, as if anything goes if it has a sensual effect. But I think you get that.

            Peter

          • “But we should not forget that physical pleasure is not the ultimate aim of love-making,“

            Peter: we should be very clear and remember that it IS one of the ultimate aims of love making. it’s very clearly there in the C of E marriage service. It’s the first stated purpose for marriage. Delight and tenderness of sexual union.

      • Andrew, you have never been more wrong. It sounds like you are living in cloud cuckoo land. In a multi angled question all you think about (in the manner of the juvenile sexual revolution) is the ‘enjoyment’ dimension.

        1. Possession of a sphincter marks something as exit not entrance.
        2. The lining is one cell thick. That is the thinnest possible.
        3. It can tear even in normal circumstances. Insertion of larger objects is not a normal circumstance. Also people who engage in such things are not renowned for their caution. Many of them only learned this science later or never because they were being fed a rubbish and deadly free for all philosophy, which you yourself even now after so many deaths have one foot in the camp of.
        4. The inner area is unexaminable for hygiene.
        5. Combined with that it is potentially among the dirtiest, probably the dirtiest area of all on average.
        6. Oh but the anus is just like the vagina isn’t it? We have already mentioned the sphincter issue that gives the lie to that. How about the fact of less stretch?
        7. How about the fact of no natural lubrication? These are the sorts of ways we determine what nature intended and didn’t intend.
        8. Disease is one of the main such ways. A single instance of anal intercourse carries 20 times the chance of disease in a single instance of vaginal (though obviously in faithful marriage – which is the Christian option, so why need to discuss others when you have already found the right one? – the latter is close to zero).
        9. Within feces one can find dangerous pathogens like salmonella, shigella, hepatitis A, B, C, giardia, campylobacter &c..
        Why do you think people are so particular about the disposal of dog waste? It is because of disease spreading.
        Why do you think HIV/AIDS ever broke out? And look at men-who-have-sex-with-men anal cancer rates.
        10. Even now we have not come to the worst point. Within the rectum there are microfold cells which actively, enthusiastically embrace the harmful disease-causing microbes.

        In a marriage culture no-one needed/needs to discuss such rubbish, and fatal deadly rubbish at that. Just imagine if you gave such deadly advice to parishioners.

        Reply
        • Christopher

          I don’t think we needed all that detail. We know what the risks of anal intercourse are, just as we know the risks of PIV intercourse. Andrew was not recommending it, nor defending it as an activity enjoyed by gay men. He was pointing out that many straight married couples engage in anal sex. This is not a new thing. In Catholic countries, it has often been used as a method of birth control, and has been popular in various cultures. No one is advising parishioners to have anal sex. I hope no one is advising parishioners on any kind of sex!

          Reply
          • How many cells are in a pinprick? Cells are utterly tiny. So how can one conceive how incredibly thin is a one-cell-thick lining?

          • So Penelope you are saying that a deadly practice (as detailed point by point) is merely a matter of taste, of preference. Like rice pudding.

            Is whether we play Russian roulette a matter of mere preference and no more?

            Cliches everywhere. A huge inaccuracy.

          • Yes, Christopher, I am saying that.
            Precious people ride motorbikes and horses, drink too much, smoke, take drugs, drive too fast, cross roads, inhale particulates, have babies…we don’t attempt to proscibe any of those activities, despite the risks involved, because there’s no ‘ick’ factor.
            If anal sex disgusts you, fine. But don’t pretend your disgust is a concern for precious people unless you want to proscribe all elective risky activities.

          • I never mentioned disgust, but your repeated cliched mention of it in contradistinction to what I actually wrote shows the typical emotion-centredness (something shared with adolescents) of moderns and of liberals.

            I could in theory feel no disgust at all, but how would that change the factual/logical/rational danger of something? I don’t see the relevance of emotions here. They are no more than *reactions* to preexisting realities. Puzzled…. Very dangerous things are already, unsurprisingly, prohibited. Also there are widely varying degrees of danger.

          • Christopher I think the only logic of your position is to say that anal sex should be illegal – as it is I think in around 30 countries.

          • As for saying you did not need all the detail (the classic unthinking response) it is exactly what *is* needed. Otherwise people do not know what it is that they are talking about. They hide in abstractions and cliches. As soon as one gets concrete and not abstract with them (as Chesterton said) they run a mile, for the light of plain speaking has been shone and it scares them, just as it scares everything vague.

          • Of course it should be illegal! Far less harmful things are illegal. What other measure can be used than harmfulness?

            Of course the law cares nothing for such measures. To steal a car is bad, but to steal a husband is worse. The law regards the first as bad and the second as actually good, since they side exclusively with splitters and the divisive and abandon the peaceable faithful promise keepers. Presumably they think the latter should see the light and become divisive themselves.

          • Well Christopher, good luck with enforcing the law when anal sex becomes illegal (once again) in England!
            I hadn’t seen you as a second Cromwell.

          • “The law regards the first as bad and the second as actually good, since they side exclusively with splitters and the divisive and abandon the peaceable faithful promise keepers.“

            And you have evidence to back that assertion up? Or is it simply your opinion?

          • Yes. In UK law, the law sides with the petitioner for divorce and sides against the victim of the petition. This cruel situation is about to be magnified.

          • So assuming a woman ‘steals’ a husband from another woman – the wife. The wife then petitions for divorce. And, as you have said here, the law will side with the wife.

            It still remains to ask how a woman steals a husband in the same way a person steals a car. What does she do? Break in to the house at night and carry him away?

          • The manner of the theft is the least important point, and again you are harping on about gnats while ignoring camels. The *fact* of the theft is the devastating, heartbreaking, irrevocable thing.

          • Oh the gnats and camels are very clear here.
            Firstly, the manner of stealing is very important if you want to compare stealing cars and stealing spouses. The manner of theft needs to be the same. But obviously you can’t compare these two cases.

            Secondly, I agree with you. The person who petitions, the abandoned wife, has the law on her side. So I have no idea what your point is here!

          • What I’m wanting to ask here Christopher is what punishment you would advocate for adulterers? You wish to criminalise homosexuality and anal sex and now adultery. What should the punishment be for these crimes?

          • Christopher

            Of course I would not criminalise anal sex. Nor would I criminalise adultery, homosexuality, abortion, drug taking, rugby or horse riding.
            My criteria are:
            Firstly, it would be very difficult to enforce and a great waste of police time and resources.
            Secondly, surveys tend to show that prohibition has the opposite effect to that intended – there were far fewer heroin addicts in the 1960s before it became illegal; and abortions in the US are lower in number during Democratic presidencies (i . e. those presidents who were pro abortion).
            Thirdly, risk is a part of human life. We can be encouraged not to take drugs and warned that riding over jumps may result is us becoming paraplegics; but we have free will and not all of us will break our necks or become drug addicts.
            Fourthly I see no evidence that anal sex, like careful recreational drug taking and careful riding is inevitably harmful.

          • There is door-to-door inspection sort of illegal and able-to-be-cited-in-court sort of illegal – I meant the former.

          • It is certainly a very comforting thought that not all of us will break our necks.

            However, this poses a false dichotomy between all and none. The entire spectrum, all of real life, lies in between.

            Aren’t you interested in minimising numbers of people who break necks etc.?

          • Christopher

            So how do you propose the police on a door to door inspection discover which couples are engaging in anal sex? And why are the couples suspects? And what would be the burden of proof?

          • Yikes, when I said ‘I meant the former’ I meant ‘I meant the latter’, ie. evidence in court and not door to door inspection.

            I don’t think I mentioned adultery. Yes, I absolutely think adultery should be illegal. I cannot conceive of anything more harmful, so it is a shoo-in. It has a long history of illegality. And what about the impression given that the authorities see it as a matter insufficiently important to proscribe?

          • I do not think I ever said to criminalise anything called ‘homosexuality’ for now the word is ambiguous. It can refer to behaviour sometimes of course. In a healthy society it is not going to be on people’s radar in the first place, whereas in a society with sexual revolution presuppositions it will easily proliferate.

            Certainly adults are allowed to behave far worse than children are allowed at school. But to be an adult is to have advanced and matured from the level of a schoolchild and become wiser. Therefore it makes little sense to proscribe non-age-specific things for schoolchildren which are somehow then fine for adults.

          • Punishment? The thing that needs to happen, which I would not call punishment, is that they should understand how very badly certain behaviours can hurt precious individuals and families and society. They probably already understand this, but it should be spelt out to them. It is amazing how spelling things out logically and clearly can make people understand better. But what we are talking of is education and teaching. These things would be obvious if they had been taught properly already from a much earlier age in school and in societal norms. Otherwise one is playing catch up. The disaster of abandoning a Christian foundation to society is never ending in its scope.

          • Christoper: now you are backtracking. You were quite clear in previous comments that of course anal sex should be made illegal. And you were clear that stealing a car attracted punishment but stealing a husband didn’t.
            So instead of punishment you are now proposing that you take over education policy.

          • Re AS I have never said anything different than that it should be illegal, have I? Therefore I am puzzled by your apparently inaccurate comment.

            As the law now stands we all know that it takes car-stealing seriously and the obviously more important husband-stealing not seriously at all. That is a statement of how the law stands and it is very far from how things should be. I mention it so that the law may receive the ridicule it deserves.

            When did I take over education policy? (a) Education policy should be coherent. (b) All of us are free at any time to say how they think things should be, and the reasons why. To deprive people of the chance to do that is liberal?

          • So let me get this right Christopher. Both things should be illegal, but there would not actually be any punishment?

          • Punishment is a purely negative concept. It is also close to revenge. Both are points against it. Is something purely negative what is required?

            Restitution is required. Restorative justice is required. Restoration is required. Training in not hurting others is required. Bringing someone to their senses is required.

            For example when one violates the bus lane law (to move from the serious to the trivial) one has to attend a course or be fined by law.

          • However, the idea of municipal officers conducting such restorative sessions is beyond ridiculous. They are the province of Christian/family/community leaders. Yet another way in which the abandoning of Christian structures leads only to disaster and collapse of standards.

          • Well, since homosexuality or homosexual behaviour/activity has always been a part of society, we have clearly never had a ‘healthy society’.

            I find the whole idea of church/moral leaders policing people’s sex lives utterly repellent. It does not have a good history.

          • Nonsense!

            (1) It is far more a part of society when it is presented by the prevailing narrative as being mainstream; and also when it is organised.

            (2) This is the cliched response – ‘policing’. So you think that some of the most evil acts of all should be unaccountable?? Or treated as not especially important? Or if they are accountable then they should be accountable to those who do not even understand Christian marriage one of the most precious things there is? Family would normally prevent such eventualities (see Esolen, Defending Marriage) but in other circumstances they could help to heal them. And/or other respected figures outside the family, only if necessary.

            You see how many questions are raised by your approach.

            What is for sure is that it is opposed to the New Testament way of looking at things.

          • What is opposed to the NT way of looking st things is paedophilia. Remember millstones?
            The NT fails to mention anal sex.
            I might suggest that is because God hates child abuse and is quite indifferent to private, consensual sexual practices.

          • Penny, your answer makes no sense because it makes out that there is only one thing in existence that is opposed to the NT way of looking at things!!

            I am glad ‘God’ is so nice and domesticated that he signs up for the dictum of our tiny modern culture ‘what goes on in the bedroom stays in the bedroom and is never of any moral consequence, not even when people drop dead like flies.’.

          • God is not a tame lion Christopher and She knows that people don’t drop dead like flies from engaging in anal sex.

          • Yes, that’s right: the entire death toll from HIV/AIDS and anal cancer (which forced large scale change of behaviour with regard to AS) has been…
            two people slightly hurt, was it?

          • Really Christopher, do cite your evidence for the decline in anal sex owing to greater knowledge of the risks involved. You gave been ver quiet about this I would assume you would be delighted.
            And HIV is and was a heterosexual disease.
            There was a spike in gay men in the 80s and 90s in Europe and the US, but, worldwide it remains a heterosexual ‘problem’.

          • Penny, will you admit

            (1) that HIV/AIDS is massively more contracted by homosexuals *per head* than by heterosexuals?

            (2) That I have to make that point every single time because the liberals are unwilling or unable to learn.

            (3) That the liberals, having learnt the point, either forget it or continue to fail to factor it in?

            (4) That in America to this day HIV/AIDS is contracted more than 1000 times more by men who have sex with men than by those who don’t?

            (5) That the only reason that there are more heterosexual than homosexual individuals with AIDS is because there are quite massively more heterosexuals in the first place? See (1).

            (6) That the only reason that AS took a downturn is because there had to be strong warnings against it because it was so massively implicated in the spread of HIV/AIDS?

            (7) That a downturn is better than nothing but that those who continue to view something so deadly as an equal lifestyle choice are no better than those who think their own COVID behaviour will have no consequences for others?

            (8) I missed your answer on the death toll of the AIDS pandemic. Just as I have also missed your answers on your assessment of the individual Iwerne leaders and on the details of the second death (if there was one) that JS was possibly implicated in.

          • (However, note that it was this very same attitude of yours, that AS is just one flavour of sex among many, like the ice creams, that led to the millions-killing outbreak of HIV-AIDS beginning from the gay village in San Francisco. As the Christians would have predicted, this took only a handful of years from the outbreak of the sexual revolution.)

          • I don’t know why we are restricting ourselves to HIV/AIDS and anal cancer. Gonorrhea and syphilis have for the last several years seen astonishing annual percentage rises. Men who have sex with men are always listed as top offender or as one of the top 2 ‘at risk groups’. When will people realise that this is the nature of the beast rather than being some random intriguing finding?

  16. Christopher,
    Or that it be widely and publically known that such condoning (purportedly without any critical assessment,support by reasearchc) ounsel was available from a prominent leader, advisor, in the CoE.

    Spot on Christopher. Imagine the sole universal moral metric of enjoyment or likes and dislikes notwithstanding disingenuous errors of category of confusing and conflating bodily functions, sewage system with nutrition.
    No don’t: it plays out in history and flourishes today in various guises and game playing.
    It truly is a different religion: the infiltration of secular pluralistic syncretism.

    Reply
    • At Gene Robinson’s consecration Bp Griswold ‘put up with’ a sensible priest rehearsing all this.

      Like most liberals, his preponderant rather small-scale and trivial thought was that all this was icky. Omitting the big-scale picture that all this was life and death for precious people.

      This triviality and ignoring of serious and large matters I hope is not too typical, but I have encountered it many times. In fact it is the standard response I encounter.

      Reply
      • Actually Christopher, the worrying thing is not that Christian people here think it merely ‘icky’ but they think it perfectly ‘acceptable’, despite all scientific and medical evidence to the contrary. Your evidence based argument is rejected out of hand merely because a survey from America suggested this was a popular practise….or because you are not campaigning for road safety. Bizarre.

        Moral teleology & human biology notwithstanding, surely basic christian ‘love for one’s neighbour’ would want to caution people putting their bodies in harm’s way. You marshal unequivocal logical reasons why such practises are wrong – however de-rigeur in a porn saturated culture – and yet your arguments are not engaged with, but personalised and you are treated with disdain as if some moral prude. I’m appalled.

        Reply
        • Simon: I’m appalled that you can’t quite engage with any of this argument – presumably because you also feel disgust.
          There is a whole history here of basic misunderstanding of what gay males actually do. Leslie relies on disgust to repeat it.
          There is also a whole history of misunderstanding what faithful married couples engage in. Certainly I quoted one survey from the States. But there are others. America is traditionally a very reserved country so if a survey there suggests 30-35%, then the reality in other places is probably higher.
          Be aware that I am not advocating or suggesting that any one thing in particular is acceptable. What I am saying is unacceptable is cliched ‘disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ kind of comments. It’s very immature.
          See also Penelope’s reply below.
          Would you be equally appalled by married couples engaging in oral sex?

          Reply
          • Hah – well, you really dont know me do you – hardly ‘disgusted of Tunbridge Wells ‘- more pastorally concerned worldly wise from Bristol – who has actually spoken about AS with gay friends, gay family, highly promiscuous friends and in pastoral contexts.

            A former combat soldier of 22years recently asked me what all the interest/promotion of AS was about – despite his immersion in a highly sexually immoral life for many years – it was he said, a new thing. He genuinely asked me where this had all come from?

            I heard recently of a GP concerned by the large number of young girls presenting with incontinence & torn sphincters – having enacted for their partners the porn they’d watched.

            No, I do not put OS in the same category as AS – the latter being physiologically unnatural and medically risky.

          • The normal response one gets from liberals is:

            ‘So, to summarise what you said, if I understand you correctly, you are disgusted.’

            And inevitably if one scrolls back, no disgust or any emotion is mentioned at all, let alone as the main point.

            Haidt, The Righteous Mind 334, cites a study he did where it is seen that conservatives understand liberals far better than vice versa. They are able accurately to say what they think far better. How often have I said truthfully that I have not been correctly understood at even one point, and proceeded to outline this point by point. Truly we are thinking of 2 entirely different systems. Why do the conservatives understand the liberals? Because the liberals are just parroting the fashionable conventions and cliches of the culture. Since everyone inhabits the culture, and non-liberals can accurately predict that liberals will not be able to escape the cultural strait jacket, non-liberals can predict what liberals will say and ‘think. Liberals on the other hand cannot understand people who assign no intrinsic value to culture only to objective thought and reality. The latter method (observation not ideology) is the scientific and intelligent one.

          • Yet one conservative here, Clive, makes an assertion about a bishop – the Bishop of Newcastle. Clive is asked several times, by three different people to produce evidence for his claim. His only response is that those who ask for evidence are trying to shut down discussion.
            The usual state of evidence that conservatives wish to produce is ‘this is what things used to be like, and they were good enough and that’s my evidence’. Or else a meaningless string of out of context proof texts is offered.

          • Precisely. Which is why I could never be a conservative; there is only one thing to be and that is evidence-led. Conservativism says old-therefore-good, radicalism says new-therefore-good. Both are silly. If the former means tried and tested therefore good, it may well have a point.

  17. Simon

    The original comment on anal sex was made, not by Christopher, but by ‘Leslie’ who appeared to assume that it is a solely gay activity.
    Andrew responded that surveys show many straight couples engage in anal sex. He did not comment on the morality of such sexual activity, merely pointed out that it is fairly common.
    Christopher entered the debate to reiterate his arguments on the dangers of anal sex, particularly for gay men. We know all this evidence. If we had not known it in the past, we have read it again and again on here, since Christopher repeats this evidence frequently on Psephizo. He has demonstrated that it is risky, but not, in my opinion, that it is therefore morally wrong. Nor that it is due to a porn saturated culture. The practice obviously goes back to time immemorial. Many sexual practices are dangerous, not least PIV intercourse which resulted in high maternal and infant mortality, and still does in the developing world.
    I think Christopher’s comment on liberals having no nuance is treating me with disdain. Many of his responses do.

    Reply
    • Actually Andrew did comment on its morality – ‘I’m not convinced there is any argument put forward to say that within marriage it is immoral’.

      Peter

      Reply
    • What I mean by the nuance point is that the liberal contributors seem to return time and again to the same well worn channels, which (a) we have all addressed before, (b) are not relevant to the precise points being made. Secondly they repeatedly forget the answers already given, almost as if they have no interest in the debate advancing. It is also liberals who tend to belong to the ‘agree to disagree’ brigade, which is utterly unscholarly and also sly, because it means that no point of view however obviously wrong can ever get excluded, and nonstarters of ideas share the same table with promising ideas. It does also show how liberals are more minded to hospitality and generosity (both very good things in their own place) than to truth in a debate context. If debate is not about truth it is about nothing. The overlap between liberalism and women is no accident: it is psychological and doubtless biological. Left brained people (disproportionately men) care proportionally more for truth, right brained (disproportionately women) for empathy. As though the two were mutually exclusive (!) or regularly relevant within the same domain as one another. As soon as women had a greater presence in the church, ‘God’ ‘becomes’ primarily characterised by generosity and hospitality, which have been traditionally female concerns; and also there is interminable gossip and victimhood, opposition to disciplined training, boarding school and everything that is generally distant from the more typical female experience. We are essentially forced to regard female as default, male as aberration. Yet both are 50% and there will be ways in which each is more skilled and equipped than the other.

      Reply
      • ‘…..contributors return time and again to the same well worn channels … repeatedly forget the answers already given’. Funnily enough I can think of some conservative voices here who keep doing exactly this Christopher.

        Reply
        • Exactly. When the answers given are forgotten there is no alternative: we have to reiterate. But at least I show awareness of the foregoing discussion when I do so rather than ceaselessly returning to page 1. I am flattered but mystified if you classify me as a conservative voice rather than an evidence/independent guy.

          Reply
          • Christopher

            I never forget your answers. I now know more about anal sex than I would have had I stayed on secular social media.

          • Christopher. So when you repeat things endlessly it is because you are ‘showing awareness’ and there is ‘no alternative’. When others repeat things they are ‘ceaselessly returning to page 1’. Thank you for clarifying this. Indeed where would be without you endlessly reiterating the answers with the awareness you have that we are all missing.

          • I will give examples. Every time I quote a survey such as Mayer and McHugh or my own poor chapters, which spend a massive proportion of their space simply quoting the results of peer reviewed studies, Andrew or someone else says that the survey itself is not peer reviewed. I then have to yet again say yes but how do you assess the multiplicity of peer reviewed papers referred to? Are you avoiding doing that? Is this a delaying tactic. You asked for peer reviewed, you have it in abundance. Why should I go through that wearying process every time? Are people not listening? Or not intelligent enough? Or filibustering?

            A second example. Every time people say ‘More heterosexuals than homsexuals are guilty of XYZ’, I point out that massively more homosexuals than heterosexuals per head are guilty of it. Er – um -er is what follows. Why does that process have to be repeated?

            A third example. I make logical points, and people say ‘Ah, I understand. You don’t like x; y is not to your taste; you are disgusted by z.’ I had never mentioned emotions.

            Why on earth can’t these perennial hurdles be forgotten once and for all? Are people scared of making progress and sticking to the familiar?

            My point is that this misrepresentation is standard. Whereas if I unwittingly misrepresent anyone or anything my commitment has always been to try and understand and learn.

      • Christopher

        You take my breath away!
        It is not the so-called liberals who return again and again to topics such as anal sex and gay promiscuity; it is people like yourself and ‘Leslie’ who appear to be obsessed with the subject. A subject which, I may add, is rarely relevant to the OP or to subsequent comments.
        Furthermore you assume that all must assent to your ideological points which are made, as above, with few or no citations. (You claim that infidelity is greater than before without presenting any evidence.)
        And you are never attentive to others’ arguments. You completely ignore my often repeated point that disease and promiscuity are red herrings when we’re discussing gay people in faithful, chaste relationships and in Christian marriage.

        Reply
        • Of whom there are how many and what proportion? And why are few or none of them speaking out against the antics of the majority.

          Mattison and McWhirter you dismissed without reading, yet it is oft documented that MSM standards and definitions of fidelity are a different ballgame from normal standards.

          Reply
        • Christopher

          I have no more idea of the proportion than you have of how infidelity is greater than before.
          All the gay couples I know are faithful and chaste; perhaps this is because most of them are Christians. Bu not all, so maybe gay couples are as vanilla as straight couples.
          You have used MSM to denote mainstream media. Are you now using it to denote men who have sex with men?

          Reply
        • So do I listen to you who have small scale random unsubstantiated anecdotal knowledge, or do I listen to sociological specialists who have done a large scale survey?

          Reply
          • I don’t know, Christopher. You can cite researchers who have not found one gay, faithful couple.
            Or you can cite research which shows that few married couples are unfaithful and then extrapolate that infidelity must have increased because……..reasons

          • So you think that sleeping with more than one person is equally socially acceptable to how it was a generation or 2 generations ago?

            Your claim is that the sexual revolution never happened, then. Several whole tranches of stats you have to explain away.

          • No, Christopher, I am asking for your evidence that infidelity is on the increase.
            Not anecdotes or suppositions.

          • Christopher

            You cite 2 papers, 1994 and 1997 which show that 80% of couples are not unfaithful and then conjecture that more probably are now, because……tinder.

          • On the contrary, I cited 3 (1994, 1994, 1997) which, tellingly, independently agreed. However, none of them was the 2005 paper to which I was referring.

        • Returning briefly on the subject of appropriate and inappropriate . Exit of stool – anally appropriate. Reception of penis – anally inappropriate.
          I don’t feel inclined to argue its truth.

          Reply
      • Christopher

        Leaving aside your outrageous cliches, I am rather grateful that, as a gossip and a victim, I have been spared the disciplined training of Iwerne Minster and the sado masochism of John Smyth.

        Reply
        • Iwerne was a large organisation. I attended camps totalling 15 days. So it did not have as much effect on my discipline as it might have had had I attended more. Smyth was by then long gone (4 years before). But given that there were 100 leaders (60-80 at any one time), it is only media stereotyping that would try to put one comic-villain leader in contact with everyone at such a large camp.

          Your possible assumption that every one of the thousands of people connected with Iwerne would automatically have been greeted on arrival by a smirking John Smyth, cane in hand, is from the Spitting Image school of understanding.

          Surely you also know that discipline means training and instillation of good life habits. One can use the word ‘discipline’ without any kind of punishment entering one’s head. You do know that, don’t you?

          Reply
          • Those I know who had any experience of Iwerne, with or without John Smith, found it creepy, elitist, sexist, extremely narrow in terms of theology, extremely narrow in terms of church tradition, and conservative in every respect. A heady mix of controlling forces.

          • Yes, Christopher, despite being a girly, I do know that. I was taught by nuns for 14 years.

            I do not subscribe, however, to your apologia for Iwerne which figures Smyth as one bad apple. It is clear from investigations that the Titus Trust were well aware of Smyth’s proclivities, and, instead of reporting him to the police, exiled him to Africa where he could continue to abuse boys, and, perhaps, kill two. The whole organisation is – or was – riddled with corruption.

          • ‘exile him to Africa where he could continue…’ – that is gramatically correct English but not clear English. The way you put it does not rule out the reading that their intention was that he cound continue!!

            As for one bad apple – yet another thing you have put in my mouth. But there were vanishingly few. And some apples were curate’s eggs, as it were. These seem to be among those counted as unadulteratedly bad (as though somehow the bad parts were real and the good parts were not; more like the bad parts provided gossip fodder and the bad parts did not).

            There was a particularly large number of particularly good apples. By a clear margin more than I have ever seen elsewhere. The main reason for this was the way they took their Christian life and discipline seriously (disciplined people are happy and well functioning people) together with their daily morning quiet time.

            That is the bit the tabloid press (and tabloid press minded people) don’t like.

          • Andrew’s Iwerne alumni are self selecting. Any leaders who went back year on year would have taken the opposite view. Any senior campers largely likewise. There were large numbers of both.

          • The opposite view? What kind of a word is view Christopher?

            I’m not persuaded by your argument Christopher I’m afraid. David Watson’s experience showed just how narrow the whole thing was.

          • Christopher

            This has nothing to do with gossip or a tabloid mentality. Smyth was an evil abuser who ruined young men’s lives. He was not simply one bad apple, but was protected by like-minded men who did not report his crimes to the police or to the boys’ parents, but were complicit in his move to Africa, where, as I said, he continued to abuse boys and was possibly implicated in the death of two. My appalling suspicion is that black boys were considered of less value than white boys.
            Doubtless there were good men at Iwerne but that doesn’t ameliorate the situation that it was riddled with corruption and cruelty. This is not the preserve of conservative evangelicals, of course, Peter Ball and his accomplices is were and are just as evil and also ruined many lives. They are the most prominent recent cases of rape and abuse, but they are, sadly, not uncommon.
            Many men and women are still awaiting the reparation and restitution of which you speak.

          • I know not everyone who went to Iwerne camps found them helpful (and I am speaking more generally here). But I can affirm that among friends and colleagues over the years there were many for whom the Iwerne camps laid a foundation for life long, healthy, thoughtful faith and discipleship – and many good leaders who made that possible. What evangelicals do well they do very well. However I have never agreed with the strategy which is both highly elitist and sexist. But I very disturbed by Christopher’s persistent attempts to play down of the seriousness of what the leadership of this movement has long resisted facing about its collusion and concealment in relation to Smyth and others. To speak of ‘one comic-villain leader’ is a shocking trivialising of what was going on and he should no better. I wonder if he agrees with the open letter signed by Rev Melvin Tinker, Andrew Graystone, Gavin Ashenden, Rev Dr Peter Sanlon and others, when they write, ‘until the Anglican evangelical establishment begins to consider seriously what it is about its culture and theology that has enabled men like Smyth and Fletcher to do such damage, and the part it has played in colluding with their abuse of power to ensure that accountability is neither properly acknowledged or realised, we will leave others free to abuse or be abused and the Gospel will be discredited in the eyes of a watching world.’

          • Thank you David for your helpful and clear voice. I am, I assure you, aware of the good things that can come from the tradition of Iwerne and similar and I am sure I overstated my case. Apologies for doing so. I have no first hand knowledge and can only go by what others have told me. I am somewhat concerned that the seriousness of the failings exhibited there and in other traditions, as Penny highlights, have been downplayed.

          • Penny says Iwerne was riddled with corruption and cruelty. What is her knowledge of the topic? Smyth’s activities were not even known about, and as soon as they were they were treated with the utmost seriousness – he was asked to leave the country.

            It sounds very much like a tabloid stereotype.

            David R says I am minimising. How to minimise Smyth’s activities, which were egregious? But he makes a mistake. The ‘one comic-book leader’ quote he relies on is not my own view, nor was it presented as such. I said at the time that Penny was relying on a Spitting Image stereotype version of the realities. Within that, a sort of Thwackery/Whacko figure would be a standard.

            Typo earlier – ‘the bad parts provided gossip fodder and the *good* parts did not’.

            As for collusion and concealment – rubbish. How many separate times must it be reiterated that (a) the boys’ families wanted precisely that and ought certainly to have been honoured in that wish, as indeed they were; (b) no-one in fact broke cover at the time or for decades afterwards to give a different impression, only when it became the socially conventional thing to do post Savile; (c) the media would always destroy the good together with the bad and on this occasion there was much good to destroy (not that c is relevant in the light of a);
            (d) beyond-redemption is a new thing in Christian circles, since in former ages forgiveness and a second chance and a new start were all central to Christianity. It would have been taken for granted that the time to deal with anything would be at the time, least of all decades later, an option which would not have occurred to most.

            As for JS being possibly implicated in 2 deaths, anything is ‘possible’ and the culture he bred may very well have been key in one death. Which was the second though?

          • Is it really the case that only two (liberal) critical friends, Andrew and Penny, and a (suspect) evangelical like me are concerned enough to challenge the views expressed here about John Smyth and Iwerne?

          • John Smyth and Iwerne are 2 separate topics. The tabloids would group them as one topic, for reasons that will be obvious. But who would follow them of all people?

          • Christopher

            Where to begin?
            Firstly, it is very wrong to caricature Smyth as some comic Whacko figure. He was a serial abuser.
            Secondly, arecyou suggesting that the Titus Trust trustees acted appropriately in exiling Smyth to Africa where he abused a further 90 men and boys?
            Thirdly, that statistic is from an article in the leftie tabloid known as The Church of England Newspaper, along with facts about what the trustees knew and when, that another 4 men, including Jonathan Fletcher, abusing boys, and another 2 being investigated. This article was re-published on that notoriously liberal website, Angkican Ink.
            Fourthly, do you really believe that exposing abuse is the ‘socially conventional’ thing to do?
            Fifthly, where did I write that Smyth, Fletcher et al were beyond redemption?

            I am just so very shocked that you can be disturbed by the putative effects of anal sex, which, if risky, is usually consensual, but dismissive of the men and the culture which enabled them to abuse young men, blight their lives and, in some cases, lead to their deaths. These dangerous acts were not consensual. These truly were disgusting and depraved.

          • My point entirely. JS was a serial abuser. Which is why I am disturbed by the stereotypical way (‘they’re all at it’) that you as someone unfamiliar with the individuals see fit to speak so much about them as if you were in a position to assess them, and (as a result) end up with unmitigated cartoon parodies. The Whacko thing I mentioned because I thought it was your rather unnuanced and uninformed way of looking at things. It is certainly not my way of looking at things. As you will see if you scroll back. So that is a serious misunderstanding on your part, which does you no credit.

            Second, you ask if I am ‘suggesting’ that the trustees acted honourably in packing JS off to Africa? (‘Go out and govern New South Wales’, as Belloc had it.) I often think that women are more likely to suggest and imply, men to scratch their heads about why on earth anyone would ever need to imply anything when there was never anything preventing them from saying things straight. This is a major misunderstanding. It is very simple. If I did not say it, I did not mean it and I certainly did not imply nor suggest it, nor of course believe it. The trustees thought he should be badly punished and also removed far from those he had harmed. The latter could only be safe if there was water between them and JS. As for what transpired later – they just were not thinking. Hindsight is wonderful. But once again you repeat yet again the official angle and ignore all the other angles which are just as real, which gives one no confidence in your ability to think for yourself.

            The official line effectively treats certain figures as beyond redemption, with their most innocent act being micro-analysed till a way can be found to damn it. That is of course very different from forgiveness/new-start based Christianity as the world has normally known it.

            I am not at all sure that you have enough information yet to say that as many as 4-6 Iwerne leaders other than JS have done things that merit the name ‘abusing boys’. You know as well as I do that John Smyth was involved with young men not boys; Jonathan Fletcher with young and not so young men. Not many boys in sight, then. And ‘abusing’ is such a very broad term; it is useful for those who see more minor things and want to find a way of classifying them in the same bracket as more major things so as to up the spice and the condemnation of a movement which they have it in for to the extent that they simply cannot stop talking about it even when the things being talked about often do not reach the criminal threshold.

    • Penelope, are you saying that you actually *learnt* the details of the hazards of AS from me? So it takes a campaigner whose speciality is far distant, and a few scattered others, to get that information out there? That means that right across society a large health danger exists yet there is silence and lack of information about such a large danger and as a result a pandemic starts and countless people die. AS is treated as pretty much equivalent to other similar phrases.

      It reminds me of the silence about the abused girls in the north etc.. The PC worldview with which you are flirting is absolutely deadly. It cares nothing for the precious.

      Reply
      • I care for the precious lives blighted by Smyth, Fletcher and the other abusers who led the Iwerne camps and the Titus Trust. I care about the silence, the cover ups, the money spent on reputation protection and the nugatory settlements. I care about the culture which not only allows these things to happen, but encourages them under the guise of Chritian manliness and Christian leadership. I care that people like you still make light of this grevious abuse and fail to see that it is endemic in parts of the church.

        I also care about the abused girls in Rotherham because life isn’t a pie, and I can care about lots of things.

        I don’t care very much about people having consensual anal sex. Indeed, I’m quite indifferent about it. If people are being coerced, that’s a different matter and I would condemn it strongly. Otherwise, couples consider the risks and I consider it a private matter.

        I am sorry that you cannot see the vast moral difference.

        Reply
        • I am sorry that you cannot see that harm can be done at one remove or two removes rather than directly. Sometimes when it is done at one or two removes its size is much more vast.

          People not caring about whether they endanger others because all they care about is sexual enjoyment may not see the harm they do at one or two removes. All you see is the consent here and now. That is a narrow and inaccurate view that omits most of the picture. This is the same as politicians enacting new laws and media people promulgating new normals. They do not see the harm they do at one or two removes.

          We all care about Rotherham now because it has become ok to mention it in the newspapers, finally. The question is whether you would before that have been one to expose it, to consider as indifferent people’s Pakistani origin, to challenge head on the idea that the girls were fulfilling their sexual rights.

          You allege something new for the second time. First you said that J Smyth was likely (broadly) implicated in two deaths not one. Second you said that there were other abusers in Iwerne leadership. Such that ‘abusers led the Iwerne camps and the Titus Trust’. The head men were, therefore, broadly speaking, abusers.

          Please provide substance for this. Iwerne had hundreds of officers, and 5 or 6 who have been officers in the last decades have been under investigation on at least one occasion. I am not sure that amounts to a large number given the size of the organisation and the length of time involved, nor are we sure of the gravity of some of the charges, nor even always whether they are accurate. But your picture is that the top men were all bad apples, yet you know practically nothing of the individuals involved. You are walking headlong into tabloiditis, Spitting Imagery, and stereotype-land. There is only one Iwerne *leader* as opposed to officer who has been under suspicion with details in the public domain: Smyth (for, let’s say, 3.5 to 6.5 years of the 88 years that Iwerne was in existence). Jonathan Fletcher led a ten day camp in 1986 because there was an interregnum. He was a senior figure for very many years. Generally speaking he was not in charge of camps. I am not sure which boards he sat on. That leaves the overwhelming majority of senior leaders without charges or suspicion against them.

          Reply
          • Penny, you have made serious allegations, two of which seem to have no substance.

            For example, the 8 board members or ‘leaders’ of Iwerne at the time Smyth (who had recently himself resigned, otherwise he would have been among their number) was uncovered were: David Fletcher, Tim Sterry, Roger Combes, Mark Ruston RIP, John Eddison RIP, Dick Knight RIP, Peter Wells RIP, David Wilkinson RIP. What of substance do you have against even one of these 8? (They acted decisively showing how seriously they took Smyth’s violence and his subterfuge.) And secondly, don’t you think that your specific knowledge of the 8 is so limited that you ought not to be speaking on this topic at all?

          • Christopher. ‘They acted decisively showing how seriously they took Smyth’s violence and his subterfuge.’ er … in what way was that exactly? Did they immediately report him to the police and the Church authorities? Or do you mean their decisiveness in supporting his move to Africa where he continued his violence and subterfuge? And this is all, at last, in the public domain and, at last, being properly investigated – including the behaviour of trustees and all those involved – from national press and, responsible evangelical blogs and organisations. Have you not noticed? I quoted from one such piece in a previous post to you, which you chose to ignore. So there is very good reason why Penny, like many others, is well informed at this point.

          • Penny is not well informed in knowledge of personnel, and this case is one I have looked into a lot, so I would have the better of her there too.

            You make a mistake in saying I chose to ignore what you said about Pete Sanlon and Melvin Tinker, which has long been read and digested. I agree with most of what they say, and am here talking about different topics.

            Why however must I repeat the interminable point about the families’ wishes to keep mum being respected? What is your take on that point? After all, if police or media were informed, the whole thing would (a) be magnified – the last thing anyone wanted, (b) drag on interminably, so preventing closure or healing (or so many might well have thought), (c) proceed in a manner against the wishes of the families, who are ther very first people one should have in mind. Could I insist that you address these points – thanks.

          • And what have you to say David about Penny’s apparent double false accusation, born of inexactitude and generalisation?

          • Christopher. I don’t see why you should insist I address your points when you are ignoring mine. I completely agree with Penny’s comments. I completely disagree with you. You actually argue here that abusers should not be reported to police or safeguarding authorities because, among other things that makes it all too ‘magnified’ – ‘which is the last thing anyone wants’. You apparently think victims and their families don’t want a public fuss made – or the law of the land to be involved, or justice to be seen to be done? That this abuse should dealt with privately – like quietly funding them to go off to Africa perhaps? Are you serious? This is the approach that has allowed abuse to flourish in so many institutions in our country until recently. It is also against the law. I have to assume you have never undertaken safe-guarding training – but I think you seriously need too.

          • I don’t think these things. You make 6 or so serious errors.

            (1) I don’t ”think” but know…

            (2) …in the specific case that we are now dealing with – that it was some the parents’ unsurprising wish (or the wishes of all the parents consulted – which was not all the relevant parents) not to prolong the misery by means of publicity. But you (not being a family member of the victims, unlike them) would have silenced their wishes? Is that true?

            (3) You generalise about victims and their families as though they were all the same as each other and wished the same. You know that is not true.

            (4) If they had wanted to break cover (or disagreed with the ‘let’s move on’ approach) it was perfectly possible for them to do so. There were 26 or so UK victims and they will have had 52 parents. Over a 30-year period. But they did not.

            (5) In the circumstances of (4) you maintain that they *did* want a public fuss. The evidence points the exact opposite way. When the social climate changed (just as the points you make are dependent on a particular social climate) then things were different.

            (6) You ignore the point that media attention is detrimental to (a lot of) people. It is especially detrimental to people who have already suffered.

          • Christopher

            In response to your comments above and those below.
            I am not making unsubstantiated allegations. I cited the article from the Church of England Newspaper and Anglican Ink (neither known for their left wing or liberal credentials). If you disagree with the facts quoted, please take it up with the author Andrew Graystone.
            It is not my accusation. It is his. And I would be wary of proclaiming its falsehood without further research on your part.
            Some parents may not have wanted a fuss; some of the men did – because they wanted closure – and they have not been dealt with well.
            Media attention and sunlight is often of great benefit to survivors of abuse; at last they are believed rather than being ignored or suppressed. I suggest you read something on trauma studies.
            And, no, Christopher, the Whacko caricature (making light of Smyth’s conduct) was entirely yours and certainly not mine.
            I’m sorry that I’m a mere woman but please don’t patronise me. If the trustees sent Smyth off to ta,e the dark continent to bring the light of cishet white male supremacy or to abuse black boys (or men), the result was the same. As is the culpability.
            Are you suggesting that criminal proceedings should not go ahead? Thus shielding the abusers and ignoring the rights of the victims. The majority of the victims say that want justice, not silence.
            You try to argue that the ‘leaders’ or the trustees were innocent and that Smyth was an aberration. Investigation shows otherwise. Exiling Smyth was not an act of punishment for Smyth, it was an act of punishment for 90 young black men.

          • Several points here:

            The Whacko caricature, as you must know, was introduced by me as my attempt to characterise *your* position not my own. I know I introduced it, but you know I also always disowned it. I introduced it to distance myself from it.

            You know almost nothing about the Iwerne individuals, which is why I am so surprised and shocked that you pronounce on them. I am still waiting for your assessment of the 8 board members, but it is unlikely that you know enough to make any? So if you do not know enough, you are not in a position to make sweeping condemnations nor false accusations about their intent or about some (invented?) second death in Africa.

            What Andrew Graystone has written I largely agree with. But boy does he leave out a lot of relevant angles.

            Have you thought about what you are saying? Had this publicity happened when the poor young men were of university age, how much they would have been ribbed and psychologically affected.

            By no means would ‘victims’ have been the perspective. They were willing participants throughout, even to the extent (R Gittins) of improving morally because they were accountable for their shortcomings and endeavouring to get rid of them through a programme of accountability (led, alas, by an individual with compromised motives). Likewise, Jonathan Fletcher’s programme quite rightly treated accountability as good and also quite rightly treated a light-hearted / forfeits approach as less gloomy than a sackcloth and ashes approach. But once again there have been credible accounts of compromised motives. In each case the intentions of participants will have often been pure, sometimes unusually pure. This is not therefore anything like a standard case of victimhood, though it has some things in common with that.

            You ignore again the angle that all they were thinking about at the time was getting JS out of the way of the men he beat. They did not think of the future possibilities.

            Don’t think I disagree with all you say by any means. With some I agree strongly. But as with what Andrew Graystone writes, it seems determined to limit the official angles that can be seen, whereas in fat in the real world there are a great many angles, and selectivity is bias. The fuller and more comprehensive picture is the truer one. I feel like Tom Wright writing on justification – largely agreeing with interlocutors but pointing out how very much has been omitted. Since I spend much of my time with highly selective arguers (e.g. abortionists) who simply ignore the vast majority of the relevant points, then as you can imagine I have little patience with that.

          • ‘in fact’ not ‘in fat’.

            One central example. In enumerating JS’s abuse victims (and again, most abuse victims are not willing participants as these largely were) three quite separate categories are simply lumped together. I am glad that all are taken seriously, but to lump them together?

            Is it not bad enough that ‘abuse’ is a supremely vague word without compounding the felony?

            (a) The UK victims – beaten secretively; (b) those in Zimbabwe – beaten publicly without any secrecy, and in a programme known about by the parents who sent them there; (c) young men in South Africa who may certainly in the present climate have found his questioning unusual/intrusive. a, b, and c are quite separate categories.

          • Your supercilious ‘I suggest’ is once again superseded by the facts since I not only read these but contribute. The dirty secret is that a lot of extremely innocuous comments of mine have been blocked on that blog (currently well above 50%) – as with Thinking Anglicans and other blogs I could list that ban me altogether, normally because of my shameful habits of quoting actual statistics and saying people cannot be pronounced guilty without formal process.

            I do not see where that post is relevant to the points I am currently making, though. What is your reason for saying I should take non-Iwerne people as authorities when I attended the camp myself?

          • Because, as David Runcorn points out above, you don’t seem, on the evidence here, to have basic understanding of the safeguarding matters and processes and understanding that would be covered by quite basic training.
            As to not being allowed to comment on other blogs – that’s for the host to judge I would have thought. As both the blogs you mention by name have a wide variety and breadth of comments on them, I know they don’t take the decision to edit people out lightly.

          • On ‘training’, we are asked to assume (something we all know will sometimes be untrue) that the trainers will always know more than the trained. We have seen (with Mermaids, for example) where that can lead. Also, training implies that no alternative opinions or even nuance are allowed. That is anathema, quite rightly, to the academic.

            Not that I would not agree with 90% of safeguarding practice.

  18. Risk.
    I heard someone say that the ratio of road traffic to deaths on roads is a constant throughout history. In the middle ages people managed to perish in road accidents at the same rate as moderns do in our theoretically safer environment. It seems people have an innate way of assessing risk and living their lives accordingly. Contemporary culture thinks it knows what the risks are. Surely this pandemic shows just how much we still do not know about the world we inhabit.
    God never explains his prohibitions in the Bible. I think the prohibition on eating pigs is because they are dangerous to keep, prone to disease and and stink. Their smell sticks to everything.
    But God is silent. He simply says don’t. How would history have been different if London’s city fathers in the 17th century had taken Biblical hygiene seriously?
    Paul said some things are not sinful but neither are they helpful.
    And Solomon said the writing of blogs there is no end…

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  19. What is absent in any of this, is the question of Christian holiness, sanctification, and a transformed life of conversion to Christ. It is a concept and quantifiable quality that is absent from any secular surveys or research, that is according to the dominion (including the mindset) of flesh as opposed to the dominion of the Holy Spirit.
    A principal is this; Holiness, sanctification, is expressed physically.
    “If you were asked: Where does Christian holiness express itself? – how would you answer?
    Paul’s answer? The Body. His over-arching exhortation is – “present your BODIES as a living sacrifice”….
    “Why is he so specific about this…true we have more than a physical dimension; but we live with and through our bodies. we do not exist in our present condition apart from the body. We express ourselves only by means of our bodies!
    There is no such thing as sanctification that does not involve us physically.
    That is why it is so important to “present” our bodies to the Lord…
    ” The effect of sin is felt in bodily ways, and manifests itself in what we do with our bodies – with our eyes, hands, ears, lips, feet, and EVERY other part of us
    ” they are INSTRUMENTS of either sin, or holiness.
    ” Through them we express what is in our heart. By them the core of our thinking, feeling, desiring, and willing comes to expression.
    “Jesus taught the same truths. The tongue (text or twitter!) serves as an index of our hearts. It is out of the heart the mouth speaks. Jesus speaks about our right eye or hand causing us to sin.
    “Sin in the heart thus manifests in the body.
    “Therefore, the radical change the gospel brings intoour lives will also manifest Christ’s saving power precisely there – in the body.
    “for each day, through what our forefathers called the eye-gate or ear -gate, moth gate, hand -gate or foot gate, we are confronted by temptation.

    (They are to be devoted as a living sacrifice to the Lord Jesus Christ0
    “We are his and it (body part) is his. Indeed it is no longer ours but Christ’s…They are his, because I am his.”

    This is deliberate and careful sacrificial language from St Paul (and Jesus.

    Our bodies are to be costly and deliberately, volitionally, consecrated, devoted to the Lord Jesus.

    “Holiness requires deliberate action on our part, and the exercise of our will.”

    From, “Devoted to God; Sinclair B, Ferguson” The Banner of Truth Trust 2016. Emphasis mine. I don’t have, italics or bold, so apologies for capitals.

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    • Geoff. I am not sure what point you are making here? Of course for large parts of Christian history holiness was only thought possible when sex was absent. I am still not sure we have really recovered from that. Do you think sexual desire and activity can be holy? Can love making be an expression of bodily consecration to God? Genuine questions.

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    • Geoff. (I posted a response but it hasn’t appeared – trying again). I agree with you about the place of holiness in this discussion – but possibly not for the same reasons as you. The relationship between holiness and sex is a fraught one through church history. Where it was allowed it was for procreation in marriage (‘function’ arguments go back a long way). But sex for pleasure was suspect and sinful. For significant periods holiness was only really believed possible if sex was avoided altogether. I am still not sure we have recovered. Having posted this quote from Ferguson can I ask you (and he) whether you think the giving and receiving of bodily, sexual, erotic, delight in human love-making can be a something consecrated and holy before God?

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      • Ah – my first post has now appeared! Sorry. Unless Ian wants to delete it. Probably say it better in the second version. I hope my edition is clear.

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        • David,
          Just seen your comments at the end of a long comments section.
          You seem a little discomfitted by the principle of Holiness, of sanctification.

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          • Geoff. I don’t know where you get that impression from what I wrote. I actually said, ‘I agree with you about the place of holiness in this discussion’! I did ask you a question about the relationship of holiness and love-making. I would be genuinely interested in your response. Thanks

          • David R,
            This will not appear in sequence. Please see my reply to Simon.
            I don’t know whether your recent book addressed the question of Christian holiness particularly the points made by Ferguson.
            A rather large ommission if it didn’t.

      • David – you ask Geoff whether he thinks: ‘the giving and receiving of bodily, sexual, erotic, delight in human love-making can be a something consecrated and holy before God?’ I look forward to his answer which I have no doubt will be Biblical – that God shouts a resounding YES to sex as he ordained in marriage as he ordained. The marriage bed is Holy. Surely a euphemism. Thank God for his gifts. Outside of God’s parameters, whatever ‘bodily sexual erotic delight’ there may be, whatever it else it is, it cannot be holy as it contravenes God’s will. ‘bodily sexual, erotic delight’ cannot be Holy and good per se – for it is the basis of adultery -which is a very deadly sin.

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        • Simon. Greetings. I welcome and share your positive, celebratory affirmation of sex as God’s gift. We are both this has not always been the voice of the church – rather, at times the complete opposite. One comment. Like you, I am deeply committed to marriage. But I also want honour other expressions of faithful committed relationships in our society in which I recognise so many qualities I aspire too in my marriage. So I am reluctant to assume any and all such relationships outside traditional Christian marriage are simply Godless and ‘the basis for adultery’.

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  20. Simon,
    I’d started to reply, which incuded the words, God’s parameters, but had further thoughts as I had visions of it being hijacked and disappearing down a rabbit hole especially in the light of David’s reference to eroticism.
    What holiness draws attention to does not veer off the main point. And I don’t really know how what was written could ever been seen as being in opposition to male female sexual Union within marriage.
    Again I was warey about joining in, due to the use by David’s phrase “love making” again a potential tandential rabbit hole.
    In a way David’s response was not surprising. It does not address the key points made but almost immediately seeks undermine while at the same time does not counter with what he set out what holiness is. It could be argued by a lawyer that those points are concerned not contended.
    Wariness again steps forward as I make mention of the Song of Songs. It is in scripture for a reason, a holy reason.
    I’ll leave with this: there is a beauty to holiness which is mentioned in the latest article above on the book review as something emphasised by Jonathan Edwards.
    We are to worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness and all that includes our every bit part.

    Reply
    • SS as a reflection of Christ & Bride
      I like to juxtapose two different images from scripture. In SS the groom is captivated by the brides tresses-literally entangled. It reminds me of the the Ram caught in a thicket- the substitutionary sacrifice. SS can be a great place to find allusions that are completely overlooked by non lovers (of God).
      We are entangled in sin. He becomes sin for us.
      Ultimately He will be entangled, captivated (Rebeccered) in us.

      Where can I go to find likeminded souls to exchange ideas? I like this blog but it is for intellectuals to grind policy out of heaps of scripture. I can’t discern any joy in any of this.

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  21. Geoff. I am puzzled that instead of discussing my questions with me, you refer me elsewhere – where I find you discussing me and speculating on my ‘unsurprising’ motives with Simon. I am in the room you know. You seem quite unable to trust that I am asking genuine questions and wanting a real discussion – even if we disagree. Instead you tell others my words are there to ‘highjack’ and ‘undermine’. It really isn’t very courteous. But it underlines the continued difficulty of discussing sex at all in our present context and on this blog site.
    Oh and yes – if you can believe what I say of course – you will find the language of consecration and holiness in my book. Yes, I believe in it too. Promise.

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  22. David R,
    I am of an age and health where I get get so weary with a waterfall of words and find it a heavy weight to seek to marshal some extended cogent and coherent comments, especially when I respond on a phone that autocorrects and autocorrect my corrections.
    Having lived through the 60’s and 70’s with the explosion of the sexual revolution a student and practitioner of law and a 47 year old convert the Christ I consider that I have some discernment in how far the church has become drunk from imbibing from a secular deconstructionists distopian faucet, a sewer in disguise. It is truly staggering. It is truly a church of children’s children of those far off late last century days. Only now, it is intensified as we move into post postemodernism. We, the church, are on the wrong side of history as we fall back to the (pagan) future of god’s of sex eroticism, of figurative and physical adultery and fornication.
    We have become addled, and in the words of Malcolm Muggeridge, probably misquoted, we have become educated to imbicility.
    But to the point: you do not answer Ferguson, do not set out what is bodily holiness, do not set out, point by point what you either agree or disagree with Ferguson, which is scriptural, coherent and cogent.
    It follows a general methodology of avoidance that is replete in the few who visit this site to gnore away on a bone of contention, and rarely turn up, when Ian Paul posts some deep scholarly and edifying exposition on scripture and cultural critique.
    We can discuss this till the cows comes home but you speak now from a position of settled conviction, as do I. The difference is that today I may indeed be convicted whereas you won’t.
    Have a hug.
    Geoff

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  23. Geoff. ‘you do not answer Ferguson, do not set out what is bodily holiness, do not set out, point by point what you either agree or disagree with Ferguson,’ Who asked me to? It was you who posted it and I asked you to clarify what you and Ferguson meant with regard to sex and holiness – which Ferguson makes no mention of.
    Let’s leave it. But thank you for actually addressing your reply to me this time.

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    • Really David, that is truly feeble for a man of your intelligence. You chose to join in, hone in on, with what you said which left out so much. I chose to centre on what you left out and continue to do so. Again a lawyer would see that as conceding to, accepting what Fergson draws out as the principle of Holines, sanctification.
      And which, as I first thought, appears to so discomfit you, even rattle.
      Night, night, God Bless,
      Yours in Christ.

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  24. PS David,
    An afterthought: you claim to seek discussion, but that is what you are not doing. It is what you are avoiding by not discussing Ferguson’s scriptural principle of Holiness and the detailed points he raises whilst giving no semblence of clue as to what you set out as Holiness.

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  25. Reading this blog feels like I’m stuck in a jungle after a plane crash. Two groups are deciding whether to go up river or down. One group has the wisdom of Ahithophel the other of Jephthah. A hard choice. I think I’d choose the group that would slap the frog I was about to eat from my hand rather than the group that would say “we celebrate your brave decision”.

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      • I’m in a Baptist church. A friend criticised me for being so. He is in a Christian community of like minded believers focussed on a single issue. He scorns the wishy-washy. I can do censorious too so I replied tartly that I’d rather be in Laodicea and subject to the mercy of the wrath of the living God than in a ‘community’! God will have the last Ω. How do we discern the Golden Lampstand?

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    • If you’re implying that the frog might be poisonous, I think I’d rather just eat it. Reading the entirety of the previous discussion only affirms that “my desire is to depart and be with Christ.”

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  26. Is that a frog leap of escape or of unbelief? Or has someone already eaten it’s legs?
    Or is it the boiling a frog metaphor?
    Maybe a plague of frogs is apt?

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  27. If you’re implying that the frog might be poisonous, I think I’d rather just eat it. Reading the entirety of the previous discussion only affirms that “my desire is to depart and be with Christ.”

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