‘Nothing has changed’: should the bishops ‘commend’ the Prayers of Love and Faith?


Andrew Goddard writes: The process of commendation of liturgy does not give any legal status to what is commended, and in the debates about the Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) it has been claimed that law and doctrine are not being changed. To commend the Prayers of Love and Faith is thus to claim that it has always been legal in a public service to pray for God’s blessing on two people of the same sex who are in a sexual relationship and/or a civil same-sex marriage.

This article argues that:

  • This claim that “nothing has changed” with PLF is neither plausible nor cogent.
  • It does not fit with previous published legal advice concerning public prayer for those in non-marital sexual relationships or same-sex civil marriages.
  • The options open to individual bishops who share this scepticism in response to PLF’s commendation by the House are also set out.
  • Honesty and the need for clergy to be able to make their own informed judgments about the legality of PLF (as those who risk facing legal challenge for using the prayers) means that the House of Bishops has to acknowledge that previously published legal advice is not obviously being followed.
  • They should therefore make available the changing written legal advice which they have received throughout this process, particularly for their 9th October meeting, and a clear explanation as to how what they are now proposing in PLF is, and indeed always has been, legal and how this judgment relates to the content of past legal advice which they have published that would suggest otherwise.

Only then can we assess whether indeed “nothing has changed” either legally or doctrinally in the position of the Church of England when the prayers are commended.


Following the long debate and narrow vote at General Synod on 14th and 15th November it seems likely that the House of Bishops will (either this Wednesday or in early December) proceed formally to commend the Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) Suite of Prayers. This will implement the in principle decision they took on 9th October from which 12 bishops present dissented in part because of “legal and theological advice the House has received”. It is therefore important to consider exactly what is and what is not being done should the bishops take this decision and the plausibility, coherence, and significance of this step. 

In effect, such a decision amounts to a statement by the House of Bishops that it is of the view that it has always been legally permissible within the Church of England for clergy, in a public service, to pray using the prayers found in PLF, including for God’s blessing on two people of the same sex who are in a sexual relationship and/or a civil same-sex marriage. Commendation means that the prayers have been legal for nearly 50 years (since the 1974 Worship and Doctrine Measure came into force) and could have been commended by bishops at any point since then. All that the bishops are doing in now commending the suite of prayers is clarifying that this has always been the legal situation despite the fact that in the past they, and legal advice they have published, have suggested otherwise.

This is perhaps a surprising claim of what is about to happen. That this is the situation is also a claim which is not immediately either plausible or coherent (let alone cogent) but it is evident from the nature of commendation and the various arguments that are being used and the answers given to various questions.

Has the church’s doctrine of marriage and/or sexual ethic been changed?

The official answer to this is “No”: 

  • “We want change but without changing the doctrine of the Church” (GS 2328, p.4, para 22)
  • “The Church’s doctrine remains as set out in Canon B 30 (Of Holy Matrimony); we have been clear that we have no intention of changing that doctrine. We also note that the Church’s teaching on sexual relations has been treated as being part of the Church’s doctrine of marriage. We are not proposing to change that teaching” (GS 2328, Annex A, p.7, para 13).
  • “The introduction of PLF does not change the shape of marriage in the Church’s doctrine nor its understanding of the place of sexual intimacy within marriage” (GS 2328, Annex H, p.91).

Has the church’s law changed or is the law being altered by commendation?

Again the answer to this is “No”. The bishops had the option of introducing a change to the canons (some of which were set out in the 2016 legal advice in GS 2055) but have decided not to follow this path. It is a mistake to see commendation as effecting a change in the church’s law. Commendation by the bishops is an act which has no canonical basis or legal effect. It was introduced in the 1980s (as recounted in the important recent briefing from the Liturgical Commission, GS Misc 1359, pp. 15-23) and has been extensively used since then to introduce liturgy in the Church of England in a more speedy manner than the standard process of authorisation through General Synod under Canon B2. 

Commendation is strictly an act recommending that certain prayers are legal to use under Canon B5.2 at the discretion of the parish priest. This action does not (unlike authorisation under other canons) give the prayers commended any canonical or legal authority. In fact, it is noteworthy that in the canons the House of Bishops (unlike General Synod, Convocations, the Archbishops, the Ordinary, and ministers conducting a service or having the cure of souls) has no legal authority whatsoever in relation to liturgy. Despite this, commended prayers are often included as part of “Common Worship” materials. We now therefore face the situation where prayers which clearly have no chance currently of receiving two-thirds majorities in each House of Synod (as required for authorisation under Canon B2) are being added to the Church of England’s formal liturgies by the House of Bishops with serious consequences for the liturgy, governance and unity of the Church of England and the Worship and Doctrine Measure.

Commendation is simply a statement by the House that they are collectively (and a simple majority appears to be sufficient) of the view that using these prayers is lawful under Canon B5.2. Whether or not that collective episcopal judgment is correct is not established simply by the House making the judgment. Were it to be challenged, moreover, the challenge cannot be raised against the bishops who commend. Any legal challenge must be made against the clergy who trust that judgment and use the commended prayers.

A key question, therefore, is whether the bishops have a strong legal basis for making this judgment. Here there are two major problems.

Firstly, they have refused to offer even a summary of the most recent legal advice they have received despite having provided this in the past and claiming that nothing has been hidden. I have critiqued this and it is also noteworthy that the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham said in his Synod speech,

I am compelled to say respectfully and very regrettably that I cannot agree with the opinion that nothing that might be useful to this Synod is being withheld. I do believe that there are a number of things—discussions, decisions and advice that we have received in the House—that would be useful to this Synod and important for its work at this time but that is held behind SO14.

Secondly, the past legal advice that has been published makes the legal basis and security of the prayers the bishops are commending look very weak.

What then has changed?

At a fundamental level it is being claimed that nothing has changed legally or doctrinally. Although the bishops are not admitting it (because the 51%-52% of the Synod’s clergy and laity now supporting PLF largely rejected this argument when it was originally made back in 2017), they are in effect claiming to be in exactly the same position we have always been in and that PLF is fully consistent with the 2017 proposal the bishops made after the Shared Conversations i.e. that they are “proposing no change to ecclesiastical law or to the Church of England’s existing doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships” (GS 2055, para 26).

However, although nothing has apparently changed at this fundamental level, there is clearly a proposed change from present practice, past episcopal statements, and the 2017 proposals. What makes commendation so controversial is summed up by the bishops in these terms:

If the PLF are to be available for same-sex couples without there being an assumption as to their sexual relationships, there would have been a change in the Church’s formal position on what its doctrine of marriage, and the place of sex within it, did and did not preclude in terms of public worship. Such a change might indicate a departure from the previous understanding that the Church’s teaching precluded public worship being offered for a same sex couple who were or might be in a sexually active relationship (GS 2328, Annex A, para 17).

There is also (as summarised in GS 2328 Annex A, paras 25 and 26 and set out in Annex H) a new argument not considered in past legal advice but important in the claimed legality of PLF: the prayers “discern and affirm what is good, and pray for God’s presence and blessing over the people within the relationship” and are justifiable as “pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty”. One difficulty (as I discussed here, particularly in section 8) is that this does not address the fact that the church’s doctrine continues to teach that certain patterns of sexual behaviour are forms of porneia and as shown below this fact has been important in past legal advice.

So are the prayers legal?

It would appear, reading between the lines, that the Legal Office, have informed the bishops that “it would be difficult to say that making the PLF available for same-sex couples without there being an assumption as to their sexual relationships was not indicative of any departure from the Church’s doctrine” (GS 2328, Annex A, para 17). The PLF is thus not compatible with the February General Synod motion as amended. PLF may however still be legal as the canons only prohibit prayers indicative of a departure from doctrine “in any essential matter”.

There are two issues here in the light of the church’s doctrine of marriage: 

  1. the use of PLF for a same-sex couple in a sexual relationship (addressed in GS 2328) and
  2. the use of PLF for a couple in a same-sex civil marriage (now largely ignored in GS 2328 apparently on the basis that the prayers are not for use only with such couples and do not refer to their legal status although that does not mean the married status of a couple can be treated as irrelevant given the bishops have previously clearly stated that to enter a same-sex marriage is to depart from the church’s teaching, 2014 pastoral statement para 21).

Legal for a sexual relationship?

In the 2016 legal advice summarised in GS 2055 and presumably the basis for the bishops not then commending any prayers it was made clear that if it remained the Church of England’s teaching that 

“sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively” (Marriage: a teaching document of the House of Bishops, 1999). Sexual relationships outside marriage, whether heterosexual or between people of the same sex, are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings (2005 Pastoral Statement, para 4 subsequently reiterated in 2019 Pastoral Statement, para 9). 

then 

a service which sanctioned or condoned such a sexual relationship would not meet the requirement that a service must “edify the people” and would probably also be contrary to, or indicative of a departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in an essential matter. (GS 2055 Appendix, p.19, para 9).

As we have seen, the “if” condition is still in place (“nothing has changed” in relation to doctrine) even though many of those supporting the prayers wish it had and believe the church’s teaching here to be in error. The two-fold “then” conclusion therefore still follows unless this legal advice has now been revised or rescinded. There is, however, nothing in the latest papers which addresses the strong statement here from the Legal Office that means PLF being used for a sexual relationship “would not meet the requirement that a service must ‘edify the people’”. In fact, this canonical requirement has disappeared from view in the latest documents which focus solely on the goods of the relationship. 

There is also only the briefest of explanations (Annex A, paras 21-26) as to why although using the PLF for a same-sex sexual relationship would be “indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England” this is nevertheless not “in an essential matter”. This limited treatment is despite this being a crucial theological question and the earlier published legal advice from 2016 saying it would “probably…be contrary to” this requirement. The January 2023 legal advice in GS Misc 1339 stated:

The draft Prayers contain no implication that what is being celebrated or blessed is a sexual relationship. The argument that the Prayers are therefore indicative of a departure from doctrine so far as sexual relationships are concerned cannot be sustained (para 9, the advice does not refer to the “edifying” argument).

However, it is clear (not least in the emphasis that covenanted friendships, now a distinct category, are not sexual) that sexual relationships are to be celebrated and blessed using the PLF. The final statement in the January advice relating to the replacement of Issues noted:

Nothing in the draft Prayers pre-empts what the replacement might say on the subject of sexual relationships. In reaching a final view on the legal position the Legal Office will need to see both the final draft of the Prayers and the replacement pastoral guidance.

This points to the fact that were the teaching in Issues to be maintained (as has now been stated) then the legal position of PLF would be less secure than it was in February. This condition of the Legal Office will also not be satisfied if commendation proceeds next month before the full Pastoral Guidance is issued. 

Both of these tests (“edifying the people” and not being “indicative of a departure from doctrine in any essential matter”) are legal requirements for any prayers used under Canon B5 if they are to be lawful. For both tests there is previous published legal advice pointing to PLF being contrary to law if used for a sexual relationship other than marriage. There is no published legal advice over-riding this. This would need to provide legal justification for the commended prayers being used in such a situation and offer a legal assessment of the new argument based on “pastoral provision”.

Legal for a civil same-sex civil marriage?

The question as to whether there are problems with using PLF for a couple in a civil marriage (particularly using them in a service shortly after they have entered such a marriage as may happen with the commended prayers and certainly will with standalone prayers) depends on how the bishops and church law now view the relationship between civil marriage and holy matrimony.

In 2016, as reported in GS 2055, the advice was that within the current law the only option that would allow the possibility of services for same sex couples would be to 

  1. make it clear to the clergy that it is not lawful for them to use a form of service which either explicitly or implicitly treats or recognises the civil marriage of two persons of the same sex as equivalent to holy matrimony, but 
  2. explain that it would be lawful for the clergy to use a form of service which celebrated the relationship between two persons of the same sex provided that the form of service did not explicitly or implicitly treat or recognise their relationship as equivalent to holy matrimony (para 8c). 

This is clearly the pathway that the bishops decided to follow when they proposed PLF. 

Initially, however, in January, the legal advice claimed to have met these conditions by stressing that

the institution of Holy Matrimony and the institution of civil marriage are now distinct…The two definitions are mutually exclusive and this can be seen as having resulted in there now being two different institutions by the name of “marriage” (GS Misc 1339, paras 5 and 6).

That legal argument is not to be found in the latest paper. There is therefore presumably unpublished legal advice which the bishops have seen (and it appears, from answers at General Synod, theological advice from FAOC) which has led them to withdraw this original legal basis for PLF. It would now appear that they are instead claiming a legal rationale and justification on the basis of the even more recent and novel argument of “pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty” (see my questions about this here) and a focus simply on the goods of the same-sex relationship without any reference to its claim (in some instances) to be a marriage.

What is not clear, however, is what account of the legal institution of civil same-sex marriage and its relationship to holy matrimony the bishops are now offering. In the past they have stated that to enter such a marriage is to depart from the church’s teaching. 

The bishops have not offered an alternative judgment on entering a same-sex marriage nor have they explained, despite requests to do so, what they consider a same-sex couple to be doing when they legally marry (rather than enter a civil partnership). If it remains the case that prayers must not “implicitly treat or recognise their relationship as equivalent to holy matrimony” but civil same-sex marriage is no longer able to be viewed as a “different” and “mutually exclusive” institution from holy matrimony because it is in some sense “overlapping” with it, then there are at the very least some legal loose ends that need tying up here. 

Given 

  1. past published legal advice and pastoral statements, 
  2. the unclarity as to how civil marriage and holy matrimony are now being viewed, and
  3. those two canonical requirements that any prayers must both “edify the people” and not be “indicative of a departure from doctrine in any essential matter”, 

it is highly implausible and not obviously coherent to claim that it has in fact always been permissible within the Church of England for clergy, in a public service, to pray using the prayers found in PLF for a couple who have entered a civil same-sex marriage.

Can individual bishops refuse to commend?

Commendation of prayers has developed as a collective decision of the House guiding parish clergy in the exercise of their discretion granted under Canon B5. It has no formal canonical status and therefore no canon addresses what diocesan bishops may do if they disagree with the commendation. Because it has never been used for such contentious prayers there is also no precedent to look to for guidance here.

However, the recent briefing on the evolution of liturgical procedures and canons notes that commended prayers have from the start usually been combined with an explanation which reads

These Services and Prayers have been commended by the House of Bishops of the General Synod and are published with the agreement of the House. Under Canon B4 it is open to each Bishop to authorize, if he sees fit, the form of service to be used within his diocese. He may specify that the services shall be those commended by the House, or that a diocesan form of them shall be used. If the Bishop gives no directions in this matter the priest remains free, subject to the terms of Canon B5, to make use of the Services as commended by the House (GS Misc 1359, p. 18)

There is also a helpful article by Russell Dewhurst on “Canon B5 and the Prayers of Love and Faith” which draws attention to Canon B5(4) that states

If any question is raised concerning the observance of the provisions of this Canon it may be referred to the bishop in order that he may give such pastoral guidance, advice or directions as he may think fit, but such reference shall be without prejudice to the matter in question being made the subject matter of proceedings under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963.

Dewhurst concludes that

If a question is duly raised and the bishop chooses to give direction, rather than guidance or advice, then the duty of canonical obedience may be engaged. If this is so, then failure to follow the bishop’s direction would be a breach of ecclesiastical law and a disciplinary offence. This would seem to indicate that, if a question is raised, the bishop would be able to direct a minister not to use Prayer of Love and Faith, or indeed any other variations which the bishop believed were inappropriate, in a given context or generally.

It would, therefore, appear that it is accepted that commendation does not tie the hands of every bishop or bind them into some form of “collective responsibility”. In fact, each Ordinary remains free, if they wish:

  • to authorise some form of prayer (under Canon B4.3) which could be a different “diocesan form” of PLF and would then remove the clergy’s right of discretion under Canon B5.2
  • to offer pastoral guidance or advice which might include (1) a statement that they did not share the House’s view that the prayers are now and always have been legal or (2) raise concerns that the bishops were commending prayers they accept are indicative of a departure from the church’s doctrine and have such small majorities supporting them in Synod or (3) state that in the bishop’s view this departure is in “an essential matter” and thus PLF is contrary to Canon B5
  • to direct their clergy in relation to PLF as commended. This might be direction in how to use the commended prayers or direction not to use them. The fact that “If the Bishop gives no directions in this matter the priest remains free, subject to the terms of Canon B5, to make use of the Services as commended by the House” implies that if the bishop does give direction then that direction curtails the priest’s freedom under canon B5. As Dewhurst highlights, this would potentially force clergy to choose between (a) their (perhaps longstanding) conscientious use of discretion under B5 in this matter, now supported by the House’s commendation and (b) canonical obedience to their bishop’s direction. There would then be the real possibility, if they chose the former, of disciplinary action and a priest ignoring their bishop’s direction becoming a “PLF martyr”.

Conclusion: “Nothing has changed”?

A crucial event in the 2017 General Election campaign which seriously damaged the credibility of Theresa May was when, having revised her manifesto’s stated policy on social care, she insisted to the press that “nothing has changed”. She appeared to be saying that despite the surface changes, the fundamentals remained unchanged. Although they are not explicitly saying this, and at times seemingly emphasising what a radical step is being taken, in simply commending prayers the bishops are in effect saying exactly the same as Theresa May: nothing fundamental in the Church of England has changed. Law has not changed. Doctrine has not changed. What is legally permissible in church services has not changed. 

The problem is that, as with the former Prime Minister’s claim, nobody really believes this is the case. How many people really believe that:

  • what will be commended in the PLF Suite of Resource—public prayers for God’s blessing on two people of the same sex many of whom will be in a sexual relationship and/or a civil same-sex marriage—has always been lawful in the Church of England and could have been commended by the bishops and used by clergy at any point in the past? 
  • the use of such prayers does not represent a major change from the historic and current situation? 
  • while the doctrine of marriage remains unchanged, the proposed use of the PLF is neither contrary to doctrine nor indicative of a departure from in doctrine in any essential matter? 
  • all these claims have been shown by the House of Bishops to be theologically and legally coherent and convincing?

Charlie Bell, a supporter of getting PLF done but also a severe critic of the latest proposals, recently wrote “what the bishops have done may be legal, but it is not honest”. This echoes the language of Canon C1 and the oath of canonical obedience. The way in which the bishops are proceeding—the “nothing has changed” argument and the refusal to publish the written legal advice they have received—is very difficult to view as honest and to trust. Given the law has not formally been changed, for many the introduction of PLF means that the doctrine to which the law refers has changed in practice. If, as it is being claimed, doctrine has not changed, then what is being proposed seems to many to be not only “not honest” but also, as shown by past legal advice, probably “not legal”. 

In short, unless we sincerely believe and are convinced that “nothing has changed”, then we have to say that it appears the bishops are acting in their commendation, and thereby encouraging clergy to act in their services, in ways which are unlawful. In addition, those liturgical actions are now—because of the bishops’ decisions, which do not alter the legality of what they commend and so in one sense could be described as simply symbolic or “virtue signalling”—going to attract much more attention when they take place then they have done in the past. This means clergy who accept at face value and act on the basis of the bishops’ commendation are probably more likely to face legal challenge than they were in the past.

In the light of this, it even more unacceptable that the bishops are now so reticent to set out clearly for parish clergy, and those who advise them such as archdeacons, both

  1. the changing written legal advice which they have received throughout this process, particularly for their 9th October meeting, and
  2. a clear explanation as to how what they are now proposing in PLF is, and indeed always has been, legal and how this judgment relates to the content of past legal advice which they have published that would suggest otherwise.

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


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302 thoughts on “‘Nothing has changed’: should the bishops ‘commend’ the Prayers of Love and Faith?”

  1. In what courts, if any – of the land of England or of the Church of England – can these matters be clarified by means of challenge, and by whom? I do not have the necessary understanding of canon law.

    (Without meaning to be discourteous, I am not interested in people responding who are using educated guesswork. I can do that, but it is still guesswork!)

    Reply
      • Thanks Ian – who may take a case to them, in what circumstances, and who decides the case, please? I simply don’t know these things and it is obviously becoming relevant.

        Reply
        • Don’t know (below) why you say “scarcely impartial”.

          I’ve had reason, as a minister, to present a case on behalf of a parish in a Consistory Court. The presiding judge (otherwise did murder trials) was certainty no walkover or partial. It also involves being cross examined by the judge and by anyone wishing to in the court. Yes, anyone…. Any appeal would be to the Court of Arches if I recall correctly.

          Reply
          • Ian – I have been involved in the appointment of bishops and Chancellors.
            It is a *fact* that a bishop is appointed – formally – by the Crown. The advice comes from the Prime Minister, who is advised. There is a process of consultation with a CNC. And guess what that stands for? The Crown Nominations Commission. The clue is in the title.
            A Diocesan Chancellor is appointed by the bishop, but not on some kind of whim. They take advice and will usually appoint a small group or ‘commission’ to inform the decision.

          • Yes Andrew, and it is also a fact that all bills are signed into law by the sovereign, but if he refused then he’d be pushed off the throne without delay. A king was beheaded in the 17th century to demonstrate the supremacy of parliament, and his successors are granted the vanity of signing bills into statute by grace of parliament (although few people are so direct as to put it this bluntly). This document, written by a constutional lawyer, includes the lesson you need about where supremacy lies in Britain’s unwritten constitution:

            https://www.civitas.org.uk/content/files/Fixing-Human-Rights-Law.pdf

            I doubt that the sovereign would be deposed over the matter of a bishopric rather than a bill, but it would lead to an interesting row. I doubt that Welby would have dared go as far as he has under our late Queen.

          • “I doubt that Welby would have dared go as far as he has under our late Queen.”

            A quite hilarious suggestion. What is your basis for saying that? Or is it just a romantic love for Liz?

          • She disliked Welby sufficiently as to try to deny him a eulogy at her funeral, but because she was dead and unable to enforce her request he managed to push the palace to give him 5 minutes. That is more than he deserved, but why do you think she felt so strongly?

          • Unfortunately Fisher was a dedicated freemason – an organisation that is utterly inconsistent with Christian belief. Not that it affects his crowning of Elizabeth II.

          • Robert Runcie also a favourite of hers and probably the most capable Archbishop of our generation. Fisher highly dubious, not least for reasons Anton gives here.

          • When Runcie was once asked ‘What does the cross mean to you?’ he could not think of an answer.

            I confess that is not my understanding of ‘capable’.

          • You are simply wrong. I recall that interview. He just took his time to think first…
            He was a deeply thoughtful and gracious man. I interviewed him a few times in BBC days.

          • Clifford Hill, The Reshaping of Britain, says much that I would have wished to say about the 1980s archbishoprics.

        • What was that about 1 Corinthians 6? Seems as though it is a one way progressive street, not to be applied when it suits to prosecute the revisionist cause.

          Reply
        • ‘All that nonsense will be over’?

          What do you mean? I find it odd that people have forgotten Pemberton v Inwood, which establishes in law the clarity of the Church’s doctrine of marriage.

          Reply
  2. As I understand it, implementation of PLF will be, initially, temporary and experimental. And clergy will be invited to use the process only if they wish to.

    Then after approx 2 – 5 years, synod will / could be asked to make PLF a permanent part of the C of E’s practise. BUT a two-thirds majority will be needed in (all three houses of?) Synod for this to happen.
    In my view, based on the closeness of the votes last week, the revisionists have no hope whatsoever of getting a two-thirds majority.

    Please can someone confirm that I’ve got this right.
    If I have, then in the long-term, evangelicals in the Cof E need not fear PLF. But I do think we should be concerned about what the revisionists will come up with next. I see a trajectory in which they seem determined to take the C of E into apostasy.

    Reply
  3. I am not sure how I started getting these emails, but they are certainly more fun than political emails. Reading this, I must confess that I skimmed a little as it got long. My cathedral is here in San Diego, CA, so our Episcopalian bishops are not having this conversation. I suppose many of us would view this as academic, and just keep going to the same church the way Catholics have over centuries of change in their church. Some people are leavers, like a cousin of mine who, at 80, is still leaving one church and shopping around for another that agrees with every little thing he thinks about the Bible. That is the curse and the blessing of Protestantism. I am a stayer, so I am still here, sitting in a chair instead of a pew. In fact, I probably had more opinions about getting rid of pews than I have about the subject of this article. Interesting analysis though.

    Reply
    • See Christopher Shell’s comment below.
      This is a massively big deal for British evangelicals – NB our definition of ‘evangelical’ has to do with (just) believing the gospel, and that the NT is the inspired word of God, adding nothing to it nor taking anything away.
      The liberal ‘revisionist’ bishops in our established church are trying to adapt the NT so that it becomes culturally relevant. Never mind if their new doctrines take the church away from the original inspired logos that God intends us to live by.
      So for many of us British evangelicals the PLF controversy is a massively big deal.

      Reply
      • Gordon

        Its nothing to do with the gospel per se. Its that some people think gay relationships (or even just being attracted to the same sex) is a very serious sin and other people think discrimination (or exclusion) against gay people is a serious sin.

        Reply
        • …Or is it that some people have decided that other people are committing sinful discrimination (or exclusion) by even just thinking that gay relationships are sinful?

          Reply
          • I think you’d find it hard to find any church in the UK where people are outright excluded or denied things like marriage or communion because they believe that same sex relationships are sinful.

            Certainly they would be fully welcome at my church as long as they didn’t harass the LGBT people who attend and I go to a very inclusive church (in the US)

          • No, because it’s not the so-called liberals who are withdrawing from communion with their siblings and demanding special flavours of bishops. We’re happy to share our bread with sinners. WWJD?

          • So we are compelled to define ‘siblings’ the way you do?
            How does that work? Are you compelled to define ‘siblings’ the way I do? Have you ever heard me enforcing (!) such a compulsion? What would be the reaction?

          • We’re happy to share our bread with sinners. WWJD?

            You missed out the adjective “unrepentant”, Penelope. That makes all the difference.

        • Anton

          Getting caught is not repentance.

          There’s been no true repentance for the abuse of LGBT people in the CofE. That’s why we continue to have cases where known sexual abusers are not only permitted communion, but preaching, teaching and pontificating. While LGBT people are “welcome to attend”

          Reply
          • By ‘abuse’ do you mean telling them calmly that the Bible says male-male sexual relations are viewed by God as toevah and do they think they are imperilling their eternal destiny; or do you mean involuntary physical interaction?

          • Physical abuse is always deplorable.

            I want to know exactly what you mean by verbal abuse because I am yet to be convinced that you would not classify the gospel as such when applied to a practising homosexual.

          • Anton

            Being yelled at, called names, humiliated in front of others, deliberately falsely accused of things, attempts to implant false memories, being lied about

    • Unity is in the Holy Spirit, says Paul to the Ephesians, not in total doctrinal agreement. I have had no problem getting on with other Christians who take a different view from me of what the Bible says about eschatology or the age of the earth.

      Catholicism is just another view of the scriptures, among many. That it has more adherents than most views is irrelevant to where truth is to be found.

      The present disagreement is different because people can disagree about the timing of the rapture or the age of the earth without it having any bearing on the church. But if you let people take full part in church life who are doing what the Bible says is wrong and not requiring them to renounce it, will not the entire character of the church change? And don’t they deserve to be told the biblical position for their own sake?

      Reply
  4. Why can’t people see the spiritual dimension of this? As predicted from the start, it is a masterpiece of ever increasing all-consuming complexity at the end of which (correction – there can be no end without renouncing it) things will be significantly worse off than before. Jarndyce vs Jarndyce had nothing on this. It should never have been undertaken from the very start, and that is obvious to me, but I am surprised to be in such a minority on that.

    Reply
      • Christopher or Anton

        Can you explain what you see as complex? All this will do is allow priests to bless gay people in a slightly more formal way than they were already able to do.

        Reply
        • For the nth time, people have always been able to be blessed and always will be. Whereas there are certain activities which are never able to be blessed. If said people are so closely identified with sinful activities (sinful within the Christian system and perspective) that they cannot separate themselves from said activities and have no self-understanding aside from said activities, then so much the worse for them.

          Reply
          • Christopher

            But people aren’t seriously identifying themselves with sinful behavior, except perhaps jokingly. The identification that you say should prohibit blessings is coming from other people who don’t like them very much.

          • Anton

            I’m not sure you can say gay people are more hypocritical than straight people and if you do, how is making up some reason to justify a negative attitude any different than just outright dislike?

          • I didn’t say and I don’t believe that gay people are more hypocritical than straight people. The church is the question.

          • Anton

            Well we can probably agree that the church of England as an institution is dishonest, abusive and hypocritical

          • Yes, we can agree about that, if for different reasons.

            I’m asked often eough why I am in it if I believe this, and my answer is simply that I am in a good congregation and I don’t care a whit for the hierarchy. What’s your answer?

        • And the way you simply assume the category ‘gay’ as common ground, when you know that is precisely the issue, takes the breath away.

          Reply
          • Christopher

            Sorry but yes this is about gay people. I’m happy to say people who experience exclusive attraction to the same sex if you prefer, but its a lot more typing!

          • Christopher it is your own prejudice that takes the breath away. It would be helpful if you could be a little more self aware.

          • They don’t simply experience that. They experience it only after a lot of water has gone under the bridge.
            Secondly, it is not ‘they’ that experience it but only ‘they’ as they are at *some* time(s) in their life.
            Third, those who go on as though study had not disconfirmed ‘born gay’ are almost invariably those who can quote no studies at all.
            You will be telling me tat ‘trans’ is simply a thing next, and not at all subject to societal trends. The ostrich tendency.

          • Christopher

            Gay people exist. I can tell you this for certain because I am one and my husband is one and many of our friends are gay too.

            I’m happy to accept that there is a gray age range between 0 and 13 where a person either has no orientation or their orientation is undetectable, but actually gay kids under 13 often are showing signs of being gay. Its not just a preference like preferring tea to coffee. It involves both mental and physical aspects – personality, physical traits, interests. There’s no conclusive evidence of how orientation is selected, but all of the evidence we do have suggests natural origins and none of the evidence we have suggests a choice or a phase of development. You keep claiming that, but its not true.and you cannot present any evidence to support your claims

          • Of course I have published (or rather repeated) loads of evidence (you just invented the idea that I had not) – just read chapter 11 in What Are They Teaching The Children? The amount of evidence is so large that you have to be referred to a longer writing. Please do read this or any equivalent.

            Your comment gives the lie to what you say. Of course people exist who are (have become) gay now, but you also agree that they are not so in essence, since such categories cannot apply to people, only to people within a certain age bracket. By the time that these pre teen tendencies begin (most set in with teenage confusion and are part of that confusion, like most else that is questionable – drugs, anorexia, turning away from God…) then they can easily have been caused by family deficit, broken homes, or any of the other oft-proven correlates that are closely relevant to healthy sexual development or otherwise.

            You are absolutely right that family set up is out of a child’s hands, so cannot be called a choice.

          • Christopher

            “What are they teaching our children?”

            The only book I can find by that name is nearly as old as I am and written by American fundamentalists, not biologists or experts in a relevant field.

            Both my husband and I had parents who loved each other. We are not from broken homes. We were not abused. Neither of us have ever taken drugs. We both knew we were gay before we became teenagers. You are wrong. Your sources are books written by people trying to con you.

          • Hi Peter

            The reason you have not traced the book is that you have got the title wrong.

            The title is What Are They Teaching The Children?

            I don’t have ”sources”. I try to look at everything that I know to have been published (the best studies will often be those quoted most by others or publicised most), prioritising those which are on a large scale. I just see what the fullest studies say.

            You are speaking very generally. There are hundreds of studies on relevant topics, and I cannot think of any at all that were done by ‘fundamentalists’ (though before using lazy labels that show a lack of thought, you should show you are capable of interacting with actual ideas and research), and very few by evangelicals.

          • Christopher

            Again this is a book written by fundamentalists (and yourself – the very definition of circular logic!), endorsed by Christian Concern. I can’t see inside, but its doubtful to me that it contains anything accurate at all. None of the authors have any qualifications that justify them being considered experts on LGBT people.

            Read some dispassionate unbiased sources, don’t rely on junk

          • I don’t know what you mean by ‘fundamentalist’. It is not a very clearly defined word, is it? In your system, a person can be a PhD and a fundamentalist? Yes/No.
            So long as people are thinking at a certain level, then their conclusions are irrelevant. The only thing that matters about conclusions is that they match the data.
            Are you sure that you are not just labelling everyone that way who assessed the data and comes to conclusions that are unwelcome for your lifestyle?
            But in any case, the main point is that what is written there is not from me. It is just the studies cited – the peer reviewed studies that are done by the people who know most about these topics. That is the content of the relevant part of my chapter. Are you saying we should ignore the main large scale studies that have been done? What is your personal knowledge about this that enables you to say that? And even if we did ignore them, all we could put in their place would be smaller scale studies, wouldn’t it?
            As you say, you ahve not read it. That is why you will not be listened to. Slightly better would be to defer judgment till you had read it, though you would still then be in a state of ignorance. But people are not going to look kindly on someone who jumps to conclusions about a whole mass of large scale studies that they have not read about at all. What level of intelligence does that show?

          • Christopher

            “what is written there is not from me. It is just the studies cited – the peer reviewed studies that are done by the people who know most about these topics. ”

            This is exactly my point – none of the many authors of this book are qualified to talk on this topic. My personal knowledge is that I am gay and know a fair few gay people. This alone tells me that most of what you believe about gay people is false. Its rather like hearing an alien who has never visited earth explain to a human being that humans have two hearts and eighteen limbs! So much for the commitment in Lambeth 1.10 to actually listen to gay people – you’re not interested. You don’t want to hear the truth because it conflicts with what you decided waaay before you ever even met a gay person

            Fundamentalist can mean a specific movement of Christianity or it can be applied more broadly to Christians whose extreme political views limit their ability to see reason.

          • Peter, you surely cannot be this dense so many times over.

            The authors of the book did not do any of the studies. They simply cite hundreds of studies done by experts, and the conclusions of those studies.

            Please let me know you finally understand.

          • I don’t know why you are focused on this particular book. The same studies are cited in any number of books.

  5. The bishops should acknowledge that these prayers/blessings are nothing more than holding what was already available and do nothing to address abuse or discrimination. They are not radically inclusive. They are not radical since priests could bless gay people decades ago. They are not inclusive since they keep gay people lesser than the least of those classes of person acceptable to the CofE. Its just more “welcome to attend, because we don’t want to admit we don’t like you”

    Reply
      • “Such as these”

        Note Sam Allberry is on record opposing Lambeth 1.10 (he signed the Nashville statement which is more hostile to gay people) and has left the denomination

        Reply
        • Indeed so. Sam Alberry is now part of a small group that like to call themselves Anglican but are not actually part of the Anglican Communion and not anything to do with the CofE. That’s fine. It doesn’t matter what he is as far as I am concerned but he has chosen to opt out.

          Reply
      • Also FWIW Vaughan Roberts also claims not to be gay and also signed the Nashville statement (and so disagrees with current church of England teaching on gay people)

        Reply
          • Anton

            Yes, but he’s says he isn’t gay and that its a sin to identify as gay. This position is at odds with official cofe teaching. He is every bit as ‘revisionist’ as those pressing for better treatment of LGBT people by the CofE

          • He is using a different definition of ‘gay’. Yours is the experience of sexual attraction to other men exclusively, is it not?

          • Anton

            I would say “attraction” rather than “sexual attraction”.

            The Nashville statement denies “that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.”

            So whatever you want to call it, its a sin according to VR and SA to admit to being one

          • It’s a statement that needs a bit of unpacking. It relates to what was God’s original design plan before the Fall. But given that understanding there is no incompatibility between Nashville and the CoE.

          • Lambeth 1.10 is pretty clear

            “We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;
            while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”

            Its not sensitive or respectful to say its a sin (or falling short of creation) to admit to being gay/homosexual. Its also not particularly truthful and of course it is born from irrational fear

          • Peter: Re Lambeth, I am not convinced that God loves sinners – which we all are regardless of sexuality – aside from faith in Christ. But that’s a separate theological issue. I gladly affirm Lambeth in regard to sexuality, although I would change the word “orientation” to “preference”.

            The Nashville statement at issue is that “adopting a homosexual… self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.” A “homosexual self-conception” is a phrase that is not wholly unambiguous, so a long discussion is futile. I see thephrase as related to the Fall (notice the mention of redemption). The question is whether sexual attraction to persons of the same sex is part of the pre-Fall plan or entered with the Fall. You and I probably have different answers.

          • Anton

            The practical implications of Nashville is to prohibit gay people in the church from admitting to being gay. If you cannot admit to being gay then you cannot recieve pastoral support on being gay. Therefore Nashville contradicts Lambeth.

            More generally Lambeth takes a compassionate attitude to (abstainent) gay people, but Nashville takes a radically hostile attitude to all gay people

          • I simply do not agre with your first and last sentences, and I invite readers to look at the Nashville Statement for themselves here:

            https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement/#articles

            Nothing in Nashville prevents a man from saying to his Nashville-affirming pastor, “I experience sexual attraction to other men, please provide me with pastoral help.” What help do you think he would be offered?

          • Anton

            The Nashville statement says identifying as gay is a sin. I admit it uses deliberately flowery language, but that is its clear purpose and is clearly intended to stop abstinent gay people being fully included in evangelical churches in the south. It was written as more conservatives had given up on the idea that gay people could be made straight and were warming instead to the idea that abstinent gay people could be included. American evangelicals have now swung right back into complete hostility – gay people are now again supposedly a major threat to children etc.

            I think that evangelical pastors would vary on what help or advice they offered the gay guy. Some would try to tell the gay guy he wasn’t really gay or could change, others would tell him to find a different church

          • The Nashville statement… is clearly intended to stop abstinent gay people being fully included in evangelical churches

            That does not follow from it. I said previously that it is not unambiguous, and the above is merely your guess – your eisegesis in fancy terminology. Why have you settled on the view of it that is farthest from your own, rather than the closest, when it is written by persons whom you presumably regard as brethren in Christ?

          • The thinking behind the Nashville stance is presumably that one would not be intending to move away from what’s sinful. For example, divorcing cements an unreconciled state for life for at least 2 people.

          • Here is a passage from the book Openness Unhindered by Rosaria Butterfield, once a militant lesbian feminist and professor of Queer Studies in the English department of a US university, today a committed Christian. In a previous book, her testimony Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, she is candid about her difficulties in overcoming what St Paul calls her sarx, flesh. But she did.

            the concept of sexual orientation blurs the relationship between personhood and sexual practice… We who bear Christ’s spilled blood are a royal priesthood. Any category of personhood that reduces a saint to a sum total of his or her fallen sexual behavior is not a friend of Christ. The word ‘gay’ has a power and a history that Christians who claim it as self-representation need to reckon with…. When you modify the noun ‘Christian’ with the adjective ‘gay’, you pair terms with incompatible anthropologies, and recommend a false philosophy of the soul.

          • I think I would agree with her here in terms of philosophical clarity. The difficulty is with pragmatics, and engaging in conversation with others.

            She is critical of people who use the word gay, without taking care to recognise they do so pragmatically and do not accept the ontological issues that are associated.

          • Ian

            I mention it because Vaughn Roberts is being repeatedly cited as the sort of gay person who is acceptable by CofE evangelicals and as an example of evangelicals not out right hating gay people. Yet he himself is on record rejecting the CofEs current teaching on gay people.

            I then got drawn into a discussion of the exact meaning of the vague and flowery language in the Nashville statement. I agree that the vast majority of CofE priests did not sign it. The guy being upheld of as an example of acceptable gay people did.

          • Ian

            Do you agree with Lambeth 1.10 because that last remark really sounds like you don’t really believe there are people who are homosexuals (that is naturally attracted to the same sex).

            This is not to criticize you, but to point out that its not just the “revisionists” that disagree with the current CofE position, but conservatives too. If you removed everyone who supports SSRs from the CofE, there would still be deep divisions on what to think about the gays

          • Peter: You say that there are people who are attracted naturally to other people of their own sex. Certainly I accept that there are people who are attracted sexually to people of their own sex. One word differs between our statements. Re my sentence, I find attractive the physique of male gymnasts, but not sexually. Re your sentence, what do you mean by ‘naturally’? Human nature is fallen according to St Paul.

            Ian: If ex-lesbian Rosaria Butterfield (who married a pastor) and celibate same-sex-attracted Sam Allberry (the description he prefers) both regard the word ‘gay’ as signifying pride in it, perhaps we should take them seriously. Both are committed evangelicals. I would not take up terminology with someone who called him/herself a ‘gay Christian’, but do we know of *anybody* who uses that term and says (s)he is celibate for the Lord’s sake?

          • Anton

            Naturally – without special help or intervention or choice. And I go more than that, not just natural, but immutable since, although about 5% of people experience some change in their orientation over their lifetime, this is not through choice and there is no known way to force this to happen. You can’t take a heterosexuality pill or surgically remove your gayness.

          • Peter,

            I question the accuracy of that 5% figure, and primarily I question the implicit error bars of not more than 5%. But I do accept that there are not only secular persons (whom God is unlikely to change as he did Rosaria Butterfield) but committed Christians who are going to remain sexually attracted to person of the same sex throughout their lives.

            The Biblical counsel to them is clear, although perhaps it comes most sensitively from persons like Vaughan Roberts, Sam Allberry and David Bennett: embrace celibacy. The response that this advice elicits shows whether a Christian is speaking from the old sarx or from the new man.

          • I think we should be careful about identifying Butterfield as someone whose orientation has changed. She had opposite sex relationships before her same sex relationship and married a man after her same sex relationship. Crucially she has been careful not to claim for herself that her orientation changed, though plenty of people claim this about her.

            I think its most likely she is bisexual. If not, then I think its more likely she is gay, but has chosen opposite sex relationships book ending her same sex relationship for other purposes

          • Not in your categories, it seems, are people whom God has changed, despite all that the Bible says about that.

            I accept that not everybody experiences a change of their sexual preference following conversion, but I dispute that nobody does.

            What is your source that she had boyfriends before becoming a lesbian, please?

          • Anton

            I could accept that some gay people become straight when they become Christians if there were a significantly sized group for who this has happened. I personally have only ever heard of one individual actually claiming this (I forget his name) and have spent decades of my own life earnestly imploring the Lord to.make me straight. Orientation Change Efforts, not only don’t work, but its incredibly hard to even find any individual who claims they worked for them. Churches need to stop telling their flocks that they work because this is just a lie and a lie that causes immense harm to young people

          • No church should claim that their ministry will change somebody in this way. Equally no church should deny that God sometimes does it.

            On this subject, let us not single out orientation change as rare. In Western culture not many Christians seem to live very differently from secular people, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit (which I refuse to take the cessationist pill and deny today) manifest themselves very seldom. It puts me in mind of Mark 6:5. We should all go off and be missionaries somewhere where the church is persecuted. Then we’d all have very different stories to tell.

    • To be fair to the Bishops, a huge numbers of revisionists on Synod have just voted to say what a good job the Bishops are doing and to keep it up with more of the same. If you’re even more radical than them, I don’t think you can complain about not getting what you want.

      Reply
    • ‘The bishops should acknowledge that these prayers/blessings are nothing more than holding what was already available’.

      Except that above there are 4,300 words explaining why this claims lacks any credibility.

      Reply
          • His ‘statements’ are opinion.
            Have you actually read GS2328? Much of that is opinion too. The legal basis has been the bishops’ corporate decision based on legal arguments in both directions. They are honest about that and about the fact that clergy have to make their own mind up about proceeding as they are not guaranteeing that clergy will not be open to legal challenge.
            Andrew’s whole argument is based on his backing the negative advice that the bishops say they have received – some of which we already know. So what? As Christopher Shell says below, what has English law got to do with Jesus?
            The bishops have offered a few crumbs. Clergy who wanted to do so have offered all of this stuff before. Andrew seems to positively hate the idea that gay people might actually be happy and fulfilled and ‘blessed’ and that sentiment informs his every sentence. He is entitled to his opinion, but that is all that it is.

          • I see. You clearly don’t understand what an opinion piece is.
            Hint: every sentence is opinion except for those parts that are undisputed facts. The context makes clear which those are.

          • I consider that I have made your failure clear enough for readers and will desist. Except to add that your comment that it is an opinion piece is just your opinion, and the Bible is God’s opinion.

          • Oh I hadn’t realised Andrew Goddard now spoke with the voice of God. My apologies. I must have missed that pronouncement.

          • We have not seen the legal opinion on whihc the bishops base themselves and they are too cowardly to publish it. As for Collier KC’s essay, it is mainly about the distinction between church and civil marriage, not SSM and man-woman marriage. I have already commented on this piece below.

          • Collier is apt because this debate is not about equal marriage. Synod is not voting on whether ssms should be conducted in church. Synod has voted on stand alone blessings for gay couples some of whom will have contracted a civil marriage. Such prayers would not therefore change the Church’s doctrine of marriage any more than would those prayers offered to divorced couples after a civil marriage change the Church’s doctrine of marriage.

  6. Can anyone answer my query: – As a lay member and Lay Chair of a Deanery Synod – would it be legal for a PCC with a vacancy for an incumbent to specify that they want / don’t want to appoint a person who will use the LLF prayers?

    Reply
          • Well clearly Andrew and those of you who are exercised about that are going to have to battle it out in the courts to get your answer. The bishops and Synod have decided that is not the best way forward. And the vote has been taken on the basis that there is no change. So asking for a new Vicar who upholds the doctrine of the CofE isn’t necessarily going to get you a Vicar who won’t use the PLF.

          • You can put a vote before synod saying that the moon is made of green cheese if you like, but if Synod is foolish enough to vote for it then that doesn’t make it so.

  7. As section A6 of the Canons of the C of E makes clear, governance in the C of E is made by the Bishops and Synod ‘The government of the Church of England under the Queen’s Majesty, by archbishops, bishops, deans, archdeacons, and the rest of the clergy and of the laity that bear office in the same, is not repugnant to the Word of God..’

    All 3 houses of Synod, Bishops, Clergy and Laity have voted both for prayers of Love and Faith and to bless same sex couples married in English law on an experimental basis. There is therefore no legal basis to challenge the decision, especially as Synod confirmed the doctrine of holy matrimony as still only between a man and woman ideally for life

    Reply
      • How in practice would it be decided whether it was legal, and what would happen if the Archbishops said “We’ll do it anyway”, please? This is the relevant info that Andrew Goddard, who understands canon law better than most of us, doesn’t give.

        Reply
        • There is a legal office in Church House, and they give advice, which the bishops *appear* to be disregarding at the moment.

          In the end, if they persist, this will be tested in court. But a growing minority of the bishops will not be happy with that, as we have already seen, and will rebel.

          Reply
      • By definition what is legal in the C of E is decided by the majority of Synod and the Bishops.

        That has been the case since the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 which transferred powers of governance over the Church of England as established church from Parliament to Synod

        Reply
          • The judiciary is subordinate to Acts of Parliament. The 1919 Act made clear full governance and legal powers over the Church of England rested with Synod (or the Assembly as then was). No judge can challenge or overturn that Act

          • Ian

            But parliament can certainly change the law and would do so if the core decided that it wanted to allow priests to marry gay people. Indeed the bishops primary motivation in this seems to be to get the politicians and media off their back on their treatment of minorities in the church

          • Realistically, Parliament cannot tell the C of E what its doctrine must be in any area. It would breach every human right there is, and align us with China and North Korea.

          • Ian

            I’m not suggesting parliament would dictate church of England theology. I’m suggesting parliament would change the law to allow gay weddings in CofE churches if the bishops or synod asked them to

          • Ultimate legal power in the UK rests with Crown in Parliament, not the judges. Indeed if Parliament repealed the 1919 Act and decided to legislate for all future C of E doctrine rather than Synod, including imposing full homosexual marriage on the established church rather than the mere blessings that Synod has approved on an experimental basis, there would be nothing judges could do to stop it

          • A great deal given the C of E is the established church in England. Indeed from the Reformation to the early 20th century Parliament was responsible for passing all legislation affecting C of E governance and doctrine. Jesus of course never said anything against blessing homosexual couples anyway

          • ‘Jesus of course never said anything against blessing homosexual couples anyway.’ Yes he did—again. why do we have to keep repeating this? Didn’t you listen the first time?

            Jesus affirmed the universal Jewish rejection of same-sex relationships by confirming marriage as between one man and one woman because of God’s creation.

          • Yet you don’t seem to have any problem with remarriage of divorced couples in the C of E, which Jesus actually did oppose except for spousal adultery or death of a spouse

          • “What on earth relevance has English law to Jesus?”

            None. But Andrew Goddard has based his whole argument on that.

          • Ian

            That’s your own extrapolation of the text. It’s not in the text itself. That’s why this issue keeps coming up.

      • The organisers of Synod, the Chair, the lawyers present, all allowed a ultra vires motion to go forward and no-one thought to point this out at the time?

        Reply
        • Exactly so AJ. The idea that people such as the Dean of the Arches would be present at General Synod and not actually say ‘hang on you lot, you can’t hold such a vote as it’s illegal’ is quite ridiculous.
          I’m sure the Christian Legal Centre’ will launch an appeal. And they of course have such a great record of having decisions like this overturned. (Not)

          Reply
  8. See ‘The Synodal Babel’ at dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12800421/Pope-punishes-leading-critic-Cardinal-Burke-second-action-against-conservative-American-prelates.html

    Reply
  9. At civil law the Bishops will have a duty of care, both jointly and severally, to ministers, the diocese, trustees, wardens.
    The duty extends to advice.
    It is suggested that there will be a breach of that duty, again jointly a severally, if that advice is unlawful, and would result in anyone following it being the subject of litigation, which could be seen as litigation by proxy against the Bishops advice or lack of it.
    Equally, it is suggested, that it would be a breach of duty of the Bishops to fail to advise, according to the law, of which they are or ought to be aware, leaving it to the individual to determine.

    Reply
  10. Ps 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
    Psalms 37:13
    The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
    Isaiah 57:15
    For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite[repentant] and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the [repentant]contrite ones.
    Ezekiel 23:32–33 — The New International Version (NIV)

    32 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
    “You will drink your sister’s cup,
    a cup large and deep;it will bring scorn and derision,for it holds so much.
    33 You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow,
    the cup of ruin and desolation,

    Reply
  11. Of course Parliament can tell the C of E what its doctrine is if it strays too far from the law of the land it is established church in. Indeed Synod itself having power of governance of the C of E is only a concession by Parliament, pre 1919 Parliament legislated directly over the governance and doctrine of the established church.

    Of course China and N Korea don’t have established churches, only England, Denmark, Tuvalu and Iceland , Malta and Liechtenstein and arguably Greece now do

    Reply
  12. Qualifications in English law? Such as? Which topics?
    And a specific Act of Parliament? That is very narrow.
    Any other aspects to consider such as employment and the whole panoply of civil and criminal law?
    Not only that, law is subject to interpretation by the Courts and the in questions of delegation of law by Parliament.
    It seems to me that your understanding and applications of the principles of the English legal systems, Constitutional and Administrative Law, are somewhat awry and limited yet without expert, even specialist, knowledge, without a backbone of the citation of legal authorities, law and precedents. It is flabbergasting.
    At least the Bishops have recognised the need to obtain legal advice. They too have not deigned to cite, publish, the the legal authorities, backbone. That, too, is flabbergasting.

    Reply
  13. As one with a short attention span, I ask whether if the votes and the debates leading up to them had not occurred, anything would then have changed. Failure of these debates and votes to change anything would be very frustrating to anyone who was trying to change something. What would they try next?

    Reply
  14. It turns out it is all about the sex act after all.

    What is the argument supposed to be? That the prayers need to have something more explicit about there being no licence for sex in the relationship? It’s probably worth considering whether you think, if this is your argument, whether that needs to be said in the prayers themselves or if it’s an expectation in the priest’s conversations with the couple beforehand.

    The implication here is that the prayers for covenanted friendship really are ok. They so clearly rule out any sex that the current draft guidance says that you can enter a covenanted friendship whilst married to someone else.

    Reply
    • Of course it is all about the sex act. Pride marches are only one of the ways that is very clear. Another is the movement’s sexual-revolution origins. And see how the Gay Liberation Front were the chief targeters of the 1971 Fesdtival of Light.
      Why else would demands abruptly cease at the same time that people are allowed sex / quasisex with blessing. THat is obviously what it is all about.
      Why else is the million dollar question ‘Is gay sex a sin?’ ? That is the castle they are jealously defending. (To which the answer is – things are sins in proportion to how harmful they are.)
      This is the obsession, the stronghold. Most other generations would understand how seriously sick this attitude is, when the church is all about holiness, beauty, reverence.
      I have been saying this for years and am amazed how many cannot see it.
      The very thing (male-male congress) that is easily the biggest per head disease-cause in terms of all kinds of STIs ranging up to pandemics is being portrayed as the leading charitable cause.
      A lot of scheming took place (see Kirk and Madsen) to soften up the world’s 6-8bn people so that so few of them saw what was going on or spoke against it. This sleight of hand happened in plain sight.

      Reply
      • “things are sins in proportion to how harmful they are”

        So driving your car is a sin.
        Having nuclear weapons is a sin.
        Failure to address climate change is a sin.

        When do you campaign about these sins Christopher? They are much more harmful than faithful same sex relationships.

        Reply
        • In a fallen world everything is damage limitation. One day Jesus will return. Till then we must do the best we can and our best guidebook is the Bible… is it not?

          Reply
        • What a silly question. You know very well that you do not know me nearly well enough to know what I campaign on.

          I have often campaigned about cars and climate change. However, do not remember campaigning on nuclear – no idea why not.

          Reply
      • 750,000 people die from STIs annually.
        1.26 million people die in childbirth.
        Straight sex is clearly more dangerous than gay sex (especially since some of those dying from STIs will be straight).

        Reply
        • This comment represents a new low for in the world of statistical fallacies. It’s just cherry picking, false causality and faulty generalisation.

          Reply
          • David Shepherd

            The logical fallacy is that by listing the dangers of same sex sex that are higher risk than opposite sex sex concluding that same sex sex is more dangerous you are ignoring all the ways opposite sex sex is more dangerous

            Really its a different fallacy in that you guys are deciding same sex sex is really bad and then fishing for data to support your assumption

          • Penelope

            If man and woman have no STDs, have sex with nobody else and have only PIV sex then they will not get STDs.

            PIV sex is not available to a male couple, and if they have anal sex then both are at risk of getting dangerous faecal bacteria in their bloodstreams and at least one is at risk of incontinence.

        • The conclusion that so-called straight sex is more dangerous does not follow, especially as you have not broken down the STI victims into categories.

          There will always be far more ‘straight’ people succumbing only because so very many more people are straight. Only for that reason.

          As for the rates ‘per head’ of risk of disease or death resulting from sexual practice, self-styled gay men have always led the way by a considerable margin.

          Your statistics are right, but do no more than show the blindingly obvious: that there are far, far more people behaving ‘straight’ than ‘gay’.

          This being the case, what illuminating point did you attempt to make by means of these statistics?

          This error, by the way, comes up so often that it has been possible to predict it.
          It is predicated on the assumption that 50% of people are gay. Ummmmm….

          Reply
          • People behave that way, which does not mean they are that way.

            Secondly (final para) people hold assumptions on that basis – these assumptions are theirs, not mine.

          • Christopher

            I don’t know what you mean by “behave that way”?!

            Do you mean have same same sex sex? That’s not what being gay means. Plenty of gay people have never had same sex sex. Indeed lots of straight men have same sex sex, which is partly why the health service uses the phrase ” men who have sex with men”

          • I mean that the only reliable way to analyse is in terms of behaviour, not in terms of more nebulous claimed feelings.

          • So where does someone like Sam Allberry or Vaughan Roberts fit into your ‘analysis’? (Not to mention your average Catholic priest or nun)

          • Christopher

            Behavior is even less reliable than self reporting because gay people hide themselves so often.

            We were at a social event on Sunday evening and there was a newly out gay man there in his 50s. He had known he was gay since he was 7. In any self reporting study or behavioral study he would have been wrongly listed as straight

          • It is an analysis not an ‘analysis’.

            Behaviour is precise and detailed and need not fit into simple categories that hold throughout time. That is why accurate analysis needs to be in terms of behaviour, in order to avoid being simplistic. As Jesus said, desire is also one sort of behaviour.

            Peter is right. If people do not tell the truth, it makes accuracy difficult for others.

          • Christopher

            If you are defining people by behavior then you are talking about MSM and MSW, not gay, straight and bi

      • Christopher

        In the church of England context, gay people are asking for monogamous marriage. Therefore STDs are irrelevant. If the only person you have sex with does not have an STD then you cannot get an STD.

        You are, yet again, comparing promiscuous gay men with monogamous straight men. It would be fairer to compare monogamous gay men with monogamous straight men

        Reply
        • Which neatly sidesteps the question of the respective rates of monogamy and promiscuity between the two groups. Unbelievably you are assuming that the two average rates are the same, when they are not even particularly close! That’s why this train of thought needs to start again.

          Reply
          • Christopher

            You’re blaming people who are seeking monogamy for the promiscuity of other people. I’m sure you wouldn’t like to be blamed for promiscuity amongst young straight men!

            Yes *some* gay men are very promiscuous. Some gay men are seeking monogamy. Some gay men are seeking abstinence

          • So you would discourage promiscuous people from turning their lives around and seeking the discipline of monogamous marriage?
            Interesting take on sexual ethics.

          • So we are compelled to accept some new way of using the word ‘marriage’, sneaked in under the radar.
            Where is the authority to demand universal compulsion towards something so strikingly new and without biological base?

          • (1) What proportion of promiscuous people is seeking out monogamy? Is this a thing? Yes, a very minority thing.
            (2) Nor were they compelled to be promiscuous in the first place. What is that false assumption based on?
            (3) Nor will a vow of monogamy necessarily be kept, though it shows good intent.
            (4) One main reason it is less likely to be kept is that old habits die hard and our society allows the laying of poor foundations.
            (5) In this place the word ‘monogamy’ is misused since -gam- means marry and you are talking about two who cannot biologically marry.

          • I don’t believe marriage is a biological category. Not do I believe that heterosexual people are denied marriage, even in church, because they have had lots of sex before marriage, or may have lots of other partners during it.
            We don’t deny people baptism because they might fall into sin. So your argument is specious.

          • You don’t believe marrfiage is a biological category? Of all the things to feel awe about, surely everyone (apart from you?) feels awe at the miracle of one flesh and the miracle of new life. People have never been able to just stand by and accept that as is. They have had to sacralise it in recognition of its sacredness.

            Marriage is biological in two ways: one flesh and the fusion that brings new life. How else to understand Paul’s logic in 1 Cor 6? But it would be true even if he had not said it.

          • Marriage is a social construct. My washing powder is more biological than marriage.
            PIV sex (or IVF) produces offsrping, not marriage.

          • There is no unitary word in the 10-vol English dictionary for something so utterly fundamental as what you call pivs?

            This is a mere subcategory, is it?

          • Yes. Sexual intercourse open to life to use a nice euphemism. Men ejaculate, women ovulate and offspring are sometimes the result. Sometimes the parents are married. Often they are not.

          • That is five words. As you know. All the other fundamental realities get one word. It is so obvious what is going on.

        • Christopher

          Do you not understand the difference between an average from a (almost certainly non representative) survey and an individual?

          On average gay men are less interested in sport than straight men so do you think gay men should be prohibited from sport??

          Reply
          • Hi Peter

            I do not understand your point. You say that a survey is in view. What is the name of this survey?
            Having named it, can you then also tell me by what divination you know something is unrepresentative when you were not yourself the researcher?
            What is unrepresentative got published in a peer reviewed journal?
            And finally, why on earth are you speaking of *one* survey? Students always look at the range of different surveys and then prioritise those which are most relevant and largest scale.

          • Your claim is that gay men are more likely to have STIs than straight men due to increased promiscuity. I don’t dispute that on average that is probably true, although this information comes from unrepresentative surveys that rely on self reporting. What I am is disputing is that gay people in the church who are seeking to marry are promiscuous. Probably very few of these have ever answered a survey of gay men because the surveys target promiscuous gay men and often pass over others.

            I also think its ridiculous to ban people from monogamy for the reason that they aren’t sufficiently monogamous!

          • I have rarely met an avowed homosexual who was not socially liberal, generally urban, and signed up to the sexual revolution in general. That creates its own intractable problems.

          • Christopher

            The 1960s were 60 years ago. You may as well complain that you can’t talk to women because they have all accepted this modern idea that its OK not to cover their ankles in public

          • Christopher

            You clearly haven’t met many ‘avowed homosexuals’. Theough if you continue to call gay men and women by such a loaded term, I’m not surprised.

          • It is certainly a deeply offensive term, though (being descriptive) the reasons for that escape me.

      • And there is more data showing that the whole thing is about allowing ‘gay sex’ with official blessing. That is why ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ is so often vilified in one sentence. Because what the people are wanting is for ‘gay sex’ to be allowed. The changes wanted to that document are all to do with the permitting of ‘gay sex’. Just like
        (1) Pride marches, and
        (2) the way that demands drop once ‘gay sex’ is permitted as kosher, and
        (3) the questioning of politicians on ‘is gay sex a sin?’, and
        (4) the history of the movement (GLF) originating in the sexual revolution, etc, this fifth point
        (5) attitude to ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’
        is further evidence that the whole thing is ‘gay sex’ directed.
        Same impression is gained from (6) the preface to Charlie Bell’s ‘Queer Holiness’.

        Er – yes – that has a lot to do with Christianity. As we read through Mark in the coming year, could anything be further from the spirit of Jesus?

        Either people are not intelligent or they have been somehow deluded. Why cannot people see the extremity of this?

        Reply
        • In the UK gay sex was completely decriminalized 20 years ago (and actually it was about the same time in the US).

          Pride is a protest movement for equal rights under the law for LGBT people. When it started in the 1960s legalization of gay sex was a primary goal. Now the big issues are things like conversion therapy, healthcare access and sex ed (the failure to provide any LGBT sex ed to teens is certainly a reason STDs are more prevalent amongst younger LGB people than older LGB people).

          Reply
          • Oh, my days. Sex education is needed?
            Why – because they do not know how diseases come?
            Or because every time you abandon the Christian way, diseases and promiscuity go up a lot?
            I was not talking about that aspect of Pride, as you know, but rather about how these marches show that sex is at the root of the whole thing. And also, they have no qualms about putting it in children’s space. Eeugh.
            DOes it not strike you that the sexual behavior of men with men never fails to produces high rates of medical issues, simply because it is itself the issue and should not be happening in the first place. Read WATTTC about what the closest attempted approximation to sexual union actually involves. It is always dangerous, requiring contraception. That fact is a red light to anyone half sensible. It was at the forefront of one pandemic, while ‘gay men’ are always per head the main people who succumb to these diseases, by far. And you treat this as essentially they are just one group among many, needing more education 50 years after the issues have actually become far MORE discussed since the sexual revolution.
            You want to stand by while people die and get diseases? Or is the Christian way not a far, far better way?

          • Christopher

            Which, if true, is a very good argument for the discipline of marriage.
            Good to see you supporting queer folk having the same rights to conjugal fidelity as their straight counterparts.

          • Good to see you misrepresenting or misunderstanding again. It wouldn’t feel right if you successfully understood.

          • Christopher

            New infections of HIV have been falling amongst gay men because older gay men habe educated themselves on how to lower the risks of infection.

            Younger gay men don’t know and often have nobody they can ask, even if they think to ask. They don’t know how to access medical advice or services. Safer straight sex is taught in schools. Safer gay sex is not.

          • Lower the risk of infection? If you keep sex for marriage there are no risks. If you don’t then the way you are following is not Christian in the first place.

            You could lower the risk of dying in Russian roulette by having a 50 cap pistol not a 12 cap.

            That really shows an acknowledgement of the value of human beings, right? Something which secularism constantly cheapens, with its lack of awe.

            It just shows that gay sex is never safe, it only has degrees of unsafeness/unsafety. And that, of course, is the same as saying it is an unhealthy practice.

          • Christopher

            One of the primary purposes of sex ed is to reduce the spread of STDs. Gays do not come straight from the womb with a working knowledge of the NHS.

          • Have you ever seen the statistics of before sex ed and after sex ed. Let us say sex ed began in earnest around 1967, though it was gradual. Since that time have abortions, multiple sexual partners, pornography, stability of marriage, STIs, gender confusion – got
            (a) better
            (b) worse
            (c) much worse?
            Sex education normalises, and puts ideas in modest children’s minds who have been well brought up – ideas which would not otherwise have been there. And in my experience a lot of it is secular (i.e. lacking in awe and putting a lower valuation on individuals) rather than Christian. Red light.

          • Go on, Peter, tell me. Sex ed has been going for 55 years. You say one of its primary purposes is to reduce STDs. So how much has it reduced STDs by?

          • Your rose tinted romanticism for the 40s and 50s, with girls getting their first period thinking they were dying, marital rape, rampant physical and sexual abuse of children, single mothers bundled into glorified workhouses, forced adoptions etc., is remarkable.

          • Christopher

            To be sexually active before the 1960s you’d have to be at least 80 now! Please, we don’t live in the 1950s. The majority of young adults are not Christians. The church is doing a stupendous job of convincing people in England not to be Christians. Continued rejection, exclusion and abuse of gay people is a small, but significant part of that.

            If you want to convince young adults that they should never ever have sex else a God they don’t believe in, who seems totally fine BTW with all the non consensual sex in his church, will be outraged with them, then you’d need a radically different church, not better sex ed.

          • AJ-
            There are a few things you know here:
            -The number of times I mentioned workhouses.
            -Or periods.
            -Or the 40s or 50s.
            All of those topics were you speaking, not me, and you are well aware of that.

            You cannot surely think that it is possible to transplant one age onto another, as an entire package deal? So that we can get Churchill back as Prime Minister? Do you really think that?

            Or is what you think that ages in history are uniformly bad or uniformly good? Maybe that is your logic.

            Or maybe you think that other ages cannot be better than our own in even one of the millions of possible respects? Is that what you think?

            Or maybe what you think is that when an age is failing in one respect it should not be allowed to learn from ages that succeeded in the same respect? Failure is better than success?

            Sexual abuse mushroomed after the sexual revolution, peaking in the 1970s. See my chapter 10in WATTTC? Which is very different from the picture you tried to give – cite evidence, please.

            You also seem to think that an entire age can be summarised in a sentence. This level of over-simplicity will then be in danger of being cited against the over-simplicity of your thinking.

            Is it not obvious that we try to make our own age the best we can in all the respects we can? Sometimes this will mean that we end up with something similar to successful policies and patterns that have been seen before, and sometimes it won’t. But so long as we go for replicating success, that will be the main thing.

            You speak as though different periods in history have monopolies on different policies. Which of course is untrue, both logically and factually. It is well possible to introduce any policy at any period of history, whether for the 1st or nth time.

            Wow – how many paras I have had to write to show each of the different ways in which your thinking seems confused.

            Peter, you make the same error. Both of you should look up ‘chronological snobbery’, which is the philosophical fallacy you are committing.

            Peter, when the churches were bursting at the seams, as in many ages they have been, was this at times when gay identity was strongly to the fore within those churches?

            Was it?

            Really?

            I don’t understand why you cite ‘young people’. Why are they more special than people of different ages? You want them to develop no self discipline. In other words, you want them to have unhappy and unfulfilled lives.

            The Christian premarital sexual discipline is not something exclusive to this age. Yet you are speaking as though it is. Therefore you are not only wrong but knowingly wrong.

            Nothing stopping people just getting married younger, so what is the issue? Preferably within a culture that is good at character formation, something sexual revolution cultures are rubbish at.

          • Christopher

            Straight sex is unsafe. One result is pregnancy which leads to maternal and infant mortality. There is no such thing as ‘safe sex’.

          • Whom can you possibly be replying to? I never use the icky term ‘safe sex’. Sex is wholehearted or it is nothing. There is something very strange here.

            But, yes, babies are certainly a great danger. That makes all of us a great danger to be avoided.

          • Christopher

            Church attendance has been in steep decline my whole life and throughout that time a significant proportion of the church has demonized gay people.

            I’m not claiming that full inclusion of gay people will reverse the trend. I am claiming that exclusion and abuse of gay people increases the decline.

  15. Christopher Shell
    November 30, 2023 at 7:36 am
    “A lot of scheming took place (see Kirk and Madsen) to soften up the world’s 6-8bn people so that so few of them saw what was going on or spoke against it. This sleight of hand happened in plain sight.
    On Kirk and Madsen
    Google;- Critique After the Ball (Kirk and Madsen book)
    Or .christianpost.com/voices/a-reminder-for-the-church-from-two-influential-gay-activists.html
    These men have directly affected your life and culture—strategically, gradually, subtly and definitely intentionally.
    the authors readily admit: ‘We’re talking about propaganda.’”
    “The authors’ goal was the “conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media.”
    Ergo through blogs[?]
    As stated at the beginning of the book, the authors called for a “campaign of unabashed propaganda, firmly grounded in long-established principles of psychology and advertising.”
    we must never take our eyes off the greater prize: the conversion of the hearts and minds , not by the spreading of propaganda but by the propagation of truth, grounded in the love, goodness, and justice of God.” Michael Brown. Christian Post

    Reply
    • Alan

      What would you say to someone like me, middle aged and who has never read that book (it came out when I was 7 years old), but still disagrees with you that God requires gay people like me to stay single our whole lives for some arbitrary never explained reason?

      Reply
        • That gay people in lifelong unions are denied even a blessing but heterosexuals who get married after lots or pre marital sex or get divorced and remarried, even if the spouse is still alive and did not commit adultery, no problem at all!

          Reply
        • That gay people in lifelong unions are denied even a blessing but heterosexuals who get married after lots of pre marital sex or get divorced and remarried, even if the spouse is still alive and did not commit adultery, no problem at all!

          Reply
          • The more times you say two wrongs make a right, and the more times you ignore the challenge, the more obvious it is to everyone that you have no answer to that point.

        • Ian

          No you have not. Your answer boils down to a claim that I must be single because God says so. That’s an arbitrary rule. There’s no justification

          Reply
        • Have we? If you’re saying you think God requires gay people to stay single our whole lives that’s a change in your view for one. My understanding was that you argued we could enter heterosexual marriages, and this is not just a logical statement, but to be encouraged as a real option.

          Reply
        • Christopher

          I did all my schooling under Thatcher’s 28. The only time gay anything was mentioned during my education was as an insult. Cabinet ministers were still being forced to resign if it came out they were gay. Being gay was a scandal and a disease. That’s what I learned from culture. Its taken me most of the rest of my life to deal with the psychological harm those societal and political movements did me as a teenager.

          Please go meet some gay people and don’t just rely on your bubble of hostility

          Reply
        • Whoa! You know that you know nothing about me, and are still dishonest enough to pretend you know about my acquaintance circle and friend circle.

          Mrs Thatcher was in power during the HIV/AIDS devastation. This had followed on directly from the promulgation of the most damaging message possible – the family-hating pure selfishness of the sexual revolution.
          The main message post-AIDS was pro-gay (counter intuitively, since a pandemic had just been launched on the world, largely through self indulgent sexual behaviour). The victims were even treated as heroes at times in Thatcher’s times, though being self indulgent sexually is not only not heroic, the very reverse of heroism, and cheapens actual heroism.

          Reply
          • Christopher

            Have you not heard of Section 28? I’m not talking about the UK governments response to AIDs. I’m talking about their censorship legislation

            I know that you have told me that your knowledge of gay people comes from a book that you yourself co-authored. I know that you harbor pretty extreme and unrepresentative views of gay people. I know that you claimed you couldn’t talk to gay people because they all accepted the sexual revolution (!)

          • Readers would be well advised to read the last comment from Peter Jermey to see how almost total a person’s incorrect understanding can be.

            He writes ‘Have you not heard of Section 28?’ Well, of course I have. But, more pertinantly, he has not the slightest reason for saying that I have not.

            Second, my entire point was that the context against which Mrs Thatcher instituted Section 28 was the HIV/AIDS crisis which showed in chilling fashion what harm teh normnalisation of homosexual behaviour was capable of causing in a very short time.

            Third, he says that my knowledge of ‘gay people’ comes from a book that I co-authored. The way he sees it, I knew nothing about ‘gay people’; I then on that basis co-wrote a book on them; and then I read wide-eyed what I had written, and got lots of info about gay people from that. Does that even make sense?

            Fourth, he does not think about the fact that one would not be able to write anything in a book apart from what one *already* knew.

            Fifth, the main points in the book are nothing to do with the book – they are quoting the largest scale studies that were completed before the book was even conceived.

            Sixth, he says I have extreme and unrepresentative views. Obviously, whatever is mainstream is more likely to be accurate? Nothing can become mainstream by means of being jammed by media.

            Seventh, whatever is middle of the road in a given culture is also more likely to be accurate in his eyes. How does that work?

            Eighth, I claimed I could not talk to gay people because they all accepted the sexual revolution. Did I? I have spoken to him often enough, so what he is saying does not appear to be true. I am a debater and talk to anyone.

            Ninth, would acceptance of the sexual revolution be a reason for not talking to anyone? It would be the reverse – a reason for talking to them, to reason them out of the harm of such an attitude before it harmed them any more. I might have said that acceptance of the sexual revolution despite its clear harm made their view not worth listening to. That would have been true, but I do not remember saying it.

            Finally, I did not say all gay people accepted the SR. What an unintelligent generalisation that would have been. But it is very rare that I come across one who does not – which puts them on the side of family destruction and prevents people taking what they say seriously.

            A very large number of incorrect renderings of what I said within a short space. Average one incorrect rendering per line.

          • Christopher,

            Remove the plank from your own eye. Getting your knickers in a twist that none of us really know you, whilst accusing the rest of us of being disciples of some random book you read and believe suits your argument is deeply hypocritical.

            And if you’re blaming HIV infection on gay sex primarily (let alone exclusively) you’d better start thinking about how it is that two-thirds of HIV infections worldwide have been in Africa and over 10% of the population of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana are infected. Are they secretly the most gay countries in the world?

          • Er, no, AJ. What is being said is simply that men who have sex with men are by far the main risk category.

            Which is connected directly to what they do. Obviously.

            Just as they are per head by far the main risk category for so many other STIs: gonorrhea, monkeypox, anal cancer, syphilis, and so on.

            They could scarcely be more than 50% of the total HIV/AIDS victims given that they comprise so low a percentage of the world’s population! Is that what you were expecting? If so, think about it – because this same mistake gets made by my interlocutors almost every time, and that is very regularly. Their figures as they already are are lamentable, but 50% would be even more lamentable, not to mention practically impossible, since the total number of men who have sex with men would find it hard to compete in number with the number of other HIV/AIDS victims.

            Also your language is unpleasant and aweless/cheapening.

            We are, also, talking about precious people dying because the taboos against making valuable lives cheap were tragically erased. It’s a sober topic.

          • As for my having said you were disciples of Kirk and Madsen, you knew that was not true even before you said it.

            What I said was that you were among the generation duped by the deliberate (they admit as much) concerted effort to jam a certain message around a certain time. Their book was 1989, and the UK media concerted effort to change perceptions was precisely 1994.

            There was no reference, within this concerted effort, to the unhealthiness of the lifestyle or the STI statistics or the promiscuity statistics. That strategy was deliberate and cynical. Christians want nothing to do with cynicism or spin.

            Many people are (see The Spiral of Silence) terrified of being in a perceived minority of thought.
            Many people also (unbelievably) believe things the more, the more they hear them repeated.

          • Christopher

            1. I asked if you knew about s28 because when I mentioned it you started talking about AIDs. S28 was limits on what state schools could teach about gay people … To children! My point was that far from your claim I have drunk in societal norms – the society I became a man in was incredibly hostile towards gay people – we were a disease. It was dangerous even to talk about us!

            3. I claimed that you got your information about gay people from a book you co-authored because you yourself said so and kept citing it as if it is an authority. Its exactly my point that this information has no evidential weight in supporting your views since you are essentially quoting yourself as evidence you are right!

            8. When I suggested you get out and meet some real gay people instead of living in a hostile bubble, you explained that you couldn’t do that since gay people accepted the serial revolution. I’d wager the vast majority will have never even heard of it!

            2.

          • Peter, you are not even trying. You know very well I did none of the research for the book – I did only analysis. The research was done by scientists and social scientists, , and everyone is able to cite these same scientists and social scientists.

            Second, you repeat that I treat the book as an authority. No – the studies cited in it (practically none of them by evangelicals) are authorities.

            Just let me know that you understand the difference.

            Thank you.

            I have never heard of the serial revolution either. What is it?

            I could not get out and meet ‘gay people’ for the simple reason that I already know several.

            ‘Get out ‘ of where anyway?

            How does meeting them change their STI and promiscuity averages? These averages remain exactly the same whether they are met or not met. Think.

          • Christopher

            I don’t know anything about your book other than who the authors are. None of them have relevant qualifications. I don’t magically have knowledge of the studies in the book. If you are citing real peer reviewed studies then you could cite them directly and I would know. Telling me that I am wrong about myself because I haven’t read a chapter in your book does not prove to me that I am delluded!

            I find it hard to believe you know any gay people since you have repeatedly claimed gay people don’t actually exist!

  16. Long standing readers of this type of post can see that the polarizations involved are between those who present a psychological point of view and an exploration of the Biblical point of view. Feelings versus Faith. I submit that in much of Christian thinking there is a great stress on “how people feel” and not on how God thinks and feels.
    When we get onto God’s line, feelings are of no consequence;
    ……. without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.[ergo His thoughts and feelings] Hebrews 3:12

    Reply
  17. Dr Edward Morgan KC advises that the only safe, effective, and legitimate means by which the Prayers of Love and Faith can be adopted is by means of a resolution of the General Synod in accordance with Canon B2. He also states that any alternative route is likely to expose the Church of England, the Archbishops and the Diocesan Bishops to significant legal challenge.

    https://anglican.ink/2023/07/06/letter-to-the-archbishops-and-bishops-of-the-church-of-england-warning-against-an-unconstitutional-usurpation-of-authority-in-implementing-the-living-in-love-and-faith-process/

    Bring it on… and if Welby et al quote 1 Cor 6 then they can reasonably be told that they are showing every sign of unbelief in this matter. Certainly the Archbishop of Nigeria thinks so:

    https://anglican.ink/2023/11/25/statement-by-the-primate-of-all-nigeria-condemning-the-church-of-england-general-synod-llf-vote/

    Reply
      • Such as?
        Those to which the Bishops (alone?) are privvy?
        Publically, it is not known, one way or another, whether this is the advice that has been given to them, or whether they are playing fast and loose, even contrary to the advice, and running with the tactic, view, that legal proceedings will not be instituted.
        It is incumbent on them, jointly and severally, to advise as to the legality, those to whom they owe a legal duty of care, otherwise they are in breach of their duty.
        Are ministers to be left to be the fall-guy- litigants? Shabby leadership.

        Reply
          • Agreed it’s an opinion but it’s not, as far as I can see, anything conclusive. It merely sets out his view of legal landscape… and the confusion. Nothing from a theological perspective… Which, to be fair, he doesn’t claim.

            “In all these circumstances it is not possible to avoid the conclusion that difficult as it may be to grasp as a concept, there are two different realities. On the one hand, there is the institution and status of being married in England and Wales which the state recognises when two people go through the ritual and make a contract provided for in the civil marriage ceremony as set out by the state. But that does not mean, on the other hand, that they have entered into the contract that the Bible teaches us that God intended people to enter into if they want to follow his creation pattern. That is a lifelong commitment of faithfulness in all circumstances, entered into conscious of the need of the support of family and the community, and very much dependent on the blessing of God.”

          • Collier’s essay is about the legitimacy of distinguishing between ‘holy matrimony’ and civil marriage. It is silent about same-sex commitments and ceremonies. While the secular State may choose to recognise these, the church must take its view of them from scripture primarily and from Judaeo-Christian tradition secondarily. No form of relationship that involves sexual relations between men can be legitimised in the eyes of the authors of scripture, because of what scripture itself says. That is the reason for scripture’s silence about SSM, obviously.

            Collier makes interesting points but ignores the point that marriages contracted in the Church of England and in English registrary offices are treated equally before the law in regard to the legitimacy of offspring or the phrase appearing in wills “I leave ***** to my husband/wife”, etc.

          • You don’t seem that bothered about the C of E taking from scripture only in regards to remarrying divorcees, which it already does and women priests and bishops, which it already does, despite passages from scripture opposing both. I still remain puzzled why those who insist on biblical purity remain in the established church? Inevitably an established church can never depart too far from the law and culture of the nation it is established church in. Surely biblical purists should leave for Pentecostal or Baptist or Roman Catholic churches if they have not already if biblical and scriptural purity is their priority and the opt out the C of E has given them on the same sex blessings is not enough?

          • Simon, it is impossible to have a sensible discussion with you when you repeat, again and again and again and again, these false, tired, wooden claims: ‘despite passages from scripture opposing both’.

            Is there another blog you can comment on? This one is getting cluttered with your repetition.

          • Collier makes the point that the introduction of civil marriage changed the definition of marriage in English Law. It doesn’t matter whether you or I agree with him. The issue here is that the Bishops making that distinction isn’t a novelty and that prayers offered after a civil marriage do not change the Church’s doctrine of marriage. I nearly put doctrine in inverted commas because it’s a definition rather than a doctrine.
            Synod isn’t debating or suggesting equal marriage (I wish it would, but that’s neither here nor there in this discussion).
            If prayers of dedication after a civil marriage (where the couple are of mixed sex) do not change the doctrine of marriage then neither do prayers for a civilly married gay couple.

          • Pentecostal and Baptist churches have a large amount of remarriage after divorce citing all kinds of reasons.

          • Well Anton, do prayers of dedication after a civil marriage change the CoEs doctrine of marriage as lifelong?

          • ‘Well Anton, do prayers of dedication after a civil marriage change the CoEs doctrine of marriage as lifelong?’ No. The previous marriage was a lifelong commitment that failed because of sin. The second marriage is still a commitment to being lifelong and exclusive partners.

          • In my opinion the prayers do change the CoE’s doctrine of marriage, because I take the Bible to imply that God does not recognise same-sex marriage.

          • The CoE gave up on marriage (beteeen man and woman) being lifelong when it agreed to conduct the marriage of divorcees during the lifetime of an ‘ex’. So your question contains a premise that I do not agree with. For my views on whether the CoE should conduct such marriages, please see the Nov 21 thread.

        • T1: As I have said here more than once, I take a congregational view of church and an Anglican church is the best congregation near me. As to whether there is any comparison with remarriage after divorce, I have set out my views extensively on a recent thread dedicated to that exact issue.

          Reply
    • On what grounds? Synod has voted for the blessings by majority, Synod and the Bishops alone have powers to make law and governance over the C of E under the 1919 Act. B2 is only required for marriage not blessings.

      He also ignores the fact that if a 2/3 majority was required for even blessings, then Parliament will take things into its own hands if as is likely Labour win the next general election. Parliament would vote to impose full homosexual marriage on the established church exactly as the likes of Bradshaw and Bryan want to bring the established church in line with English law. Uncompromising evangelicals would have forced that outcome on themselves by refusing to accept even the blessings compromise with an opt out

      Reply
      • Note too B2 is not needed as there is no change to the service or marriage and holy matrimony. The blessings are additional services, entirely able to be authorised under B$ and as a majority of Synod have voted for

        Reply
        • Note too B2 is not needed as there is no change to the service or marriage and holy matrimony. The blessings are additional services, entirely able to be authorised under B4 and as a majority of Synod have voted for

          Reply
          • A tad too much B2 and B4 and a tad too little chapter and verse, methinks.
            It gives a whole new meaning to putting the cart before the horse.

      • So if the culture does anything at all, the church has to follow.
        Even deep sin, it has to follow.
        So what is the point of the church.
        The culture is the leader, so join the culture and forget the church which does no more than follow.

        Reply
    • Anton

      The church of Nigeria has also de facto rejected the Anglican Communion position on homosexuality. They condemned the ACNA when the ACNA issued a statement that gay people should be tolerated in their churches. The ACNA position falls short of Lambeth 1.10, but Co Nigeria take an even more extreme position.

      Why is this important? Because they are every bit as much “revisionists” as the people advocating for full inclusion and marriage equality

      Reply
          • Maybe; let’s see what Peter says. Without reading the letter from the subgroup within ACNA I’ve nothing to say about this link. Clearly different evangelicals understand the word ‘gay’ differently.

          • Anton

            This is indeed the letter.

            It doesn’t really matter what definition of gay or homosexual you use because whatever definition Co Nigeria are using they clearly are.at odds with Lambeth 1.10

          • It seems to me that you agree with Archbishop Ndukuba in preferring the word ‘gay’ to ‘same-sex-attracted’. I do regret that he does not make a clear distinction between those persons who experience this urge and choose to be celibate for the sake of Christ, and those who choose to act on that urge. This is perhaps because the proportion of Ugandans who are in the former group is so small that he has never encountered any. He needs to talk to the likes of Sam Allberry; do you not agree?

            Ndukuba writes that “a group within ACNA published an invitation to ‘Gay Anglicans’ offering them invitation and pastoral accommodation in ACNA parishes.” Do you know where this can be read, please?

  18. Penelope Cowell Doe
    November 30, 2023 at 6:04 pm
    “Again. It’s an opinion. There are other legal opinions.” Opinion is a broad category that includes both reasoned arguments and feelings that aren’t based on facts or knowledge (such as preferences).
    A judgment is essentially a reasoned opinion.
    The Signotaries mentioned in the above /letter-to-the-archbishops-and-bishops-of-the-church-of-england-warning-against-an-unconstitutional-usurpation-of-authority-in-implementing-the-living-in-love-and-faith-process/ presumably legal laymen seem to see behaviours that a KC or Judge would tear to pieces as they fundamentaly would give great weight to “were the policies and proceedures adhered to?”
    Alas the Bishop’s view appears to be their gut feelings;
    Their god is their bellies. Philippians 3:18 & 19.

    Reply
    • That’s all old stuff Chris. It’s simply a blog suggesting what CEEC need to do now based on what CEEC have said in the past.

      Reply
  19. Penelope Cowell Doe
    November 30, 2023 at 9:24 pm
    I wrote legal opinion. Not opinion.
    Again. It’s an opinion. There are other legal opinions.[?]
    Your point being?

    Reply
  20. My point being that other legal opinions are available. See my comment citing one above.
    There seems to be an assumption here that some opinions are magisterial. Even informed opinions, such as those of the blog writer here, are still opinions.

    Reply
  21. Andrew
    Your articles have helped me no end in giving force and respectability to the arguments about illegality. Whilst it is not yet actionable, many are being left in ignorance of the argument. For us the illegality is immediately relevant to our situation in our benefice even if it is not yet actionable.
    Our three-parish benefice is in vacancy. Two parishes in their parish profiles say that they want a new vicar/rector who is prepared to say the PLF prayers. One parish disagrees.
    If the prayers are likely to be illegal then those who want someone prepared to say the prayers will be asking for something that is likely to be illegal and a waste of time. So their demand for such a person should not prevail. Similarly, I do not wish clergy to apply and/or be chosen: one reason is that it is going to give rise to litigation against our new vicar if he starts saying the prayers. So I need to make applicants aware that they will be opening themselves to litigation based on the materials in your various articles.
    I have asked for advice on the question of illegality from our Archdeacon by reference to what is said by you. She will have to spend some time guessing about what may have been suppressed by the Bishops. And she will have to give some thought to the whole issue, which she may have avoided so far. Perhaps others might find it helpful to seek advice on legality from their Archdeacons, if the question becomes relevant. It might raise wider awareness of the relevance of what seems to me to be the most important issue of all relating to the furtherance of the Bishops’ plans.

    Reply
  22. Andrew Goddard has drawn out a case, an argument in the totality of his articles on the question of legality akin to legal pleadings, setting out facts and “law” to lead to a judgement.
    It is repeated that the Bishops, jointly and severally, who have received legal advice, ( thereby acknowledging the
    fundamental nature of the legality, and their lack of competence in the matter) have a legal duty of care to ministers, diocese, church councils, trustees, wardens to advise as to the legality, (as they would, in other legal matters). Equally, it would be be a breach of duty, not to advise.

    Reply
    • Geoff – yes, but I would go further. God’s law is more important than canon law – and Leviticus 10:1-2 gives us some idea of what God’s response may be to unauthorised prayers.

      Reply
      • There are many ways in which God can remove a lampstand, and He appears to prefer gentle decline than fire and brimstone to deal with apostate churches. Where I live the incoming vicar has to deal with seven churches, whereas his predecessor had to deal with four. (I go to a solid evangelical Anglican congregation a dozen miles away, which is growing.)

        Gentle internal decline and rising pressure from secular authorities is nevertheless bound to trigger dramatic changes at some point in so large an organisation as the Church of England. Wisely has it been said that “God doesn’t act quickly, but He does act suddenly.”

        Reply
      • Jock,
        I agree and have cited Jude , above as being beyond opinion, but what os at the nub of this fandango is the jettisoning of scripture in the CoE, by the revisionists: culture reigns supreme.
        And the the trigger response revisionists that it is all opinion, undermines their own intellectual credibitility, when a legal case, marshalling, law, facts, precedents and procedure, has been made out, it is beyond mere opinion, mere opinion as evidenced in the quality of the knee jerk postmodern claim that it is only a matter of opinion. It is not. It is an argument following standards of procedure and argumentation on which to form, weigh-up, an informed opinion, a reliable judgement based on all relevant matters set out. It is advocacy. It is not opinion.
        A legal opinion is sought from Counsel, usually, not in and open way on a topic to set out and weigh all relevant matters for and against, but either to make or defend a case/position.
        Where there is litigatation, the parties are aware of each others case, the facts in contention and the law to be considered by the tribunal.
        It is so very far from the piecemeal, with avoidances, and scatter-gun approach of many of the revisionists.
        Indeed, it is so far
        from the position taken by the Bishops avoiding questions of legality, and the politicking of synod.
        Grievous. And it is a manifestation of God’s present day judgement: Romans 1
        Going our own way. Doing what is right in our own eyes. Self worship and – justification.
        We weary God with our words calling good what is evil: Malachi 2:17.
        (Set in the context of the whole of Malachi and the coninuity and disconinuity between old and new covenants.)

        Reply

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