LLF and General Synod: ‘all fouled up’ or ‘beyond repair’?


Summary: The new paper for February’s General Synod lifts the lid on much that has previously been kept under cover in terms of both significant decisions by bishops and the content of legal advice. What it reveals is not a pretty sight and brings to light the depths of the problems. Drawing on a fuller narrative account, this article highlights 7 disturbing features evident in relation to the process and the actions of the House of Bishops. These cumulatively suggest we should no longer simply resign ourselves to the problems with LLF/PLF being a case of SNAFU (Situation Normal, All Fouled Up) but rather admit we are now, perhaps even systemically, at the stage of FUBAR (Fouled Up Beyond All Repair) given the evidence of:

  • Concealing decisions from General Synod;
  • Concealing advice from General Synod;
  • Misleading General Synod;
  • Disregarding General Synod;
  • Deciding without sufficient information or contrary to advice;
  • Voting to break commitments, including concerning law and doctrine;
  • Ignoring their own decisions as the House of Bishops.

Andrew Goddard writes: It has been clear for some time that the Living in Love and Faith/Prayers of Love and Faith (LLF/PLF) process has been “another fine mess”, even an omnishambles, with serious concerns relating to the exercise of (archi-)episcopal power. Once the information contained in the newly released GS 2346 is considered, and the revelations within it are set within the wider chronology and a narrative of recent events, the situation becomes even worse. In what increasingly feels like it is becoming an ecclesial war zone, it may be that we simply have to revert to appropriately bowdlerised military slang and accept that as more is made known about how we got to where we are this is a classic case of SNAFU (Situation Normal, All Fouled Up). The problem is that many people are so confused that they have concluded that the process is also now FUBU (Fouled Up Beyond Understanding). The reality may, in the light of the new evidence, prove it is in fact FUBAR (Fouled Up Beyond All Repair) and that the level of reset required is of a different form and even more significant than has been admitted or is currently proposed. 

The bigger picture that emerges from GS 2346 also helps explain why (among both those broadly supportive of the direction being taken and those resistant to it) there are such strong emotions (of pain, anger, confusion, betrayal) and an unprecedented and increasing lack of trust in the process and its leadership, especially since the summer. It is now becoming clear that the principle that “process is your friend but process also dictates what you can do” has been abandoned. Instead, key people have determined they will do something and pursued an “end justifies the means” rationale that has seriously undermined the proper, due processes and explains the warning of the dissenting bishops after the 9th October meeting of the House of Bishops that “bishops must have due regard to the obligations of good and proper governance”.


Before highlighting the central issues, it is necessary to summarise two elements in the narrative: the main actors and the outline narrative of what has happened. 

Firstly, in the decision-making processes concerning LLF the three central actors whose proper conduct and good inter-relationships are important are

(a) the Archbishops and bishops (particularly the House but also the College and within that those bishops on the LLF Steering Group),

(b) the General Synod (particularly the relationship between the House of Bishops and the Houses of Clergy and Laity), and

(c) the church’s theological and legal advisors (whose “civil service” expertise is especially important given there is an explicit and repeated commitment to uphold the church’s existing doctrine and law in any decisions) and, in relation to theological advice, the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC). The work of all these is set within the context of

(d) the wider church discussions and the actions of various competing “stakeholder” groups who are represented among, and work with, both bishops and Synod members.

Secondly, over the summer the bishops were preparing materials to bring to the November Synod seeking to implement its February motion. There was a particular focus on three areas: (1) finding the right canonical route(s) to introduce PLF, (2) deciding the content of the Pastoral Guidance (PG) particularly concerning the current ban on clergy entering same-sex marriage, (3) providing a clearer theological rationale for the bishops’ decisions and explaining their legal basis. In October the House presented its proposal to Synod in GS 2328 (released on 20th, following the crucial meeting of the House on 9th October). In relation to each of these areas this paper for the November Synod:

  1. Proposed commending the suite of prayers for use under Canon B5 and introducing standalone services by Canon B2 without using Canon B5A for an experimental period. This was based on a decision at the 9th October meeting, justified in a press release after the meeting, but it soon became clear through a leak that this overturned the September College of Bishops whose indicative vote had showed overwhelmingly support for using Canon B5A. The majority of bishops, including the two Archbishops, then changed their mind and supported the Bishop of Oxford’s amendment in the November Synod which was effectively seeking to revive the use of Canon B5A (see my account of this here).
  2. Provided no decision on clergy entering same-sex marriage although again that same subsequent leak revealed that the September College had voted in an indicative vote for this step. Now GS 2346 (Annex B, p. 14) has revealed that the House itself also took a formal decision by voting on 9th October for opening same-sex marriage to the clergy in the PG.
  3. Offered a previously unarticulated theological rationale in Annex H which was based on “pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty” (explored here) and also clarified that part of the doctrine of marriage was that it was the proper place for sexual intimacy (as is affirmed at the start of the PG for using PLF published in December). There was, controversially, no clear statement of the legal basis of the proposals being given to Synod but it was said that “nothing is being hidden” as it could all be found in Annex A (as explored here). None of GS 2328 made reference to the previous legal basis of a sharp distinction between civil same-sex marriage and Holy Matrimony set out in legal advice given to Synod in January in GS Misc 1339 but subject to legal and theological critiques. Now GS 2346 (Annex B, p. 15) has revealed that the House had actually voted for an amendment which stated that “same sex marriage is distinct from Holy Matrimony such that same sex marriage is not seen as impinging on Holy Matrimony in a way that contradicts the Church’s doctrine”.

In addition to the revelation of these two votes of the House on 9th October, GS 2328 also provides summaries of the legal advice relevant to (1) and (2) that has been produced and shared with the House but never before made public (i.e. materials not provided in relation to (3) in November).  Taking all these together, a disturbing narrative can be reconstructed focussed on the meeting of the House of Bishops on 9th October. Given its importance, and the need to substantiate the claims that follow, this is set out at some length here and I would encourage you to read it and, where necessary, correct it or any of the claims below that are not supported by it. 

This reveals the following seven disturbing actions in relation to the House of Bishops.


  1. Concealing decisions from General Synod

Bishop Paul Williams said at the November Synod

I am compelled to, respectfully and very regrettably, say that I cannot agree with the opinion that nothing that might be useful to this Synod is simply not being withheld. I believe that there are a number of things – discussions, decisions and advice that we have received in the House – that would be useful to the Synod, and important for its work at this time, but that is held behind SO 14 (Proceedings, p. 236)

This has now been confirmed in relation to decisions reported for the first time in GS 2346:

At the House of Bishops meeting in October 2023, the House were asked to ‘agree that further work be done on part 3 (Ministry) of the Guidance for issuing as soon as possible.’ An amendment was moved to insert at the end of the motion: ‘with the intention that it remove all restrictions on clergy entering same-sex marriages, and on bishops ordaining, licensing and granting permissions to officiate such clergy.’ This amendment was carried by a narrow majority (18 votes in favour, 15 votes against, with 2 abstentions) and the amended substantive motion was also carried (23 votes in favour, 13 against, with 1 abstention). As such, there have been formal votes taken by the House of Bishops to work towards removing restrictions on clergy (and by extension Licensed Lay Ministers) being able to enter same-sex civil marriages and on writing a part 3 of the Pastoral Guidance which would be consistent with that, as recognised in the Commitments paper (GS 2346, p. 14).

At the House of Bishops’ meeting in October 2023, there was also an amendment brought which asked that: ‘this House agree that same sex marriage is distinct from Holy Matrimony such that same sex marriage is not seen as impinging on Holy Matrimony in a way that contradicts the Church’s doctrine.’ This amendment was carried (by 20 votes in favour, 15 votes against, with 2 abstentions) (GS 2346, p. 15).

There were direct questions about this at the General Synod, including reference to the subject matter of the votes thus signalling that people were aware of them to some degree, but the Archbishop of York refused to answer (Proceedings, pp. 44, 55-57) by appealing to confidentiality under Standing Order 14 (on which see Andrew Atherstone’s helpful guide; an astute parishioner commented to me on Sunday after realising what was going on, “it’s almost Masonic”) .


  1. Concealing advice from General Synod

GS 2346 provides significant new material in relation to the routes for introducing standalone services. This “incorporates advice provided by the Legal Office over the last eight months” (p. 6) and is helpfully summarised in a table (pp. 12-13). Despite the bishops proposing a route (Canon B2 alone) for this in GS 2328, and most of them then supporting a bishop’s amendment to follow a quite different route (Canon B5A before or alongside Canon B2) this advice was not provided to Synod members despite repeated requests for it. It makes clear in relation to any use of Canon B5A for PLF:

Canon B 5A has not before been used to introduce new rites to the worship of the Church in the manner that is proposed by the PLF standalone services. As this would be a new (and, for some, controversial) use of the Canons there remains a considerable risk of legal challenge in the courts (p. 7).

Among other important information also withheld from elected clergy and laity by the bishops was the following stark listing of disadvantages for each route (final line of table, p. 13):

  • Canon B2 only – “Possibly unlikely to pass with a 2/3 majority, without an agreed settlement”
  • Canon B5A overlapping with B2 – “Pastoral consequences if B2 failed. Contestable use of canons. Raises legal questions. Medium to high risk of successful legal challenge”
  • Canon B5A followed by B2 – “Pastoral consequences if B2 failed. Long time period. Still considerable risk of successful legal challenge”
  • Canon B4.3 – “No national consistency. Would expose Ordinaries to legal risk”
  • Canon B4.2 – “High likelihood of legal challenge”
  • Canon B5 – “High likelihood of legal challenge being brought against individual ministers”

  1. Misleading General Synod

The simple fact of concealing decisions and advice to the extent set out above is tantamount to misleading Synod but there are not just sins of omission but sins of commission. GS 2328 states in relation to Pastoral Guidance that the House of Bishops’ intention was that further work on this “will consider whether the rationale of pastoral provision might provide a basis for allowing clergy to be in same-sex marriages” (Annex A, Para 15). There has been no report of any such intention to consider the pastoral provision rationale being expressed in a formal vote in October. Given that the House had actually expressed “the intention that it remove all restrictions on clergy entering same-sex marriages…” (effectively committing the House to achieving that end without reference to the means to that end or their legality or conformity to doctrine) this misleads the Synod about what are now described as “formal votes taken by the House of Bishops to work towards removing restrictions on clergy” (p. 14) and so thought necessary to include in the proposed commitments. 

As I and others were concerned was the case at the time, it also appears that the Bishop of London misled the Synod when, in response to requests for legal advice, she insisted “nothing is being hidden” and “what you have in GS 2328 is the legal foundation upon which we have given you the decisions. It is there clear and transparent in that document” (Report of Proceedings, p. 229). The most charitable interpretation that I can see of this is that there was no single piece of existing written legal advice that could itself explain the decisions taken on 9th October and was being withheld. However, as noted below, this seems to be the case because those decisions did not obviously cohere with elements of the written legal advice that the House had received and/or represented a choice for one possible route among many which the legal advice had mapped out with accompanying risks (as summarised above in relation to the canonical route for standalone services).

In such a scenario it was not unreasonable for Synod members wishing to make their own informed judgments to ask for such legal material and it was misleading to tell them that nothing was being hidden as advice from the Legal Office must have been produced for the October House (and perhaps the September College) given the votes at those meetings. If in fact the bishops were, like Synod members, required to make decisions but were denied such written legal advice either because it did not exist or because it existed but was not shared with them then the FUBAR character of the process is even more serious than has yet been acknowledged.

Worryingly, the new paper also misleads Synod members in the conclusion to Annex B which asserts that for a same-sex couple “to pursue holiness within a faithful, exclusive and permanent relationship which may include sexual intimacy” is “not a refusal to live by the teaching of the Church” (GS 2346, p. 17) despite the fact that Pastoral Guidance clearly states that “The Church of England teaches that Holy Matrimony is a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman, blessed by God in creation and pointing to the love between Christ and the Church; a way of life which Christ makes holy. It is within marriage that sexual intimacy finds its proper place” (Pastoral Guidance, p. 1). 


  1. Disregarding General Synod

Once it became clear that the February General Synod was not going to be informed of the introduction of experimental services under Canon B5A despite the November decision to accept the Oxford amendment, there was a significant outcry about the bishops disregarding Synod. However, it was already clear that they had done so in November given the one decision of 9th October actually reported there and the fragmentary clues as to content of the unpublished legal advice found in para 17 of Annex A of GS 2328 which stated “We have also been advised that it would be difficult to say that making the PLF available for same-sex couples without there being an assumption as to their sexual relationships was not indicative of any departure from the Church’s doctrine”.

This means that proceeding to commend the PLF suite in the way they did the House clearly disregarded the Cornes amendment (which had stronger Synodical support than that in November for the Oxford amendment) that required (as the Bishops also explicitly reaffirmed was their intention to the July Synod) that “the final version of the Prayers of Love and Faith should not be contrary to or indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England”. Those disagreeing with that Synod decision did not, however, protest about the constitutional outrage of the bishops ignoring Synod at that point. In an implicit denial of this reality, it is even now claimed at the start of GS 2346 that the commitments are offered so “the whole Church can continue to pursue the implementation of the motions previously passed by Synod on Living in Love and Faith” (p. 1).


  1. Deciding without sufficient information or contrary to advice

The significance of the newly reported decisions being the result of amendments brought to the House on 9th October can be missed. This means that these were not proposals that came from the Steering Group or Archbishops (they may have supported them, the secrecy of the voting unlike in General Synod prevents us from knowing) and so they would not have been supported by papers presenting reasoned arguments from legal and theological advisors or FAOC. It may be that such papers were prepared by those bishops proposing the amendments but there is as yet no sign of these. What is even more concerning is that both amendments appear to be at best in tension with such advice and at worst an attempt to undermine it or forestall its development. Three examples illustrate this.

Firstly, the College in voting overwhelmingly for use of Canon B5A in September were either not given the information contained in GS 2346 and sketched above about the problems this route raises (which creates its own questions) or they decided to ask the House to propose a course of action with “medium to high risk” or “considerable risk” of “successful legal challenge”. The Bishop of Oxford in proposing his amendment and the Archbishops and Bishop of London in supporting him were also effectively asking General Synod members to embrace that path without any signal of the risks involved.

Secondly, FAOC was beginning work on a theological assessment of the relationship between civil marriage, particularly in relation to same-sex marriage, and Holy Matrimony. The November General Synod was informed by its Chair, Bishop Robert Innes, that “We were asked specifically to look at whether Holy Matrimony and civil marriage were substantially separate institutions. We considered that theologically, and considered that they were overlapping and distinct, so that they were not entirely distinct and separate” (Proceedings, p. 129). It is unclear on what reasoned theological basis the bishops therefore felt able to move from this to make the strong claim that “same sex marriage is distinct from Holy Matrimony such that same sex marriage is not seen as impinging on Holy Matrimony in a way that contradicts the Church’s doctrine” (this is a key issue not covered at all in the LLF resources). A strong case could be made, and perhaps was, that this amendment amounted to a political move by certain bishops which was illegitimately seeking to bind FAOC to a particular conclusion, rather than explore the various options with theological rigour.

Thirdly, given that GS 2346 is clear (simply confirming longstanding advice as in the Annex to GS 2005) that “were a clergyperson to enter into a same-sex marriage (under current teaching) they would be failing to frame and fashion their lives in a manner that was consistent with Canon C 26.2” (p. 16) it would appear that the amendment relating to same-sex married clergy was also at best “jumping the gun” and at worst disregarding the current legal and theological advice being offered to the bishops. This development can also be viewed as…:


  1. Voting to break commitments, including concerning law and doctrine

The disregard for clear commitments made in the process was obvious in the latter half of 2023 as past statements concerning the need not to progress with PLF ahead of PG and pastoral reassurance (a key element in the “reset” proposals and promised most explicitly and publicly by the Archbishop of York at the February Synod) were rejected. The constant claim throughout 2023 (and there proved to be few constant claims) has been that (as in 2017 in GS 2055) the bishops were committed to not changing doctrine and were not going to propose any change in the canons. As we have seen, eventually they had to admit that PLF were indeed indicative of a departure from doctrine and they fell back on the claim that this was not in “an essential matter”.

The decision now made public concerning the PG and same-sex married clergy reveals that (by a very small majority in a much depleted House) the House determined to support new guidance that they were being told (as before) was not consistent with Canon C 26.2 given the teaching of the Church. They were therefore, in effect, committing to either change (or break) the canons and claiming authority to change (or disregard) doctrine but then refusing to admit this to General Synod. One of the reasons being offered for a “reset” is precisely because it is finally being acknowledged that what the majority of the bishops want to do (most of them because they do not believe the church’s doctrine) is really unable to be accomplished legally and in conformity with the church’s current doctrine. 


  1. Ignoring decisions of the House 

It is unclear who ultimately decided to conceal the decisions of the House (and indeed who has now decided to reveal them) but a further question is why these decisions were not then taken seriously in relation to the proposals brought to General Synod in November. In particular, the decision concerning civil same-sex marriage not “impinging on Holy Matrimony in a way that contradicts the Church’s doctrine” was, in significant respects, a quite different theological rationale from that of “pastoral provision” which was then proposed in GS 2328. It is unclear whether the House formally voted to support “pastoral provision” and if so how that choice cohered with this other amendment concerning Holy Matrimony.

Pastoral Guidance concerning the use of the prayers would have been potentially very different had that decision of the House been taken up and followed through (e.g. there could have been a requirement for any couple to be in a civil partnership or married) and the PG could also have more easily been brought into line with the intention to allow clergy to enter same-sex marriages (although the question concerning sexual intimacy in any relationship other than Holy Matrimony and expectations of clergy remains largely unaddressed, including in the most recent paper).


Conclusion

Having written the longer narrative account (PDF here) to try and make sense of what had happened, and been left wondering whether the situation was really as bleak as I was concluding, I received an email from a General Synod member who has followed matters closely, particularly in relation to legalities. This confirmed my concerns and helpfully summed them up in terms of “the way that the HoB have conducted themselves can be characterised as having been incompetent, or reckless, or manipulative”

Alianore Smith presciently warned Synod members as the debate drew to a close:

As a new member of the House of Laity, I am standing against this motion because it does not seem wise or prudent to vote on something as important as this when there is incomplete Pastoral Guidance and a lack of transparency around legal advice…To ask for the Synod to vote on a half-baked incomplete piece of work which is, from the papers that I have seen, theologically, pastorally and legally ambiguous, is disrespectful and dangerous. If we are to be able to vote in good conscience on such a matter as this we must have all the information. We have not been given the chance to fully understand the implications of what we are voting on. This is wrong.

If I were to vote for this motion, I could not in good conscience go back to the laity of my diocese, who I am here to represent, and say that I fully knew and understood what I was voting for and its implications. This is not about delaying. This is about clarity, integrity and good process. This is about unity. This is about respecting those we have been elected to represent. Because process matters. Clarity matters. That is why I will be voting against this motion. I ask my fellow representatives here to do the same. We know we disagree theologically. That is obvious to everyone, even someone whose first Synod it is. But whatever we decide, we should do so with everyone having all the relevant information (Proceedings, pp. 291-2).

As more information becomes available, the more deeply concerning the whole situation becomes in terms of the LLF/PLF process’ fitness for purpose and its integrity and that of the church leaders overseeing it. The alarming pattern of behaviour set out above on the basis of the latest paper for General Synod highlights the extent of apparent disregard for law and theology and reveals a contemptuous attitude to General Synod and total failure to speak “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”.  A year ago, the House opened its paper to General Synod by saying:

The Living in Love and Faith story is one of rich learning and inclusive participation that needs to be a hallmark of the Church’s life, together with the Pastoral Principles that emerged from the work of the Pastoral Advisory Group (GS 2289, p. 1)

My involvement with LLF would confirm that description of it but it is impossible to see this in recent processes. The bishops continued:

The Pastoral Principles are one way in which we are learning how to avoid the evils that so easily seep into our relationships with one another, into the lives of our church communities and into wider society. Whenever we encounter diversity, difference and disagreement, we, as bishops, must remind ourselves of the need to address ignorance, to cast out fear, to acknowledge prejudice, to speak appropriately into oppressive silence, to admit hypocrisy and to pay attention to power. We continue to commend these Pastoral Principles to the whole church so that together we can grow more clearly into the likeness of Christ and make his love known to this generation (p. 2).

Instead of seeing the six pastoral principles, we have witnessed the seven failings set out here, combined with mismanagement, rushed decision-making, and an apparent conviction that “the end justifies the means”. This has produced decisions and actions which have at times upset those who are more conservative and at times upset those pressing for change.

In any form of public leadership we expect evidence of adherence to the Nolan Principles of public life: 

  • selflessness;
  • integrity;
  • objectivity;
  • accountability;
  • openness;
  • honesty; and 
  • leadership. 

While we know that all Christian leaders and structures fall short of embodying the way of Christ, we should expect leaders in the Church of England to embody good practice in relation to these principles, not least given their regular critique of secular leaders who fail to embody them in public life. It would, however, now appear that, as is also evident in other areas of the church’s life, most notably and disturbingly, safeguarding, these principles have almost totally vanished from view within the LLF/PLF process. Given this, the decision that we need a “reset” and cannot simply carry on as before, resigned to SNAFU (Situation Normal, All Fouled Up), is unsurprising. In fact, it would appear that the process, and the Church of England leadership and structures more widely, is looking like it has reached the stage of FUBAR (Fouled Up Beyond All Repair) and that there needs to be a much more radical and wide-ranging “reset” than that which is currently being proposed.


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


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266 thoughts on “LLF and General Synod: ‘all fouled up’ or ‘beyond repair’?”

  1. I always thought that at some point the mud would hit the fan gloves would come off. Will it at long last be at this synod, or will the showdown be deferred yet again? Whichever, the godly party ought to be preparing to move beyond the book of openings and enter into open play. This party should be preparing its options in advance, and be pro-active rather than merely reactive; otherwise it will remain one step behind the opposition. We can safely treat the archbishops as we would a pagan.

    Reply
  2. Do you think we’ll ever talk about which conservatives/evangelicals are supporting the prayers for covenanted friendships, what they’re doing to argue for them, and why?

    Reply
      • Our usefulness as an issue has come to end has it?

        You’re confident you’ve whipped up enough of a storm to make a push for a third province? Is that the idea?

        Reply
          • “For some reason people are treating this as a legal or political issue.”

            Exactly the problem with all of Andrew Goddard’s posts. Just like a lawyer trying to trap Jesus.

          • You’d rather have exegesis, Andrew? Suits me. But faithful exegesis gets ignored and the CoE is an Established church, so the godly need to be wise as serpents.

          • I’m all for proper exegesis and practical application to life.

            Alas, LLF hasn’t been about that for either the liberals or the conservatives.

          • “Don’t mention the Bible!”
            Anton if you honestly believe LLF doesn’t feature the bible significantly and doesn’t contain any exegesis then you can’t have actually read the material.
            What you are really asking for is a: a strict sola scriptura approach within the CofE, which is not ever going to happen b: a very narrow interpretation of a few passages without regard to the whole bible c: no acknowledgement that human understanding develops.
            You are, I think, exchanging the truth of God for a lie.

          • Now there’s an ironic quotation!

            ‘Sola Scriptura’, meaning scripture is the only final authority, is indeed the position of the C of E. It is expressed in Articles 6, 19, and 20, and it is the reason why the Church has been institutionally conservative in its doctrine. The ultimate test on controversial issues, such as the ordination of women and the possibility of remarriage after divorce, has been the teaching of Scripture; the C of E has never once said ‘Scripture says X, but actually we think Y.’

            And of course the issue is not about a ‘narrow interpretation of a few passages’; it is, as even liberal critical scholars agree, about the consensus view in scholarship of what scripture says about marriage, and the consensus view of the church catholic in every time, place, tradition, and context—both of which you appear to reject.

          • Ian

            I read an article by an academic at Exeter University (Prof Adrian Thatcher) only this last week calling your position on sex, gender and orientation “unbiblical”.

            I really think its unfair to keep claiming all these people disagree with the Bible. Its not that they disagree with the Bible. Its that they disagree with you on what the Bible has to say about this.

          • Peter, you say that someone is ‘an academic’ as though that were relevant. What is relevant, as you know, is what field they are an academic in. Otherwise you would have to adhere to my views on particle physics because I am qualified in NT.

          • Christopher

            Being an academic is relevant because Ian (and you!) keep claiming that all the scholars agree with you guys about what the bible says. They dont!

        • Dear Andrew Godsall, I read in full the section of the LLF book about the Bible and I took the course with several local parishes, perforce on Zoom as it was during covid lockdowns. My complaint is that the Bible was not treated with any authority in LLF but simply treated as one point of view, and the verses it did cite did not include Leviticus wherein man lying with man for sexual gratification is described as toevah.

          We all know who Paul describes as exchanging the truth of God for a lie.

          Reply
          • Ah, I see, it’s just that you don’t actually agree with the conclusions that the LLF material comes to concerning the use of the bible. Thanks for clarifying.

          • LLF did not ‘come to conclusions’. It has been repeated again and again that that was not the stated aim of LLF. It is odd that you keep claiming this.

          • Jesus never said anything against same sex couples and ultimately the C of E is a Christian church. He did oppose remarriage of divorcees except for spousal adultery but the C of E already does that. Paul also opposed ordination of women but the C of E already does that too

          • ‘Jesus never said anything against same sex couples’. Yes, he taught marriage is between one man and one woman.

            ‘He did oppose remarriage of divorcees except for spousal adultery’ He opposed ‘any reason’ divorce. So does the C of E.

            ‘Paul also opposed ordination of women’ No he didn’t. He recognised women as teachers, prophets, apostles, and deacons.

          • Apparently, Andrew, it is you who haven’t read LLF if you think it comes to conclusions. That was my complaint against it.

          • Andrew, Anton didn’t say that – he was saying something different. Namely, that if one of the key verses (one of the main 3) is not even cited – and we can see why, because it is out of tune with cultural sensibilities – then what we have is cultural sensibilities taking over, and it becomes illegitimate to say, as you said, that the Bible is really being used – in a more than superficial way.

          • “LLF did not ‘come to conclusions’. It has been repeated again and again that that was not the stated aim of LLF. It is odd that you keep claiming this.”

            Nowhere have I stated that it did.
            I have said that the study of the bible within the LLF document reached a conclusion.

            As to not citing Leviticus. The LLF material was study material, and anyone was free to introduce Leviticus into the mix. And they no doubt did.

            But of course even evangelicals ignore a great deal of what Leviticus states.

          • Evangelicals ignore a lot of what Leviticus states.

            (1) So did Jesus (Mk 7), Peter (Ac 10-11), Paul (Gal 2).

            (2) They never ignore the bits reaffirmed in the NT. Is there any example of that? Because that is the sort of example you would need, not merely ‘ignoring of Leviticus’. The Christian stance on homosexual behaviour is not based on Leviticus in the first place – it is based on Romans etc..

            (3) What was the point of Christ coming to abolish the law?

          • Ah I see Christopher. So they are happy about slavery and polygamy.

            The prohibitions of male same-sex relations in Leviticus are grounded in cultural concerns about patriarchal gender roles, which the New Testament points us beyond. They apply specifically to anal intercourse.

          • ‘The prohibitions of male same-sex relations in Leviticus are grounded in cultural concerns about patriarchal gender roles’. No they are not. They are grounded in theological concerns about God’s creation of humanity as male and female—which Jesus confirms.

          • Dear Andrew Godsall, I am at a loss to know whether you are being deliberately or accidentally obtuse. Indeed we are not under Mosaic Law and there is no divine command to the church or the UK to put to death men who lie with other men for sexual gratification. The practice is, however, described without qualification in Leviticus as toevah, and the remaining question is whether this is God’s opinion or not.

          • Anton I am afraid I think it is you who are being deliberately or accidentally obtuse.

            “the remaining question is whether this is God’s opinion or not.”

            The LLF material, as you know, explores the question of scriptural inspiration and authorship and reckons there are at least 5 possible approaches that are well within the Anglican tradition. You present a binary option that simplifies something extremely complex.

            It is quite possible to believe that Leviticus is inspired by God yet is still cast within the culture of the Ancient Near East. The use of the word toevah is part of the clue there.

            And slavery and polygamy still continue to present us with a problem because the NT seems to approve of both. Yet I am certain you do not.

          • Andrew (Godsall), it should not be necessary for me to explain to you how to read the Bible, but I see I have to. The point of Mosaic Law was to make ancient Israel *different* from other cultures in the Ancient Near East. The author of Leviticus says that homosexuality, bestiality etc are why the Israelites are being permitted to drive the Canaanites out.

            You also say that the NT “seems” to approve of slavery and polygamy; a handy word that gives you plausible deniability. The NT is about personal transformation of the believer in a way that he or she cannot do for himself or herself, and about the consequent standards of behaviour of the believer within his or her own culture (beyond ancient Hebraic culture, for the church was told to go out into the Greek world and beyond). The NT is not a political manual for abolishing social injustices, such as slavery and polygamy. It is about how to live within unjust systems – for ultimately there are injustices in every culture. The NT is different from political manuals, and can you imagine how fierece the repression of the church would have been if it had told believers to challenge Caesar overtly and politically? But in case you doubt it, against slavery there is Christ’s “Do as you would be done by” and against polygamy there is Paul’s “Every man has his own woman [singular]”.

          • “Andrew, where does the NT ‘approve’ of slavery?”

            Ian I think I could equally ask ‘where does the NT disapprove of slavery. But I only really need to quote your own words on this matter.

            “there is no command in the New Testament for Christian slave owners to free their slaves. Instead, Paul and Peter instructed Christian slaves to be good slaves, obeying their human owners as if they were obeying God”

            You will no doubt answer “yes, because they were part of the Roman Empire. Which of course reinforces the point that what we read in biblical texts is always subject to the culture in which it was written.

          • But by appealing to slaves as moral agents, and requiring that masters treat them ‘with equality’, they fundamentally undermine and disapprove of the institution.

            Your claim that ‘The NT approves of slavery’ is clearly erroneous.

          • Oh I’m sure life was lovely for slaves in NT times Ian. Maybe it’s time the whole concept was reintroduced in ‘biblical’ churches.

          • Andrew G, we can either have a discussion about what the NT says about slaves, and infer from that a Christian ethic of slavery.

            Or you can make silly sarcastic comments. If the latter, please do it elsewhere. I don’t know why I have to ask you *yet again*.

          • “a Christian ethic of slavery.”

            Are you being serious? There is a a Christian ethic of slavery?

            That’s why discussion is not possible.

          • Andrew (Godsall), are you deliberately misunderstanding the phrase “Christian ethic of slavery”? Naturally there is a Christian ethic *about* slavery, and based above all on the Golden Rule spoken on the Mount by Jesus that ethic is decisively negative. But the early church needed to know what to advise converts who were slaves – as many were – and the advice was not rebellion/revolution. (It didn’t work out well for Spartacus, did it?) On that subject you can find plenty to ponder upon in Philemon.

            Here are some difficult questions. If you were a committed Christian and you inherited a slave estate in the Caribbean, what would you do? It is fairly obvious that you would start by offering the gospel to the slaves, educating them and giving them improved conditions and telling them that they were free in principle to leave. (They wouldn’t leave in practice as they would have nowhere to go and would face violence.) But you don’t need to go far down that road before your plantation would be burnt down by white foremen employed by other slaveowners. What then, for you and your slaves? Also, what if you inherit the estate in mortgage, so that you cannot just sell it and use the proceeds to assist the former slaves? These are all questions that were faced a mere four generations ago in the USA. I welcome all answers written in good faith, as no matter how self-sacrificial I could be it is not clear how to obtain a good outcome.

            Then there is a Christian ethic of discussion about the mentions of slavery in the Pentateuch.

          • The only Christian ethic of slavery is that it’s unchristian and unethical. There isn’t any other way to dress it up.

          • Indeed it is, and don’t try to pretend I was suggesting otherwise. You could learn more about it by pondering the questions I raise in the light of what the Bible says, if you wish.

          • “Indeed it is, and don’t try to pretend I was suggesting otherwise.”

            Anton I don’t think you pretend otherwise. You have missed the point. It is the NT that does not make clear what the only Christian and ethical response is.

            As to your questions – they once again serve to reinforce the view that culture has a bearing on communication and response. And so it was with the writing of scripture. It is both the word of God and the word of the writers at a particular time and place with some of the limitations that culture imposed upon their understanding.

          • Andrew (Godsall), you were kind enough to credit me with the correct views about slavery, so I hardly missed the point, did I? Anybody in good faith can work out the NT view of slavery simply from the Golden Rule spoken by Jesus on the Mount and the total absence of any positive reference to slavery in the gospels and letters. That the NT does not rant against slavery is because it is not about correcting institutional injustice in the world, but about how to endure it until Christ returns to abolish it.

            How do you reconcile the view of slavery upon which we agree with the statements about it in the Pentateuch? This is an intellectual exercise which is incumbent on all Christians in our culture.

          • We are going round in circles here Anton. I have indicated why I think scripture has its own limitations. And as LLF makes clear, that view is well within Anglican tradition.
            You can’t really reconcile the different views of slavery within the Pentateuch with each other, let alone with a 21st century western view.

          • You seem to accept the divine inspiration of the NT text but deny that of the OT. Yet in the NT Paul wrote (2 Timothy 3:16) that all scripture – meaning, at that time, the OT – is “God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

            I can offer you a fallible, but considered at least, opinion about the relation of the Mosaic verses about slavery and the negative NT view of slavery. But aren’t you denying what Paul’s NT verse says, in relation to the Mosaic slavery legislation? You are dangerously close to Marcionism.

          • “You seem to accept the divine inspiration of the NT text but deny that of the OT.”

            Any evidence for that particular slur?
            I think all scripture is divinely inspired. I think all scripture is the product of faith communities or rare individuals like Paul. And all scripture is influenced by the culture of the time.
            All scripture is God breathed and useful. That doesn’t mean it isn’t limited by the context for which it was written. Paul’s letters were written for fledgling churches 2000 years ago. That’s very insightful for us. It doesn’t, however, mean that all his advice applies to us. Our context and understanding is different to his.

          • I see; 2000 years on from the country bumpkins who wrote the gospels we are now so sophisticated that only some scripture is “valuable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” How do you decide which?

          • Well I think I’ll ignore your sarcasm …but suffice to say the bits of the NT where Paul and Peter instructed Christian slaves to be good slaves, obeying their human owners as if they were obeying God, can be safely ignored as they are of no value for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. We have already agree what the only Christian and ethical response to slavery can be.
            God gave us minds and human reason for good purpose. The Christian community is where we work these things out. Hence Churches have decided to ordain women – probably much to your disgust Anton.

          • Oh how you take life in the West for granted! The verses you consider irrelevant are vital guidelines for life today for some Christians in some Islamic lands.

          • Sadly Anton I do not take it for granted and worry about it daily. The classical liberal education and life that we have known in the West is very much in danger of being swept away by conservative and fundamentalist forces that are not far away from us at all. The fact that Trump will likely be elected as the next President in the USA is just one very troubling indication of that.
            I fear too for the CofE. The conservative forces have been so much in the ascendancy in the last 40 years and the classical liberal theology that is part of its DNA is fast being eroded.

            Are you now backtracking on your view that the only proper response to slavery is to say that it is unchristian and unethical? You seem to have forgotten all that the civil rights movement fought so hard for: Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

            You also make the point once again that the writings and application of scripture are dependent upon culture. That has been a constant theme in this thread and you seem unable to see it.

          • Andrew (Godsall), we had better keep off politics because I regard the threat to Europe as being from the Left. Certainly it is the Left who are against free speech, which they deceitfully call hate speech. Donald Trump is considerably less rightwing than the man who won us the Cold War, Ronald Reagan, and no more immoral in his personal life than Bill Clinton. And less senile than Joe, er, what was his name again?

            I am not, of course, backtracking on my view that slavery is an evil. Do you not believe that the advice to slaves in Ephesians 6:5 (“obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ”) is applicable to Christian slaves under Islamic masters today, which I unhappily can assure you does go on in some parts of the world today?

            You also make the point once again that the writings and application of scripture are dependent upon culture. That has been a constant theme in this thread and you seem unable to see it.

            How can I both make a point and be unable to see it? But to respond to what I think you are suggesting, since you accept the divine inspiration of scripture in a way you presumably do not accept of other writings, how do you decide which parts apply today and which are merely of ancient near eastern culture?

          • “How can I both make a point and be unable to see it?”

            Easily. You don’t seem at all aware that you are making the point!

            All other questions you ask have been addressed and we are going around in circles. I can only repeat that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere and if you can’t grasp that, I can’t help you.

          • All other questions you ask have been addressed

            Tell the truth, Andrew. I asked you an unpremised binary question, would you still give the advice in Ephesians 6:5 to Christian slaves of Muslim owners today, and you gave no reply. And you seem incapable of discussing the relation betwen the divine inspiration of the OT and the Mosaic verses about slavery while holding to what we agree about, that slavery is an evil.

          • I’m not sure you have read the answers carefully enough in that case.
            Let me try again. Last time.

            The advice in Ephesians applied to a particular situation. The situation you describe comes under the matter of civil rights, and that’s why I referenced that in our discussion.

            The Mosaic verses about slavery applied to that particular culture. There are several different references to slavery in the Pentateuch.

            The fact that scripture is inspired does not mean it is applicable to situations beyond the intended audience. It may be. But it may not. God has given us the power of reasoning and the gift of a faith community to explore such questions. I gave the example of the ordination of women, where minds have changed.

          • You remind me of those who remembered Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:24 and wished to reserve Christianity for Jews. After all, the Graeco-Roman world was another culture, with different norms. OK, Paul sorted that out. But Chinese and Indian cultures were different again, so they need another gospel?

          • And you rather remind me of those who were so focussed on the law and the scriptures that they could not discern the Word of God amongst them.

          • Ian

            Its doubly misleading to say that Jesus taught that marriage was between one man and one woman.

            Firstly he was talking not talking about gay people, but about divorce and remarriage, especially in the case where wives were being discarded (which still happens today).

            Secondly because, however you spin it, the cofe does allow remarriage after divorce (what Jesus actually said was adultery) but does not allow same sex marriage (which Jesus is not recorded as saying anything about).

            Its frustrating that we cannot even agree on what the Bible says at the most basic level

    • We certainly could. It would be easier to do this if the bishops would ever get round to telling us what they think a covenanted friendship is and why it is needed.

      Reply
  3. There is no point playing along with this farrago. We know what World Anglicanism has decided – that it has no confidence in Justin Welby and has rejected his leadership.

    Welby has packed the House of Bishops with those who see things his way – while the Church of England fades away. Friends down in Kent tell me the decline there is palpable and the evangelicals have no confidence in the suffragan bishop, who is widely perceived as a bully trying to enforce conformity to the liberal line. Evangelicals are shut out there – even though they have the only growing churches with children’s and youth work.

    Biblical Christians should have been playing hardball all along: cut off the money and select your own bishops, organise your own deaneries.

    Reply
    • Then you have to find a new church and vicarage, as if you don’t pay your Parish share you aren’t entitled to stay in your existing C of E Parish church or your Vicar stay in the vicarage that comes with it.

      The majority of Synod voted for PLF in all 3 houses, including of laity, if conservative evangelicals really were so strong they would have elected a majority of deanery Synod and Synod representatives to oppose it but they aren’t the majority anymore than pro same sex marriage liberals are in Synod

      Reply
      • ‘if you don’t pay your Parish share you aren’t entitled to stay in your existing C of E Parish church’ Simon that is nonsense.

        Clergy have security under Common Tenure or freehold. Parish share is a strictly voluntary contribution to the diocese; no-one has any legal obligation to pay it.

        You do need to start getting *some* facts right…

        Reply
        • But it is pretty standard practice now in a diocese that if a Parish does not pay Common Fund then the bishop will not licence a new Vicar or Priest in Charge until common fund is up to date.
          Of course there is no legal obligation to pay. But it isn’t really about law. It’s about responsible stewardship. Once again you are making law the most significant matter in an area where it is least important.

          Reply
        • No it isn’t nonsense. Security under Common Tenure or freehold only applies if Parish share is paid, if it is not paid then the diocese is perfectly within its rights legally to remove the existing Vicar and replace them with a new incumbent who would then own the church building. As the diocese also owns the vicarage they could then evict the old Vicar and move the new Vicar in too

          Reply
  4. I heartily agree with James. Interesting though it may be to examine the decisions of the House of Bishops and mull over their mistakes, it is far more important to get on with establishing a Third Province, where the orthodox can continue to proclaim Christ and His laws without hindrance, while allowing the liberals to proceed with their agenda. At the moment there is complete silence on this question from the bishops – and the orthodox are not banging the drum hard enough for them to be taken seriously. Wake up brothers.

    Reply
      • Like mutiny on the Bounty. I think James would rather take to the high seas in a life boat with a barrel of water, hardtak, a brace of pistols and his Captain than be forced to walk the plank. Ah harrr.

        Reply
        • I don’t know whether Hollywood was fair to Captain Bligh (unlikely), but the history of Pitcairn Island is a fascinating and disturbing one.
          As for western Anglicanism, it is caught in the death-embrace of liberalism, with an episcopal leadership (appointed by the nomenklatura) that looks down on the typical Anglican churchgoer and wishes only to be approved of by The Guardian.
          That’s certainly try of Justin Welby, as the recent spat with George Carey over immigration and Rwanda shows.
          What exactly is so evil about Rwanda, btw?

          Reply
      • Anton

        LLF is not the liberal agenda. Its the Welbian agenda. Liberals ideally want full equality for gay people in the CofE and, failing that, improved treatment, teaching etc.

        Instead the Welby faction promised radical new Christian inclusion and delivered pseudo formalized blessings that aren’t really anything more than was already available in informal ways and a few mid level managerial positions for gay people. It turns out that “radical new Christian inclusion” means when you invite someone to a party out of obligation, but don’t really want them there and encourage them to leave as soon as possible

        Reply
        • I don’t think that is quite true Peter.

          Justin has made it clear that he would like to affirm gay relationships as equivalent to marriage. LLF is a process of doing that whilst attempting to keep everyone on board.

          Since that goal is impossible, it is bound to fail.

          Reply
          • Ian

            I understand he’s said that to you in private, but its not his public agenda. Maybe its wrong to say he is the driving force and maybe I should say the majority of the bishops. I don’t know. We mere mortals are not allowed to know!

          • To the diplomatic point of view, numbers confer (logical and systematic) legitimacy. But numbers are regularly the result of culture and perceived normality.

          • Ian

            Did he detail what the two views were or only that there were two views? If he wants same sex marriage in church why did he press parliament to make it illegal? Why has he been so hostile to the various groups campaigning for it? Why has he gone on the record blaming acceptance of same sex marriage for the persecution of Christians in some African countries? Why has he given several interviews in which he gives the impression he is barely tolerating the blessings and does not personally support them?

            To me all these data points suggest that he thinks the cofe already is radically inclusive and that gays should be very happy with what he has produced

          • Peter,

            Your impatience for the church to go all out against scripture must be deeply frustrating to Archbishop Justin.

          • Christopher

            I not only think its not true, I think it is horrendously abusive of gay people. If Welby had said that as a CEO of a secular company then he would have had to apologize and resign

          • “So you think that the point about SSM causing persecution in some parts of Africa is not true?”

            What data and evidence do you have that it is actually true?

          • What do you mean you think it’s not true, Peter?

            Africa is a large continent or a small one?

            You know from this distance what is true throughout Africa?

            All J Welby was saying was that he had been told this by Christians who live in Africa.

            So we conclude from what you say that you think your witness from thousands of miles away is worth more than the witness of people who are living there.

            Is that what you think? Because no-one will agree with you there, surely.

          • In any case, it is normal to Muslim and trad Christian etc outlooks to see sexual-revolution lifestyle as forfeiting self-respect (indeed, this kind of thing has always been central to what ‘self-respect’ means). And this can be used to understand through what eyes they may look at the Manchester arena partiers or the South Yorkshire teenagers. As to how to react to this, a Christian outlook here would be different, and a secular one different again.

        • Yes… I think that those people who identify as LGB… have been badly misled by many in the church. Some in authority seem to be promising them what the church must not offer. This is so wrong. This is not love.

          Reply
    • Michael

      Then I think its only fair to have a fourth province that allows full inclusion of gay people, including marriage. Otherwise conservatives are again getting preferential treatment.

      Reply
      • I fully support a gay province, where people can dress up to their nines, pretend to be the other sex, believe and do whatever they like.

        Just let the rest of us be biblical Christians.

        Reply
          • ‘There already is in the US and Scotland’. Indeed. So why don’t liberals just join them? They could secede from the C of E and become part of ‘TEC in Europe’.

            Why has no-one done that?

          • Why don’t conservatives equally join GAFCON then or the Free Church of England if even same sex prayers are too much for them?

        • James

          This wouldnt be for gay people per se, but for people who believe in full inclusion of LGBT people in the church. The majority would not be LGBT and there would, of course, be some LGBT who would want to be a part of the mainstream and conservative provinces.

          I’m just frustrated that there’s always a framing of these differences that conservative belief must be fully preserved, but liberals can be required to compromise their beliefs. Its not good faith when one group of people are continually privileged

          Reply
          • I would not ask anyone to compromise their beliefs.. so why did so many liberals and LGBT activists join the C of E? The key difference here is the Church’s teaching on sexuality is long established and it is the liberals who joined that very church and have been seeking to change it. Where is the integrity in that?

            The orthodox joined an orthodox Church and would not have joined a liberal one. We didn’t compromise our beliefs when we joined, and don’t want to do so now.

          • ‘for people who believe in full inclusion of LGBT people in the church’. I believe in the full inclusive of LGBT people in the Church. So that clearly is not the issue up for debate here.

            What is being debated is whether the teaching of Jesus and the pattern of life he calls us to applies to all.

          • Ian

            Respectfully you don’t believe in full inclusion. Indeed I seem to remember you being really angry when a group of Oxford students wrote a report on where all the local churches stood on LGBT inclusion!

            You don’t believe same sex couples should be allowed to marry for one! I don’t know quite where your thoughts are on LGBT people in ministry, but I doubt that you’d support a same sex partnered person or a trans person leading a church, possibly you wouldn’t want them leading a bible study either, I’m not sure.

          • ‘You don’t believe same sex couples should be allowed to marry for one!’ Neither did Jesus, since he affirmed marriage is between one man and one woman.

            I am fully inclusive: I believe that Jesus’ call to repent and believe, receive the Spirit, enter the kingdom and receive the gift of eternal life is for all, without exception or exclusion.

          • James

            LGBT people join churches for a whole number of reasons! Unless a local church is very very inclusive, you won’t find out their position on LGBT people for some time.

            There was a recent issue in Oxford because a LGBT student had joined a church on the promise that they were LGBT inclusive and then about a year or two years in (after they had build relationships, volunteered time and given the church a lot of their money) heard an anti LGBT sermon.

          • Er – possibly because the word ‘inclusive’ is very (deliberately) vague, and can mean different things, some of them positive. Does this not occur to users of the word? – because if it does not, surely they are to be classified as less exact thinkers within the debate, and of course it is the more exact thinkers to whom one listens.

          • Ian

            I’m in a same sex marriage with kids, so by your own statement, I would not be welcome in any church you were leading.

          • Peter, you would be as welcome as anyone else who is living in contravention to the clear teaching of Jesus. It is the situation we are all in; we are all welcome, and are all called to turn from our sin and live a new life by the power of the Spirit.

        • “Just let the rest of us be biblical Christians.”

          Ummm…! Of course as a biblical Christian I very much support the evangelicals of the CofE in the opinion that the Bible clearly forbids (NOT same-sex love in a wider sense but specifically) same-sex sex, and that people who want to do same-sex sex have therefore no place in a Christian church. And that a biblical church and its members cannot therefore do same-sex marriage though like many other things we must accept that people in the ‘world’ outside the churches will be doing it.

          However…. Matt 23; 24 On that scale of straining out gnats and swallowing camels, evangelicals in the CofE cheerfully accept the unbiblical ‘camel’ of being an “established” church. They should first remove that ‘beam’ before going on about the ‘specks of dust in the eye’ of the behaviour of others – either get the CofE disestablished, or get out of it into denominations which are not improperly entangled in the state….

          Reply
          • Stephen

            Well this is the problem that a third promise would face. They would then find other things to disagree on. I know ACNA are currently in a quiet civil war over whether women can be in ministry or not, which has resulted in having a bishop for churches who support women in ministry rather than a geographical area

      • “I think its only fair to have a fourth province that allows full inclusion of gay people”
        Peter Isn’t that rather like saying a vegetarian society should have an extra section for meat eaters so that it wouldn’t appear that the vegetarians are getting preferential treatment in the vegetarian society?

        Reply
  5. Ther is nothing hidden that shall not be brought to light.(Jesus)
    2 Pet 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage
    John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
    John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    Reply
  6. There is no such thing in practice of the weasel word Accountability. Very few ever are held to account,they just get moved up or sideways.The governing body trots out the
    ” We will learn lessons from this” line. This again is questionable at times.
    However we must all give an account to Him who judges righteously.

    Reply
  7. • …..needs to be a much more radical and wide-ranging “reset” than that which is currently being proposed.
    • …..cut off the money and select your own bishops, organise your own deaneries.

    Many of us highly respect and thank God for Ian P and Andrew G writing and work.
    May I please ask you both to consider:
    i) Bring the 12 Dissenting Bishops [or some], John Dunnett, Julian Henderson, Lee Gattis and others as appropriate together [you will know CEEC has done work on what a ‘settlement’ could look like]
    ii) Write a Plan with agreed objectives for Structures for a Third Province {4 -pages A4} and circulate pdq to ALL Diocesan Evangelical Fellowships getting a debate going at the ‘local level’-change only ever comes’ from the ‘grass roots!
    iii) Set a budget £ including both your time and associated costs. We can approach ‘like- minded’ churches to find the £ and pay you
    iv) and YES, I know about ‘the legal stuff’ – that can come later and will take time-. this is about having a Plan what a New Structure could look like – you don’t need permission to do it!
    Please for the sake of HIS Name, both of you have the’ writing skills’ which we admire and are ‘gifted’ for a ‘time like this’. It seems GS next week on PLF etc. will keep on ‘going round and round in circles’, thank you

    Reply
    • David, when LLF was first produced I warned that it was a trap and that evangelical leaders should advise people not to participate but instead produce a short, accessible, pamphlet-type document setting out the Bible’s theology for real marriage in words and presentation style accessible to all C of E Christians – lay people in particular. It should then have been circulated (physically as well as online) with the aim of reaching every literate C of E member – and then some. Just imagine how little time and resources that would have taken compared to the vast and ever increasing waste of time and energy involved with participation in the LLF horror show.

      We’ll never know what might have happened if evangelical leaders had shown that kind of focused resolve with the firm intention of putting the madness to bed once and for all. All I can say from my own experience is that the people who really matter – the vast majority of ordinary lay people in the C of E – have been largely ignored in terms of hard edged information about the issue and discovering their opinions so that such lack of understanding as might be revealed could be remedied. It’s little wonder that we’ve ended up with a General Synod where turkeys represent the greater part (just) of the lay voting members. I know that’s a rude assessment, but what kind of people are prepared to vote as the majority did when someone as unconvincing as Sarah Mullally had inevitably laid bare in November’s synod the extent of malpractice going on. The whole thing was incompetent, deceitful and embarrassing.

      If evangelical leaders continue to signal their acceptance of defeat by begging for ‘a settlement’ within an officially revisionist church (ie one that no longer cares about fundamental Biblical truth), their surrender may well secure a comfortable and continuing stay in some lovely vicarages. But the real cost/benefit of compromise over first order issues of doctrine must be weighed in terms of the spiritual health of individuals, church and nation in the medium and long term. It’s not a happy judgement to have to make; and that’s precisely why the mother of all fights – fighting to win – was always going to be an advisable course of action to take a decade or so ago. Is that all too late now?

      Reply
      • Thank you Don. In answer to your ‘great question’ I don’t know and time as moved on from 2014….you could say 10 years wasted which indeed sadly it is.
        …’ But the real cost/benefit of compromise over first order issues of doctrine must be weighed in terms of the spiritual health of individuals, church and nation in the medium and long term’. Are you suggesting a ‘new England church model’ based on the 39 Aricles, Creeds etc. I would be happy to change ii) in my post to take this on board including other points you may wish to suggest along the line I am suggesting
        Please do feel free to come back, thank you

        Reply
        • David

          The plain truth is that neither the PLF nor any future aspirations towards same sex ‘marriage’ are compatible with the C of E’s current doctrine on marriage. February 2023’s GS crucial vote to press ahead towards PLF was therefore incoherent because it included the Amendment G(?) requirement that anything done must not be in contravention of the C of E’s doctrine on marriage – which remains a part of the law of the land. The chaos and demonstrable lack of integrity among at least some of the bishops that Andrew Goddard describes here are the inevitable consequence of incompetent and/or dishonest bishops trying to achieve what that incoherent vote has made impossible to achieve.

          Although we’ll never know for sure, Amendment G seems likely to be what swung a very close vote to pass that crucial February motion; had it not been included (and the vote gone the other way) we might well have been spared a disastrous year in the church. However, the situation could relatively easily be clarified one way or another by presenting a motion to GS that the church should take steps to change its doctrine so that same sex ‘marriages’ are permissible and to be celebrated. The resulting vote (unless it were a tie!) would give an unambiguous answer as to how the church should proceed.

          The alternative is to take the matter to the courts. For a host of reasons it would be quite the worst way imaginable to bring closure but if forced on those who are trying to defend the church’s doctrine (as well as it’s integrity), it should certainly happen. I would hope preparations for such a case have already been started, at least on behalf of the orthodox groupings. It should also be remembered that if judgements made by the courts came down on the orthodox side (it certainly should but these are strange times!), the majority revisionist faction which now controls the hierarchy (Welby downwards) would very likely mount a furious campaign (aided by politicians and the media from outside the church) to achieve a synod which sooner or later would pass a motion to go ahead with the legal process of amending the offending doctrine. I’m not sure if people who have been absorbed by our church’s internal affairs realise what revolutionary ideological forces now have a grip on our Western democracies. Everything represented by Christians is now a scarcely disguised target.

          That’s the background as I see it but I realise the C of E is really in an internal spiritual battle where simple logic, honourable dealing, and (most importantly) the truth have little place in a very dirty political game. And that’s precisely why I think the orthodox side should play an ultra honest, open and honourable game. God is not going to honour those who claim to be fighting on his behalf by using the Devil’s own methods. God’s orthodox, faithful people need to discover humility, forsake their own private turf wars, and come together under a leadership which all can accept is wise, trustworthy and courageous. If no such leadership can be found, we must conclude that God is preparing his people to witness for him in England in other ways than through a Church of England which has forsaken him for other gods.

          I’m really sorry to have rambled on, David, but I’m trying to think through the basic situation before suggesting specific actions which evangelicals (all orthodox groups on this issue) need to take. Assuming there is indeed the kind of leadership I’ve described ready to step up and really fight to save our church, I think their efforts need to focus on presenting the doctrinal case (which I mentioned in my first comment above) right across the church, warning that faithful Christians must be willing to follow God out of the church if we do lose that crucial battle. I personally think remaining in a fundamentally divided organisation is going to be a can of worms – patchy at best and an energy sapping battle at worst (such battles would also seem likely to be fought within local churches, which is disastrous).

          As for ‘a new England church model’ there are various groups already existing where Christians of different churchmanship within the Anglican family in England/the Uk are operating. I’m not sure if starting up yet another grouping under Gafcon etc is needed. Perhaps the essential structures already exist and will just need an infusion of ex C of E people to take off in a much bigger way. Sorry, David, I’ve run out of time, but we certainly all need to be asking God for wisdom and to be ready to think outside what has long been a pretty comfortable box – perhaps too comfortable as God may see it!

          Reply
          • Battle is inevitable because both sides covet ecclesiastical representation via a historic building in every parish, income streams due to rent and investment, and the right to call yourself the Established church. It is because those things are not found in the New Testament that I believe the godly side will lose them. I support them simply because I do not wish to see any church bless and endorse what the Bible calls sin.

          • The courts aren’t going to challenge PLF. C of E doctrine is decided by the Bishops and Synod and both voted by majority for PLF so they are perfectly legal

          • Doctrine is not ‘decided by the bishops’ as we do not have such a magisterium. Bishops are accountable to scripture and the formularies of the Church.

          • @T1 And once again you don’t know your own church. Doctrine is handed down by the bishops (and they swear an oath to hand down that doctrine without error). Changing the Doctrine requires substantial majorities in all houses of Synod.

            Trying to change doctrine without actually changing it is also ruled out (hence no change that is indictive of a change of doctrine).

            Finally, the church is indeed subservient to the national courts, read article 37 ‘; we give not our Princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal,’

            It would be an appropriate place to stop bishops from playing fast and loose with the law and doctrine they claim to uphold.

          • As established by Act of Parliament last century C of E doctrine was to be determined by the C of E Assembly (now Synod). So how scripture is interpreted is determined entirely by the Bishops and majority of Synod and what they decide

          • A majority of Synod voted for PLF and we live in a country with parliamentary sovereignty and Parliament by its own Act of Parliament affirmed Synod and Synod alone has the final say on C of E doctrine.

            You also ignore Section A6 of the C of E Canons ‘The government of the Church of England under the Queen’s Majesty, by archbishops, bishops, deans, archdeacons, and the rest of the clergy and of the laity that bear office in the same, is not repugnant to the Word of God.’

          • @T1 “As established by Act of Parliament last century C of E doctrine was to be determined by the C of E Assembly (now Synod). So how scripture is interpreted is determined entirely by the Bishops and majority of Synod and what they decide”

            But that’s not actually true, is it? The doctrine (teachings) of the church are defined in Canon Law, particularly Section A5. The authority is given to synod to change those doctrines (as per article 20 of the 39 articles, which ‘may be assented unto with a good conscience by all members of the Church of England’, but no authority is given to change them in such a way that is contrary to scripture, nor to expound one part of scripture such that it contradicts another. To change these would be divorce the Church of England from it’s historical foundation, and fundementally to unravel the Church of England as understood as a member of the church catholic, reformed in nature.

            If you want to do that, why start at the c of e? Why not just found a new church and leave those who actually believe our oaths to minister happily here.

          • Yes it is true. The doctrine of the C of E is decided by the Bishops and Synod, who can also amend Canon law as they wish since Parliament devolved power of governance of the C of E to Synod. Parliament therefore gave Synod to interpret scripture as it by majority sees fit

            If some disagree with the decisions of Synod made by majority it is therefore them who are entitled to leave the C of E

          • ‘Yes it is true. The doctrine of the C of E is decided by the Bishops and Synod.’ No it is not. Article XX makes it clear that it is not possible to contradict Scripture.

          • The supreme law in the UK is Crown in Parliament and Crown in Parliament under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 made the Church of England Assembly, now the Synod responsible for determining C of E doctrine and interpreting scripture. Not to mention Section A6 of the C of E Canons ‘The government of the Church of England under the Queen’s Majesty, by archbishops, bishops, deans, archdeacons, and the rest of the clergy and of the laity that bear office in the same, is not repugnant to the Word of God.’

          • “the orthodox side should play an ultra honest, open and honourable game”

            That would be quite a change for them.

      • It seems that whichever 2 binary alternatives are presented, the diplomatic will seek a compromise half way. That means that all the radicals need to do is make extreme demands and half way will still be quite extreme. That is a well known tactic.

        Reply
        • A surprising number of people, particularly in the higher decades of life, don’t access as much (if any) of that kind of visual content. For example a large proportion of people who might well have learnt a lot from watching Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin will never see it and will most likely only be aware of whatever spin the mainstream media puts on it.

          Reply
          • It’s just slow, Don. Give me a transcript of something I consider important, such as that interview, and I’ll read it; but that can be done in about 1/3 of the time of watching/listening.

            A lot of the younger generation scarcely read but do listen to podcasts, incidentally.

          • To be fair they produced a bunch of other resources and of course the “conservative” Bishops have put out a couple of documents on the theology of marriage as they see it.

            I suppose though that’s the problem with those materials. Most people’s basic grasp of what’s being debated is – what should the Church say about homosexuality, and how should gay people in the Church be behaving? Are we saying gay people should be lifelong celibates?

            But instead of being provided with a discussion, let alone answers, to that what they’re presented with is a hymn of praise to heterosexual marriage, and a discussion of its cosmic significance (which ignores a number of directly relevant parts of Scripture). Should we be surprised if they’re not cutting through?

  8. As I have said before welby has pulled off the impossible – he has united gays and conservatives in their opposition to his idea of inclusion.

    Reply
    • I think both Archbishops have a great deal more on their plate with the correspondence around William Nye Peter. The Archbishops’ Council all should resign. Of course they won’t have the integrity for that. It isn’t just LLF that needs to be reset. The CofE has become an absolute disgrace and I’m frankly surprised that anyone wants anything to do with it at this point.

      Reply
      • Well Andrew I completely agree. The big issues are not wishy washy blessings for gay couples who don’t really want them anyway. The big issues are the dishonesty and abuse around the cover up of sexual abuse and other forms of abuse within the church.

        I continue to be astonished at the behavior of the hierarchy. I read a few.weeks ago that the bishops consider the Pilavachi matter to be closed – abused dozens of young men, in some cases destroyed their lives, senior people in the church are alleged to have known about it and covered for him. Did Welby know when he presented him with a medal? No investigation, no apology, not even “lessons learned”. Just a cushty retirement for Mike, sweep Andy Croft under the carpet and hope he keeps quiet and move on.

        Reply
        • Evangelicals share your deep concern over abuse and the woeful response to it by the Church of England. We are mystified only by the fact that you seem to think diverting the conversation toward that subject gives you the moral high ground.

          Reply
          • Then why is Carl Hughes, Chair of the Finance Committee of the Archbishops’ Council, and a noted evangelical, being so woefully inadequate in his responses about the matter……

          • I have no idea, Andrew. He’s one man and the many evangelicals I know are unanimous in disgust over this subject and would be glad to see meaningful action. Nor does it affect my point that diverting the conversation from LLF to this subject does not give liberals any moral high ground. But if you want to play that game, how many liberal bishops – and archbishops – are involved in assiduously doing nothing about churchly abuse?

          • Anton

            If that’s true why are so many of the big name abusers (and presumably most of the people who covered up for them) evangelicals?

          • ‘If that’s true why are so many of the big name abusers (and presumably most of the people who covered up for them) evangelicals?’

            They are not. They are also catholic and liberal.

          • Peter,

            I am entirely willing to discuss the subject. I *want* what is going on to be “shouted from the rooftops” in this life. But I am not going to acquiesce in letting you use the subject to divert a thread about LLF to other subjects.

          • Anton

            With respect, you brought it up.

            Ian

            Are you personally satisfied with the outcome of the soul survivor scandal being Pilavachi retiring, Andy Croft (himself a victim) being forced out of ministry and nobody else faces any discipline at all? No apology to all the young men he abused? No apology to the hundreds of thousands of Christians hurt by his behavior?

          • Peter,

            That is untrue. Trace the exchange between you and me on this subthread back and you will see that my first mention of abuse was at 0946 on 15th in explicit response to yours about abuse on 14th at 2208.

          • Peter, if hundreds of thousands of Christians have been hurt, how is this enumerated – where do you get your figures from?
            Anyone who hurt hundreds of thousands of Christians would not be complaint free for 30 years in a context where much of the said behaviour was public anyway. Do stop being so dramatic.

        • Can’t you do better than this one-size-fits-all term ‘abuse’? Especially when a lot of what is being objected to was in plain sight of hundreds of people and moreover was not objected about at the time. Nor has it ever been classified illegal. Many things are definitely bad just not really really bad, and yet the comparatively worse and illegal things get talked about less.
          If you use more specific terms, then the conversation will start being more accurate.

          Reply
          • A male leader preaching sex in heterosexual marriage only then going back stage and forcing young male interns to wrestle with him.

            The same leader pressuring young men to break up with their girlfriends in order to spend more time with him.

            A different leader forcing men in his care to strip naked and be beaten.

            A different leader forcing young gay men to undergo exorcism or be thrown out of the church in disgrace

          • Let’s take the four in turn. You are trying to treat them as the same case. As you know, they are not.

            The first one was preaching exactly what Christians have always believed and preached, and most other religions too! A contrary message would have come with all the troubles produced by the sexual revolution.
            What do you think he *should* have preached, then?
            Backstage? No – this is the whole point of my saying ‘in plain sight’. No doubt some was backstage while some was not, and that which was not was not objected about till later. This too you know.

            Second point. Interpretation needed. You would probably give the same summary if he had said to them that the girlfriend was diverting energy from their ministry/paid work.

            Point 3: Yes, we know ad nauseam. This is a different case. You could either waste your life complaining about it 1000 times, ever magnifying it, or use your time in a more profitable way.

            Point 4: Correct. This has been the standard way to view homosexual behaviour throughout Christian history, and it has its own logic.

          • Christopher

            I’m not treating them as the same case. I’m giving you examples of abusive behavior that the leaders of the Church of England have allowed to continue until the perpetrators stories got into the media.

            Leaders should not be preaching purity culture if they are not themselves living it. Its not just hypocrisy, it also means that they have no personal experience of the burden they are putting on others.

            Its outrageous that the cofe pretends to oppose conversion therapy, including exorcism, yet allows this still to continue. Either its wrong or it isnt.

            We have deep deep hypocrisy in amongst the senior leaders and it causes all kinds of problems. We cannot have clear conversations around blessings for gay people when the leaders are tying themselves in knots with dishonesty

          • On your first para:
            -You are still using the same incredibly vague undifferentiated word ‘abusive’.
            -You are speaking as though all leaders knew about this and kept it quiet. But if it were really bad behaviour the perpetrators would not have allowed leaders to become aware of it. Whereas if it were not, that would explain why leaders did not take it seriously – because it was not complained about till many years later, when norms had changed. Leaders are variously located, and busy people – they would not have local knowledge.

            Leaders should not be preaching purity culture unless they are living it? That is bonkers. You are saying that they should not call good things good, because they themselves are not always good. (A non sequitur if ever I saw one.) But no-one is always good, anyway. So you are asking *everyone* to lie about what is good. How will that help anyone? And what alternative message will they give? That nothing is good? That half good things are better than completely good things? The correct message is quite simple, and also biblical: ‘XYZ are good; none of us lives up to that; but what is good remains good.’.

            Your prescription: No-one lives up to a good standard, ”therefore” no-one should say that good things are good, even if they actually are. No positive message supplements this negative one.

            Define ‘conversion therapy’. You call it an ‘it’ (either ‘it’ is wrong or ‘it’ isn’t, you say) yet it is very unclear to most of us what reality is being referred to when this cynically and deliberately calculated phrase is used.

            You expect us to use the phrase ‘gay people’ as though it were meaningful, when you accept that people are not innately ‘gay’ (if they were, babies would be ‘gay’), and also secondly accept that adolescence is a time of instability, and also thirdly accept (as anyone who respects science must accept) that most of those feeling that way in adolescence settle down later, and also fourthly accept that behavioural habits once set can be hard to break; and also fifthly accept that behavioural habits are sometimes good and sometimes bad.

            Remove high expectations of behaviour, and what level of behaviour will you get?

          • Ian Paul

            I am somewhat suprised that your are allowing Christopher Shell’s egeregious apolgias for abuse in the Church of England to continue on this blog. Partcularly in light of the current criticism of and publicity about gross safeguarding failures in the Church, which continue to retraumatise victims and scandalise society. The Church is already perceived as toxic in this area: permitting someone to claim that historic abuse was allowed because they did things differently in the past and is only being complained about now because norms have changed is deeply problematic.
            With Synod staring at the end of this week, this is a very bad look indeed.

          • But abuse of all kinds (vague and catch-all though the word often is in its usage) has always obviously been abominable. That has never been up for debate, just as the greenness of grass does not occur to anyone as a debate topic. My topic was, as can be seen, definition and nuance, precision, exactitude, accuracy. I can only think that the unthinking presupposition is that there are only two possible overall positions, and those who do not share the approved narrative must be directly opposed to it. Simply quote what is being written, and you will see that the topic is nuance and precision rather than the strange and unnecesary topic of whether obviously bad things are bad or not.

          • (In any case, an ”apologia” is saying that something is a *good* thing. Which is clearly not only not what was being said, but some great distance from what was being said – in fact, virtually the reverse of what was being said. Which makes the misrepresentation an extreme one.)

    • Technically Synod by majority voted for prayers of blessing for same sex couples, so more than conservatives wanted while also rejecting full same sex marriage, so less than liberals and homosexuals wanted ie the only viable compromise

      Reply
        • What doctrine is is determined solely by Synod and Bishops, what they decide is by definition doctrine in the C of E. As affirmed by Act of Parliament itself when it transferred governance over the C of E from itself to the C of E Church Assembly, now Synod. Act of Parliament is automatically legal

          Reply
          • Simon:
            Again you show your inability to understand the law. Do you think by repeating a falsehood many times it will become true?

  9. We know that the only ‘legal advice’ many conservative evangelicals would ever accept is that no recognition of any form can be given for same sex couples. In reality the prayers for same sex couples were given legal reality by the only form needed in the C of E, a clear majority of Synod and a majority of the Bishops who proposed them.

    While at the same time reserving holy matrimony for heterosexual couples, the only change which might even remotely have needed approval by Canon B2

    Reply
    • ‘We know that the only ‘legal advice’ many conservative evangelicals would ever accept is that no recognition of any form can be given for same sex couples.’

      You know no such thing. If the legal advice was not problematic, why have the bishops not published it?

      Reply
      • If it is as problematic as your own bishop claims then presumably he would have published it by now. The fact that he hasn’t rather indicates it isn’t such an issue.

        Reply
        • Perhaps the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham has the integrity not to break the confidentiality of the information received by the House of Bishops. It is possible that his ad clerum was issued in the light of the legal advice that he has seen but cannot in good conscience reveal.

          Reply
        • Very disingenuous of you, Andrew – you know that bishops operate the omerta.
          They won’t break ranks publicly.
          But concealing legal advice from the Church is a very un-Christian way of acting. ‘Let your yes by yes and your no be no.’

          Reply
          • The bishop of Southwell and Nottingham already broke ranks publicly in GS! He stated there were issues with the legal advice. That was the issue. He needs to either back that up and say what the problems are or else I assume they are not quite so problematic as claimed.

          • Andrew: the answer to your question or assumption is to PUBLISH THE LEGAL ADVICE.
            Thank you for agreeing with this.

          • ‘He has said what the problems are: the legal advice prohibits the use of PLF. The supporting document said as much; see appendix A para 17.’

            Utterly ludicrous!! The law making power over the Church of England is Synod, Synod voted by majority for PLF so by definition PLF are legal

        • Except it’s not as simple as that, is it? We live under the canon law which is part of the law of the land. Canon law is clear that doctrinal change requires 2/3rds majority in all of Synod. Trying to weasel around that would be subject to challenge in the courts, which have authority in ecclesiastical matters (article 37).

          Reply
          • Major doctrinal change would have been accepting Ozanne’s proposal for same sex marriage in the C of E but that was rejected. Prayers of blessing for same sex couples did not need a 2/3 majority, just a simple majority which it got from Synod. Given Synod also rejected amendments for further legal enquiries courts have no further authority to challenge that. Parliament not the courts is supreme in England and Synod’s power of governance over the C of E comes direct from Act of Parliament ie the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 and no court has any authority to challenge such an Act of Parliament

          • So redefining Paul’s quintessential idolatrous/ingrate/conscious sin of Romans 1 as something positive would not be major doctrinal change?

        • No it isn’t. You don’t understand ecclesiastical law at law. Or English law generally, for that matter.
          Simon, you need to learn canon law.

          Reply
          • Yes I do, UK law is based on the supremacy of Crown in Parliament. No courts can overturn statutes passed by parliament. Synod can amend canon law too if it wishes

          • Simon, you don’t appear to understand UK law. Contrary to the US, where the executive appoints the lawyers, in the UK the judiciary is independent, and so can rule what Parliament says unlawful.

            If you don’t understand the law, why do you keep commenting on it?

          • Once again you fail to understand the law. You do not understand that General Synod actually makes church law in the UK.
            This is enshrined in the Laws of England, Simon.
            A simple point that shows your incomprehension. Have you ever studied law? It doesn’t look like it.

          • Yes and who voted by majority for prayers of blessing for same sex couples within services and experimental services of blessing for same sex couples as stand alone services? General Synod

          • No. In the UK we have no written constitution unlike the US, instead our constitution is based on the supremacy of Crown in Parliament. So no UK court has any power to overrule an Act of Parliament or say it is unlawful at all. I do have legal qualifications, do you?

  10. Oh no it isn’t.
    Oh yes it is.
    Oh no it isn’t.
    Oh yes it is.
    Oh, no it isn’t.
    Ad nauseam.
    Idolatry revealed and manifest.
    Lex Ordandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. As we worship, So we believe, so we live.

    “No problem can can be solved from the same mindset that created it.” Einstein

    Reply
  11. Members of the church’s hierarchy are really coming up with desperate measures when they try to shoehorn same sex ‘marriage’ for clergy into the Church of England by claiming there’s a difference between ‘Holy Matrimony’ and ‘civil marriage’. The truth is that real heterosexual marriage belongs neither to the church nor the state: it long predates both. In fact it was instituted by God in creation when he created men and women with a different biological makeup but with a natural desire for each other. As such it offered mutual support, comfort and protection as well as setting the need and desire for procreation within a stable environment for the nurture of children.

    The Old Testament nowhere suggests that the marriages among people who were not God’s chosen people should be considered invalid or fundamentally different in nature. And Jesus’ own brief mention of marriage affirms the arrangement well before the Christian church was born. The term ‘Holy Matrimony’, which we rarely use these days, expresses the thought that Christians will want to treat this amazing gift of God with special care and affection, recognising his central role in the life of two of his people who have been joined together into ‘one flesh’.

    Reply
    • Don, you are correct. This is one of the more egregious acts of dishonesty by the House of Bishops, pretending that lawful civil marriage (between a man and a woman) is somehow different in character or nature than ‘holy matrimony’. The Church of England has never recognised such a distinction. A civil marriage may be ‘blessed’ but not added to by another service called ‘holy matrimony’. If there was difference in nature between the two, we would have a service for ‘holy matrimony’ after (or even before) civil marriage, but no such thing exists. Talk of ‘holy matrimony’ as something qualitatively or essentially different from civil marriage is dishonest sophistry, and it is dismaying to see bishops peddling this nonsense.

      Reply
      • It is entirely possible, and legal, to marry in the CoE after a civil marriage.
        There has been a clear distinction since the civil marriage act in the 19thC.

        Reply
        • Penelope: a ‘service of blessing’ is NOT a marriage. And it has no legal status.
          The law of the land recognises either civil marriages or church marriages. Both have the same legal status.

          Reply
          • Yes and same sex marriage still isn’t performed in the Church of England, even in your own words only a blessing. So holy matrimony is a correct term to use for church marriages

          • I didn’t say it was. Read my comment. A couple who contract a civil marriage in England can, legally, be married (again) in church.
            Not widely known but perfectly legal.

      • Not entirely true, the King married Camilla in a civil marriage at Windsor Guildhall but only got a blessing at St George’ Chapel Windsor via a C of E Archbishop as only his first marriage was deemed ‘holy matrimony.’ Religious services of blessing after civil marriages which are not ‘holy matrimony’ can also therefore apply to same sex couples. Roman Catholics regularly have separate religious and civil marriages.

        Reply
        • “Not entirely true”… as in “untrue” then. 😉

          Civil Marriage is marriage… Full stop… The HoB novel distinction is ridiculous.

          “Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage” may follow

          Reply
          • Nope, entirely true in that my statement was correct.

            Civil marriage is marriage but then Synod didn’t even vote for marriage for same sex couples but just allowed them prayers of blessing after civil marriages. So the distinction between holy matrimony, reserved for heterosexual couples ideally for one lifelong union and the prayers is an entirely apt one

          • I never said it did but in continental nations especially many have civil marriages in civil halls and then a religious marriage after

        • No I was correct. In English law Crown in Parliament and Crown in Parliament and the Acts it passes alone is sovereign, not the Courts. The Courts can only interpret statute law, they cannot overrule it

          Reply
          • You entirely missed the point in your comment above at 8.05. The distinction some bishops have tried to make is not between ‘holy matrimony’ and ‘prayers after civil marriage’ but between ‘holy matrimony’ and ‘civil marriage’, implying there is an essential difference in nature or law between the two. There is not.

            You also seem to be unaware that the General Synod of the Church of England has its own legal powers to make laws for the Church of England. These include the powers to define its own doctrines, to regulate its own life and impose discipline on errant clergy (but not laypeople), It has its own courts and if you don’t like the decisions, you can’t appeal to the secular courts.

            It used to be that the UK Parliament directly ruled the Church of England (which is why the 1928 Prayer -Book was rejected – but introduced anyway!), but Parliament doesn’t have this power any longer. You need to read up on English law, Simon,

          • To amplify my point to Simon (T1):
            Suppose a couple had been married in a registry office and then, praise God, were converted. They then want to ask for God’s blessing on their marriage and ask the church they have started to attend to do this.
            The pastor is delighted and agrees.
            But at no point is this service called ‘a solemnization of matrimony’, no register is signed by witnesses and celebrant (in a book to be lodged in Somerset House), and no marriage certificate is issued.
            The reason is obvious. The couple is already married and it would be fraudulent to pretend otherwise. There is no difference in meaning between ‘matrimony’ and ‘marriage’ and there is no difference in law between a marriage contracted in a registry office and one contracted in church.
            The Bishops know this but have still invented this fallacious distinction.

          • There is, in the sense that one is a marriage only sanctioned by the state while the other is a marriage sanctioned by the Church.

            Yes Synod has powers to make laws for the C of E, Parliament having legislated those powers to its predecessor, the Church Assembly last century and a majority of Synod of course voted for Prayers of Love and Faith.

          • Simon writes: “There is, in the sense that one is a marriage only sanctioned by the state while the other is a marriage sanctioned by the Church.”
            – irrelevant and mistaken. The Church of England has always recognised civil marriage, including the marriages of divorced and remarried clergy, and non-clergy employed by the Church (e.g. for pensions etc).

            “Yes Synod has powers to make laws for the C of E, Parliament having legislated those powers to its predecessor, the Church Assembly last century and a majority of Synod of course voted for Prayers of Love and Faith.”

            So you are starting to understand that I am correct and you were mistaken about the legal position of the Church of England. The point you are missing here is that the Bishops are trying to change the Church’s doctrine of marriage, which explicitly states that marriage is between one man and one woman. The Constitution of the Church of England states that doctrine may only be changed by a two-thirds votes in each of the three houses of General Synod – which hasn’t happened. The majority vote isn’t sufficient. This is the legal advice which the Bishops have received.

          • Not in its marriage services it hasn’t. Indeed even the King was refused a service of holy matrimony in 2005 when he married Camilla but was only allowed a service of blessing in St George’s Chapel after a civil marriage in Windsor Guildhall. For the Church of England the only holy matrimony he had engaged in was when he married Diana in 1981 at St Paul’s.

            My point was always that Synod determines C of E law now. The Bishops have confirmed that only holy matrimony and marriage within the church is reserved for one man and woman, ideally for life and Synod has affirmed that. Synod voted by majority for PLF therefore the prayers for same sex couples within C of E churches are now lawful. A 2/3 majority would only have been needed to redefine marriage and holy matrimony as also including same sex couples. Synod also rejected by majority any further requests for legal advice

    • Oh yes it does: Ezra 10:

      2 And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: n“We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. 3 Therefore olet us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and ptheir children, according to the counsel of my lord1 and of qthose who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done raccording to the Law. 4 Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; sbe strong and do it.” 5 Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel ttake an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.
      6 Then Ezra withdrew ufrom before the house of God and went to the vchamber of wJehohanan the son of xEliashib, where he spent the night,2 neither yeating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles. 7 And a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem, 8 and that if anyone did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.
      9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the zheavy rain. 10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 11 Now then amake confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. bSeparate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 12 Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said.

      Reply
    • And the Pauline privilege in the NT:

      12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. iOtherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you2 jto peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, kwhether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

      Reply
  12. James

    In the case you cite of a ‘converted’ couple who have formerly contracted a civil marriage, they are legally entitled to marry (again) in church. I.e. contract a legal marriage in a church (not ‘merely’ prayers of dedication after a civil service, but a BCP/CW service of marriage).
    There is, thus, an ecclesiological, difference between civil marriuage and holy matrimony. You might think it is absurd, but there it is …

    Reply
    • Penny – this is the first I have heard of this, and I conducted my first wedding in 1991.
      I cannot see one can *contract a legal marriage* in a church – which means reading banns over three weeks, and having two witnesses who sign the register – if the couple is ALREADY married (which requires three weeks; notice and two witnesses).
      Can you cite your evidence for this claim?

      Reply
      • Where is it stated that a “church marriage” may follow a civil marriage in the Church of England – and the second ceremony is actually a marriage in law?
        I have never heard this.

        Reply
          • Penny: the operative words in my comment were:
            ‘and the second ceremony is actually a marriage in law’.
            It is not. It may have personal and emotional significance – but it has no legal meaning, any more than reciting Kahlil Gibran to each other (they used to that in weddings). So there is no signing of registers by witnesses or issuing of a marriage certificate – this has happened already.
            Marriage according to the rites of the Church of England does express lots of expectations (and more emotional oomph) that you don’t find in a civil wedding, but it has no more legal force or obligations than the latter. The same laws of mutual support (next of kin) and laws regarding dissolution of marriage apply to everyone equally, whether you are married in the Church of England or on some rainy beach in Lincolnshire.
            Therefore I don’t follow Collier’s claim that ‘holy matrimony’ and ‘civil marriage’ are two different things (read: contract). In law they are identical in their force. That was my point.

          • I would add that a Christian couple who marry in a civil ceremony ARE in ‘holy matrimony’ in the eyes of God and so are those who become Christians later. A church ceremony makes no difference to this religious fact, which human laws can pass no judgments on. The law is concerned only with what can be empirically established.
            Collier agrees that the legal entailments of C of E marriage and civil marriage (including the recent innovation of same-sex marriage) are identical.

          • James,

            I largely agree, but consider a polygamist who comes to faith in Christ. We all agree that he must not take any more wives while any of his present ones survive, but is he married in God’s sight to them all despite the clear preference for monogamy in Genesis 2 and 1 Corinthians 7?

          • Anton:
            I was talking about the Church of England. Polygamy is (still) illegal in England, but I expect it exists ‘sub rosa’ among some communities in Britain, as it is permitted in some African and Muslim countries.
            I don’t know how African churches handle this one.

          • James

            You don’t follow Collier’s claim, that is you disagree with it. Doesn’t alter the fact that after the 1856 Act, couples who are civilly married can remarry in the CoE.
            Which, by the by, makes the question of the legal guidance on the PLF quite interesting. If/when it is released there may well be those who ‘don’t follow’ it.

          • Thank you for posting the article by Peter Collier Penny. Very helpful.
            I was devastated to learn today of the death of Bishop Alan Wilson. After the February 2017 General Synod, which launched the whole LLF process, he made some very wise observations. One of them was this:

            “Realise that you can’t make your effective theology entirely through lawyers. Lawyers are the last people you consult, to give legal effect to what you have decided to do, not the first people you use to shape your theological options.”

            How right that is.

          • Hi Andrew

            Good article isn’t it?
            I was devastated to hear of +Alan’s untimely death. A godly and principled bishop, with great pastoral gifts, on the verge of a much deserved retirement. The last time I saw him he was wearing rainbow wings!

    • I do not think that (in the CofE) this is true.

      The CofE recognises Civil Marriage as marriage. Any church service could, at most, be a going through of the liturgy, certainly not a second layer wedding. It would indicate that the State occasion wasn’t a marriage. I’ve never heard of that happening or being offered and I doubt it ever does. That’s why the service of Blessing has the liturgical flavour of the Marriage Service but isn’t one. Reference to James below… my first wedding taking was in 1978.

      I gather that in the RC church as they hold marriage as a sacrament (unlike the CofE where it’s rebutted as a “so-called sacrament ) there can be a service to remedy the perceived inadequacy of Civil Marriage. It’s called a Convalidation ceremony. I’ve no idea how common it is.

      ” The Church does not recognize a civil wedding ceremony as valid when one or both people are Catholic. If a couple are married in a civil ceremony, the Catholic person(s) are asked to refrain from receiving the Eucharist until the marriage is recognized as valid by the Church. The reason for this, in a nutshell, is that the Church recognizes marriage as a spiritual reality, not just a piece of paper or a legal formality.”

      Reply
      • Ian H – thank you, that accords with my understanding about the law and practice of the Church of England. I have never heard of a church “wedding” following a civil marriage in the C of E. I know that in certain nations in Europe like France, a church wedding often follows marriage performed by the mayor, but I think that is because the civil service is the only one recognised by the state, in their stern commitment to laicité.
        The Roman Catholic position is a strange one for an Anglican to grasp – and probably for a lot of Anglicans as well. Thus Boris Johnson- apparently “baptised as a Catholic” yet divorced twice and showing no interest in Catholic faith or practice (living with the mother of his latest child) was accorded a Catholic wedding because his previous marriages weren’t to Catholics in the Catholic Church. Not a model for Anglicans, I think.

        Reply
          • It doesn’t support your case.

            At best its an “opinion” but (more significant I think) a religious ceremony that might follow is absolutely not a wedding in the “getting married” sense. I’d say the article says this.
            It accommodates spiritual /religious values as an add on or overlay. At no point are the couple considered “unmarried” when they arrive in church. What they feel/don’t feel is not relevant to either the legal reality or the marriage understanding of the CofE.

  13. Ian:
    You’re on the Archbishops’ Council (I believe), so perhaps you can answer this question.
    Is it true – as Penny claims above at 2.17 pm that

    “a ‘converted’ couple who have formerly contracted a civil marriage … are legally entitled to marry (again) in church. I.e. contract a legal marriage in a church (not ‘merely’ prayers of dedication after a civil service, but a BCP/CW service of marriage).
    There is, thus, an ecclesiological, difference between civil marriuage [sic] and holy matrimony.”

    I cannot see how it can be true in English law that the second ceremony would be a “legal marriage” since the are already married and therefore cannot be joined in marriage by the religious celebrant; further, there can be no witnesses as the second ceremony has no legal validity. Would you care to comment?

    Reply
      • Well, not in church, I hope. 🙂
        But the other thing about the innovation called ‘same-sex marriage’ and its divergence from natural law is that SSM by its very nature is intrinsically incapable of consummation – whereas non-consummation has traditionally been grounds for annulment.

        Reply
        • Yes, there were discussions in Whitehall about grounds for divorce and consummation when Cameron’s SSM legislation was being drafted. Will any civil servant with a sense of entertainment leak the minutes?

          Reply
  14. Ian (Feb 18th 1.10pm)

    From the article:

    As already mentioned, that same 1856 statute that barred any religious ceremony in a civil wedding did make provision for an additional subsequent religious ceremony. The same s.12 that barred religion in the register office provided that after a couple have been married in a civil ceremony, they could produce their wedding certificate to the minister of their church and ask the minister of their church to celebrate the marriage service of their church in church? That is still the position in s.46 of the Marriage Act 1949 which repeats that same provision.

    I find this provision is not widely known, even amongst our clergy. And indeed recently in a blog post that got some circulation via Twitter a former theological consultant to the House of Bishops stated “The Church of England has recognised, and continues to recognise, marriages that are in line with the form of marriage instituted by God at creation as genuine marriages (i.e. forms of ‘Holy Matrimony’) regardless of where a marriage has taken place (which is why those already married in a register office could not then have a second marriage ceremony in a parish church).”

    But they can! And have been able to do so since 1856. The reason for allowing it can only be because it is thought right to allow those who had gone through a civil marriage to additionally go through a religious ceremony. And again, one can only presume that the reason for allowing that is that it has always been thought that it added something. They have been civilly married but now they can see themselves as “properly married” in God’s sight.

    Reply
    • Penny: this just makes my point, that an optional religious service after a civil ceremony is NOT a marriage according to the law of England. Here are the relevant portions from s.46 of the Marriage Act 1949 (with 2013 amendments):

      “If the parties to a [F1relevant marriage] desire to add the religious ceremony ordained or used by the church or persuasion of which they are members, they may present themselves, after giving notice of their intention so to do, to the clergyman or minister of the church or persuasion of which they are members, and the clergyman or minister, upon the production of a certificate of their marriage before the superintendent registrar and upon the payment of the customary fees (if any), may, if he sees fit, read or celebrate in the church or chapel of which he is the regular minister [F2, or (in the case of the conversion of a civil partnership at a place of residence) at that place of residence,] the marriage service of the church or persuasion to which be belongs or nominate some other minister to do so.”
      Then sub-section 2 reads:
      “Nothing in the reading or celebration of a marriage service under this section shall supersede or invalidate the relevant marriage and the reading or celebration shall not be entered as a marriage in the marriage register”.
      In other words, the permitted religious service after a civil marriage is NOT a marriage according to the laws of England and makes no difference at all to the legal character and obligations of the civil marriage. In other words, it’s window dressing – lovely and personally important window dressing but legally of on significance at all.
      So why was this provision made in 1856 and then continued in 1949?
      As the further provisions of this Act make clear regarding places of worship, I think it was added to accommodate the consciences of Quakers and Jews (and maybe Methodists and Non-Conformists) who wished to recognise God in their marriages (civil services forbid any mention of religion) without having to use the Church of England. It also protected religious leaders of non-Anglican bodies, such as rabbis and Quaker leaders (whatever they are called) from being accused of falsely celebrating marriages, which they didn’t have the legal power to do. (I do not know when Roman Catholic clergy were permitted to solemnise marriages, but previously Catholic couples could only be married by C of E clergy, which obviously disturbed Catholic consciences.) Things have now changed, of course, and just about anyone, not just Free Church ministers, can become a marriage celebrant today, provided they meet certain minimal legal requirements.
      Prior to 1856 or so, I think the C of E was the only place where you could be married in England, whatever your beliefs.
      Anyway, this little excursion into the Marriage Act 1949 s.46/2 has confirmed my belief that a religious ceremony following a civil marriage has NO legal significance and legally cannot add to, subtract from or invalidate the civil marriage and the legal duties and benefits attendant thereto.

      Reply
  15. Penny wrote above (Feb 18 at 4.45 pm):

    “You don’t follow Collier’s claim, that is you disagree with it. Doesn’t alter the fact that after the 1856 Act, couples who are civilly married can remarry in the CoE.”

    That is not correct. the Marriage Act 1949 s.46/2 specifically states that an optional religious service after a civil marriage is NOT a marriage according to the laws of England (no witnesses needed, no register is signed, no certificate of marriage is issued) and it makes no difference to the rights and duties of that civil marriage, neither can it invalidate it.
    This latter condition no doubt prevents anyone claiming that a religious ceremony has taken away any of the rights of civil marriage (e.g. re divorce or inheritance) or added to them (e.g. imposed additional duties on one of the partners).

    Reply
    • The situation is analogous to France, where religious marriage ceremonies have no legal force. The only form of marriage legally binding in France is the civil marriage before Monsieur ou Madame le Maire. This is mandatory for ALL legal marriages in France. The couples may then choose to have a religious ceremony afterwards, but this has no legal significance.
      Similarly, a ceremony in England after a civil marriage.
      The difference in Britain and common law countries, of course, is that a wide range of persons, religious and not, may serve as registrars of marriage, including all Anglican clergy with PTO.

      Reply
  16. Wow, that was a long read!

    I live in Cyprus where the state church is Orthodox. I’ve been to an Orthodox service of Holy Matrimony and what surprised me was there were no vows. Basically the priest was confirming the betrothal and coming together in union of the couple (male & female). Cyprus also has a separate civil ceremony, I think with vows.

    It seems the Great Schism had more than merely papal primacy and filioque involved if the East-West split also divided the necessity of vows/covenant for a lifelong relationship versus confirmation of an act of God between a single male and a single female.

    Reading this I am seeing the word ‘marriage’ and ‘holy matrimony’ thrown around and questions of biblical theology. Yet Jesus word, in the Greek, is κολληθήσεται (be joined with) leading to the two ‘will become’ (ἔσονται) ‘one flesh’ (σάρκα μίαν). I’m not seeing in Scripture the words marriage or Holy Matrimony nor legal definitions of how that joining together should be ceremonialised. Yet obviously there were vows involved (despite the Greek Orthodox Church) before Jesus time as we read in Malachi 2:14.

    From a legal perspective I would have thought that if ‘marriage’ or ‘holy matrimony’ were to be clear then definitions of male and female ought to be clarified. Do we mean physiological or DNA male and female? If we follow male and female being joined to one flesh (as per Matthew 19) should the person performing the church ceremony (the vicar?) check the physiology of the couple to ensure that they are indeed male and female? And… what happens when the ‘female’ is physiologically female but DNA XY (very uncommon but does happen)?

    But… could some of this be resolved by disestablishing the Church of England and making marriage (legal) a purely civil covenant and what the church does entirely separate. This doesn’t remove the issue of whether or not same gender sex is or isn’t sin, but the church doesn’t do too much on the sin of gluttony, the sin of pride and a few other sins already!

    OTOH the church could decide to totally ignore the law of the land and exclusively only recognise a Matthew 19 relationship. Personally as a republican (‘We have no king but Jesus’) I struggled with the British ‘sort of’ written constitution (the UK has doesn’t have a written codified constitution even though some of its constitution is written) and I am a lot more comfortable now as a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus with a written codified constitution. Now… the Church of England suffers from the same problem as the UK. There is no written codified constitution to refer to. There are the books of the Old and New Testament that create a ‘sort of’ constitution but they aren’t anything like a written codified constitution.

    Reply
    • Richard in Cyprus:
      1. As I understand it, in the Orthodox churches the bride and groom don’t exchange vows or even say anything, because they have already made their vows to each other and their participation in the service is the sign of their acceptance of the sacrament of marriage (just as nobody asks you at communion, ‘Do you wish to receive?’ – your presence means ‘yes’.) For the Orthodox, marriage is a sacrament, not a contract. In Orthodox theology God unites the man and woman in marriage and the Church acts ‘in loco Dei’.
      2. There are plenty of references to ‘gamos’ in the NT, esp. in Revelation and in Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom. Just use your concordance!

      Reply
      • γάμος in the NT doesn’t show any link to how the bride and groom marry but are primarily linked to a party/feast related to the coming together.

        Reply
      • James — Yes, that’s my understanding of the Orthodox approach. My personal take though is that marriage is covenant rather than contract, though legally in Cyprus it’s a contract not covenant.

        The vow each person takes in Cyprus takes is:
        ‘I call upon all persons here present to witness that I {INSERT NAME} accept you {INSERT NAME} as my lawful spouse, to love and to share with you as from this day, moments of joy and sorrow, wealth and poverty, happiness and unhappiness, throughout our life until death do separate us.’

        Prior to making the vows the marriage officer concerned clarifies the conditions under which the contract can be broken:
        ‘You should further know that your marriage cannot be dissolved during your lifetime except by a valid judgement of a Court. If either of you (before the death of the other) contracts a marriage while this one remains undissolved he/she commits the offence of bigamy and is liable to the consequences provided by the law.’

        Protestant and Catholic churches in Cyprus are permitted to legally marry people merging the civil and religious ceremonies.

        Personally I think more emphasis should be on the covenantal aspects of marriage.

        Reply
    • Marriage is a covenant (Malachi 2:14, indeed) and a covenant has explicit terms that must be affirmed. For marriage, those terms are that it be permanent, intimate, public and exclusive (acronym: PIPE) and between man and woman, as according to Genesis 2:24. The writers of scripture were not as insane as our culture and didn’t regard ‘man’ and ‘woman’ as terms in need of clarification.

      Reply
      • Or even as terms that have no meaning – as the absurdity of “same sex marriage” shows, where the glorious creational reality of being a woman or a man is erased by the almighty human will (as Carl Trueman documented in his book “The Triumph of the Will”).
        If marriage is not the union of Adam and Eve, it is nothing at all.

        Reply
        • James — ‘the absurdity of “same sex marriage” shows’

          There is a research project I read recently (not sure where) that showed that sexual intercourse with a woman had an effect upon her DNA but not upon the man. Assuming that the project findings are correct (I didn’t find peer reviews) it demonstrates that the sexual union of man and woman is very different to the sexual union of man and man or woman and woman even with a man-man sexual union having penetration.

          Reply
      • ‘permanent, intimate, public and exclusive’ — being covenant it’s implicitly permanent. Marriage used to be described as a ‘dreadful public admission of a purely private intention’!

        Reply
      • ‘The writers of scripture… didn’t regard ‘man’ and ‘woman’ as terms in need of clarification.’

        The writers of scripture couldn’t do DNA tests! It was purely physiological. Hence a physiological woman with XY genes would therefore be seen as a woman. Where the physiology is ambiguous (probably more common than the genetic abnormalities but there haven’t been widespread genetic testing to know how common the genetic abnormalities are) how does one allocate to the binary male-female? Are the physiological abnormalities more common now than in the past?

        Reply
        • I doubt it, Richard. I recall reading words from a fulltime midwife for decades that she had never delivered a baby who had ambiguous genitals. It is that rare – and you don’t rejig society round 0.001% of the population. I believe that the intersex persons whom you describe are an outworking of the events described in Genesis 3. But let us not single them out, for nobody is as God designed us, whether physically or spiritually.

          Reply
          • Anton — the other thing that was not possible in Biblical times was gender reassignment surgeries. There was someone in one of our churches that went through that. It was complex for the church but helpful in learning.

          • Richard,

            Was the surgery to make physiology match genotype better?

            It is a sign of how mad our society has become that surgeons perform genital mutilation operations at someone’s request yet there is a push to ban attempts to make psychology match phenotype. Which of mind and body can lie?

          • Richard – such surgery was possible – and also carried out. They just called it by a different name and those who had it didn’t try saying that they had changed sex (c/f Alessandro Moreschi Soprano Castrato).

        • Just an aside: A physiological woman with XY chromosones (that is, Swyer syndrome) is still seen as a woman today, and will tell you that she is. Her condition is unlikely to detected until her teens (because she won’t go through puberty naturally). But with hormone treatment, and egg donation (her ovaries will often be removed because of the high cancer risk) she may well be able to fall pregnant and have a child.

          Reply
    • Yes, I saw that and that could well be the case. I don’t suppose Welby wants to be remembered as the man who split the Church of England (again).
      On the Orthodox wedding service, I have to say it’s pretty spectacular with the crowning and the processions (remember the first half of ‘The Deer Hunter’?) and the quintessentially Orthodox recital of Sacred Scripture on marriage (the Orthodox Church of America includes something a little like vows): https://www.oca.org/files/PDF/Music/Marriage/marriage-service.pdf

      Reply

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