More Perfect Union?

81ixmfjZBTLI’ve had quite a few interactions with Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, mostly on line and (once) in person. On some occasions he has been reasonable, thoughtful and well-informed; on others, belligerent and polemical. So when I received this book for review, I was intrigued to know which way it would go. Unfortunately, it is the latter.

Reading the first couple of chapters was a very odd experience, and I could not work out why—until I realised I had entered a parallel universe—Wilson’s World, if you will. In this World, all sorts of odd things happen. The church of the 80s and 90s was in the control of a ‘self-righteous conservative rump who held the whip hand’ (p 7, a phrase that recurs throughout the book), which is a very odd description of a church recovering from the Honest to Godtype controversies of the 1960s and 70s, and a time when Don Cupitt launched the ‘Sea of Faith‘ movement. It is a World where the policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, with its ‘duplicity [that] stank of hypocrisy’ (p 8), was the work of conservatives, rather than the liberals who actually practiced it. It is a World where ‘affiliation to the Church fell like a stone’ because of conservatism, against all the evidence that it was and is liberal churches whose numbers dropped most sharply. It is a World where, on the one hand, we feel sorry for the most vulnerable group in all this, closet gay bishops, but, on the other hand, we can on the very same page (p 12) blame them as the most hypocritical and biggest obstacle to moving beyond our current, impossible situation. It is a World where we must not ‘slap on people terminology that they do not accept for themselves’ (p 13)—but at the same time, people who disagree with Alan are ‘stupid’ and unquestionably ‘homophobic’. In fact, in this World to even cite the Church’s current teaching position is ‘conventionally homophobic’ and Rowan Williams was as guilty of this as anyone. In this World, conservatives have had the ‘whip hand’ (that phrase again) for ‘500 years’, perhaps the most extraordinary reading of church history for someone with a doctorate in it! In all this, ‘conservatives’ have consistently been at fault, never been involved in setting up AIDS charities nor engaging in any positive way with the gay community.

In other words, Wilson’s World has very selective connections with reality as most people would see it. What it does do is connect with the feelings of the gay community, and the considerable anger there is in response to past history in society and Church. Parties on all sides need to hear this—but the disconnect on so many other levels actually makes this task quite difficult.

The omissions and selectivity continue into the chapter on science, under the heading ‘Unnatural?’. New Testament references to ‘nature’ in Paul are thrown together, as if no-one had ever explored what these terms mean. Our understandings of what is ‘natural’ are entirely grounded in our own culture, so are clearly of little value—until now, when we have emerged into a period of scientific enlightenment, where ‘the science is pretty much nailed’ (p 24). Sexual identity is fluid, and to suggest that there are two sexes called ‘male’ and ‘female’ is simply to deny reality. Since people can walk on their hands, and others can paint with their feet, it is pointless to talk about parts of the body having any purpose (p 27). There is some useful information here, but what is entirely absent is the presence of any contrary opinions, even from the world of science. No mention, then, of the serious medical reservations about gender dysphoria and the effectiveness of, or even logic behind, the use of surgical gender reassignment. No mention, either, of longitudinal studies which show sexual attraction to be changeable, which has led many in the secular gay scene to abandon language of ‘orientation’ and gay identity. The Church’s critique on any of this is universally ‘vague, stupid and inadequate’ (p 30). Since ‘the Lord knew what he was doing when he ordered nature as he did’ then ‘all human options are equally natural’ and so equally moral. This is, I think, the most simplistic and uncritical statement of ‘natural theology’ I have ever read, and surely the most implausible. Apart from the absence of dissenting voices in science, there is no theological expression of idea that the world might not be as God intended it. The final conclusions here are asserted, rather than argued. Any theology of married where our affections need to be ‘hallowed and directed aright’ simple cannot succeed without including same-sex marriage. ‘Relationships are better judged by their fruit than their configuration’ (p 34), a comment which simply sidesteps any discussion on the connection between form and virtue—and presumably would allow polyamourous and incestuous relationships as long as they were  ‘permanent, faithful and stable’.

The next chapter, on the question of equality, again presents one side of the argument as though any opposing view was hardly worth considering. Reflection on the relation between Christ and culture (in the form set out by Richard Niebuhr, who again comes up later) must be set aside until other issues have been considered. The argument that same-sex marriage changes the definition of marriage is nothing more than rationalisation by those opposed on ‘gut level’ and is seen as absurd by ‘non-homophobes’ (p 40). Marriage has always been changing—though, curiously, there is one definition that has been in use since 1297 (in the OED), and this would equally describe same-sex marriage. There is no mention here of the Church of England’s own understanding of marriage in either the Canons or the marriage liturgy. Those who think ‘one man, one woman’ is of importance subscribe to a ‘Janet-and-John’ binarism about gender (p 42)—another phrase that is repeated later in the book. Any suggestion that we should ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ amounts to pathologising and scapegoating, so those who advocate positive pastoral engagement with the gay community, whilst opposed to same-sex marriage, are expressing ‘love distorted by partiality and prejudice.’ It is just the sort of ghettoising form of racism which was evident in apartheid. In this context, equality and inclusion are fundamental biblical themes in both Old and New Testament, though there is no consideration here of texts which nuance that or engage with the boundaries of holiness amongst the people of God, or the very prominent use of ‘exclusion’ language in Jesus and Paul.

Two chapters follow on the use of Scripture. We have already been told that the biblical evidence is ‘scanty’, though the obvious conclusion from this (that same-sex sex was unquestionably and universally rejected) is not mentioned. The first chapter focusses on questions of method. We cannot proof-text, and we cannot take single texts in isolation from their wider context—so we cannot isolate individual verses. ‘Every commandment is a commandment, and was intended to be so.’ This comes quite close to the ‘We wear polycotton shirts and eat shellfish, so why think same-sex sex is an abomination’ argument, when in fact there are perfectly good grounds to attend to some texts more than others, as in fact Jesus does in his reading of the OT. Texts also need to be placed in the Bible as a whole, though again the consistent rejection of same-sex sex from Genesis to the Pastorals does not feature here.

The Sodom text in Gen 19 is dealt with at some length, which is interesting as I am not sure many people make use of this in contemporary discussion. On Lev 18.22 and 20.13, Wilson does not strongly push the line that Matthew Vines has popularised, that these texts are referring to cultic prostitution. Rather, he sees in the texts ‘echoes of male-on-male rape and cultic prostitution’, even though neither of these things form part of the immediate context of the verses, which are set in the context of sexual relations within the family. He does this on the basis that the condemnation is of the passive, penetrated partner, who is thus feminized, even though this has been shown to be a misreading of the text. The most obvious reading of the Levitical prohibitions is that, on the basis of the Gen 2 creation account, these commandments reject as unholy even the most culturally acceptable forms of same-sex activity, a general prohibition which is without parallel in the ancient world and is picked up directly by the NT. But this view is not even considered by Wilson here, let alone discussed.

On Romans 1, ‘nature’ is taken to mean ‘custom’ on the basis of its occurrence in 1 Cor 11, and in any case the example of same-sex relations is incidental to the main charge of idolatry. This reading not only goes against the major commentators, and ignores the arguments of Gagnon, Hays, and Loader (to name conservative, moderate and revisionist commentators), it does not even hint that such views exist or need to be engaged with. On 1 Cor 6.9 and 1 Tim 1.9, arsenokoites probably was coined from Lev 18 and 20, but since these refer to the passive effeminate partner, that is what Paul probably refers to—again, against the majority of commentators on both sides of the debate. Wilson adds to this Dale Martin’s notion that the term is often put together with terms of economic exploitation, so has something to do with pimping—even though the first three terms in 1 Cor 6.9 are sexual, and only two later terms have anything to do with money. In conclusion, he says, ‘the tiny collection of NT texts can be understood in many different ways.’

The chapter on marriage in the Bible includes an odd analysis of the marriage metaphor in relation to Christ and the Church. ‘Modern campaigners  sometimes suggest that marriage can be defined by three basic realities which are not possible in a same-sex marriage— difference of gender, reproductive capacity, a notionally natural pattern of sexual intercourse.  None of these three realities, however, can possibly play any role in the marriage of Christ and his Church’ (p 95). All you have to do with these terms is express them as difference, fruitfulness, and ordered intimacy, and Alan’s argument unravels. I don’t myself think this is a particularly strong argument in the debate—but it is clear that Alan hasn’t tried hard to take it seriously.

The concluding chapters repeat many of the patterns on show earlier—repetition of catch-phrases, the erection and demolition of straw men, and a dismissal of opposing arguments as plainly absurd without any real consideration.

bishop-alan-wilson11Did this book need to be written? At one level, clearly it did. It appears to have been a cathartic experience for Alan himself—as one of the commendations notes, there are repeated expressions of anger and frustration, some more explicit, and some more veiled. And as they say, better out than in. I have no doubt that this book will sell well, since it is voicing the views of a group for whom Alan has become something of a spokesman, and this group will be pleased to have their voice articulated.

But I think the book will actually be quite damaging, not least for Alan and his supporters. The disdain with which he treats his episcopal colleagues is hardly going to help future conversations or working relations. And the partial, caricaturing dismissal of those whom Alan disagrees with won’t help his reputation. What on earth is a bishop in the Church of England, with a PhD, doing by disguising from readers the good, accessible alternatives to his view in order to make his case?

I am not sure it will really enhance the reputation of supporters either. Will Jeffrey John, commending such a divisive and dismissive text, really function as a ‘focus of unity’ in a diocese? Does Charlotte Methuen really think that a book, which she notes was ‘written in haste’ (evident from the numerous repetitions and inconsistencies) offers a ‘good’ argument ‘for extending marriage to include same-sex couples’ when is simply side-steps or ignores the objections—and often disguises the fact it is doing so?

I also think it is damaging for the Church and the cause of Christian faith. In mocking his opponents, Alan is (in the eyes of those outside the Church) not doing much more than mocking faith. When he dismisses the biblical discussion out of hand, the conclusion of observers is not that Alan is right, but that the whole project of Christian faith is wrong:

The author didn’t prove the church’s stance in homosexuality isn’t biblical. What he proved is that it’s actually its concept of marriage that isn’t. Further proof, if it was necessary, that the bible is nonsense. (comment)

In what way is this approach ‘missional’? Alan’s hasty, angry and dismissive approach threatens to drag the Church down the route of an internal culture war, and it is not the way to go. The one achievement, I suppose, is that it makes the ‘facilitated conversations‘ look quite attractive by comparison.

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149 thoughts on “More Perfect Union?”

  1. Brilliant Ian – one of the best, broad, substantial and focused observations you have written.

    The idea that the conservatives/evangelicals have held sway for 500yrs is nothing but hilarious. You cite recent issues around Cupitt etc – add the faith results of 2 world wars, the Ayres/Muggeridge/Russel crowd on TV every week when I was a teenager -and the battle John Stott had at a basic level of the gospel and theology.

    And yes Dr Patrick Dixon and I started ACET (Aids, Care Education and Training) eventually caring for more people dying of AIDS in their homes than any other charity. Only the NHS were doing more.

    This article needs to get out beyond FB. Blessings. Gerald..

  2. Ian, many thanks for this post.

    As I’ve read through what Alan Wilson has written in the paper and on his blog over the last few days, a thought has been gnawing away at me and you’ve put it into words for me: Alan Wilson is living in his own world which does not actually have to conform to facts.

    I was reading his article in the Guardian on Monday and was thinking, it’s a shame how a bishop can have such muddled thinking – he seems to conflate several issues into one and blames it all on the traditionalists. I had real trouble actually understanding his perspective, and I don’t think it’s because I am slow or I disagree with him – I think it was more that he wasn’t completely sure what point he wanted to make!

    On a serious note, I do wonder whether this book and the way he puts his opinion across is actually troubling enough to warrant his disqualification from being a bishop. The sheer lack of charity he shows to those with a different opinion would be worrying enough for a layperson, let alone someone who is supposed to act as a focus of unity. Looking at the Biblical list of qualifications for overseers from 1 Tim. 3:1-2 (“above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money”) – it seems to me he falls foul of more than one of them. And for a Bishop to be seemingly so theologically illiterate as to essentially dismiss any of the conservative Biblical arguments and scholarship about marriage is mind-boggling, frankly.

  3. “…to suggest that there are two sexes called ‘male’ and ‘female’ is simply to deny reality.”

    “…it is pointless to talk about parts of the body having any purpose.”

    Were either of these points to be true there could be no such thing as marriage, since each human relationship would be as nebulous as all other relationships- every relationship would be a marriage (no relationship would be a marriage).

    We are no longer talking about Tradition versus Revision, but about Purpose versus Nihilism.

    • Daniel, thanks–and your logic is right. I think Alan (in a mild form) and Queer Theorists (in a strong form) would argue just that: there are no such things as (essential) genders, and so the whole concept of marriage as traditionally understood is bunk.

      I have also heard it argued that same-sex marriage is actually superior to traditional marriage, since, as a result of being unable to define ‘consummation’, sex must be removed, which is a good thing since heterosexuals are so hung up about it. I wonder whether that is behind the title of Alan’s book: gay relationships actually represent a more perfect union than heterosexual marriages.

      Of course, the logic for many (non-Christian) gay lobbyists is that having a committed form of limited relationship of any kind is bunkum, and research by the gay community suggests that, outside of faith communities, very few gay unions are exclusive.

      • “…research by the gay community suggests that, outside of faith communities, very few gay unions are exclusive.”
        I’m not sure which research this refers to or from which decade. Currently we have 70,000 civil partnered couples in our nation and my hunch is that gay people commit to civil partnership for similar reasons that straight people commit to marriage – not least to publicly proclaim exclusivity (‘hand’s off – s/he’s mine!’).

        Meanwhile, the wider questions remain:
        1. How far might it serve God’s purposes that, in our churches, we treat straight and gay people in identical ways in order that all people might have equal access to come to faith/salvation?

        2. How do we support those church members who struggle to extend the same respect to a same-sex married couple that they would to an opposite-sex married couple – especially on the basis of unexamined heterosexism (the belief that straight people are inherently more Christian, more committed to their discipleship, more loved and blessed by God than are gay people)?
        Ian, I fear that gay people coming across your site may find the quote above to be far from positive, respectful and constructive (indeed unnecessarily negative, disrespectful and destructive). This is a concern as I am sure that all of us hope that the 70,000 civil partnered couples will find safe and respectful space in all our churches, rather than facing outdated prejudices.

        • Jane, the study is here:

          which shows how beneficial open non-monogamy is, and a view I have come across quite often in discussion is expressed here:

          The author argues that monogamy is boring and unnecessary, and the sooner heterosexual couples learn to be relaxed about it from the gay community, the better and happier they will be.

          • Ian
            Thank you for providing links to the research you mention. However, you direct me to the Couples Study which is of course comprised only of non-monogamous male gay couples (all 86 of them) and also to an article by Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women who seems to have her own agenda to see society question the use and abuse of marriage, monogamy and power dynamics. But more widely – it is valuable in a discussion about the place of same-sex married couples in the Church to dredge up these kind of articles – do you consider that these provide the sort of evidence that justifies continued exclusion of same-sex couples from our congregations?
            Yes, all the civil partnered and same-sex married couples I know are in faith and so we expect that they would value monogamy. But your comment suggests that gay couples, not in faith, can’t help but be non-monogamous. If this is true, are we saying that they are even more non-monogamous than straight couples, not in faith? Is there a case to be made for saying it is less to do with homosexuality and more to do with male sexuality – are female same-sex couples to be tarred with the same ‘non-monogamous’ brush? (I’m just asking the questions, not jumping to sexist conclusions).
            Even if this (your original premise) is true, then surely this makes the whole issue all the more urgent. We work hard to encourage opposite-sex couples to consider marriage, to join pre-marriage preparation courses, to attend marriage enrichment courses, to seek church-based counselling if hitting rocky patches in marriage, and surely not just so that they avoid being another ‘Christian divorce’ statistic but because we genuinely believe that people flourish in monogamous marriage. If this is true for straight people, it is equally true for gay people – and we really shouldn’t want to be seen to be discriminatory. Ian, how do we get the message out there that monogamous marriage is good for all people, straight and gay? How do we let gay couples know that we value their commitment to monogamous marriage and we’d like more of them to be role models to wider society? Shall I come back in, say, 2020 and ask these questions again – do you think by then the Church of England will have cottoned on to the answer?

        • @ Jane.
          You say that homosexuals want to get married for the same reason heterosexuals do. “not least to publicly proclaim exclusivity (‘hand’s off – s/he’s mine!’).

          You are wrong. I n fact few homosexuals want to get married at all, but those who do make it very clear what their motives are.

          a) The envy factor. Or you could call it the vanity factor. They want to prove that their relationship is “as good as” that of heterosexuals. They frequently say this and indeed shout it in such a belligerent way that I am surprised you have not heard them. Every time they use that devious little misnomer “equal marriage” they are revealing this vanity factor.

          b) They want a lavish show-off wedding, as many of them have a highly-developed exhibitionist side,

          c) they want to be able to pass on property without tax. Yves St-Laurent entered a civil partnership a few months before he died with the equally aged Pierre Bergé, who owns the French newspaper Le Monde, thus saving millions that would have gone to the French welfare state.

          d) They regard the dismemberment of marriage as part of a long-term agenda for dismantling the family and disintegrating that evil bourgeois-capitalist-thing, society, This has been admitted by every LGBT leader of the past two generations and most Left wingers too (Tatchell, the Stonewall gang, Barthes, Marcuse, Foucault….)

          • Tony, isn’t wanting to ‘prove’ that their relationships are just as good a legitimate reason? I agree with you that this has been an important factor, but it does not seem particularly underhand to me.

            Don’t some marry an opposite-sex partner for practical reasons too?

            Do you have any stats about the number of people in a same-sex relationship who want to marry?

            I think you are right about the final point. People forget that Tatchell has made statements to that effect. I wonder if they are accessible anywhere?

          • Tony, I’m afraid I don’t begin to know how to answer your comment. Perhaps you don’t know any gay couples who want to marry or perhaps you really just don’t want to know any. You take this opportunity to make sure that any gay people coming across this site know your views – that you consider them second-rate, prone to unexamined envy and vanity, belligerent, devious, intent on dismantling family and society, and of course, totally undeserving of the opportunity to marry that heterosexuals take for granted. I’m not sure how helpful this is to a discussion on our pastoral response to same-sex married couples who wish to join our church congregations – perhaps we could come back to this later and try to find some common ground.

          • @Jane,

            While not distinguishing couples who want marriage from those who reject it might appear unfair, responsibility for this lies with the uncritical solidarity among LGBT advocates.

            The mainstream political parties are often quite careful to distance themselves from the more extreme right and left wing public figures of their number. In contrast, LGBT advocacy lacks this capacity for openly criticising its more extreme elements.

            Proponents for the normalisation of gay relationships are quick to highlight similarities between their cause and the black civil rights movement. Yet, in the 60s, the latter presented a far from homogenous front to the public. Martin Luther King was intensely critical of the militant Black Panthers. Malcolm X openly disagreed with MLK.

            Perhaps, you could point me to several high-profile organisations that support same-sex marriage in church and have been openly and intensely critical of the extreme views that Tony has cited. Certainly, I’ve heard nothing from Changing Attitudes that decries them.

            If same-sex couples and LGBT advocacy organisations can’t distance themselves openly from these extreme views now, why shouldn’t we distrust this connivance as evidence that the extreme agenda will become the Trojan Horse, suddenly springing out of church-based LGBT movements that claim to hold more moderate views, like yourself?

  4. Thank you for your thoughts, Ian. They are very much appreciated.

    I have been following a series of publications by an American Christian ethicist, David P. Gushee, over at I wonder if you have come across his articles there, and if you yourself find he brings anything new to the table of this topic, or if this is the same material you considered in your Grove booklet? I appreciate how he begins his argument with a focus on how Christians on both sides can stand up for the basic human rights of those in the LGBT community, before he begins a discussion of the Biblical texts. I’d be very interested to know your thoughts on his work or see your own response to his articles if you feel like he raises some new points.

    Again, many thanks for all of your work here.

  5. “But I think the book will actually be quite damaging, not least for Alan and his supporters.”

    I doubt it, Ian. No fight for equal rights ever won by being nice. Carey called opposition to equal ordination “heresy,” which far stronger than anything Wilson’s said.

    All the exegesis misses the wood for the trees. Most people don’t fix their views based on the minutiae of Koine Greek; they apply a simpler metric of fairness. Are LGB relationships doing any harm? (no); is demanding that lesbian and gay people never have a sexual relationship cruel? (yes); in the absence of harm, is it loving to make this demand? (no). Even if you win the argument about heterosexual marriage being the ideal from Genesis on down, many will just say, “fine, but as gay people can’t ever meet that ideal, the church should do the best it can.”

    This isn’t about whether you can make a good biblical case, because you clearly can, and do; it’s about whether there’s any realistic chance that you can persuade the church to impose this “discipline” on all its members. The terms in which this is framed are not exegesis, but realpolitik.

    • James, I agree with your last point, but I don’t think Jesus died and rose again for the sake of realpolitik.

      I don’t accept your answers to the three questions, and your statement “fine, but as gay people can’t ever meet that ideal, the church should do the best it can” I think finds many counter examples.

      I agree there is a challenge in terms of practical pastoral care for and response to gay couples. But Alan makes clear that any suggestion that I don’t accept gay unions as any less than traditional marriage is homophobic, and if I try to be nice to gay couples, this is just ‘distorted love’ and is pretty wicked.

      So I think Alan’s view is actually making it harder to address the question I agree needs addressing.

      • The crux of this is that substantial number within the church — lesbian and gay people, and their allies — refuse to accept compulsory celibacy. For them, “practical pastoral care” is a solution in search of a problem. They either reject your interpretation of the Bible, or your approach to its authority. They’ll continue to push for change.

        Focusing endlessly on what the Bible says is IMO a distraction, an attempt to keep this on comfortable territory. It plays to your strengths. I appreciate the work you put into interpreting scripture, and agree that your arguments are strong within your chosen framework; but as so many within the church don’t share it, this won’t be solved by exegesis.

      • Your first question is not really very theologically robust (“Are LGB relationships doing any harm? (no)”). One might ask “Does Baal worship do any harm?”. The answer of course is equally no. Does that mean that Baal worship is moral or Godly?

        • Peter, it wasn’t aiming to be “theologically robust,” it was an illustration of how many folk think. Yes, it’s logically inconsistent with your Baal example, but hey, we’re not Spock. Folk are inconsistent and illogical. In practical terms, there’s vanishingly few wannabe Baal groupies in the church, so that’s a non-issue.

          • But you accept the basic premise of my argument, namely that just because an activity “doesn’t do any harm” that doesn’t mean that it is moral or Godly, and therefore it cannot be used as an ethical argument for the validity of said activity for Christians?

          • Peter, my point is that (internal) logic is irrelevant if it doesn’t command support. Yes, you can produce a solid case against using a harm metric; just as you could make a compelling argument that the Bible endorses slavery — but, as you know, it wouldn’t persuade, ’cause our horror of slavery is too deeply entrenched.

            Likewise, however brilliant exegesis is in the abstract, lesbian and gay people will continue to be born, attend church, and come out to their families. Even if the bishops declared tomorrow, “The biblical case is overwhelming, end of debate,” opposition would only intensify. You’d get more protests like Peter Tatchell’s recent “Archbigot of York” ambush, more clergy (and perhaps finally bishops) openly defying church teaching.

            There’s a limit to what people will tolerate. Unless you honestly believe that society is gonna roll back on affirmation, this is something the church has gotta compromise on.

    • Dear James

      You wrote:
      “Are LGB relationships doing any harm? (no); is demanding that lesbian and gay people never have a sexual relationship cruel? (yes); in the absence of harm, is it loving to make this demand? (no)”

      The first two questions don’t go together so the third response doesn’t follow. To talk of “LGB relationships” (question 1) is really not the same as talking about “sexual relationship” in question 2.

      • Clive, as gay and lesbian relationships are rooted in sexual attraction, regardless of whether the parties abstain from Higton’s “homosexual genital acts,” that’s a distinction without a difference. The absurd fiction that they’re “friendships” is based not in reality, but the denial of the episcopate. Such legalism rides roughshod over the Beatitudes’ focus on what’s in our heart, and is theologically objectionable in and of itself.

    • James,

      If I may jump in a day or two after your original comment – I wonder whether part of the problem this whole process is exposing is the different views of the Church of England people hold. What exactly is the Church of England? An institution? Or something else, something more theological?

      You seem to take a fairly practical/pragmatic approach. The Church of England is a body of people and the views of the church should reflect those of the majority. Therefore it is a nonsense to “impose” a certain doctrine on the church when many in the church would not accept it.

      I on the other hand would take a more theological view: I think the church is an expression of the one holy catholic and apostolic church, which is formed by members of Christ’s body who are united to him by faith. The Church of England is not an institution in a secular sense, it is a body whose head is Christ. Therefore, the church should and indeed must ensure that it is ordered and operates as Christ would have it – it’s not the case that anything goes.

      And the theological authority of the Church of England has historically come from the scriptures – when I was ordained recently I had to take a legal vow which included upholding the deposit which the Church of England has inherited, from the scriptures, to which the historical formularies of the church bear witness.

      In short, I think we have two competing definitions of the church at play here – one pragmatic and one ‘idealistic’, if you will. Historically I think the Church of England has operated more under the second of those, although increasingly over the last century or so things have been changing bit by bit. The tension is, the definition of the church hasn’t been officially changed – liturgically and credally the church is still orthodox and scriptural.

      I hope that these kind of discussions will actually bring to light this kind of issue in the church, because I think before making decisions on sexuality the church needs to decide what kind of church it wants to be – and if it decides that it wants to reflect the majority view (ie pragmatic understanding of the church) rather than an ‘idealistic’ one, that will have massive ramifications. It doesn’t matter if that is the situation on the ground, by jettisoning scriptural authority officially that will almost certainly be the thin end of the wedge.

      • Thanks for that, Phil, and theological/pragmatic is an interesting way of framing it. Shades of visible/invisible church there.

        You’re right, I undoubtedly lean towards pragmatism, but ultimately, pragmatism decides the church’s theology. In a synodically governed church, teaching is whatever Synod says it is. You may of course think that’s wrong, but that’s how the Church of England makes its decisions.

        However compelling an ideal is in the abstract, unless it can command majority support within the church, it isn’t workable.

        The church is in the mess it is with sexuality because it’s stubbornly refusing to make any decision. It pays lipservice to “traditional teaching,” but then ignores it in practice. That disconnect is unsustainable. It’s gotta decide: either LGB people are full members, entitled to everything their straight counterparts take for granted; or they’re only welcome if they identify as people struggling with “same-sex attraction.”

        If the church decides that it’s exclusive, that’ll have obvious implications for its establishment, and its place in English society.

        • Thanks James,

          I agree with you. I think I would say that documents like the 39 articles would place limits on what teaching a synod could or could not approve (Article XX, ‘The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written’ etc.)

          I think the problems today are largely due to the way the church has allowed its practice to drift from its teaching in the past. Although the church is on paper one thing, in practice it is quite a different beast. Which is the ‘true’ version of the church? This debate is as much about that as it is about sexuality.

          And yes, I foresee disestablishment on the horizon – whether or not the church changes its teaching on sexuality, I think it’s inevitable with the way society is going.

    • The problem I see with the “realpolitik” argument is that it hits both ways. Combative language is either spoiling for a fight or presuming upon the gentleness of the opposition to not give them one. What happens when the “other side” gets fed up with the trash talk and decides to actually behave as they are being accused of behaving?

    • Hi James,

      Perhaps, you’re right that Alan Wilson’s book, though light on exegetical precision (to say the least) and heavy on hyperbole and conservative vilification will become the rallying cry for the rank and file to demand the overthrowing of the Old Order.

      Indeed, if you consider how church re-marriage after divorce eventually won acceptance, we might be inclined to believe that same-sex church marriage is almost a fait accompli. All the careful exegesis in the world, neither prevented that, nor women bishops.

      At the same time, there would be those who do not subscribe to a progressive view of human history. Without the resurrection, Christ’s own execution would have been a little mourned casualty, in worldly terms, of realpolitik.

      Nevertheless, Christ’s parable of the dishonest steward plays into this short-sighted view of history.

      Christ appeared to capitulate to the realpolitik of his critics with a story that toasted the shrewdness of a manager who massaged the accounts receivable in order to find future favour with prospective employers who were in debt to his former boss.

      Yet, Christ later quashed any idea of surrendering to their tactics with sarcasm: ‘make to yourself friends of the unrighteous mammon, that in due time, they will receive you into their eternal habitations’.

      And, of course, Jesus is right. What eternal habitations, what permanent security does realpolitik provide. It is spiritually short-sighted. Whatever might be accomplished by resorting to it, is the fruit of justifying dishonesty with the immediate demands of political expediency. Once rid of their common ‘enemy’ and atmosphere of mutual distrust pervades those who committed such fraud in the name of ‘fairness’.

      You’ve asked rhetorically, ‘Are LGB relationships doing any harm?’

      Whet you elide is any reference to the harm of unjustly denying the parental priority of a natural and willing father and enforcing a same-spouse’s co-parenthood through same-sex marriage. Perhaps, you consider that to be fair. Most people won’t.

      Perhaps, in Wilson’s World, no same-sex partner will ever want to be the presumed parent of a child born to their spouse and operate as an autonomous family, however the kids are produced.

      You know, because (according to Liberal orthodoxy) marriage doesn’t automate parental priority, or does it?

  6. “The disdain with which he treats his episcopal colleagues is hardly going to help future conversations or working relations.”

    Part of the problem here Ian is that you believe in a very hierarchical Church. You put bishops on a pedestal until you disagree with them. The real issue is the disdain with which the collective of bishops has treated the rest of the church by issuing such poorly judged pastoral guidelines; the disdain shown by issuing these after a very sensitive handling of the Pilling report by Steve Croft in General Synod was simply breathtaking. Until we can reclaim the damage done by that, it is helpful that Bishop Alan shows publicly the situation which is known to exist – that quite a number of the episcopal colleagues do not agree with the pastoral guidelines and wished they had not been issued in the way they were. Let’s hope that there can be some proper pastoral work as a result of this book.

    • ‘Part of the problem here Ian is that you believe in a very hierarchical Church’. Actually that’s not true at all…as I explained here recently:

      But I do believe that when people are consecrated bishops, they make certain commitments, including teaching the faith, leading the people of God together, and working in partnership with fellow bishops. Alan doesn’t appear to be honouring those commitments he made, and prioritises the gay agenda over all these others. I think that lacks integrity.

      • As so often Ian you simply ignore the substantive point and focus on your own agenda.
        The point is that the pastoral guidelines issued by the House of Bishops lack integrity, but as they happen to suit your agenda, you don’t want to question them.

        • I think you could be quite right here—but since, contrary to your first point, I am not particularly hierarchical, I am always open to questioning the powers that be.

          As it happens, I think the bishops did do the right thing, and I don’t agree that the Pastoral Guidelines lacked integrity. I explored this in some detail at the time, and gave my reasons why I thought it was the right decision.

          • Ian, the problem with your previous piece is that it ignores, as I have pointed out to you before, people who say: “I am gay, I don’t have a vocation to celibacy, and I already am ordained”. Someone even got up at General Synod and said it quite publicly (as I have said to you before) and remains in post.
            Of course we know that you think the bishops did the right thing. We also know that some of the bishops don’t think they did the right thing (but feel constrained from saying that very publicly.) The issue is a mess.

          • Andrew what you are pointing out is the mismatch between the stated position of the C of E (to which clergy explicitly commit) and the reality. There are two ways to resolve this:

            a. change the stated position to match the reality
            b. confirm the stated position and wait for reality to match

            The bishops went with b and I think they are right.

            But the cause of this mismatch, as I comment in the post, is not the actions of conservatives, but the actions of liberals, who enacted ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.

          • Ian, DADT isn’t solely down to liberals (I agree they were complicit), since the House of Bishops, liberal and conservative both, signed off on it, just as it signed off on allowed gay priests to contract civil partnerships.

            In any case, “liberal” isn’t the best term for those who take an affirming position, since many are, in other respects, theologically conservative. Jeffrey John, for example, had the brass neck to condemn John Shelby Spong for questioning longheld doctrine!

  7. You’re entitled to your competitive arguments, but as a non-Christian (Unitarian) I can suggest that they add up to nothing except irrelevance; Alan Wilson is at least trying to keep his institution connected to the wider world, and perhaps that is his ‘missional purpose’.

    • I think there is a big difference between being distinctive and being irrelevant; and there is a big difference between being connected and simply conforming with culture.

  8. Dear Ian (and all),

    having seen Andrew Goddard’s review of Bp Alan’s book, and now yours, I don’t have much doubt that it’s a poorly argued text. And if that’s so, then you may well feel that giving it so much space is justified – after all, poor arguments should be brought to light. But I can’t help wanting to ask why you (as far as I am aware – please correct me) haven’t given so much space to the better ‘revisionist’ arguments (for want of a better word): have you engaged with Gareth Moore OP, or Rabbi Steven Greenberg, or James Alison….. and do you plan to review Robert Song’s new book at similar length to your treatment of Bp Alan’s? I don’t mean to be simply impertinent but there is something for me about seeking out the best arguments of those who disagree with you and addressing those (and i don’t mean at all to suggest you’ve never done that – but am being cheeky enough to suggest that perhaps some of the time and space given over to this review could have gone to better-argued works). Maybe that’s simply an unjustified question to ask you, but…

    Another thought: one of the sadder things about Bp Alan’s book for me is that on a recent blog post, under the slightly flip title ‘Resources for your very own Pilling Report party’, he collected together some superb materials – but his book seems to contain no distillation of these nor even pointers towards them (there’s no further reading list for example).

    in friendship, Blair

    • Blair, thanks. Yes, I suspect Alan is capable of marshalling some better resources—so I am frankly surprised at the poor quality of this book.

      Does it merit the time I have spent on it? Yes, if only because

      a. it is out
      b. he is an Anglican bishop
      c. supporters have come out cheering
      d. I think many who are unsure might read it and not realise how poor it is
      e. I was sent a review copy!

      • Thanks for your response, Ian. Are you willing to say whether you’ll be reviewing Robert Song’s new book in due course?

        in friendship, Blair

          • Hi again,
            my copy arrived this morning – certainly looks like there’s some serious theology being done and it’d be good to hear your engagement with his arguments.
            in friendship, Blair

  9. Ian: I have yet to read the book but I have read excerpts from it and I think your review is excellent – thank you.

    I also feel encouraged by the positive responses to your blog on this page.

    I may be wrong but I thought the facilitated discussions in the CofE were going to be about whether or not the church will accept SSM as ‘Holy Matrimony’.

    I feel sad that most of us won’t get a vote in the final decision and I am becoming increasingly concerned about the possible outcome and the implications of this for our children, our grandchildren, for children not yet born and for children not yet conceived.

    I have reached a stage where I feel increasingly bemused and bewildered by the fact that (since May this year), when I hear about the forthcoming marriage of someone I don’t know all that well, I find myself wondering: ‘Is he/she going to marry a man of a woman?’

    So many people are affected by this debate, not least future generations – I pray that God’s wisdom will prevail.

    • Christine, the “shared conversations” aren’t about implementing any specific policy, but about how to “disagree well.” It’s basically a two year exercise in navel-gazing, designed to kick the issue into the long grass. Any change in policy will only be explored once they’re wrapped.

      Any decision on altering the Church of England’s marriage canons will be taken in General Synod, in which all members of the church have a vote, albeit indirectly.

      • Dear James,

        One group has already pointed out to Canterbury that “disagreeing well” is not what the Pilling report says and ++Canterbury is being asked to reconsider his odd imposition.

        Further it is odd that the UK whilst being around 90% in favour of Civil Partnership is 60% against same sex marriage. Therefore Bp Alan Wilson is completely wrong by the facts when writing about a
        ” ‘self-righteous conservative rump who held the whip hand’ (p 7, a phrase that recurs throughout the book)…” Ian is quite right to point out that this phrase is used several times. The most humorous point of all is that The Observer published a wide, extensive survey in the same week as Bp Alan Wilson’s book in which London & the Home Counties felt that homosexual acts should be illegal by 21%. The latter is not a position I agree with at all but it illustrates extremely well just how far from reality Alan Wilson has strayed.

        The “rump”, as Alan Wilson terms it, is a figment of his imagination. However he is a part of that strange group that believes that if they repeat untruths often enough then it will magically become true (it won’t of course).

        • Clive, from where d’you get 60% of Brits being opposed to equal marriage?

          As this piece illustrates, polling results are shaped by the question asked. Some polls have shown a comfortable UK majority for opening marriage to couples of the same sex.

          • Dear James

            Thank you for your contribution and you should question all science. Unfortunately the link you gave, if you follow it through to the source data and the published polls shows that up to 60% support civil unions but oppose gay marriage. For example social class C2 (whatever that is) appears as 62% opposed to gay marriage (ICM Poll). Only the age group 18-24 shows up as 60% in favour of gay marriage which seems to be your point. These Polls you have referenced don’t show trends in society.

            The point is that it is not the minority / rump that Alan Wilson believes it is in his very odd world.

            The observer poll is interesting because it is a repeat of an earlier poll as well as being high numbers. Because it is a genuine repeat of an earlier poll we can see trends that are not visible when you keep changing the question.
            I have made a pdf copy of the full poll. The closest I can find now on the internet is found here in The Guardian at:
            It was Jim Mann writing on 28th September 2014.

            The funny thing is the the Politicians and media tried to tell us that London & The Home Counties were more in favour of gay marriage than the rest of the country but the Poll says exactly the opposite. Either way, and whichever way you look at it, Alan Wilson is making it up entirely when he claims a tiny minority / rump against gay marriage. Even the law makes the marriage different.

          • Dear James

            The survey to which you say Ian has referenced does not claim that 63% want gay marriage. The survey that I referenced, and to which I gave the link, has repeated questions so it is relatively unique in allowing trends for UK society to be plotted. The original survey to which it relates predates gay marriage so it only asked about unions because that was the same question as in previous years. Therefore gay marriage is not a direct question. Further the trend shows that whilst the population has moved a little, it hasn’t moved very much, thus Alan Wilson is totally out of order when he claims a tiny minority / rump because that is not what the surveys show. Movement being small is actually what most people would expect.

            Taking your claim of 63%, which I take with a complete pinch of salt, that puts the number against gay marriage at 37% which is not the tiny minority / rump that Alan Wilson claims.

          • Clive, the survey asked a sample of 1,052 British adults, Do you believe that it is right that same-sex couples can now get married? Sixty-three percent said “yes,” 37% “no.” The ’08 survey did ask about same-sex marriage, not just civil unions, and 55% approved.

            Support for equal marriage is growing fast, and a shade under two-thirds of British adults currently support marriage equality. So yes, a substantial minority don’t, but it’s very much a minority, and one that’s shrinking year-on-year.

            You can, of course, argue that the majority is wrong, but the best available evidence suggests that it exists, and is getting bigger all the time.

          • Once again you have deflected away from the original claim of various people, including noticeably Alan Wilson, that those against gay marriage are a tiny minority / rump.

            Once again you have referred to another Observer survey as noted in your post.

            Once again the survey to which I linked did not refer to gay marriage in the terms that you mean.

            I was hoping you would take the science seriously and properly engage with it, but I am going to be disappointed.

            You believe and claim that the country supports gay marriage.
            Scientific scrutiny shows a noticeably more complex picture that agreement is related both to age group and to social class as one would expect.

            However, in every respect, Bp Alan Wilson is wrong to claim a tiny minority / rump.

          • Clive, I linked the same Observer survey as you! Jim Mann, Sept. 28, which specifically asked about same-sex marriage (question posted above).

            If you’re referring to another survey, which one is it, and why d’you think it’s a better guide to British attitudes than the latest research from the Observer?

          • Dear James

            Once again you attempt to deflect away from Bp Alan Wilson’s reference to a tiny minority / rump by claiming that 37% is …
            “..a substantial minority don’t, but it’s very much a minority, and one that’s shrinking year-on-year.”
            The former is your claim and the latter, also your claim, doesn’t seem to have any evidence to back it.

            Clearly 37% (your claim) is NOT the tiny minority / rump that Bp Alan Wilson claims.

            Your statement that:
            “… Clive, you said 60% of Britons were against equal marriage; that’s across all age ranges. ”
            You have noticeably added the phrase “that’s across all ages” whilst further on you point out the sample is 1,052. Scientifically I do not know the age range and social class of those questioned and neither do you.

            It’s science as a poll. Quite rightly it has been limited by the questions asked but I have tried to scientifically look at trends in UK society.

            The previous identical survey was in 2008. Since the law on gay marriage had NOT been passed in 2008 it is not possible to have the same meaning as it has today, so quoting the question doesn’t help the fact that gay marriage has changed.

            The claim that the survey you referenced was one published by Ian is yours, when you wrote:
            ” The ‘Observer’ survey Ian referenced ”

            It seems clear that you are not going to scrutinise the science and take it seriously so there is no point continuing. I haven’t engaged with the Theology have stuck to the science but it seems clear that science doesn’t sit comfortably with your claims either.

      • Yes, you are right, it will require a change in canon law, and given what has happened with the legislation on women bishops, it is well nigh impossible to imagine that this change would happen unless the C of E becomes a very different place indeed.

        This also adds another aspect to Alan’s case: he is arguing for something that is pretty unlikely to happen—and yet manages to couch his position as if it almost already has.

        • An alternative to changing canon law is to drop the (extra-canonical) ban on lesbian and gay clergy marrying and having loving sexual relationships, and allowing clergy to bless civil marriages between same-sex couples. The church would still define “marriage” as “man + woman,” but would tolerate dissent in practice.

          As the Church of England is already in full communion with churches that affirm, and marry, lesbian and gay couples (Canada & TEC via the Anglican Communion; the Nordic Lutheran churches via the Porvoo Communion) I don’t see any theological bar to extending tolerance domestically.

          • James, I am worried. As time goes by we appear to agree more!

            I don’t think the ban is ‘extra-canonical’ as you suggest, since marriage is defined in the canons as between one man and one woman, and is also defined thus in the liturgy, which holds Anglican doctrine. But you might be right: confirmation of doctrine and practical latitude around that is probably the only ‘solution’ to where we are at.

            However, I am not sure that Alan’s text gives any suggestion that he would settle for that though…

          • Dear James

            The Church is also in full communion with many churches that whilst accepting civil partnership refuse gay marriage and equally in communion with many churches that don’t accept either, so I don’t know where your comment takes you

          • Ian, praise be. 😀

            I don’t think we know how Wilson will respond, and in any case, he’s only one person. If an end to ‘Issues …’ and its discipline were on offer in exchange for keeping the marriage canon as-is, it’d be a major shift, and may well be accepted by the supporters of affirmation as a compromise position.

            Negotiation like this is, IMO, far more productive than two years of nebulous “shared conversations,” as it acknowledges power and gets the issues into the open.

            Clive, my point is, simply, that affirmation of LGB relationships is no bar to being in full communion. You’re right, the same holds true in reverse, but as vanishingly few in the affirming camp want to sever ties with traditionalists, that’s moot.

          • James, in that case ‘being in full communion’ is not a high bar. The C of E is, paradoxically, ‘in communion’ with a non-episcopal church, isn’t it?

    • Coming from the other side of this debate, I too am dismayed that most of us don’t get a vote. Ideally, this should be an open process that goes from PCCs upwards to General Synod.

      • I would agree with that…if our doctrine was decided by straw poll. I don’t think it is, and I don’t think Paul thought so either. He ‘passed on that which I have received’ and we need to do the same, interpreted afresh for every generation.

      • Do you mean that you are concerned about lay members of the Church of England not having a vote on destroying marriage?
        That is not surprising, bearing in mind that citizens of the UK have not had any vote about destroying marriage either, We were not consulted at the time of the last General election as this absurd policy was not mentioned by any of the political parties in their manifestos, In fact, only a few days before the election , David Cameron was asked on Fox News if he had any plans to introduce same-sex “marriage” and answered bluntly No. The electorate was deceived, and at the same time a massive media propaganda campaign has been waged telling you that only a “tiny rump” opposes it ,and that they consist of abhorrent bigots, haters, gay-bashers, people guilty of murdering poor little homosexuals and burying them under the patio. “Gutter bigotry” “vile prejudice and hate” are the very mildest terms you hear. Of course people have shifted in their views as nobody wants to be called a bigot.
        Then the homo-extremists keep re-iterating the twisted term “equal marriage” to make you feel that it is somehow fair to falsify marriage and unfair to be honest about it.
        Finally you give in to the advertising. Advertising works.

  10. The worshipful doctor’s arguments seem pretty solid to me.

    I’ve never bought the liberal Christian position that God is a fluffy gay-friendly bunny rabbit who was just being a bit cryptic when he inspired the authors of scripture to write what they wrote. If God exists, he definitely hates gay relationships. The condemnations in scripture are just too clear and concise to admit of any other explanation.

    Which is Bad News all round, really. God is a homophobe (i.e. a hater of gay sex) and I’m for the chop. Celibacy is unthinkable and I’m certainly not going to tell lies and pretend to be sorry for the sex I have. That would be dishonest. God may hate gay sex, but I do not. I like it immensely. So much in fact that I’ve had heaps of it in the past, and hope to have much more of it in the future.

    That being the case, I’m pretty much doomed, aren’t I?

    Unless it’s all total bunkum, of course.

    So let me see … on the one hand I have a homophobic God who’s going to roast me for all eternity. And on the other hand, I have no God at all, just a finite life to enjoy while I can.

    And you wonder why your “Good News” falls on deaf ears in the LGBT community. Or why it’s altered beyond all recognition to provide us with an out clause. I can see why Bishop Alan wants us to believe that we’re not all for the chop, but ultimately his arguments just don’t stack up, so it comes back to the basic choice between God or no God. Judgment or oblivion, in effect.

    I choose oblivion. From the range of choices on offer, it’s by far the most attractive.

    • “Celibacy is unthinkable”

      Seriously? Why can’t you be celibate?

      I want to suggest that it is perfectly possible to be celibate, many people manage it happily. The issue is that you don’t *want* to be celibate.

      • The issue about celibacy is that it is a calling, not something you want or don’t want to be. If you are not called to celibacy, who would you want to be celibate?

        • So if I’m not called to celibacy I don’t have to be?

          What if someone said to you they weren’t called to monogamy? Does that mean they can be polygamous? Or does the logic only work when it suits you?

          Please show me ANYWHERE in the Bible where it is abdundantly clear that celibacy is only for those who are called to it.

          • Sadly you are comparing apples with pears Peter and have a somewhat selectvie view of logic. Show me the law in this country that enforces celibacy.
            Show me ANYWHERE in the bible where it is abundantly clear that being a priest in the Church of England is only for those who are called to it.
            And if we are looking ANYWHERE in the bible, monogamy has a somewhat checkered history……

          • You didn’t actually answer my question. But then you never do do you? It’s probably because you understand the logic of my argument and don’t want to engage with it. As always.

          • You didn’t really have a sensible question to answer Peter. That’s the point of my reply. I realise you don’t like that being pointed out, but you are welcome to respond to my answer.

          • The point, of course, is that the bible does not answer all our questions…..
            And that polygamy is not legal here…..and is a red herring/straw man.

        • Andrew: like monogamy and divorce, the concept of celibacy exists only in relation to marriage. To be celibate is to recognise marriage as the only proper environment for sexual expression, and to choose to not marry.

          You have reversed the relationship between marriage and celibacy, so as to suppose marriage to be something people do when they do not wish to be celibate.

    • Your comments are off-topic and childish. This is a discussion of whether Alan Wilson’s arguments are convincing as Christian theology. Clearly you do not believe in God so why are you imposing yourself on us?
      Any LGBT website would immediately ban and delete the comments of someone who did not fit in with their ideology. Why don’t you go to one of them instead of aggressively pushing in here?
      You jump in a confused way from the question of whether two people of the same sex can be regarded as a husband and wife (they can’t) to the question of whether homosexuality in any form is approved by Christian theology, and from there you jump to “hate” assuming that morality and hatred are the same thing. That is utterly childish and it is only too typical of people like you. Accusing everyone of “hate” is one of the trite clichés of LGBT-ism.

  11. Do you get your science education from Core Issues Trust? Peter Ould? It will certainly be news to the APA, AMA, BMA, and the Royal College that sexual orientation is easily changeable. You seem to like this word “fluid” but it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Bisexuals are “fluid” – gays and lesbians aren’t. Do you consider heterosexuality to be some unstable as well? Are you likely to turn gay?
    You sound like a creationist or global warming denier.

    • ‘etseq’ actually Peter is getting his science from leading gay lobbyists. Have a look at this video

      where Lisa Diamond, a leading gay figure working on the science, explains the longitudinal studies which show ‘orientation’ is not stable. On the basis of this, she argues that the gay lobby should stop talking about orientation, and instead talk about choice, and should abandon all notion of ‘gay identity.’

          • # Now I Believe In Miracles/ And A Miracle/ Has Happened Tonight 😉

            As transgendered people aren’t used as grounds to accept discrimination on the basis of sex, I don’t see what bearing fluid sexuality in a small minority has on opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We don’t oppose racism because race is fixed, but because racism is a damaging belief with no rational justification. Same goes for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, whatever that orientation may be.

        • Actually, the work Lisa Diamond has done would suggest that, certainly amongst women, those who identify as exclusively homosexual are actually incredibly bisexual in practice.

      • Its difficult to take you seriously when you use words like “gay lobbyist” to describe a well respected academic. I’d suggest not relying on Peter Ould for these silly “gotcha” type arguments, which amount to quote mining studies out of context. These games may play well in evangelical circles where science is viewed as a giant liberal conspiracy but outside of that bubble, you just look silly and quite petty.

        • Do read carefully. I describe her as ‘a leading gay figure working on the science’ and indeed she is a respected academic. The point is she is not pushing a ‘conservative view.’

          But you appear to think that her research should not be taken note of since it has been taken out of context…??

    • I don’t think you should adopt that condescending tone,
      For a start there is some evidence that people’s sexual orientation can be changed if you don’t leave it too late.
      You are just reciting LGBT dogmas which are fake science.
      Nobody is born “gay” and what has been chosen can be altered.
      Since the intolerant PC brigade kick out all the psychologists who think that it can change, then the result is an APA that is unanimous – and meaningless. And such a result is what we have got,.
      As for man-made global warming, only yesterday another leading climate scientist came out and said that it is a complete myth, .

    • Peter Tatchell has long publicly argued that homosexuality is not innate. He has lengthy articles about it on his website. So don’t sneer at Peter Ould and the Core Issues Trust in that con.descending way

  12. Responding to Adam’s point it’s worth noting that Gushee’s published comments were demolished by Rob Gagnon. When he found he was unable to deal with Gagnon’s points Gushee simply refused to engage with him which was unforgivable for a top academic prof. But there is a common thread with Gushhee, Wilson and others in that they avoid dealing with the arguments and instead focus on revisionism and special pleading whilst getting angry with people who dare to disagree with them. A familiar political strategy from certain polemical groups but shocking to see them being employed by a bishop.

  13. Well, whatever the longitudinal studies may or may not say, my ‘orientation’ seems pretty stable. I’m 50 and have been gay my whole life. I’ve never once experienced sexual attraction to any woman, nor do I wish to. I’m comfortable with who I am, I see no harm in it and certainly cannot see any need to alter myself or my behavior to satisfy the moral imperatives of a few diehard and doctrinaire Christians.

    Yes, celibacy is unthinkable. I enjoy sex as a vital component of the love I feel for my partner. As a frank and honest heterosexual Australian couple recently stated in front of the Pope and his family synod:

    “The little things we did for each other, the telephone calls and love notes, the way we planned our day around each other and the things we shared were outward expressions of our longing to be intimate with each other … Gradually we came to see that the only feature that distinguishes our sacramental relationship from that of any other good Christ-centered relationship is sexual intimacy, and that marriage is a sexual sacrament with its fullest expression in sexual intercourse.”

    Sex maketh the marriage. Without it, all you have is friendship. There’s nothing wrong with friendship and we all need friends. But most of us also need a marriage partner. I see no reason why I should be denied that possibility because of a few ancient stories for which no convincing corroborating evidence exists. Should the fact that you believe in these stories limit the choices I’m able to make? I don’t believe it should and the societies we live in share that view, as evidenced by the trend towards liberalisation of marriage laws across the Western world.

    Of course those who wish to pursue celibacy are perfectly free to do so. But nobody should be forced into it against his will in order to conform to a moral code he doesn’t share.

    I see no reason to be celibate and certainly won’t give up sex just to satisfy other people’s moral convictions. The only thing that might persuade me to do so would be to see some proof that the sex I have harms me and the man I have it with. But despite the best efforts of the “natural law” brigade, no such evidence has ever been forthcoming. Their best effort so far has been to tell me horror stories about AIDS and hepatitis and anal prolapse. But straights aren’t immune from these kinds of problems either. Indeed vaginal prolapse, which is directly linked to heterosexual intercourse, affects up to a third of sexually active straight women, while it’s virtually unheard of amongst lesbians. So on this basis should I conclude that heterosexual intercourse is condemned by God too?

    Show me some proof that your God exists and hates the sex I have with my partner and I might take your calls to celibacy a little more seriously. I might stop having sex out of sheer fright, but my obedience would be coming from a place of fear and resentment. I’d be like a North Korean praising and obeying his Glorious Leader out of sheer terror. And how many North Koreans really love Kim Jong-un, I wonder?

    • I think this is a fascinating quotation:

      ‘Gradually we came to see that the only feature that distinguishes our sacramental relationship from that of any other good Christ-centered relationship is sexual intimacy, and that marriage is a sexual sacrament with its fullest expression in sexual intercourse.’

      since Alan appears to be arguing exactly against this. All relationships are ‘sexual’ to some degree (he says), and same-sex marriages have no distinct form of sexual union in contrast to male-female marriage, nor should they.

      I agree with you on this, against Alan I think.

      • Yes but you’ve misunderstood the point Alan is making there. When is a relationship sexual? When people hold hands? When they kiss? When they sit together watching TV?
        So Ian what do YOU think is a sexual relationship?

        • I am not sure I have misunderstood; I think it is a nonsense question. How many whiskers do I need to have a beard? It’s impossible to answer. But we do not conclude from that that there is no difference between bearded men and non-bearded men. Nor do we way ‘All men are in fact bearded.’

          Scripture invites us to distinguish between sexual and non-sexual relationships, and sets out patterns which protect certain relationships from sexualisation. To ditch this because we cannot name a number of whiskers which make a beard i think is just silly.

          • I agree, Ian, that wiseass definition games aren’t convincing. Sexual relationships are clear enough.

            Thing is, the bishops lack the courage of their convictions. They would never tolerate a married presbyter booting his wife out and setting up house with his mistress if he promised to abstain from “genital acts.” Such legalistic dishonesty would be viewed as the farce it is.

            Yet they do tolerate gay priests having “lodgers,” even allow them to contract a civil partnership, on the pretense that it’s a “friendship,” a pretense that can be honestly held only by a bishop neck-deep in denial.

            If the episcopate truly object to lesbian and gay relationships on scriptural grounds — which condemns adultery in the heart as strongly as the act itself — they should be prepared to follow through, and ban all same-sex relationships based on sexual attraction, for both clergy and laity. If they don’t, then this is realpolitik, not theology, and can have no defense.

          • We are agreeing again! Actually, there was a technical reason why the bishops could not oppose those in civil partnerships: they were legally framed not to presume sexual relationships, which led to protest from siblings.

            But it turns out, of course, that the Government were lying in this. I don’t think that is the bishops’ fault. In fact, I think the church should be supporting covenant friendship as advocated by Wes Hill and others at Spiritual Friendship.

          • I agree that the Labour administration were disingenuous, but that disingenuity was joined in by all parties, including the bishops in the House of Lords. It was a legal fiction to introduce same-sex marriage in all but name.

            If the church is to have “covenanted friendships,” would you exclude same-gender couples who’re sexually attracted to one another?

      • “I agree with you on this, against Alan I think.”

        I haven’t read his book so I don’t know exactly what Bishop Alan believes, but if he really thinks that all relationships are sexual, I don’t agree with that. And I don’t agree with it vigorously.

        I have good female friends but I can tell you quite categorically that there’s nothing sexual at all about our relationships. We’re good friends, I enjoy their company, we like to do things together. Sex is not one of those things.

        If he wants to argue that underneath the conscious layer of friendship there’s something sexual going on, well all I can say is that I’ve heard such Californian-style psycho-babble before and I think it says a lot more about the person saying it than the person at whom it’s directed. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about bisexuals in the past, it’s that they seem to be convinced that everyone is bisexual and that gays really do fancy women deep down, but they just won’t admit it. Which is nothing more than fatuous nonsense in my opinion. (BTW I make no claims about the sexuality of Bishop Alan, just that the people who claim we’re all bisexual generally turn out to be bisexuals themselves, but perhaps he’s the exception that proves the rule. I really don’t know.)

        I know I’m not bisexual because I have pretty convincing clinical proof of it. A few years ago, I participated in one of those studies where they project quick-fire imagery onto a screen before your eyes and measure your physiological response to it. Most of the images were of everyday objects, but randomly interwoven with both male and female erotic images. A month or so after the test when all the data had been analyzed and I went back to find out “how I did”, they showed me a bunch of stats that didn’t convey much information to my untrained eye, but one particularly interesting summary graph that did.

        It was a graph illustrated my body’s response to various types of imagery. Images of men had me exploding off the top of the chart. Images of various other animate and inanimate objects showed (rather interestingly, I thought) a slightly varied response. Most had me flatlining (including letterboxes, egg whisks, any image of a human being under the age of 25, cats, dogs and, much to my relief, porcupines…), but a couple of images showed a definite blip, which they explained by saying that some inanimate objects can be consciously or unconsciously associated with sexual feelings and therefore provoke a physiological response.

        The one that stood out for me was a lamp post, which puzzled me slightly even when you take into account the obvious phallic connotations. I’m not aware of any particular attraction to lamp posts and I don’t wander about the city sidling up to them and making advances. But who knows, maybe a lamp post featured prominently in the mise en scène of a porn magazine shoot I looked at as an impressionable teenager, or something. Go figure…

        Anyway, apart from the question mark hanging over lamp posts, what interested me most about the results was my reaction, or rather total absence of reaction, to erotic imagery of women. They were right down there with letterboxes, egg whisks, grapefruit etc. So no Bishop Alan, I am not bisexual, to the point where I’d rather have sex with a lamp post than a woman. When you take into account the risk of splinter injury and friction burn, I think that says something rather emphatic about my sexuality, don’t you?

        Of course I don’t know that Bishop Alan makes any kind of claim that we’re all bisexual in his book as I haven’t read it. Perhaps I’ve just misunderstood the reference made to it by our Worshipful Reverend Dr Paul, DPhil, KG, OBE, SGM, MSYP… But I can certainly refute the claim that all relationships are sexual, or that we’re all closet bisexuals, or that gays really desire women and are just fooling themselves. Unless I’m fooling myself to the point of being able to control my own body’s unconscious physiological responses, I’m gay. It doesn’t matter how I became gay. Was I born that way? Did my mother make me a homosexual (and then a scarf and a cosy pair of mittens with the leftover wool)? Was I sexually abused as a child by a man disguised as a lamp post? Who knows? What’s important is that I’m gay now, I always have been, and I don’t see why the disapproval of a vanishingly small minority of uptight evangelical Christians who don’t like that fact should affect my life and choices in any way.

    • Nobody here or in Wilson’s book has told you to alter your behaviour, this is an argument about whether a marriage can exist without a man and a woman.
      It can’t.
      Going on about yourself is a red herring, it reveals your egotism and contributes nothing to the discussion.

  14. Given what has been said before this needs to be clearly said.

    The CofE, like other Churches, holds a variety of views within it. No one view probably has the majority. It’s probably a bit like countrywide political parties.

    It is extremely clear now that there is no meaningful evidence supporting the claim that those who believe in marriage as being between a man and a woman are in the minority. No actual evidence supports this claim. Even the current law makes that marriage different to others. Much more than that it is quite possible that people who believe in the New Testament particularly (and add the Old Testment as God revealed in Israel’s history) are actually the majority in the CofE.

    With James B I haven’t even got onto the scientifically difficult subject (and it is difficult) of relating the % in the general population to the % in the Church.

    I could listen to Etienne’s views on same sex relationships for a long time. I can be supportive and open to same sex relationships, but that is not the same as discarding marriage as being between a man and a woman. Marriage is now being so destroyed that it is unlikely that my wife and I will celebrate our major anniversaries in public (we are coming up to 35 years) but instead retreat to an entirely private celebration. That is how much marriage has been destroyed.

    The Pilling conversations haven’t really begun and yet the CofE has started splitting apart on the subject. Strangely, the House of Bishops has had the first round of conversations but there is no evidence that marriage has been included. All the names I can find have only discussed same sex relationships. This strange because the conversations are supposed to be about marriage and same sex marriage, but marriage seems to be excluded.

    The evidence, what little there is, would seem to indicate that those who believe in the Bible in the CofE are in the majority of regular churchgoers, but I acknowledge that there are a variety of views on what the Bible means. Nonetheless, Bp Alan Wilson’s attempt to dismiss the Bible is probably not going to work for the majority of churchgoers.

    • “Marriage is now being so destroyed that it is unlikely that my wife and I will celebrate our major anniversaries in public (we are coming up to 35 years) but instead retreat to an entirely private celebration.”

      Very poignant. In effect, the law has sent out a legal/social signal telling all husbands that there is no difference between their wife and a man, and telling all wives that there is no difference between their husband and a woman. We are being told our sex – our foundational identity – is worthless.

        • I am not (yet) a Christian, but I think I understand your point – Galatians 3:28?

          In ‘The Body’s Grace’, Rowan Williams journeyed from a) man’s perspective of man to b) Christ’s perspective of man to c) a new man’s perspective of man. He set off with a body-based perspective, and returned with a spirit-based one. Somewhere along the journey he left the body behind. Big mistake: without the body, the journey could not have been made.

          • Hi Daniel,

            would just say I don’t recognise ‘The Body’s Grace’ from that description…

            in friendship, Blair

    • The idea of a bunch of bishops sitting around ‘sharing’ their sexuality puts me in mind of dogs sniffing each other’s genitals in the street; it is an embarrassment which brings the CofE hierarchy to a new low. In my experience heterosexual men are naturally (and rightly) disinclined to discuss their sex lives with each other in any detail, and the idea that Church leaders are now obsessed with this area of life and particularly interested in gay sex will be another nail in the coffin of male membership of our churches.

      The Pilling ‘shared’ conversations were never a good idea and now, having been reduced to the ridiculous farce of ‘good disagreement’, are utterly dead in the water. Already people are publicly announcing their refusal to participate in the process. If, nevertheless, this nonsense is continued for the next 2 years the Church of England may well be mortally weakened.

    • “No actual evidence supports this claim [that a majority oppose same-sex marriage].”

      Depends on what you count as “actual evidence,” Clive. Multiple opinion polls have found majority support for equal marriage in the UK. You can of course question how they’re conducted, but that’s the best evidence we have to go on.

      Even if you’re right, and a majority of Britons oppose allowing gay couples to marry, the margin is clearly a small one; and in any case, majority support doesn’t decide a position’s merits, although it does of course have practical consequences.

      • Correction to the above: that should read, “[that a majority support same-sex marriage],” sorry for the mistake Clive. 🙂

        • Dear James

          I claimed that YOU didn’t have the evidence to support your claims. I didn’t claim any evidence, but in the absence of evidence I showed how the % of those who believe in the Bible could easily be the majority.

          You still haven’t related the % in some kind of general population with the % in church at all. So when you wrote:
          “Multiple opinion polls have found majority support for equal marriage in the UK. You can of course question how they’re conducted, but that’s the best evidence we have to go on.” … you are actually muddling up the % in some kind of general population with the % in church. So you still haven’t engaged in the science.

          You don’t have the real evidence to support your claims.

          • Etienne (12th October, below), to my great shock and consternation is actually correct that the boat is already sinking. Pilling hasn’t even started but the practice run with the Bishops wants to seem to exclude marriage which is weird. Those in support of SSM in Church don’t seem to want Pilling to happen at all and at least one of the other groups is now threatening to not participate unless Pilling’s intentions are restored.

            The ship is indeed sinking.

          • Clive, you said above, “Further it is odd that the UK whilst being around 90% in favour of Civil Partnership is 60% against same sex marriage. Therefore Bp Alan Wilson is completely wrong by the facts …”

            That’s a factual claim, isn’t it, and one about the British population, not just English Anglicans. If you’re restricting you comment to the Church of England, you may well be right about a majority being opposed to equal marriage, although then again, maybe not.

          • Dear James

            I stand by what I said about Bp Alan Wilson and you have completely failed to come with any facts to support his assertion that those who oppose same sex marriage in the church are a tiny minority / rump.

          • To be clear bp Alan Wilson’s assertion that those who oppose same sex marriage in the church are a tiny minority / rump IS the factual claim.

      • There you are again repeating that nonsensical phrase “equal marriage”. Same-sex marriage isn’t more “equal” it’s just less of a marriage. It’s DEFECTIVE.
        By endlessly repeating it you are helping to brainwash the general public who have an innocent assumption equality must be a good thing/
        In 2010 even among homosexuals there was little or no interest in getting their relationships called “marriage”. Stonewall wasn’t asking for it. Peter Tatchell never supported it. None of t he “gay” magazines had campaigned for it.
        But then a tiny group of well-funded, headstrong extremists launched their plan, and part of that was to flood the media with the idea that a large majority wanted it, and that anybody who opposed it was “homophobic” an “abhorrent bigot”, “intolerant”, a “hater” and a “gay-basher”. By repeating this and adding the mantra “equal marriage” they have bullied people into changing their minds.

  15. Clive, you’ll have to show me the bit of the equal marriage law that forbids you from celebrating your wedding anniversary in public. I must have missed that page when reading through the newly passed act of Parliament.

    Seriously though, I don’t think any Harvester or Travelodge would turn down your booking for a wedding anniversary bash. Or were you thinking of mounting a parade through the streets of your town, complete with a brass band, cheerleaders and a fireworks display? Now THAT you may have problems with. Would your local authority agree to ban all cars from the roads just because you’ve managed to stay married for three and a half decades? Should the public purse pick up the bill for policing, cleaning and waste disposal for such an event? If you can answer yes to these questions, then I can recommend a good counselor who specializes in entitlement issues. Unless you’re a member of the royal family of course, although with their poor marriage record, a 35 year anniversary seems unlikely. For the parade-worthy ones, at least.

    No, I rather suspect that you’re just a common garden Englishman suffering from a condition commonly known as sour grapes. Now that gays and lesbians have got what you’ve had for so long, you’ve decided it isn’t worth having any more, haven’t you? After all, what’s the point of marriage if it doesn’t make you feel superior to your gay neighbour? So I’m not surprised that you now disdain all public celebration of it.

    In effect, now that the outer walls have fallen, you’ve retreated into a keep named Holy Matrimony and are preparing to defend it to the death, aren’t you? Only there’s dissent in your ranks and some of the people holed up in there with you keep on trying to lower the drawbridge and let the evil hordes inside. They’ll eventually succeed of course, because history shows us that no fortress is impregnable over time. But perhaps you’ll be able to resist them for a couple more years. In the meantime, enjoy your private anniversary party up there in your self-appointed prison. As no gays will be allowed, I’m not expecting an invitation. But I hope you have as nice a time as your sense of grievance and outraged privilege will allow.

    • The tone of Etienne’s lengthy comments is sneering, aggressive and offensive. He comes over as a nasty, big-headed and rather dim person.
      True man-woman marriage is not a “privilege” it is a basic human right.
      Sex is heterosexual. Heterosexuality is normal and natural. Marriage rightly honours that and heterosexuals do not have to justify their monopoly on the institution of marriage to any deviants, whether homosexual, necrophiliac, zoophile or whatever.
      Homosexuals have not “got what we have got”. They have merely attached the same name to something sterile, unnatural and generally transient. The average civil partnership lasts 18 months. In France there are already more gay divorces than marriages! What a f arce.
      The law in this country was fiddled by devious means, wholly undemocratic, and I am one of t he large majority who does not regard same-sex marriage as legal. If invited to one of these farcical affairs I would pointedly refuse.

    • Sorry, but you don’t have what we’ve had. Those framing the same Sex Marriage Act 2013 took pains to ensure that marriage did not confer same-sex couples with the presumption of parenthood found in other jurisdictions, such as California. Personally, I blame the compromise on the Tories.

      You say that ‘no fortress is impregnable over time’. Indeed, that’s probably why, after the debacle of In: Re: M.C. where a child became a ward of the State in order to support the parental claims of the birth mother’s lesbian spouse, California went on to further legislate for three-parent families.

      Well. that’s not so much scaling a fortress as sliding down a slippery slope.

      The real prison is Schedule 4 Part 2 of the Same Sex Marriage Act 2013 that prevents same-sex couples from being automatically recognized through marriage as founders of autonomous family units and co-parents of the birth mother’s children. And here’s the really good bit: it’s all perfectly in line with the Equality Act 2010:

      ‘Common law presumption:

      (1) Section 11 does not extend the common law presumption that a child born to a woman during her marriage is also the child of her husband.
      (2) Accordingly, where a child is born to a woman during her marriage to another woman, that presumption is of no relevance to the question of who the child’s parents are.

      Unlike in California, Parenthood will not be conferred on same-sex partners through marriage. That means that Alternative Families (including three-, four- and five-parent models) will continue to involve the usual rigmarole of consent forms via IVF, surrogacy or adoption…which is a lot less confusing for the kids who know they came from Mum and Dad.

      Oh, well. Enjoy the pyrrhic victory!

  16. As someone who is a tax accountant and not a theologian, I would add two comments:
    (1) I am used to accepting the written text of rules, whether tax law or the Bible. I find it sad when anyone, let alone my new diocesan bishop, appears to explain away what seems to me to be clear teaching. If you can delete some bits of the Bible, what is to stop the deletion of all of it?
    (2) In debate and investigation, I look for a hierarchy of argument. Those who have logical fact-based arguments, tend to use them and deserve to be heard. Those who do not, will resort to emotional rhetoric. Those who cannot even manage that, resort to insults. Referring to people as “vague, stupid and inadequate” is itself enough to suggest to me that the criticism has no factual basis.

  17. Hi Ian,

    erm, think you might want to check this comment you made above:

    “Actually, there was a technical reason why the bishops could not oppose those in civil partnerships: they were legally framed not to presume sexual relationships, which led to protest from siblings.”

    “But it turns out, of course, that the Government were lying in this.”

    I think this is is both factually untrue, and that it doesn’t make sense. CPs were not “legally framed not to presume sexual relationships” – the ‘prohibited degrees’ of relationship for contracting a CP are exactly the same as those for civil marriage, which rather implies an expectation (at least) that the relationship would be sexual. And surely siblings only protested (if they did….) exactly because of that expectation? If you were right about CPs, surely siblings would have been able to contract them?

    If you doubt this you could see here….

    I’d also suggest that it wasn’t that the government lied, but more that they gave vague assurances which some bishops grasped on to – maybe from naivety, wilful or otherwise, or maybe from political necessity…?

    in friendship, Blair

    • Thanks for the correction, Blair. I suspect that what I say above is the bishops’ account of what happened. I need to go back and re-read Andrew Goddard’s very good Grove booklet on the subject…!

      I think I am right to recollect that, at the time, the Government had no plans to introduce gay marriage, as part of the reassurances. And of course it is interesting to speculate that, if CPs were ‘gay marriage in all but name’, why we needed gay marriage…?

      • Hi Ian,

        I think you’re right that the govt of the time claimed it had no plans to bring in gay marriage… but in fairness this was the Labour administration, and in fact they didn’t (granted I can’t remember if their 2010 manifesto said they would if returned to office). The coalition’s reasons for introducing it weren’t that clear in some ways – though it was evident that this was about advancing equality for them even if it was done in an incoherent manner (I’d suggest).
        in friendship, Blair

        • No, there was no manifesto commitment, and no real reason given that ‘marriage’ conferred no new rights.

          But I do recall that siblings protested strongly about their exclusion from CPs, so it was not just wishful bishops who had understood that CPs were much more general than marriage, at least in principle.

          • Hi Ian,
            just very briefly – I would question your words that “siblings protested strongly about their exclusion from CPs”. Could you cite any references or evidence? My (cynical / uncharitable) hunch is that sections of the media whipped up the stories of a few sets of siblings into a ‘protest’, but chiefly because they wanted to derail the CP Act. & at the risk of picking nits, CPs were not “much more general than marriage”, given that the prohibited degrees of relationship for contracting a CP are the same as for civil marriage, as I said before.
            in friendship, Blair

  18. Ian, can I pick up on your comment on Alan Wilson’s suggestion that “‘Relationships are better judged by their fruit than their configuration’ (p 34), a comment which simply sidesteps any discussion on the connection between form and virtue—and presumably would allow polyamourous and incestuous relationships as long as they were ‘permanent, faithful and stable’”? To focus on incest, surely the reason it is generally unlawful as well as undesirable is because it so often has bad fruit, in particular harming the vulnerable and/or disrupting family relationships? For instance, surely there is enough evidence to attest to the damage which can result if it is regarded as unproblematic for a father’s play with his daughter to be a form of grooming?

    Likewise, Peter, when you write, ‘One might ask “Does Baal worship do any harm?”. The answer of course is equally no’ – implying that Baal worship in the Bible often results in deepening faithful self-giving love, bringing joy and peace etc, this is not my understanding! Surely the Bible portrays the problems which arise when people follow false gods which not only cannot save (Isaiah 44.9-20) but also serve to supposedly sanctify all kinds of injustice and cruelty, to the extent of child sacrifice (Jeremiah 19.4-6)?

    • Savi,

      Are you using a very old passage in the Bible to argue against Baal worship? Don’t you know that the writers of the Old Testament had no understanding of 21st Century Baal worship which is holistic and brings joy and peace to its adherents. Why are you being so bigoted imposing a Bronze Age text upon a modern practice which is very different from the abusive Baal worship we see condemned in the Scripture?

    • Savi,

      It’s interesting that while you’ve decried the demonization of permanent, faithful and stable same-sex relationships between consenting adults, you have no problem typifying the ‘bad fruit’ of incest with the example:

      ‘surely there is enough evidence to attest to the damage which can result if it is regarded as unproblematic for a father’s play with his daughter to be a form of grooming’.

      1. Anyone could focus on the worst examples to demonise a particular sexual predisposition. It’s called negative stereotyping. The fact is we’re talking about consenting adults. Genetic sexual attraction is medically acknowledged to occur between adult family members who meet after being separated shortly after birth. No grooming has to be involved. Genetic screening can eliminate the threat of inbreeding depression.

      Incest is prohibited because its outcomes can contradict the responsibilities of beneficial natural kinship.

      2. If the issue behind prohibition is the disruption of family relationships, I could cite the many cases in which a willing father’s natural paternity has been denied by legally prioritizing same-sex marriage as evidence of legal parenthood.

      The duty to automatically recognize same-sex married partners as founders of an autonomous family unit undermines the rights of natural fathers and right of the child to its natural identity.

      Again, we see an outcome that contradicts the responsibilities of beneficial natural kinship.

      • I can also cite many cases in which a willing father’s natural paternity has been denied by prioritizing opposite-sex marriage as proof of legal parenthood.

        How many divorced fathers have lost custody of their children to their wife’s new husband?

        How many fathers of children conceived during one night stands and subsequently given up for adoption by their mothers without the father’s consent have ended up being adopted by opposite-sex couples? The natural father’s paternity rights are trampled upon no matter who does the trampling. And yet you don’t use this as an argument against opposite-sex marriage.

        Of course you don’t. Because these children’s sole importance to you is as a weapon in your campaign to re-normalize homophobia. If you really cared about their fate and the paternal rights of natural fathers, you’d be campaigning to outlaw all adoptions regardless of the gender of the parents.

        • Etienne:

          ‘I can also cite many cases in which a willing father’s natural paternity has been denied by prioritizing opposite-sex marriage as proof of legal parenthood.’

          In respect of the presumption of paternity, we are talking about the burden of proving legal parenthood. The legal onus is not on the husband, but on any outsider who challenges the husband’s paternal claims. The presumption of paternity is still rebuttable by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.


          1. The fact that the presumption is rebuttable allows it to be contested in court. Your reference to the denial of natural paternity only proves that there’s no guarantee that further ‘best interests’ considerations might prevent a such a man from gaining legal paternity.

          In contrast, for same-sex couples, the presumption of parenthood through marriage would have to be conclusive and invulnerable to contradictory genetic evidence.

          2. Citing custody disputes is irrelevant because losing custody of children doesn’t mean that a man gives up his legal paternity.

          3. You speciously cite the example of men who paternal rights are trampled on after a one-night stand. That’s fairly desperate, given that such an example shows little evidence of willing paternity.

          4. In contrast to simply using marriage to usurp the natural father’s parenthood, a pre-cursor to adoption is the consent of birth parents.

          In contrast, we can see a trend to demand co-parenthood without the father’s consent in these cases:

          One partner in lesbian couple conceived via intercourse with biological father:

          Lesbian partner conceives by intercourse with biological father (her partner’s brother)

          Lesbian couple used informal assisted reproduction to conceive child with known biological father:

          UK lesbian couple used IVF to conceive two children by a gay couple from Boston. They then fought over custody arrangements

          What is notable in the last case, is that both couples tried to rely on traditional two-parent orthodoxy: the kind that marriage delivers.

          The lesbian couple claimed that the gay couple represented ‘an invasion of the life of a nuclear family’. In other words, in spite of their non-traditional procreative arrangements, both couples wanted the court to apply the traditional two-parent model, in the case of the respondents reducing the biological father to a peripheral role.

          In particular, marriage then becomes the ‘tie-breaker’ bolstering the claims that one couple in these alternative same-sex arrangements should be accorded the same legal priority as those who follow the traditional nuclear family model.

          As Hedley J commented, “In the traditional model they would have a point; that is why grandparents and other relatives usually need the permission of the court to apply for contact. But they do not have a nuclear family in the traditional sense; their model does not encompass what these parties chose to agree and do…”

        • To Etienne.
          Your messages are getting increasingly aggressive and hostile. The objection to same-sex adoption is not because of t he supposed rights of an unmarried father , but because of the rights and welfare of the children. A child has a right to a mother and a father, a parent of each sex, which is what nature gives us. In deciding how to place a child we consult the welfare of the child, NOT some imaginary “right” to adopt or “right” to be considered equal, which simply does not exist. Different behaviour categories are different not the same, and so the very term “equal marriage” (a cliche people like you push into every sentence) is a false and misleading one that clouds the issue.
          I remember reading a discussion online about same-sex adoption and when the Christians started to talk about the rights of t he child, the homosexists got more and more abusive, and started to say that people like us should be beaten and killed.
          It showed so clearly what lousy parents they would make, it was almost funny.

      • Hello David,
        if you’ll excuse me butting in on your reply to Savi…. would just say that I don’t really see the force of your point (1), given your summary that “Incest is prohibited because its outcomes can contradict the responsibilities of beneficial natural kinship”, which is not unadjacent to what Savi said.
        Re your point (2) – that’s not (I suggest) an argument against same-sex relationships per se, but against the way that same-sex marriage legislation has been worked out in the UK, and as such perhaps there’d be a way of addressing your point while still allowing legal parity for same-sex couples?
        in friendship, Blair

        • Hi Blair,

          1. Savi attempted to distinguish the reasons for prohibiting incest from those that formerly prohibited same-sex marriage. She focused on a grooming stereotype that is not only unrepresentative, but also might suggest that incest between consensual adults could be okay.

          In fact, the real reasons for disqualifying incestuous couples from marriage are consonant with those behind the former disqualification of same-sex couples from marriage. They both contradict the responsibilities of beneficial natural kinship.

          2. You’re right that my point (2) was not an argument against same-sex relationships per se.

          Nevertheless, my explanation about marriage relates to the very legal parity that you support. The fact is that marriage is as much about founding an autonomous family unit as it is about affirming the couple’s relationship as a valid part of our society.

          In the UK, Schedule 4 of the Same-Sex marriage Act 2013 addressed this point.

          It just means that in the UK (unlike elsewhere), we realize that the danger of granting full legal parity to same-sex couples is that marriage grants formal recognition as founders of autonomous family units at the expense of the natural parents. I still doubt that this part of the Act will be resilient to challenge.

          From a religious perspective, proponents and opponents of same-sex relations differ over whether we can follow Christ in making further deductions about marriage from Genesis beyond God’s intention for it to be a permanent and binary relationship. Jesus’ declaration dispensed with all regulations subsequent to Genesis (including those governing divorce) as provisional accommodations.

          I would say that although sexual desire may lead to polygamy or divorce, I deduce, as Christ did, that these results are not part of God’s intention for marriage. By the same reasoning process, I would deduce from Genesis that sexual differentiation is an equally valid component of God’s intention for marriage.

          It is here that LGB advocates in the church step in and claim that such a deduction from Genesis is invalid because, different from all other understandable prohibitions, treating same-sex relationships that exhibit mutual devotion as unworthy of honour is a prejudiced and unreasonable imposition.

          ‘Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.’ (Gen. 4:2 – 5)

          While Cain might have heard stories of how God had sacrificed animals to clothe his parents after expulsion from Eden, he still couldn’t see any point in following this pattern in his offerings to God. He fashioned his sacrifice on what He was and he was understandably, but not justifiably angry that his offering was not being honoured equally.

          Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:6 – 7)

          May God help us to listen to that final exhortation to abandon this anger.

  19. “If, nevertheless, this nonsense is continued for the next 2 years the Church of England may well be mortally weakened.”

    Weakened? It seems to me that I’m witnessing something a little more profound than that. I only have to take a very small step backwards to see the Church of England breaking up before my eyes. Most of you are too close to one particular faction to see the whole picture. But when you widen your field of view, the whole situation has “Titanic” written all over it. Only less epic.

    You could view me as being part of the iceberg that’s just ripped your hull to shreds below the waterline. As my friends and I drift away with a slight scrape along our flank, but otherwise undamaged, and watch you start to sink beneath the waves, what’s most interesting to us is the panicked scramble for the lifeboats.

    Conservatives seem to have a pretty well-developed survival instinct and they’ve already clambered over the shocked liberals and made off with all the lifeboats. There’s a little fleet of them labeled “Gafcon” huddling a short distance away from the doomed ship and every now and again another one will break away from the shuddering hulk and slowly row towards them. The last one had the word ACNA painted on its side. There don’t seem to be any more. So the bulk of the passengers left on the stricken ship now have nowhere left to go.

    But wait a moment, there’s another ship hoving into view! Yes, there it is, slowly and painfully picking its way through the ice field, battered and dented, but still afloat. It’s flying a white and yellow flag and it looks like the captain is Argentinian. There he goes, madly signaling to all the flotsam being tossed about in their rickety little boats. “Come on board” he’s shouting…

    Some are rowing towards him. Others are hanging back. And on the last part of Titanic’s upper deck still remaining above the water line, the party goes on. “This ship can’t sink!” they cry as the water laps about their ankles. “God himself could not sink this ship!”

    Cue a long-faced and mournful chanteuse Québécoise: “…and mah hearrrt weel go ahn and aaaaahn!” she warbles, as pseudo-Irish flutey nonsense fades away into a final “glugg, glugg, glugg”!

    • I guess ‘mortally weakened’ was my anodyne way of implying a slow death rather than a quick and painless end. But you’re right: humanly speaking the end of the CofE (as we know it) is inevitable unless there is a very rapid change of direction from the leadership.

      However, even though the CofE at its core currently has doctrines which well support the evangelical position, Evanglicals have never needed and been wedded to the organisation in the way that the liberals and higher church groupings are. Evangelicals will stay until they have to leave and then they will leave – simple – and then the CofE will become a very sad organisation. It is a distressing state of affairs for which we in the church all share some degree of blame.

      As an evangelical I have to say that our failure to stand up united for what we believe to be true, and stiffen the backbone of a new and inexperienced leadership has left that leadership prey to the influence of eccentric ideas from politicians and groups such as Stonewall (externally) and pro gay “marriage” obsessives who I don’t need to name here (internally).

      My deepest sadness and embarrassment in all this is that so little consideration has been given to the effect upon children and young people both within and outside the church; we have much guilt on our hands. But fear not, Etienne, the invisible Church of God remains safe in His hands and it will not fail.

      • Don, surely evangelical Anglicans have “stood united” against affirming LGB relationships?

        Even if they could’ve done more, it wouldn’t eliminate the pressure on the church, would it? If anything, it’d raise it.

  20. “I am used to accepting the written text of rules, whether tax law or the Bible. I find it sad when anyone, let alone my new diocesan bishop, appears to explain away what seems to me to be clear teaching. If you can delete some bits of the Bible, what is to stop the deletion of all of it?”

    I agree. Either the Bible is authoritative or it isn’t. You can’t accept the bits you like and then try to explain away the bits you don’t like by ignoring them or “interpreting” them to suit your own agenda.

    This is why I have little time for liberal Christians. They want to have their cake and eat it too. They want their big powerful God, but they don’t want him to be horrible to anyone they like. So they edit scripture to their own liking and end up making a nonsense out of it. It’s not religion so much as self-worship: the Bible must mean what they want it to mean, therefore God’s will must reflect their own, therefore they must be God. And you only have to look at them to realize they’re not…

    I do not consider the Bible to be authoritative in any way. I see it as a flawed human creation that speaks of a God fashioned by humans to reflect human concerns. My only other alternative is to accept that an omnipotent being apparently loves me so much that he created me gay, or placed me in a family and social environment where he knew I’d turn out to be gay, and then forbade me from ever having an intimate and loving relationship. That doesn’t seem like love to me, but rather callous indifference, if not contempt. And a contemptuous God just seems evil to me. A father who places unreasonable burdens on his children and then demands unquestioning obedience along with love and worship from them is nothing more than a self-obsessed bully.

    So I’m an atheist. If God really does exist then I’ll be punished for my atheism as well as my homosexuality and everyone here will be able to say “told you so”. I hope it makes you happy. I doubt it will though. Spending eternity with a self-obsessed bully means we’re all going to hell, so being proved right will be a fleeting pleasure at best. Still, it may be all you have to grasp on to, so I hope you savor every moment…

  21. Ian Paul says that Alan Wilson is living in his own little world, a world where male and female don’t exist and bodily organs have no true function. This mad world is not quite his own exclusive world. To be quite exact he is living the LGBT dream-world, a world that makes up its own science and its own history very freely, and he is doing something very harmful by introducing its ideology, language and assumptions into the rest of society. Its world-view is certainly quite incompatible with any form of Christianity, or any religion, as it is materialistic, secular, sex-obsessed, and egotistical, wholly concerned with obtaining short-term immediate gratification. It revolves around perverted lust, despises love and the family, and its arguments are hopeless nonsense. To call society heterosexist is absurd –

    If homosexuality were normal, none of use would be here. Silly terms like “homophobic” are just invented to censor and silence all discourse apart from the insane nonsense of the LGBTs themselves. They insist that maleness or femaleness is not inborn and can be changed – yet orientation is inborn and must never , never be tampered with!

    Clearly James Byron is also living in Alan Wilson’s mad world, as he asks “Do homosexual relationships do any harm?” and instantly answers himself “No”. Let us make one thing very clear indeed – homosexual behaviour (which in most cases does not take the form of relationships, but of rather brief encounters, particularly where the men are concerned) does an immense amount of physical harm, and shortens the life expectancy by about twenty years. Even the Gay Pride parades are haunted by AIDS advisors, in between the revolting spectacles of sado-masochistic perversion and degradation. Homosexuals are far more likely than heterosexuals to get, and pass on, about 25 different diseases. We are talking about young men of 21 already HIV positive, and needing to take three lots of anti-retroviral medication every day. The drugs don’t remain effective forever, so they have to keep changing to new ones, and the minimum cost to the NHS of this treatment is £18,000 per patient per year, rising to £50,000 in some cases. We are talking about men with colostomy bags, and virulent-strain syphilis in their teeth. Lesbians have high rates of cancer, obesity, addictions and mental illness. Why does James Byron think that every NHS Trust in the country has special clinics and services for homosexuals, if what they do is so safe? The perversions described on the Terrence Higgins website are unrepeatable.

    It is appalling to hear that Forward in Faith’s Vice-Chairman Dr. Lindsay Newcombe at this year’s LGBT ‘Pride’ festival in London. I knew clergy wore dog-collars but I didn’t know that they wore leather ones, with studs, and crawled around on all fours led on a leash like the gay brethren at that freak-fest.

    By the way if you review books, would you please consider reviewing one I can recommend?

    • Tony, thanks for contributing to the discussion. You call out Etienne for being ‘increasingly aggressive and hostile’, and I think he could probably say the same of your comment above!

      You make some important points, but I think they would be more persuasive if you could present them more objectively.

      I do think you underestimate the reality of homophobic hatred in both the past and present, and I am not sure the Church can disagree with the rightness of same-sex sexual unions with any integrity unless it at the same time actively opposes homophobia.

      There is quite a good Grove booklet on Same-Sex unions: the key biblical texts which I promote from time to time. I think you would find it very helpful and constructive.

      • There is no such thing as homophobia. Morality is not a “phobia” and homosexuals themselves do not benefit from concealing their health problems.
        The term homophobia demeans and demonizes heterosexuals. The vast majority of claims about so-called “gay-bashing” are false. Read The Book of Matt about the Matthew Shepard case.
        When any such assaults do take place they are usually the result of homosexuals making unwanted advances to heterosexual men e.g. the Wilfred Brujin case.
        Homosexuals are far more likely to die or be injured through attack by other homosexuals than by so-called “gay-bashing”.

        @ Ian Paul. You ask where Tatchell has set out his agenda to dismantle the family. Angela Mason and countless so-called academics have said the ame sort of t hing,
        You could start here

        • Tony, I don’t think you can defend the statement ‘There is no such thing as homophobia.’ I agree with you that moral objections to same-sex are not homophobic, and your comments about particular cases need exploring.

          But I cannot defend what is happening at the moment in e.g. Uganda. And to claim there is no such thing as homophobia flies in the face of the instinctive revulsion some people feel to the idea of same-sex sex.

          Thanks for the link to Peter Tatchell’s piece.

          • Sorry Ian but you need to be made aware that homosexuals are telling you a lot of lies about what is happening in Uganda.
            There is no “kill the gays” law.
            Let’s start with the death of David Kato. Headlines across the world screamed that it was a homophobic attack. President Obama made a public speech condeming it as a sign of “hate” and homophobia.
            But it wasn’t.
            Kato was killed in a dispute about payment with a rent-boy, or to be more exact, with an unhappy young man he was using as a rent-boy, and who never wanted to go into that way of life. the Ugandan ambassador to the European Union, Stephen T. K. Katenta-Apuli, explained the true facts in an open letter to the President of the European Parliament. He wrote to “correct an impression Members of the European Parliament may have that the murder of David Kato was a result of his championing the rights of gays and lesbians in Uganda …..nothing could be farther from the truth.”

            Mr Katenta-Apuli exposed the true facts about how Kato had died in a sordid dispute about payment with a male prostitute, adding, that David Kato “should share responsibility in this very unfortunate incident”.
            He concluded “The case is in Court and due process will deliver justice. I can assure you that the culprit will get a fair trial, will be found guilty and will receive maximum sentence, which could be death at the gallows.” Luckily for the boy, it wasn’t.
            Here is another example. An LGBT group in America called TC Equality circulated a colour photograph which they claimed showed a homosexual being lynched and burned in Uganda. This picture got about twenty million hits on the internet – and it was a fraud.
            The picture had really been taken a year before in the Kibera slums of Kenya and the man in question was an accused mugger and thief killed by a vigilante mob stirred up by his victims. It had nothing to do with homosexuality, Pastor Lively or AFA.
            But pictures like this are still being circulated on Facebook etc to to raise funds for the international campaign persecuting Christians and claiming falsely that we promote violence against homosexuals..

            Ian you really need to learn that there is a massive media propaganda campaign that is spreading lies, making out that homosexuals are victimized. The LGBT lobby controls all our TV stations and our major newspapers and it is utterly unscrupulous.
            The case of Wilfred Brujin was a similar fraud.
            There are several websites now devoted to exposing fake hate-crimes but their readership is tiny compared to that of the Guardian etc

          • Gay theatre student who claimed he was beaten by homophobic thugs admits he got his injuries when he fell over (and WON’T face action for wasting police time)
            Richard Kennedy, 18, was badly injured after leaving Preston nightclub
            His teeth were dislodged, his face was swollen and he had bad knee injury
            The student from Blackpool told police he was set upon by homophobes
            He posted injury pictures on Facebook in post shared by 182,000 people

            Police launched an appeal into the ‘3.30am attack’ and called for witnesses
            Then they found CCTV footage showing Kennedy FALLvA drama student who became an internet sensation after claiming he was savagely beaten up for being gay has admitted he caused his injuries himself when he tripped on the pavement.

            Richard Kennedy, 18, from Blackpool, told police he was set upon by a gang of homophobes when he left a gay nightclub in Preston, Lancashire, prompting officers to appeal for information about what they called a ‘particularly nasty assault’.

            He posted photographs on Facebook of his battered and bleeding face, dislodged teeth, and gaping knee wound, with the caption ‘An example [of] why homophobia is wrong and it’s disgusting that it’s still around in 2014’. The post was shared by more than 182,000 well-wishers.
            But today the teenager, who studies Contemporary Theatre and Performance at the University of Central Lancashire, admitted he made it all up.

            After being shown CCTV of him tripping and falling, face-first, onto the pavement, Kennedy accepted that the ‘utterly inhumane homophobic attack’ he had talked about actually never happened.

            This afternoon Lancashire Police, who carried out a ‘detailed and thorough investigation’ into the alleged attack two weeks ago, confirmed CCTV showed the teenager had not been attacked by anyone, and had simply hurt himself when he fell over.

            Read more:

          • NB You refer to “the instinctive revulsion some people feel to the idea of same-sex sex.”
            What exactly does this woolly term “same-sex sex” mean – does it mean sodomy? Sodomy is not sex. It is a travesty of sex. The same goes for fisting, rimming, felching, and coprophagia etc etc all described on the Terrence Higgins website Whatever it denotes, nobody needs to justify feeling an instinctive revulsion for it.
            That instinctive revulsion is right and good. It is not a “phobia”, it is a very healthy sign. To try to suppress such feelings is harmful.
            I strongly defend the right to feel and publicly express disgust at any abnormal and deviant behaviour. That is in fact my human right, as enshrined in the UDHR (freedom of expression).

  22. If you don’t believe me about the worst gay-bashing being done by h omosexuals to each other just take a look at this current article in the Huffington Post

    A homosexual describes how his partner started with verbal abuse, went on to punching him in the face every time he tried to speak, made him eat dinner off the floor, and locked him in a garage for two weeks without food and water.

    Brutal and shocking.It links to another article with many similar cases, asserting that there is an “epidemic” of such cases across the “gay community”.
    Yet they keep demanding a “safe space” where they can be away from us wicked heterosexuals.
    I find that insulting and the Christian churches are very foolish to give their support to the false LGBT ideology.
    Please stop demeaning and demonizing heterosexuals

  23. The Christian churches should be fighting the LGBT movement tooth and nail. Instead they are are being manipulated by this cunning propaganda about so-called homophobia. The Homo-extremists are careful to alwas present themselves as victims and accuse the good, decent people of being gay-bashers. And the Archibishop of Canterbury is naive enough to accept this. May I quote you an online article.

    “In 2013, when the law on “gay” marriage was being pushed through the UK parliament, homosexual MP Stuart Andrew, who represents the constituency of Pudsey, Horsforth & Aireborough, near to Leeds, stood up and made a speech accusing anybody who opposed the bill of “homophobia”. He said how disappointed he was that various MPs still thought they were entitled to argue or debate on any issues instead of just bowing down and giving queers whatever they demanded. He branded them “homophobes” and said they were responsible for physical attacks on homosexuals, and he claimed that he himself had suffered such an attack sixteen years earlier. He said he had once been set apon in the street and “beaten unconscious” by three men just for being homosexual.
    “Mr Andrew, 41,[mentioned] an incident when living in north Wales in 1997 in which both he and his father were hospitalised by a brutal homophobic attack. “I am not an aggressive man, but I have had the misfortune of facing aggression in a violent, physical form,” he said, adding jokingly that he was not referring to “that incident” when he was infamously headbutted by Labour MP Eric Joyce in a Commons bar last year.“In 1997, I was attacked and beaten unconscious by three men because of who and what I am,” Mr Andrew said. “That had a profound effect on me at that time, but in time I fought back, and what helped were the decisions taken in (Parliament).”Mr Andrew’s speech was warmly praised on all sides of the House. Labour’s Hilary Benn, the MP for Leeds Central, described his words as “powerful and moving”. Julian Smith, the Tory MP for Skipton and Ripon, said anyone opposed to gay marriage should read the speech.”

    However, when challenged, Mr Andrew could not name either the date or the exact location where this attack was supposed to have taken place. He could only vaguely say that it was in early 1997 in the Welsh town of Beaumaris, and he claimed to have been treated at Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital. But the local newspapers of Beaumaris contain no report of any such incident and neither do the police records. No charges were brought by Mr Andrew or by his father then or at any time for any such incident. The story is implausible for two other reasons – one, that Mr Andrew’s father is not homosexual, and two that there is no way that the attackers, complete strangers, could have known whether Mr Andrew is homosexual. If he was attacked at all – and there is no proof that he was – there would be no reason to conclude that the attackers’ motive was related in any way to his homosexuality.

    Mr Andrew, a member of the Conservative party, is just using that familiar queer ploy of playing the victim. If anyone disagrees with him, they are accused of violence against poor little queers and made out to be “gay-bashers”.

    Compare this to the Richard Kennedy case and so many others.

  24. I am very pleased to report that after an intensive e-mail campaign by Christians and those upholding freedom of conscience as a civil right , it appears that the prosecution of the Knapps has been halted.
    And a similar victory has been won by similar means in Houston.
    This proves that when the silent majority do exert themselves against the shrill strident voice of LGBT extremism we can sometimes win.
    But there are many many more battles ahead. Please look for more news on Twitter @EuropeansFLM

    And by t he way I have tremendous sympathy for you CLIVE. You are absolutely right that marriage has been messed up by stupid politicians and bizarre extremists.


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