Prayers of Love and Faith: a divided vote—a divided Church?


Andrew Goddard writes: After the February General Synod I presented quite a lengthy voting analysis. This offers a shorter reflection on what we can see from the now published voting sheets from November. What is obvious simply from comparing the votes on the final motions is that the vote was even closer and the Synod is now even more divided in all 3 Houses:

HouseFeb VoteNov VoteFeb MajNov Maj
Bishops36-4-2
(90% to 10%)
23-10-4
(69.7% to 30.3%)
3213
Clergy111-85-3
(56.6% to 43.4%)
100-93-1
(51.8% to 48.2%)
267
Laity103-92-5
(52.8% to 47.2%)
104-100-0
(51% to 49%)
114
Total250-181-10

(58% to 42%)

227-203-5

(52.8% to 47.2%)

6924

But what about else can we say in the light of Synod’s voting? 


Voting on Amendments

The following are some of the noteworthy features of the voting on various amendments:

The Bishop of Durham proposed that rather than referring to “progress made” by the bishops the motion should speak simply of “work and consultation undertaken”. This was defeated because the bishops rejected it (11-23-2) but it was passed by both clergy (95-94-2) and laity (101-90-6).  Without a vote by Houses this would have been a tie (207-207). This might be seen as the bishops marking their own homework (or even a candidate vetoing the negative judgment of their two examiners) or, as one Ugandan bishop commented on being told of this way of voting and its outcome, “That is like allowing a monkey to judge the banana competition.” These figures showed early in the debate how divided the Synod was, the gap between the bishops and the other two houses, and how, although the bishops were strongly backing the motion, there was now a much larger group than in February (13 here, all conservative) not supporting the House’s proposals. Of the 207 who supported the failed amendment, 20 (8 clergy and 12 laity) nevertheless supported the final motion.

The next vote (a proposal by Neil Patterson, Co-Chair of the General Synod Gender and Sexuality Group, to remove reference to GS2328) showed that a similar number of bishops were unhappy from a revisionist perspective (13 supporting this and 1 abstaining). It also signalled the number strongly unhappy from that perspective among the clergy (83 with 99 against and 6 abstaining) and laity (86 with 106 against and 5 abstaining) although only 8 (4 clergy and 4 laity) who supported the amendment then opposed the final motion.

The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham’s attempt to bring together the prayers and the whole guidance showed again 12 bishops supporting (25 against and 2 abstaining) and the vote was particularly close among the laity (lost 92-93) with the support of similar number of clergy (80, with 97 against and 1 abstention) as supported Patterson but here from a conservative perspective suggesting there is a similar sized strong core on each side of the “too far” and “not far enough” divide among clergy.  Only 4 members (all laity) who supported this amendment then supported the final motion.

A proposal from Vaughan Roberts not to commend until structural provision was agreed had very similar levels of support as the vote on the pastoral guidance among bishops (13-26-1) and clergy (81-103-4) but more opponents among laity (90-102-1). Only 2 supporters of the amendment supported the final motion.

The only amendment to pass by a recorded vote in Synod was that of the Bishop of Oxford seeking to reintroduce “standalone services”.  Unsurprisingly, given this was reversing the House’s decision on October 9th (reportedly by 19 votes to 16 following encouragement by the Archbishop of Canterbury not to go with the vote in the College reportedly 68-28 but instead to go straight to B2), this was a tighter vote with the largest minority of bishops in any vote: 16 against and 25 (including both Archbishops and the Bishop of London) for. One of the new Co-Chairs of the Steering Group voted for (Newcastle) and one against (Leicester). Among the clergy it was supported by 101 to 94 with 1 abstention (a pointer to the final clergy vote on the motion which was 100-93-1) and among the laity it was as close as possible (99-98-2). Interestingly, 2 of those for this amendment (Salisbury clergy and Lichfield Laity) then voted against the final motion (one of whom had voted against in February) and 1 for the amendment (the Archbishop of Canterbury) abstained in the final vote. On the other side, 3 who voted against the amendment (another Salisbury clergy and laity from Derby and Eds&Ips, all supporters of Feb motion) then supported the final motion with 4 opponents finally abstaining (3 bishops and 1 clergy). The two lay members who abstained (Canterbury and Non-Diocesan) both voted for the final motion and their voting pattern was not conservative-leaning on other amendments.

Another bishop (Guildford) then sought to bring the prayers forward under B2 rather than by commendation. This again confirmed a solid body of about 1/3 of the bishops sharing this perspective (13-27-1) and more support than for other conservative amendments among the clergy albeit a clear minority (90-103) as in the laity (93-104-3). Only 1 of the 196 members supporting this amendment then supported the final motion (a Leicester lay person).

A proposal from Sam Margrave that the bishops “encourage transparency and openness” was unsurprisingly rejected by the bishops (6-24-7 though with both Archbishops abstaining) and also by the clergy (81-99-7) but supported narrowly by the laity (97-94-8).

The final amendment came again from the Bishop of Durham and called for “firm provision that provides a clear way of distinguishing different views and seeks to ensure that all God’s people are able to recognise those with whom they disagree (as well as those with whom they agree) as God’s gift to one another within the family of God”. Many thought this might be accepted by the Bishop of London but she resisted it, apparently concerned that if it passed then revisionists might join conservatives in voting down the final motion. This had the tightest vote among the bishops (14-19-2) with both Archbishops abstaining, both the new co-Chairs supporting it, and 8 bishops voting at other times during the Synod absent from the vote. It was also the narrowest defeat of an amendment among clergy (88-90-9) but one of the biggest defeats among the laity (86-105-10). 8 supporters of the amendment proceeded to vote for the final motion despite its defeat (the Bishop of Newcastle, 4 clergy and 3 laity) while 10 opponents of the amendment (9 lay, mainly conservative probably objecting to the language of recognising others as “God’s gift…within the family of God”) voted against the final motion. Comparing this with the different but similar defeated Roberts amendment about provision shows:

BishopsClergyLaity
For both1796101
For Roberts, Against Durham7
For Durham, Against Roberts374
Against both27107115

The Final Vote

The final vote, as noted, was significantly closer in all 3 Houses than it was in February. It is interesting to look at individual votes, the effect of new members, and the vote by Houses in each Diocese and to compare that to the voting in February.

Shifting Stances?

Looking at individuals who voted in both February and November there has been limited change apart from among the bishops.

Among the bishops voting For in February, in November 3 of them abstained (Canterbury, Chester and Leicester) and 4 voted against (Durham, Chichester, Rochester and Sheffield) with 6 not voting (Hereford, Leeds, Lichfield, St Albans, Truro/Winchester and Warrington, likely fairly evenly divided between supporters and opponents given their voting record overall and at least two of these were absent due to an audience with the King). There were 20 bishops who voted for both motions and 4 who voted against both (Guildford, Islington, Lancaster, Southwell & Nottingham).

The clergy vote held pretty constant – 10 voting for in February did not vote this time, 1 from the Channel Islands abstained and 1 (from Salisbury) voted against but 93 voted for in February and again in November. There was also one February opponent (from Rochester) who supported the proposals in November and 2 who didn’t vote, leaving 77 opposing on both votes.  All three clergy who abstained in February (Hereford, Leeds and Southwark) are now opposed.

The shift among the laity was slightly larger with 5 February supporters moving to vote against (2 from Salisbury and 1 each in Derby, Leicester and Eds&Ips), 2 not voting and 95 remaining supportive. There was only 1 move from opposition to support (Leicester) and 1 non-vote but 86 opposed in both sessions. As with clergy, the “middle ground” shifted against with 3 February abstentions (Guildford, London and Southwark) becoming opponents and only 1 (Oxford) moving to support.

New Members

There were 29 new members of Synod in November who were not members in February – 3 bishops, 14 clergy and 12 laity – although only 23 of these voted.

Among the bishops, Joanne Grenfell and Julie Conalty who filled vacant suffragan places from February, both voted for both the Oxford amendment and the final motion while Stephen Race who replaced Philip North as an elected suffragan opposed both, Philip North having abstained in February on the final vote. Three more conservative bishops who voted For (Carlisle and Woolwich) or Abstained (Coventry) in February are no longer members of the House and have not been replaced.

Among the new clergy, one (from Europe) did not vote while 8 were against both Oxford and the final motion (their predecessors being 4 for and 3 against the Feb motion) and 5 were for both (their predecessors being split 2-2 in February).  This means that the 8-5 vote against in November among new clergy was a significant shift from the 6-5 vote for the motion in February among their predecessors. 3 new members voting against replaced members voting for (Oxford, Southwark, Truro) with 2 new voting for while their predecessor was against (Europe, Truro).

Only 7 of the new laity voted in November (5 of the 6 new non-diocesan members didn’t vote) and they were 4-3 in favour of the final motion (though 4-3 against Oxford’s amendment). Interestingly this represents an opposite shift from that among the clergy towards supporting the bishops’ plans as their predecessors had voted 3 against and 1 for (with 1 abstention and 1 non-vote) on the February motion. Two representatives (from Exeter and Southwell & Nottingham) voted for having replaced someone who voted against.

Diocesan (and 2 non-Diocesan) Groups

As set out more fully in an Appendix, if one looks at the 42 diocesan clergy and lay groups (and the group of those not elected by the dioceses and the group representing the Channel Islands) the differences between and within dioceses becomes clear as does the increased opposition to the proposals.

There are now 21 dioceses where clergy support the bishops and 16 which are opposed (compared to 24 and 10 last time). Not surprisingly, the laity are even more divided with 19 dioceses having a majority of lay representative for and 19 having a majority against (again this reflects a move towards rejection as the figures were 19 for and 16 against in February). 

If the vote in each diocese is compared for both Houses then 10 dioceses had both supporting the motion with 9 showing both against and 22 (24 including the non-diocesan groups) having different outcomes in each House. Combining the votes to see the majority among all Synod representatives reveals 16 dioceses voting against, 20 (plus also 2 non-diocesan groups) for and 6 tied.

There are also some dioceses where a bishop is prominently and strongly of one view but the Synod reps clearly of the other including London (with its Synod members 8-3 against in both Houses), Oxford and York.


Conclusion

It is clear that the hurried and partial discernment process undertaken by the bishops just over a year ago has not produced the consensus that it was hoped and prayed it would. In fact, it has led to a deeply divided Synod with clergy and even more laity now split almost down the middle with figure equivalent to, or tighter than, in the Brexit vote. The continuation at speed of that process between February and November in order to “get PLF done” has led to even less support for the proposals and even greater opposition and division despite them being to some degree watered down during that period.

The plan now to seek authorisation under B2 which requires two-thirds majority in every House looks like it will require at least the level of faith needed to command a mountain to throw itself into the sea. If the bishops now proceed (perhaps without reference to Synod) to push forward with proposals even more contentious and divisive than commendation (which do effect real and significant change in what is permitted in the church’s life such as permitting clergy to be in non-marital sexual unions and same-sex civil marriages) and if they seek to spread the divisions they have brought about in General Synod to every Diocesan Synod then the current problems are only likely to increase.

Given this situation and the reality that all these problems have arisen even though, legally speaking, “nothing has changed” when the commendation proposals are put into effect, serious questions have to be asked about whether the House of Bishops’ recent and planned future actions are defensible other than on the basis that this is a case of “let justice be done though the heavens fall”. For many, the question concerning the bishops’ collective leadership is focussed on their responsibilities in relation to upholding the church’s doctrine but serious questions also arise in relation to their obligation to know their flock and to work for its unity and peace. In their concluding appeal in the LLF book the bishops wrote:

When we were ordained as bishops we were asked, ‘Will you promote peace and reconciliation in the church and in the world; and will you strive for the visible unity of Christ’s Church?’. And each of us replied, ‘With the help of God, I will’. As we have acknowledged, we do not all agree over some matters of great importance for the well-being of Christ’s church and how they relate to another question our ordination put to us: ‘Will you teach the doctrine of Christ as the Church of England has received it?’. We feel the tension among ourselves between uniting the church in its differences and pressing for decisive decisions in the contested areas about which each of us feels strongly. Nevertheless, we are united as bishops in our commitment to promote peace in the Church and to strive for the visible unity of the church. Jesus prayed that we may be one, so that the world may believe that he was sent by the God of life, through the Spirit of life, to bring the world to fulness of life….

At our ordinations the Archbishop reminded us in words that resonate with John’s that ‘Bishops are called to serve and care for the flock of Christ. Mindful of the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, they are to love and pray for those committed to their charge, knowing their people and being known by them’. During this period of discernment and beyond it, we commit ourselves to ‘knowing our people and being known by them’ in the love of Christ, ‘to serve and care for the flock of Christ’ in the faith of Christ and ‘to promote peace and reconciliation in the church’ in the hope of Christ (pp. 422-4).

Sadly, Oliver O’Donovan, in concluding his appreciative review of that book, has proven to be a true prophet:

The bishops, meanwhile, must be encouraged to give the reception the time it needs, and not to be in too much of a hurry to “lead the Church of England into making whatever decisions are needful for our common life,” as they express themselves rather busily in their concluding note. The atmosphere of “needful decisions” is not one that will help the careful pondering and mutual appreciation that LLF has sought to model. The commission has worked with admirable patience. The church is being asked to learn new skills of mutual patience. It would be a tragedy if the whole attempt foundered on impatience in the House of Bishops.

The voting at the November Synod, even more than in February, (let alone the wider effects on the Anglican Communion), signals how serious the situation now is. It appears that the response of some bishops is to deny this and argue that they are really speaking for the church which is nowhere as near divided and much more supportive of their proposals than Synod. There is, however, little evidence of this (though some are still erroneously claiming the LLF process revealed it) and, as someone put it recently, it is beginning to feel like the episcopal equivalent of “several other people in the parish feel the same way as me about this”.

If the bishops are serious about synodality (“walking together”), the importance of the voice of General Synod, and their calling as bishops as set out at the end of the LLF book, then they are clearly currently failing to demonstrate this. Instead they are falling into exactly the vices and errors which O’Donovan presciently warned them against. 

We need to hope and pray that it is not yet too late and that the House (perhaps even in its meeting next Tuesday) and the new lead Bishops (Newcastle and Leicester) and a new incoming LLF Programme Director (Nick Shepherd) will hear the concerns of those (including almost a third of the House of Bishops) who have not succumbed to an episcopal collective group-think. There may then develop a fresh approach which recognises and rectifies the serious failures of this last year before they become even more serious, sclerotic and systemic in the LLF process and perhaps beyond it in the life of the Church of England.


Appendix: Details of Diocesan Votes

Among the clergy the dioceses (treating non-diocesan members as a group) split as follows:

In 21 dioceses the clergy supported the motion. This compared to 24 last time, of which 3 (Channel Islands, Salisbury, and Non-Diocesan reps) became a tie and 1 became a defeat (Chester), countered by Europe moving from a tie to support.

In 16 dioceses the clergy opposed the motion. This is much higher than the 10 last time, one of which became a tie.  The 7 dioceses whose clergy are newly opposed are Chester, Hereford, Leeds, Leicester, Lichfield, Oxford and Peterborough.   

In 7 dioceses the clergy were tied compared to 10 in Feb of which only 3 are still tied, 6 are now opposed, and 1 supportive).

Among the lay representatives there are similar shifts and generally less support than among clergy with equal numbers now supporting and opposing:

In 19 dioceses most lay people supported the final motion. This is as in February though Salisbury were for in Feb and against now and Truro is now for having been tied.

There were also 19 dioceses where laity opposed, a rise from 16 last time (which all stayed opposed apart from Exeter which tied in November). In addition to Salisbury swinging against, so did Bristol, Southwark and York who were previously tied (and whose bishops are all strong supporters).

Only 6 dioceses now have their laity tied compared to 9 in February (3 of those swinging to lost and 1 to support and Exeter moving to a tie as noted above).

The level of division across the church becomes even clearer when the vote in both Houses is examined Diocese by Diocese.

There are 10 dioceses where both Houses supported the motion (Canterbury, Carlisle, Derby, Europe, Lincoln, Newcastle, St Albans, Eds&Ips, Truro and Worcester)

There are 9 dioceses where both the clergy and the laity opposed the motion (Blackburn, Chichester, Guildford, Lichfield, London, Oxford, Peterborough, Sodor and Man, and York). 

There was only 1 (Rochester) where both Houses were tied.

There were therefore 22 of the 42 geographical dioceses (and also the two non-diocesan groupings) in which the two Houses voted differently.

If one totals the votes of clergy and laity for each diocese there are now 16 dioceses whose Synod members overall are opposed. 5 of these have strong opposition (London -10, Chichester -5, Blackburn, Lichfield and Oxford -4 and York -3).  There are 22 whose Synod members are overall supportive with 9 strongly so (Newcastle 6, St Albans & Europe 5, Worcester 4, Chester, Leeds, Lincoln, Southwell & Nottingham and Eds & Ips, 3) and 6 dioceses whose Synod members are equally divided (Coventry, Hereford, Leicester, Liverpool, Portsmouth and Rochester).

As these diocesan figures make clear, while in some dioceses the bishops of the diocese in the House are on the same page as the clergy and laity on Synod (e.g. Blackburn, Chichester, Guildford, Worcester, Eds&Ips, Newcastle, Lincoln), in others they are not and in particular some prominent supporters of the proposals (London, Oxford and York) have both their clergy and laity opposing it.


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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231 thoughts on “Prayers of Love and Faith: a divided vote—a divided Church?”

  1. What is clear is that a majority of all 3 Houses both voted for LLF overall and the Bishop of Oxford’s amendment for experimental prayers of blessing for same sex couples.

    Plus, if a 52% to 48% vote was enough for the UK to leave the EU, no reason either a 53% to 47% vote of Synod to move towards prayers of blessing for same sex couples should not be enough for the C of E to get that done either!

    Reply
    • Nope. They voted for the bishops to explore whether or not, if possible, such services could be brought.

      That must be subject to the constraint of not being indicative of a change in the doctrine of marriage.

      I suspect the legal advice says ‘This is not possible’, which is what it said in 2017. Perhaps that is why the Bishops have not allowed us to see it.

      Reply
      • They voted for experimental services of blessing for same sex couples and Synod also rejected every amendment to check the legal situation again and obtain further advice

        Reply
        • No, they voted to ask the bishops to see if such services might or might not be possible. And by hiding the legal advice, it appears the bishops are content to act illegally, and disguise this.

          Do you think that is good, or even legitimate, leadership?

          Reply
          • No, they voted for experimental services of blessing of same sex couples on the timetable originally envisioned. And a majority of Synod rejected every single amendment put forward to try and use yet further legal advice and delaying tactics to stop that coming forward.

            Your side was defeated on every single amendment you put forward. Synod, the governing body of the Church of England, voted for same sex blessings and they are coming and will be performed in every Parish which wishes to do so

  2. This article refers to (non-)voting by one of the clergy members from the Diocese in Europe. It should be noted that one of our colleagues was unable to be present at the meeting of Synod in February owing to a long-standing ministerial commitment elsewhere in our Diocese.
    It should also be noted however that all members of the houses of Clergy and Laity (5 in total) who were present or online from the Diocese in Europe voted in favour of the Oxford Amendment.

    Reply
  3. A proposal… that the bishops “encourage transparency and openness” was… rejected by the bishops (6-24-7).

    Disgraceful. Deceitful. As people vote, so is their heart.

    This issue will not go away unless persons who believe that the Church of England should conduct same-sex marriages are removed from positions of authority.

    If such marriages ultimately take place, the Church of England will have removed itself from the Church of Christ, no matter what it claims about itself.

    Reply
    • Except it wouldn’t even then as majorities of both the House of Laity and Clergy voted for experimental services of blessing for same sex couples. The majority of Parliament also supports the established church blessing same sex couples.

      Christ never forbade same sex unions anyway, even if Paul did, Christ did forbid remarriage of divorced couples except in cases of spousal adultery or the death of a spouse but the C of E already does that

      Reply
        • The Father created LGBTQIA+ people, so that’s one in favour.
          The Son has no recorded opposition to gay relationships, but would probably count as an abstention due to a failure of the voting apparatus to record a view.
          The Spirit is present where there is love, so that’s another in favour.

          So voting in the Holy Trinity constituency is two in favour, none against with one vote unrecorded. The motion is therefore carried.

          Reply
          • The Father created all of sinful humanity—liars, adulterers, thieves, the selfish, the greedy. So what exactly is that a vote ‘for’?

            Jesus explicitly affirmed marriage as between one man and one woman, and as a Torah-observant Jew certainly affirmed the teaching of Leviticus on this.

            Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5 with the ‘works of the flesh’, which includes ‘porneia’, which for Paul would have included same-sex sex.

            So I think we have a 3-0 vote.

          • Ian

            There’s no record of Jesus or Paul agreeing with your interpretation either of Leviticus or of Paul’s letters. Indeed Jesus often had a very different interpretation of the OT than the religious leaders of the time.

            We can agree that Leviticus prohibits the reader from sleeping with men as they would women. But that’s about it.

      • T1, is this the sixth or seventh time you have been dishonest enough to fail to address the point ‘Do two wrongs make a right?’ Every time you do this, the impression of your honesty will inevitably take a hit.

        Secondly, you rely repeatedly on the argument from silence. Well known to be a fallacy.

        Thirdly, the particular argument from silence you rely on is someone never speaking on a topic that belongs to another culture and would likely never occur to them. Even weaker, if possible, than a normal argument from silence.

        It’s not looking good.

        Reply
        • Unless something is expressly forbidden it is legal under the law. Now while Paul forbids homosexual relations (and also female ministry of course) Jesus doesn’t.

          The Roman Catholic church takes the strict line of Paul (and hence doesn’t have women priests, women bishops or marry or bless homosexual couples) and also follows Jesus’ teaching on divorce unless annulments for spousal adultery for example or a non RC wedding originally. The C of E however doesn’t follow that as the established church in England. If you do want to follow Paul on all the above and Jesus on divorce then the road to Rome is always open to you!

          Reply
          • “Now while Paul forbids… Jesus doesn’t.”

            Irrespective of any particular views…. That would be funny if you were not being serious. You might ask which came first or whether Paul’s teaching reflects Jesus’s… Or if the Anglican Church gives the Gospels a higher authority than the Letters… or the Old Testament?

            But since you continually bang out misinformation about the decision in Synod I doubt a re-examination of your posts is likely… or responses have any point at all. It’s genuinely sad. Without any sarcasm : may God bless you.

          • Jesus said nothing about homosexual relations explicitly but He lived under, advocated for, and kept perfectly, the Laws of Moses written in the Pentateuch. You will be aware what those laws stated about man lying with man for sexual gratification.

          • Then Jesus did not eat shellfish, and believed that other Jews ought not to either. Probably because, like poorly barbecued pork, it is a lot more dangerous than fish and beef respectively. But it is not something that Moses prohibited on pain of death and described as toevah, is it?

          • Jesus explicitly stated that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets. It would seem surprising that he would approve of something which is classed in the Torah as an abomination to God. That would be a significant change in doctrine.

            Also, even if something is not explicitly prohibited in law, it does not mean that it is to be celebrated. After all, in English law adultery is no longer a crime – it was a capital crime. That does not mean we should have prayers of blessing for an adulterous relationship.

          • Charles and Camilla had a service of blessing after their civil marriage despite committing adultery with each other and their divorces at St George’s Chapel Windsor in a service committed by the Archbishop of Canterbury

          • ‘Committed’ – nice Freudian slip.
            Simon argues: A happens, therefore A is good. From which we deduce Gaza/Israel strikes happen, therefore they are good – a foul conclusion, but one which would follow from your premises.

  4. A divided vote – a divided church?

    Yes. But can we find a single person who would have expected otherwise?

    2 Cor 6.14. And it was obvious that TEC would fracture at a higher spiritual cost than the astronomical monetary cost.

    And in terms of the trajectory of consensus – is there any greater consensus? Can there be? Can two quite different worldviews be united? On what basis would anyone expect that? One derives from cultural norms anyway, and it quite obviously to be explained and accounted for that way rather than by any intrinsic merit.

    Reply
  5. Three conclusions I hope can be drawn, whatever your perspective on the substance of the debate,

    1) There have now been two motions passed by votes in all three Houses that have supported continuing progress with regards to LLF, including the commendation of the PLF and issuing of new pastoral guidance to replace Issues. The House of Bishops have yet to deliver on any of the points that Synod has supported.

    2) No vote has yet been passed that has explicitly supported formal structural provision for difference within the church, although two amendments in this area (Roberts and +Durham) were rejected.

    3) There are significant groups within Synod who are not of one mind.

    Those points are statements of fact and should not be controversial.

    My question, particularly arising from (3), is whether those of a traditional perspective recognise that a significant number of their sisters and brothers in Christ do not agree on this particular issue and what ground can be given to accommodate their sincerely held beliefs? Because at the moment a lot of what progressives are hearing is that there can be no concessions made and that no change should be possible. Anton commenting above demonstrates this by calling for those in leadership who support equal marriage to be removed from post. If that is the traditionalist position then there is no point in discussing finding a way forward, if the answer to “what middle ground can be found” is “none whatsoever, there can be no change” then all you leave is an endless Synodical process which drags this out ad infinitum while sapping energy away from the mission of the church. It also shows complete disregard for the theological position of progressives, a position which you would prefer had no place in the church.

    The helpful table of voting figures on structural accommodation (Roberts and +Durham) does show significant scepticism for formal structural provision. I hope this will temper expectations among traditional members over the sort of solutions to difference that the whole of the Synod would contemplate. There are many on the progressive side who will not support anything but the most light touch of differentiation, on an informal and time limited basis, in addition to the reassurances already given such as support for clergy conscience, that use of the PLF will be an opt in system needing both priest and PCC to be in agreement, and I would add in to that the need for a national framework that all bishops sign up to agreeing to support any priest subject to a complaint for using or refusing to use the PLF.

    Those on the progressive side have already made large concessions in an attempt to find common ground and a way out of the impasse we find ourselves in. Much hoped for equal marriage has been put to one side, opt in processes requiring priest and PCC to agree are being touted rather than a unified national position that all comply with, along with provision for clerical conscience not to participate. What is being offered in return? Or is it genuinely a case of shouting “No surrender” and manning the barricades to the last? How is that walking together and respecting Synodical decision that have been taken?

    Reply
    • Thanks Nic. But I think the omission in your comment is rather telling.

      The one thing that we have voted for again and again, and which has been affirmed by the House of Bishops repeatedly, is that there is no change in the doctrine of marriage, and that nothing can be commended which would be indicative of a change in the doctrine of marriage.

      The legal guidance on the implications of that was very clear in 2017. I suspect it is just as clear now—but through dishonesty and a power-play, the House of Bishops has not disclosed that advice. I can only presume because it would put a very quick end to all discussion.

      And the interesting question is what you mean by ‘the progressive side’. The Church has a very clear doctrine of marriage, set out in Canon B30. All clergy publicly vow that they believe this doctrine, and that they will teach, expound and uphold it in their own lives.

      So in what sense can clergy—including bishops—be ‘progressive’? What do you think that means? Does it mean they do not, in fact, believe the doctrine of the Church any more?

      Reply
      • As you know full well Synod voted for the Bishop of Oxford’s experimental services of prayers of blessing for same sex couples by majority in all 3 houses and by majority for the LLF motion overall

        Reply
        • ‘As you know full well Synod voted for the Bishop of Oxford’s experimental services of prayers of blessing for same sex couples by majority in all 3 houses and by majority for the LLF motion overall’

          Again, tedious to repeat, but Synod didn’t. It voted to ask the bishops to consider whether this might be possible or not without being indicative of a change in the church’s doctrine. It will not be.

          Reply
          • Wrong, it voted for experimental services of blessing, not merely just prayers, on the timetable originally set out in February under LLF. As you know full well as you voted against the amendment but lost the vote. C of E doctrine is set down by Synod which is not repugnant to God as its canons attest

        • This Parliament would of course overwhelmingly back Synod’s decision, if Labour win the next general election the next Parliament might even vote to impose homosexual marriage on the C of E as established church with an opt out if blessings don’t go ahead

          Reply
      • As you also know full well Synod voted to reserve holy matrimony for heterosexual couples, respecting B30. As you also know Canon A6 of the C of E makes clear ‘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.’

        Reply
    • And the moves already being made towards differentiation by CEEC including the appointment of ‘overseers’ and the witholding of funds has no legal support in Synod and is, indeed, heterodox.
      It amuses me that those who have long claimed that ‘authority’ was on their side – Synod, Bishops, Church ‘members’ – are now prepared to resort to schism and scams (phishing email anyone) now that ‘authority’ doesn’t agree with them.
      If they believe that the ‘authority’ of scripture forbids the blessing of gay couples, they should have the grace to separate without eating their cake and having it (and attempting to stop others having any cake).

      Reply
      • Those who should leave are those attempting to deny the clear meaning of scripture and 3000 years of scriptural tradition.

        If they get forced out then they will take the keys to the church of Christ with them even if they lose the worldly assets of the Church of England.

        Reply
        • But you don’t follow 3000 years of scriptural teaching on marriage either, do you? In the Old Testament, wives (plural) and concubines are part of the permitted setup, whereas onanism is not permitted, and gay people are to be executed. Which of those propositions do you actually support today? Because it’s time Conservative Evangelicals either became consistent or stopped being so harsh on every one else.

          Reply
          • I at least would not countenance remarriage after divorce during the life of an ‘ex’, so who is ‘you’ referring to in your first sentence?

            Neither the Church of England nor England itself is under Mosaic Law. My argument is based on the statement in Mosaic Law that man lying with man for sexual gratification is toevah, and that every believer in God for 3000 years has taken this to be God’s opinion – until a small number of apostate German scholars a couple of hundred years ago began to argue otherwise.

            Harsh? Ask Sam Allberry and Vaughan Roberts, who experience sexual attraction to other men but believe they are required not to act on it, not least for the sake of their souls after death, what is harsh in this life and the next. Thousands of monks voluntarily took vows of celibacy for a thousand years, moreover.

          • The matter under discussion is not people – either straight or gay – who feel called to singleness and who take it up voluntarily. It is the far larger number who don’t. Forcing people into repression is not and never has been a healthy thing to do, either for them or those they come into contact with.

          • If you just look at recent cases – the Titus Trust, and Mike Pilavachi – you can see that repression in this area is deeply unhealthy and leads to unmanageable tension and abuse. You can be sure that are and have been plenty of other similar situations that have gone unreported. Evangelicals have only been happy with the kind of gay people who are self-hating, and that is what needs to change now.

          • Anton

            Ordinary gay people don’t get the same support as those who are in leadership. They are “welcome to attend” and, in most conservative churches, given no emotional support for a lifetime alone.

            As I have said before Sam Allberry is no longer in the CofE and neither he nor Vaughn Roberts support the Anglican communion position on gay people. Both say that its sinful to “identify” as anything other than heterosexual

          • Mark

            I’m personally incredibly angry about Mike Pilivavachi as I’m from the generation who were encouraged to go to Soul Survivor. The people in church leadership who knew he was abusing young men and yet publicly supported his ministry need to be removed from ministry immediately. MP himself should not be allowed to retire quietly.

            The same people who condemn people like me as totally immoral and ‘toevah’, happily supported a predator because doing so got them more power and influence.

            How can we trust a word anyone in CofE leadership says until they repent of support of sexual abuse?

          • “Harsh? Ask Sam Allberry and Vaughan Roberts, who experience sexual attraction to other men but believe they are required not to act on it, not least for the sake of their souls after death, what is harsh in this life and the next. Thousands of monks voluntarily took vows of celibacy for a thousand years, moreover.”

            Allberry and Roberts have both devoted themselves to ministry of course. That’s how their celibacy has been put to use. Is that the recommendation for all gay Christians? Are we actually being called to the vicarages and rectories? Issues in Human Sexuality is very interesting on celibacy. It argues that celibacy must be freely and deliberately chosen in order to devote oneself completely to God and his concerns, and that celibacy cannot be prescribed for anyone.

            If you listen to Roberts it becomes fairly clear he was called to celibacy (he seems supremely unbothered by it, in stark contrast to people like Ed Shaw, Wesley Hill, Eve Tushnet, David Bennett etc.).

            There are some stark differences between monks and what it being proposed here. Monks choose their vows, this is about effectively taken on our behalf. Monks live their vows openly, ours would be hidden. Monks go to great efforts to find ways to live their vows, in community or cut off from the world with highly disciplined lives, whereas we are abandoned to get on with it alone. Monks are only able to make their vows once old enough and after considerable discernment, our vows would kick in automatically at 16. Monks vows are made with the purpose of devotion to prayer and activity with celibacy as part of the means, but here celibacy would be the whole point and therefore devoid of any higher purpose.

          • ‘If you listen to Roberts it becomes fairly clear he was called to celibacy’

            He was ‘called to it’ because he observes that that is God’s call on all who are not married to someone of the other sex.

          • The Iwerne pioneers were often celibates. There exists a photo of Nash, Stott, Ruston and Eddison – celibates all. Just like in those days there were devoted bachelor schoolmasters and priests and so on. Great dedication. Iwerne continued to produce a higher than average number of bachelors (and plenty of people who did not marry till 30 even when that was late) though they remained a distinct minority.

          • Ian

            Hopefully you’d acknowledge that there’s a difference between

            A person feeling a call to singleness and celibacy (for example a monk)
            A person who has a natural desire to form a opposite sex relationship (for example Dev Patel)
            A person who has a natural desire to form a same sex relationship (for example Ncuti Gatwa)

            #3 is the only one who is denied any form of relationship by church teaching and the only one who is told to go against their nature. You may well argue that is right and good, but its misleading to suggest all three are in the same boat.

          • “The Iwerne pioneers were often celibates.”

            Good grief Christopher you are not seriously going to hold up Iwerne as a good example of anything are you? Let alone sexual purity? Seriously?

          • Christopher

            You are using Iwerne as a model.of sexual probity?
            Iwerne (and other conservative evangelical outfits as well as some Anglo Catholic ones) are about the worst, most abusive, and unChristlike advert for enforced celibacy that I can think of. Cesspits of unhealthy, abusive sexuality and misuse of power.

        • If you believe there are 3000 years of unchanged scriptural tradition and only one clear meaning of scripture, I have a bridge to sell you.

          Reply
          • Penny can you show us the whole range of views which deny that marriage is between a man and a woman? Who has disputed that prior to the present moment?

      • Penny the ‘schism’ is created by those departing from the consensus of the church catholic, not by those unwilling to be dragged into this by bishops who act illegal and refuse to show their working.

        Reply
        • So separation without any legal provision, appointing overseers illegally, and sequestering funds which dont belong to the congregations isn’t schismatic or heterodox?

          Reply
          • Separate because one side has not yet educated itself? Rather than waiting for it to do so? Perfect example of the throwaway awe-less culture.

        • Nope. Still pretty sure the schism is being created by those who actually advocate for schism. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, sometimes it really is a duck.

          Reply
          • Indeed. And the walking, quacking duck is bishops denying the doctrine *of their own church* and seeking to separate from the consensus doctrine of the church catholic, whilst refusing to publish the legal advice which inconveniently points that out.

        • Ian

          Its not just those who want same sex marriage to be allowed in church who are departing from church teaching on LGBT people, though. Its also those who either directly abuse LGBT people or allow it to continue AND its those who adopt a more conservative position on LGBT people than the official Anglican communion position.

          The attitudes of 1. gay = bad and 2. If a preacher is successful then they can behave how they like are 90% of the reason that the cofe has been forced to have these conversations.

          Reply
    • But, correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re not offering anything at all. You are saying that you will take using church buildings to bless sin, you will take the commendation of prayers, you will take church resources. But you refuse to give anything, even when that anything is simply the basic structural differentiation that the Bible insists Christians have from the openly sexually immoral and those that reject the apostolic teaching.

      (To an extent, the Traditionalists aren’t asking for anything they’re simply saying what the Bible requires before they can cease opposing you. Sort of like, I’m not doing the internet company any favours when they ask for a wayleave. (To an extent, since many Traditionalists want differentiation even without this issue.))

      Reply
        • There’s no such thing as a ‘traditionalist’. People do not espouse theories because they are old (what is that about?) but because they are accurate and correct.

          Reply
  6. I think it very sad to see that people like Andrew Goddard have now wasted nearly 20 years of their lives in an entirely discreditable attempt to maintain the Church’s historic nastiness towards its gay children. Just think how much better their time could have been spent doing other things, such as spreading kindness and love in the world instead of trying to stamp them out! Even the RC Church is now performing same-sex blessing in several places on the Continent with their bishops’ permission, as do all the churches with which we are in communion through Porvoo, so the C of E looks increasingly ludicrous and plain uncharitable from a European perspective.

    Reply
      • Well, no, I don’t think that is the reason at all. Putting unnecessary stumbling blocks in the way of Europeans coming to faith (or remaining in the faith) is a sin, surely. And there are very many people in Britain and the rest of Europe who won’t have anything to do with church because of its long history of homophobia – plenty of them are ex-Evangelicals, as well as ex-RCs. That is something that will take repentance and a publicly observed change of direction to eradicate over a long period of time, I suppose.

        Puritanism never was an attractive form of religion, as far as I can see, and it’s time to ditch it and learn to be Christians. It leads to unhealthy repression, hypocrisy, judgementalism and all sorts of unpleasant unChristian ways of behaving.

        Reply
        • The church has no authority to redefine right and wrong in contradiction to the Bible. *That* would be a sin.

          The Puritans were by far the most serious Christians in 17th century England. All they wanted was freedom of protestant worship, and all that Parliament wanted was the right to agree tax policy with King Charles rather than have him impose it unilaterally; but he and Archbishop Laud would not give way and it escalated to civil war. The Puritans never expected to find themselves in control of the nation, but Charles’ treason against the English people in declaring war against their elected representatives in 1642 and in calling a Scots army down to invade England rather than negotiate with England’s Parliament in 1648 saw him beheaded. England has many more petty laws today than under the Puritans; licensing hours were unknown in Puritan England, for instance.

          Reply
          • In the Bible, wives (plural) and concubines are allowed in the OT, as are slaves in both the OT and NT; women are not to speak in church, let alone be ordained; onanism (therefore masturbation) is not permitted; those breaking most of the rules in Leviticus are to executed; it is not permitted to charge interest on a loan…. one could go on, but clearly you do not follow biblical ethics as they were 2-3000 years ago. No-one does. The Church has redefined its ethics over the centuries in much greater contrast to its previous view than anything being discussed now. The problem is that the conservative view is just not consistent – it’s people like many commenting here who just love being harsh on everyone else and feeling accordingly self-righteous – it makes them all warm inside to think they are intrinsically better than other people. Well, that is Pharisaism, and the Pharisees came in for the strongest condemnations of all from Jesus.

          • Mark: please see my comment above about toevah, which deals with this issue.

            What Jesus condemned most was hypocrisy – claiming to follow God while deciding for yourself what pleases him and what doesn’t.

          • Under the Puritan rule of Cromwell the Church of England as an Anglican church effectively ceased to be. The BCP and Bishops were abolished and the C of E was effectively a Presbyterian church only restored at the Restoration

          • Look at the votes which Andrew Goddard has detailed above. The Church of England would indeed be better off without bishops.

          • Without Bishops the C of E would not exist as an Anglican church, it would be Presbyterian evangelical. The C of E much have bishops

    • ‘Even the RC Church is now performing same-sex blessing in several places on the Continent with their bishops’ permission’. That isn’t with the Vatican’s permission yet though yes Lutheran churches certainly bless same sex couples now

      Reply
      • And all the Nordic Lutheran churches on the continent, with which we are in communion, marry same-sex couples in church. This has happened with no controversy, no Puritans grandstanding or storming out, and shows how small-minded and mean-spirited Evangelicals in English-speaking countries have become. One Danish Lutheran priest said to me “We are the real Protestants, you know, we actually believe that marriage is not a sacrament anyway – Protestants are supposed to believe that there are only two sacraments, those instituted by Jesus, of which marriage is not one. So it has never been a big deal for us.”

        Reply
        • And are they in growth or decline?
          What is their doctrine of scripture? What have they done with sin?
          What doctrines have been jettisoned?

          Reply
          • This growth or decline trope is really childish. It’s perfectly possible for numbers to be up in some areas and for a period, then for them to collapse just afterwards. This happened in Western Europe in the 1950s across the denominations – rising church attendance at that time was followed by catastrophic loss from the end of the 60s onwards. It’s not at all as simple as saying that hard-line morality attracts. Otherwise the RC Church, which is the most hard-line on sex, would be in a healthy state across Europe, wouldn’t it? Instead it’s fast heading towards falling apart.

          • And your theological difficulty is that Scripture alone is not a good guide when it comes to sexual morality. What worked 2000 years ago, before contraception and in an era of patriarchy, does not work for heterosexuals any more than for homosexuals today. Evangelicals have conveniently all turned liberal regarding heterosexuals – when I was a child, remarriage of divorcees was condemned by them vigorously as not consonant with Scripture.

          • It’s because the Bible alone is not enough to deal with changing circumstances that we need the Church, expressing the sensus fidelium, to reinterpret for each generation. And the sensus fidelium is clear: modern Christians in the West are faithful and devout but not living according to the mores of the 1950s, either straight or gay Christians.

          • Mark, you do talk nonsense. What you call hardline morality is judged by a secular yardstick. That means you are not only thinking in a secular fashion but also prioritising that over Christian thinking. Why? What did secularism ever do but smash families?

            Second you are calling the impact of the 1960s after the 1950s a typical example when in fact it was the exact opposite – something unprecedented. And giving one example only does not work unless that example is representative.

            Which evangelicals have turned liberal? Divorce is hell. It is foul, unmentionable. For some reason accommodation to culture stops people seeing that.

            Fourth, people live according to the mores they see all around them and therefore perceive as normal. That is not a rational choice, it is nothing more than a default.

            It is obvious that when we see failing patterns, we learn lessons from eras and cultures with successful patterns. Unless we don’t care.

          • I don’t think that what happened in the 60s, the falling away after a boom time for churches in the 50s is unique in history. The Puritan period in the mid-17th century led to a very long reaction against strict Evangelical morals right through from the Restoration until the beginning of the Victorian period. I think that what we see in Western societies since the 60s is probably a similar reaction against the harshness of Christians preaching hardline sexual morality and generally abusing power in the preceding period. So the way out of that is certainly not to be harsh now, or you just remind Europeans of what they have recently jettisoned and why.

        • The reasoning of that Lutheran, that because marriage is a covenant not a sacrament then same-sex marriage is OK, is a classic non-sequitur from a true premise.

          Reply
          • Lutherans – the real Protestants, right? – don’t get worked up about marriage because for real Protestants it is NOT a sacrament. It makes them very much more humane, in my experience, very much less repressed and less hypocritical in their Protestant culture, both now and historically, than ours in English-speaking countries. And, as it happens, those are the Christians we are in communion with, so their acceptance of same-sex marriage can’t exactly be a deal- or communion- breaker.

          • It is an odd thing that Protestants in English-speaking countries have been so narrow and small-minded that they have no idea at all of being in step with their fellow-Protestants on the Continent, but seem to prefer to have more in common with backward societies in Africa criminalising gay people (as in Ghana right now) than their fellow Europeans.

          • Mark: I do not believe marriage is a sacrament. I am happy to be described as a protestant. That does not mean that marriage is to be taken lightly (or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding, but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God).

          • Not all Protestants in English speaking nations, US Episcopalians and the SEP and Church of Scotland now perform same sex marriages. Anglicans in Canada, New Zealand and Australia same sex blessings

          • Yes, Ian, I do dare to say that persecuting gay people is a backward social move, wherever it happens. I am not afraid to call such things out for what they are.

          • No they aren’t, the Church of Scotland for example is still the largest church in Scotland, the US Episcopalian church has masses of money (the episcopal Trinity Church in Manhattan alone has a $6 billon investment portfolio) and most Danes are members of the established Lutheran Church of Denmark

          • Simon-

            If you are a member of a church by birthright, then that is not even the slightest sign of actual church growth.

            You also said money is a sign of churches doing well. The denomination you cited is actually haemorrhaging. Money is a sign of nothing of the sort, as you know well. It is a sign of a rich country, or heaped up heritage, or investment.

            You are clutching at straws. You know very well that the Hayward graph shows that Christian teaching brings life and growth while cultural compromise brings decline. Things have never been different from that, nor will be.

          • I think church attendance in Sweden and Denmark is about the same as in the UK, as a percentage of the population, isn’t it?

            Not that current church attendance is the best way to judge what is right: forms of religion that are very unpleasant often attract large numbers of followers, after all. And I would say that all these “successful” churches taking a Conservative Evangelical hard line are going to face a day of reckoning, as the younger generation of even their worshippers in Britain do not share the prejudices of the older men (and it does always seem to be men) running those churches at the moment.

          • And, Ian, as I point out elsewhere on the thread, the most hard line denomination on sexual morality is, by far, RC Church, yet it is in massive decline right across Europe at the moment. On your logic, it should be drawing in the crowds, surely, if a traditional hard line on sexual morality really does attract. I don’t know anyone who is RC and still goes to Mass who would cite the teaching on sex as a positive part of their faith – they nearly all still go in spite of, rather than because of, it.

          • ‘Sex’ is not even a topic in Christianity, since it is within marriage, and within marriage it is private, hence not a topic. You treating it as such shows underlying secularism.

          • A contextualised one would be fine, and already exists. As represented by the marriage service etc.. But theology is not a science anyway.

          • “‘Sex’ is not even a topic in Christianity, since it is within marriage, and within marriage it is private, hence not a topic.”

            I really don’t understand this. There’s a whole section of 1 Corinthians which is all about how run your marriage, including explicitly your sex life. What Scripture says about relationships within marriage was part of the sweep of the earlier article about men and women (and are men really to be in charge somehow). We wouldn’t argue that marriages are private, and how spouses treat each other is no one’s business, would we?

          • AJ Bell, I didn’t say that at all. Reread. I said that sex is private and therefore not a conversation topic. Compare the Queen’s anointing, i.e. the holiest moment, not being filmed for public consumption. Paul’s instructions are at the most general of levels.

          • Christopher

            Who claimed theology was a science?

            Why would theology be a science?

            Is science the only knowledge worth pursuing?

            The marriage service (which one?) is a comprehensive theology of sexuality?

        • I know the Hayward graph was produced by an evangelical who identified some growth amongst a few independent and Pentecostal churches from a tiny base. However they are still far behind the size of the Church of England and Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic churches in the UK in terms of attendance

          Reply
          • VIneyard, Elim, FIEC, Redeemed Church are very sizeable organisations. However, C of E is going to be large numerically if it starts from being huge. Its harvest is only minor figures once it turns liberal. Liberal (i.e. weak cultural conformity) equals no power and equals decline. The gospel equals power, life, and growth. Which are you choosing?

          • If and when ELIM, Pentecostal and independent churches overtook the Church of England and Church of Scotland in terms of church attendance and membership in the UK you might have a point. At present, even if growing, they are still well behind them and the Roman Catholic church too in the UK

          • Simon, you do appear to be very out of touch. The non-conformists together overtook the C of E some time ago. Fewer than 20% of Christians in a church on a Sunday are in a C of E church.

          • No they didn’t, not one nonconformist Protestant denomination, Baptist, Pentecostal or Methodist or Quaker or URC has a higher church attendance and membership in England than the Church of England. Indeed both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic church combined still get comfortably more in their churches every Sunday than all other Christian churches in England put together

          • And don’t forget some nonconformist churches in England like the Methodists and URC and Quakers already perform same sex marriages. The C of E only approved same sex blessings on an experimental basis

          • Ian

            Most churches in the west are in steep decline. The Methodist Church of Great Britain has been my entire life. Its a mistake to suggest that this has anything to do with support for same sex marriage. Actually the opposite is more likely to be true – that opposition to same sex marriage made it easier for people to leave. Why continue to attend a church that thinks so poorly of your relationship? That preaches love, but won’t allow your nephew to get married?

    • @ Mark

      >>Even the RC Church is now performing same-sex blessing in several places on the Continent with their bishops’ permission .. <<

      Illicitly so and in open rebellion against Catholic doctrine and the Vatican.

      Reply
      • Well, no. The Belgian RC bishops authorise same-sex blessings: I am told that the Austrian bishops too, though haven’t yet seen that in writing. In Germany just a couple of months ago, the RC Synod voted in favour of blessing same-sex marriages – they were rather more enthusiastic than our own C of E General Synod, in fact. The current Pope is clearly in favour of such moves as well. The fact is that European Christians just aren’t homophobic like they used to be, and church structures everywhere will need to reflect that.

        Reply
  7. The inference is that the Church has two wings who are evenly divided. That is not really the case.

    Amongst those supporting the motion there is clearly a large bloc who favour actual change in Church teaching towards same-sex marriage.

    Those opposing the motion are however something of a motley crew themselves. What’s been striking is that there is no appetite from that side of Synod to actually propose anything. There’s no amendment to throw out the PLF and replace with a teaching of lifelong celibacy, or require work from the Bishops about how to make better provision for celibacy and singleness. Nor is there an amendment ever proposed to say that gay don’t need same-sex marriage because they should be repenting of their sexuality and entering into opposite-sex marriages. Nor is there an amendment to insist that no one should call themselves a “gay Christian”. All these supposedly conservative positions are untested.

    What we do know from those opposing the motion is that, judging by the voting patterns, none of them are persuaded that gay people ought to be allowed to enter celibate committed relationships (i.e. the civil partnership ‘compromise’ for the clergy). Quite why this is the case isn’t expressed. The debate essentially ignored it, despite that being what was in effect on the table, and stuck to the preferred topics of marriage and sex. There were criticisms to make of the proposed covenanted friendships – for some reason it seems that someone has argued that it has to be so loose that you could enter one whilst already married, which questions the whole purpose of the provision. But those criticisms were never made, let alone answered.

    It’s hard to escape the conclusion that what we’re seeing is a lot of cynical gameplaying, of which this article is regrettably part. Those advocating for change in PLF have those changes watered down to the point of being homeopathic. Meanwhile those opposing change avoid putting forward any alternative (lest it split their own faction), ignore the watering down, and cry that they absolute must divide the Church and get their own Bishops. They may love the Church of England, but they love a schism more.

    Reply
    • ‘The inference is that the Church has two wings who are evenly divided. That is not really the case.’

      No indeed. Those seeking change are in the main part leading small and shrinking churches. Those who are very happy with the church’s doctrine are mostly leading larger and growing churches, though ones which are completely under-represented in Synod because of the skewed electoral college.

      What many of us want is no change to doctrine. We have proposed that, and it has been accepted by the Synod vote. So you are mistaken.

      Reply
      • No, the vast majority of British people support homosexual marriage now, as do the clear majority of Anglicans in the UK. Deanery Synod representatives who elect lay Synod representatives are themselves elected by each Church within the Church of England and each member of the clergy also elects Synod representatives.

        That Synod in turn has voted by clear overall majority and by majorities in each house to bless homosexual couples on an experimental basis. Your side lost that vote, even if holy matrimony was reserved for heterosexual couples. Yes there are growing independent charismatic evangelical and Pentecostal churches like ELIM but they are not in the Anglican tradition. If you refuse to accept the majority vote of Synod for same sex blessings, even despite the opt out for evangelical churches so they don’t have to do them if they don’t so wish as Anglo Catholic churches had over women priests, then you are welcome to leave the Church of England and join those non Anglican evangelical churches
        https://yougov.co.uk/society/articles/45199-anglicans-more-likely-not-back-church-england-cond?redirect_from=%2Ftopics%2Fsociety%2Farticles-reports%2F2023%2F02%2F09%2Fanglicans-more-likely-not-back-church-england-cond

        Reply
      • Does the Church actually have a doctrine on homosexuality?

        Are you just referring to “marriage is between one man and one woman” and trying to infer something much wider from that?

        Reply
          • All these years of shared conversations, living in love and faith, and all the rest, and this still where we are…

          • Was there a particular destination which people were compelled to get to?
            Compelled?
            No doubt one of those destinations which, having been rejected by votes n times, is finally accepted by a small majority, and funnily enough that is the last vote that takes place.
            Do people honestly think we are stupid?

      • Can’t see what the problem is then. Doctrine remains unchanged. Some priests and PCCs will offer blessings to some gay couples. No one will be impelled to. And CEEC can continue being a church within a church without being entirely heterodox.

        Reply
      • Ian

        A lot of my liberal friends complain often about resources being taken from their churches and given to HTB plants!

        There’s a lot of reasons why some churches are doing better than others and I think its a mistake to suggest that same sex marriage is a major reason – especially since so many “growing” churches put so much effort into keeping their position secret from most of their congregants!

        Reply
  8. The schismatics are those who lie in their oaths, vows and are akin to perjurers, ab intitio or in breach, or so it seems.
    The burden of proof is on those *prosecuting* the claim for revision. That includes the integrity of the rules of natural justice, of being seen to be done publically in setting out the legal case, scriptural, doctrinal and procedural.

    Reply
    • You think this is just a discussion between those who want change, and those who think everything is just fine as it is? That folks like Ed Shaw who say the Church has a real problem with celibacy and singleness are just wrong? That there’s no issue with people already in same-sex marriages coming to faith (to pick one contemporary example)?

      Reply
        • Ideal and what I’d like to see are slightly different. Of course, all of us would ideally like everyone to agree with us. But that’s a somewhat flippant answer to your question.

          My point is that “traditional teaching” has already been undone. Historically, Church teaching on homosexuality focussed on the Sodom and Gomorrah story (with a bit of Romans 1 for good measure), and told men to stop sleeping with men and return to their wives. Same-sex desire was a overflowing of sexual desire, indicating a lack of self-control, and people could simply stop it if they wished. There was little notion of gay men finding each other, but rather some men corrupting others, and as such penalties not only could be but ought to be harsh. That started to be eroded in the 50s, was properly questioned in the 70s, and was overturned by the 80s, culminating in Issues in Human Sexuality in 1993. Far from trying to hold back the tide of change, prominent evangelicals like John Stott were a part of the revision. They accepted that the understanding of homosexuality had been wrong, that homophobia in the Church had been a serious problem, and that teaching needed to change. So we arrived at a new teaching that some people were gay, that this was not a result of them being led astray and could not be changed about them. We asserted that they needed to be welcomed openly into the Church. But this acceptance could not be extended to gay relationships, and it was suggested that gay people may need to be single all their lives.

          This new teaching has been a 30-40 year experiment. It has been shown to have some serious flaws. Conservative voices in the Church rejected it immediately, and charged headlong into ex-gay ministries attempted to change people’s sexual orientation (with horrendous results). Even today they are embarrassed by it preferring to hide behind marriage formulations rather than say openly that gay people are to be embrace lifelong celibacy. Meanwhile gay people themselves have found the practical workings of the teaching extremely wanting. The welcome in the Church hasn’t materialised, telling others about themselves is traumatic and leads to exclusion, claims of celibacy are disbelieved, and many of those who embrace it find the experience a despairingly lonely martyrdom rather than the freedom promised (see Ed Shaw’s account of him frequently sat in floods of tears on his kitchen floor).

          I think we need to be returning to and updating Issues in Human Sexuality, and actually creating a doctrine of homosexuality (or homophilia as that document would say). We need to thrash out what we’re saying gay people should do, and consequently what that means for the Church, and therefore what were actually going to do about it. Simply parroting that marriage is one man and one woman, and inviting people to draw their own conclusions isn’t remotely serious or good enough.

          Reply
          • AJ

            This is a really good summary of changes in church teaching.

            I think a huge challenge for conservatives is they’ve now gone down two consecutive paths that have essentially been proved false – gay people are not over sexed rapists and nor can they be cured by electrocution, exorcism or talking.and there’s little appetite for even trying to demonstrate their third “God has told gay people they must be single and celibate” is a serious and practical position (almost no churches offer any dedicated pastoral support for gay people following this path)

      • What is egregious is the self inflicted myopathy that flagrantly evades the cankerous root: in any other sphere there would be a cacaphony calling for the dismissal or resignation of incumbents, in dereliction of their duty, dishonour of their oaths, vows, and in doing so effectively misleading their parliament yet brushing it off with a contemptuous wave of the hand in answer to a forensic probative question from Ben John. Shameful yet shameless.
        Not only that, all the while, it publically exposes the true nature and character of the organisation as a whole.
        An ambassdor of truth in Christ?
        Guardians of the Gospel?
        An apostate Administration?
        A school of professional managerial skeptics?
        Dead in the dark arts of confusion and deception?
        Or raised and living in the Light of the World?
        A Curate’s egg?
        I’m aware of one person who trained at a CoE seminary, if that is the right word, but will not persue ordination as they considered they could not trust any Bishop they might come under as to what they did and didn’t believe.

        Reply
        • Let me guess: are you an American, by any chance? Because if so, you need to know that almost no-one in Europe comes out with that sort of inappropriately judgemental and rather wildly expressed hard line nowadays. In fact, it is the way of speaking most calculated to alienate Europeans from religion, I’d say.

          The question under discussion here is what is appropriate pastoral practice in a West European country where virtually no-one holds the sort of view you are espousing. Foaming at the mouth and saying that they’ll all go to hell for it is not the kind of tactic that will wash any more in this part of the world.

          Reply
          • And even in the US same sex marriage has been legal for a decade and has clear support now in polls from most Americans (and the US Episcopal church already performs same sex marriages)

          • Anything that is legal then comes to seem normal and its support increases because people understand it to be normal. That is a circular argument.

          • If that is a question posed to me?
            No I’m not. I have visited this site and made comment for 5 or so years.
            It is you who appears to be a Jonny come lately, who unless I’ve missed it or unless you’ve have commented under a different name have not commented here before, certainly not on matters of Biblical substance and faith which is the nub of Ian Paul’s blog site.
            What is clear is that you don’t or can’t answer matters of substance or dismiss in a callow way.
            I was converted to Christ in the CoE as a 47 year old former atheist Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. That is a number of years ago. I have also been employed in a senior management position in a public body (where non compliance with policy could be career limiting.)
            Ben John’s question to Synod laid bare what I see as the mendacity ( based on don’t explain, don’t apologise , ride it out philosophy) at the heart of the organisation. Evidently CJ Bell, who I do not know and evidently seeks ssm, doesn’t appear to be enamoured either.
            Bishop Croft, I don’t know how long ago now, in a lenghty essay came down to admitting that surrounding cultural was the driver for change, not scripture, not Christian doctrine.
            Andrew Goddard over some years in a series of well developed and argued articles have brought some matters into the open that would otherwise remain covered.
            I’m not a homophobe. My simple yet not simplistic questions are not tropes requiring analysis of corelation and causation. You know absolutely nothing about my friends, aquaintances, colleauges, past or present.
            I have no interest in further engaging in your callow comments and misjudgements (even allowing for the constraints of the comments format) thanks.

          • Geoff, if I’ve wrongly assumed you to be an American, then I apologise. It’s difficult to judge where people are coming from from their tone when they comment, and I have only ever heard Americans speak like that before, which is why I made the assumption.

            But then you will surely agree with me that our society on this side of the Atlantic is overwhelmingly in favour a same-sex marriage, and that includes our practising Christians? So it is not an outrageous view to hold.

          • Mark, you have now called two Brits American. Your thoughts are a bit inaccurate and erratic. You know very well that pretty much no-one at all was in favour of same sex marriage till pretty much yesterday.

          • Geoff

            Steven Croft is not a pro LGBT theologian or an LGBT rights activist. Just because he has dropped opposition to same sex marriage for cultural reasons does not mean that there are no scriptural or reasoned arguments

          • Christopher

            I’ve been same sex married for 4 years and we began dating 9 years ago, we are coming up to the ten year anniversary of SSM being legally recognized in England. Same sex relationships have been fully decriminalized for over two decades.

  9. Yes, Ian, I do dare to say that persecuting gay people is a backward social move, wherever it happens. I am not afraid to call such things out for what they are.

    Ah, noble Mark, we eagerly await your denunciations of “authorities” who
    Wreck careers and end employments of people who refuse to acquiesce to lbqxyz propaganda and dogma.
    To say that God created lbqxyz’s is incorrect: God gave them up – Rom 1:26
    Alas, the anus was not created to be a surrogate vagina,it is against nature.

    Reply
    • You know, if I take a look at discussions of this issue on any website that attracts either Conservative Evangelicals or Conservative Roman Catholics, the same thing happens: quite quickly, you see comments come up that just show that the person is plain nasty in their attitude towards gay people. If you want to be characterised by a mean-spirited small-minded intolerant and uncharitable attitude towards your fellow human beings who happen to be gay, that’s fine by me, but just don’t presume to think that is a Christian way to speak about anyone.

      Reply
      • Mark – you can be as gay as you like in English society since 1967. But what makes you think you can force the church, which answers to God rather than the State, to alter what it believes God has instructed?

        A small number of influential churchmen have let themselves be used by Satan to try to bring about change. But you have come to this blog and you have not so far engaged with the matter of what the Bible says and its authority.

        Reply
        • If you think that it’s ok to accuse people who disagree with you of being ipso facto agents of Satan, then you rather prove the point I have been making, and I have nothing more to say to you.

          Reply
          • He’s not doing anything close to that. He is just saying that in this particular instance he thus attributes it.

          • Issues should be discussed according to evidence only.
            Why see denomination above commitment to Christ, when it is intrinsically below it?
            Nor assume people are narrowly anglicans.

          • Christopher, the article we are discussing is about a vote in the Church of England’s General Synod; Ian, Andrew Goddard and I are all Church of England priests. Of course people who aren’t Anglicans can have views, but if you are not part of the C of E then you can hardly expect to be someone influencing the C of E’s policy, can you? And if, as I suspect, you are on the other side of the Atlantic, then you perhaps should be a but humble regarding the fact that your own social situation is rather different from that prevailing in Europe: Europeans tend to think differently both about religion and sexual morality than is often the case in the USA, so you can’t possibly speak appropriately into a society which you don’t understand very well nor belong to.

            English Christians are nowadays in favour of same-sex marriage, as are other Christians right across Europe. This is in the context of a very long history of Christian homophobia on our continent. So just coming out with hard line American statements doesn’t work here, nor is it right to try to make us into your society – our context is quite different.

          • ‘English Christians are nowadays in favour of same-sex marriage’.

            Sorry, Mark, there are lots of ways that statement is not true.

            I agree with your concern about tone. But I am also concern about the kind of rhetorical ploy which assumes that someone’s position is correct and not open to challenge, which also often happens.

          • Ian, I think I have seen surveys that indicate that 1) Anglicans in England are in the majority in favour of same-sex marriage, and 2) despite the views of their hierarchy, the vast majority of Roman Catholics in the UK, as elsewhere in Europe, are also in favour of same-sex marriage (and also women’s ordination). Is that not correct?

          • That is not entirely true. Russians and Poles for example are likely to be more opposed to same sex marriage than even most Americans now. The Russian Orthodox Church is certainly anti it

          • Mark, your entire reply is on the basis that I am in the USA. But I am in the UK.
            If you think that people should just copy what other people are doing in their own country, conform mindlessly, then that says very little indeed for your intellect. Why do you think different societies have different trends anyway, when the data are the same?
            Can’t we have a lot more Jesus and a lot less UK culture and Anglicanism? Priorities.

          • Mark, you made the error iof thinking that anyone that ticks ‘Anglican’ is a C of E churchgoer. Only ten percent of them are,almost exactly ten percent (1.2% vs 12%). The Jayne Ozanne survey did not ask whether the respondents went to church.

            Simon made another error. He counts a few hundred people at Synod and simply assumes they are representative.

            Regnerus surveys have shown how non churchgoers are far far closer to non Christians than to Christians in their social views and passive social conformity.

            The key poiint is that however many times the point it put to you that you ignore Jesus and think that something called ‘Anglican’ (which only derives from Jesus anyway) is far more important than Jesus humself, you just ignore the point.

          • If you want a ‘lot less Anglicanism’, what on earth are you doing in the Church of England? You should have left it for a Baptist, Pentecostal or independent charismatic evangelical church long ago.

            You don’t need to go to church every week to be an Anglican, it is not a cult despite efforts of some to make it so. Even if you only go at Christmas or Easter or are baptised and confirmed an Anglican you are one.

            Synod is representative. Each Church elects its deanery Synod representatives at its AGM. The deanery Synod also in turn elects lay representatives to general Synod as the clergy elects clergy representatives.

            The fact is the C of E is far more than a few ultra conservative evangelical churches which refuse to allow any recognition of same sex couples at all, even if you may wish that were not so

          • Simon, I can only imagine that if you were in the army, you would spend the whole time glorying in your particular regiment and not doing any fighting.

            Don’t you think that it is glorious to be a Christian, that the church is glorious? Or is the only thing you think about your regiment? That will not get you very far. It is putting the cart before the horse.

            In any case, you are espousing a model of birds of a feather flocking together. That is exactly how they will learn nothing, never progress, be affronted when someone is not like them, and never grow. That is not a proposal, it is an anti-proposal.

            Re churchgoing, you have missed the entire point of what I said. Namely, that by profile, non churchgoers who tick ‘Anglican’ are closer by far culturally to non Christians than to Christians. This has been shown repeatedly.

            As for representation, you know how wrong you are. Parliament was not remotely representative of the country on SSM or on Brexit or on the death penalty. (Now you are going to say I am in favour of all three. How do you know? I am not actually in favour of two of them at all. Think.) People who get elected are not representative because they are disproportionately activist, and in parliament’s case disproportionately cosmopolitan, legal, urban, university educated.

        • Anton

          A slight caveat – same sex sex was mostly decriminalized in 1967. That’s not quite the same as gay people being fully accepted or even as treated as equals by the law.

          It wasn’t until 2000 that the age of consent was lowered to be the same as that for straight people and also in 2000 same sex sex in the military was decriminalized.

          In the 80s and 90s it was illegal for teachers to speak positively about gay people in schools.

          It continues to be legal to carry out acts on gay people, especially young gay people, under the guise of “conversion therapy” that would otherwise be counted as illegal and abusive. There still is not full marriage equality. There are a number of areas where gay people are discriminated against in provision of health services.

          Etc etc

          In short things are better than they were in the 60s and 80s, but there’s a long way to go to be a society where gay people are treated as equals with straight people.

          Reply
          • Stop saying untrue things. In the 80s and 90s it was normal, as ever, that most things said about most people would be positive.

            It was illegal to promote or applaud certain activities, yes. Not surprisingly ,as said activities had just set off a pandemic. Do you think activities are people? This question is always evaded – can you enlighten me on why?

          • Christopher

            Hysterical (testerical?) nonsense.
            Your pandemic didn’t start as a ‘gay plague’ and simply representing homosexuality as a neutral thing was illegal. Many young gay men brought up during that period are still suffering from trauma and incredulous that gay partnerships can now be portrayed as being part of mainstream culture, e.g. on Strictly Come Dancing. And it’s a joy to see.

          • Christopher

            The exact thing that was forbidden was the “promotion of homosexuality” – nothing to do with “certain activities”. They were prohibited from saying positive things about gay people. I lived it. You didnt.

          • Anton

            Can you bear with me and do the politician thing of answering a different question first?

            I absolutely think it should be illegal to practice conversion therapy on people who have not consented to it, which includes all minors and adults deemed unable to consent, or if they have been coerced into it. Im aware of an individual in the CofE who was told he must undergo an exorcism to be allowed to remain in a volunteer leadership position – that should be a crime! Physical abuse is now rarely a part of this, but it is still mental abuse. Its harder to recognize because the same words don’t land with people not in that situation.

            I also think it should be illegal to practice conversion therapy without informed consent – information on success statistics and side effects.

            I would be open to discussing the merits of permitting it for people who have informed consent if you can explain to me how an individual might be fully informed of the certainty of failure, the likelihood of harm and yet being of sound mind want to go through with it anyway?

            Here in Maine it is illegal for licensed medical practitioners to do conversion therapy on minors – and the conservative churches all strongly opposed even that.

        • The 1967 Act only partially decriminalised (male) homosexuality.
          The age of consent was, for many years, higher than it was for heterosexual people and convictions actually rise after the Act was passed. Homosexuality was still regarded as a grave disability (Cf. Roy Jenkins speech to Parliament).
          Over the decades attitudes have become increasingly permissive, with the major exception of Section 28.
          Gay couples , both male and female are still more likely to be abused and attacked than their straight peers. And homophobic abuse is still rampant (cf. Twitter and the recent abuse directed towards Layton Williams).
          In many countries homosexuality is illegal and, in some, can attract the death penalty.

          Reply
        • I am a Christian but then so are over 2 billion people globally so that isn’t very specific. More specifically I am a liberal Catholic Christian.

          Evangelicals who dismiss Anglicans like me as closer to atheists than them just because we support blessing same sex couples married in English law are just driving us to division (especially given the opt out you get). If you refuse to accept the majority decision of Synod then you are welcome to leave the C of E to a Pentecostal, Baptist or independent evangelical church closer to you in doctrine.

          Parliament voted for SSM and every poll shows most voters back it, Parliament also ultimately delivered Brexit in 2020. On the death penalty views are split but we are a representative not direct democracy and the C of E is also representative not direct with Synod its representative body

          Reply
          • (1) What kind of proportion of non-experts are there on any given voting issue in ‘Synod’?

            (2) The authority of Synod exceeds the authority of Jesus?
            To paraphrase Adrian Plass – the life of Jesus seems like an early and rather poor preparation for the coming of Synod.

            (3) Something being voted by one particular denomination’s representatives makes it true? What is so special about the third largest denomination? Why not the 2nd, 8th, 5th?

            (4) What is the relationship between something winning a vote and its being true and correct?

  10. Mark – I think j if you view people who regularly come t on social media and articles like this as typical of anything in the wider community you are most likely mistaken. Comments BTL mainly attract those strongly invested either pro sr anti the proposition in question. For myself I observe plenty of mean-spirited comments in such places coming from all directions. I just don’t take them as typical of anything wider let alone use them to accuse anyone beyond the person expressing them, or to prove any point as to the value of the wider position being attacked or proposed.
    In short – the unpleasantness of how some people argue their case neither proves not disproves it. It just tends to make me irritated with the individual concerned. Including a number of those commenting here.

    Reply
    • I think there is a difference. I doubt that you read any comments from gay people on these fora which show clearly that they just hate straight people for who they are, do you? Your comment seems to show the sort of false equivalence that Justin Welby likes to make sometimes – there are two sides here, and each can feel equally hurt by the other. While I’m sure no-one is intrinsically better or worse merely for espousing a particular side in debate, there is a difference when the comments descend to the level of making it clear that people are being despised just for existing. Once commenters start talking about body parts and how much they loathe what some other people do in bed (while evidently simultaneously fascinated enough to care), then they get into the area of showing that behind it all is a disgust at beastliness in the dorm of they sort there were taught to fear at a young age. This comes out then as clear hatred of the perceived other, and it has a long and ignoble history as a strand within Christianity.

      Reply
      • Mark

        I think there are (at least) three sides

        Those who want full inclusion of gay people, including equal marriage
        Those who are uneasy/conflicted about both exclusion of gay people and/or the current teaching not matching their experience, but who also do not want significant change
        Those who acknowledge some of the worst abuses as bad, but see them totally unconnected with what the church teaches, aren’t convinced anyone is truly gay and think that acknowledging gayness is a slippery slope.

        Reply
    • I mean, Christians long advocated severe punishments for the people the hardline commenters are criticising, that is the context. Many people suffered as a result historically: capital punishment was introduced for gay people in Britain at the Reformation as a result of Evangelical pressure, and they have kept up the nasty rhetoric ever since. The equivalent has never happened the other way round.

      Reply
        • God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them.

          A Christian’s attitude to people living in love together should be basically a positive, not a negative, one, because people living together in love is fundamentally a good thing desired by God.

          Reply
          • I would hope that in my own life I’m basically a positive, yes, can-do kind of person, not a negative can’t do, no way type. And I think that is a Christian way to look at the fundamentally good world and the fundamentally good people in it.

            I know there are some Christians who take the we’re all doomed, let’s talk about sin and tell everyone else how evil they are line, but frankly that is not a way I find helpful in my own spiritual life, nor do many people nowadays, however much it may have worked for the Victorians.

          • That’s exactly right. Secularists and the sexual revolution bring all kinds of unpleasant things on the agenda which would never occur to happy or positive people.

          • Christopher, I don’t know who you are, but I have formed the idea that you, Anton and Geoff commenting here must all be fearful Calvinists living on remote farmsteads, gun in one hand and keyboard in the other, somewhere in the square states of the USA….

            Whether or not that is the case, that Victorian hell and damnation harsh way of speaking is just SO inappropriate in the contemporary European context, which is what the rest of us a living with here. No-one in Europe speaks or thinks like that any more, it’s pointless trotting it out now. Conservative Evangelicals will need to learn to limit themselves to saying what is positive in people’s loving relationships, I think, and resist the urge to judge and condemn what they so poorly understand.

          • Mark: I live in my home country of England and if “once saved, always saved” is a key tenet of Calvinism then I am not a Calvinist. (I find several statements to the contrary in the NT and also find “once backslid [too far], always backslid.”)

            I think you are seeking to wind people up and I am not going to let it happen to me, but I am going to hold you to holy scripture.

          • Anton, what I was trying to express is that this is not a normal way for people to speak in our society nowadays. The kind of people I mix with are well-educated, open and tolerant, and I’m unused to the kind of harsh judgementalism that I’ve been reading here today. I suppose the only people who see things that way in Europe now are drawn from amongst either Conservative Evangelicals, Traditionalist Roman Catholics or Muslims, and they would be regarded as fringe elements by everyone else. It doesn’t seem to me to be the way we do things in our society any more, and nor was it ever a good one.

            The way to go, both as individuals and as the Church, I think, is to look for what is positive and good in people as we find them, and that must include their relationships. That is a healthier psychology for all concerned than peddling repression, with its attendant double lives, wandering hands, power abuse, mental health problems, suicides, etc which are abundantly present among gay Christians (or, I suppose, Muslims) who buy into the idea pushed at them that they have to be self-hating. Anyone with a pastoral heart should surely want to avoid those things: encouraging healthy loving relationships, as well as self-acceptance, has got to be the way forward, rather than old-fashioned Pharisaical condemnation.

          • Real Christians are viewed as fringe elements by everyone else. The New Testament says so. Why are you taking your criteria from an increasingly totalitarian and controlling secular society?

            In Leviticus, man lying with man for sexual gratification is described as toevah. Do you believe that this is God’s view of the practice? Please include a clear Yes or No in any answer – and I would be grateful also for your reasons. Notice that I am not asking whether Christians are under Mosaic Law.

          • Anton, I wonder how many of the 630 injunctions in Leviticus you follow. I think that plucking out just one verse from the whole of OT ethics to stand as valid for all time, while not doing the same for many of the others, which go very much contrary to how people live today, is just clutching at theological straws to justify personal prejudice.

            In the OT, the sexual ethic is predicated on the absolute value of reproduction, because the Israelites were a small nation surrounded by enemies. So the important thing was to reproduce as much as possible. That is why everyone who has lots of children is praised – whether by multiple wives, concubines, slave girls or whoever. Correspondingly, any use of sex not directly leading to population increase is frowned upon. That is why onanism was condemned in Genesis, which led to Christians up until to not many decades ago telling adolescents they would go mad if they masturbated, and the RC Church today still saying that masturbation and use of contraception are mortal sins.

            I don’t think that what was appropriate ethically for ancient Israel 3000 years ago is necessarily still appropriate for us today in every respect, and I doubt whether anyone really does take that position *consistently* now.

          • But I shouldn’t have replied to you. It’s pointless arguing with literalists about their three clobber verses, because they see them as their nuclear weapons which conveniently stop all rational discourse.

            Neither is your position that of the C of E anyway, which affirms gay people in relationships. We are not a denomination of biblical fundamentalists, nor have we ever been.

          • Mark: You avoided my question about God’s opinion of man lying with man for sexual gratification, based on Leviticus 18:22. Do you believe God regards this practice as toevah or not?

            I could discuss other laws of Moses with you, but eating pork is not the subject matter of the thread. You will presumably be aware that either of Yes or No leads to difficult issues for your position; is that why you didn’t give a straightforward reply?

            It is untrue that non-procreative sex is frowned upon on the OT. The marriage of post-menopausal women (thereby taking up men who could be procreating with younger women) is perfectly acceptable under Mosaic Law.

            The vicar of the congregation I am in shares my view. It is a view held by every Christian for 1800 years and by all Christians outside Western civilisation today. It is your view that is out of kilter with holy scripture and long church tradition.

          • Anton, the Church of England has always been the most liberal and intellectual of the major denominations. That has been our charism, our niche in the market, if you like, for hundreds of years. Many of us are profoundly unhappy to see that good and broad-minded tolerant intelligent tradition hijacked in recent decades by biblical fundamentalists who could equally well be in any extreme non-conformist denomination. It is just not true to our tradition as Anglicans to be harsh purists, and nor is it true to the historic spirit of the English people to be like that. Being calm and reasonable, seeing things in proper perspective, prioritising good pastoral practice over dogmatism, respecting the best biblical criticism – these are treasures of the Anglican tradition, and not to be cast off in favour of shrill intolerant Puritan biblical literalism.

            This has come about partly because Conservative Evangelicals closed their ears to respectable academic biblical criticism. I saw it happening as an undergraduate reading theology, where the idea that the Bible is not as simple as it looks was too much for some of our Conservative Evangelical fellow students to cope with. Wind forward several decades, and they have been not teaching their congregations to see the Bible in the light of proper criticism, as they should have done, preferring to go for easy literalist readings. This intellectual dishonesty then comes home to roost in the kind of view of scripture you are espousing.

          • The Church of England tolerant? It wielded its monopoly power ruthlessly in the 1660s until it had its monopoly of English Christianity pried out of its sticky fingers at the Glorious Revolution. After that its best low church men went to nonconformism and its high churchmen were forced out because they were nonjurors who refused fealty to usurper monarchs. That left a central rump that was accurately parodied in the later verses of the Vicar of Bray, and by Lyutton Strachey in Eminent Victorians. The 18th century Church of England was asleep until Wesley woke it up, and they hated him for it because he cut across the parish system. He never left the CoE – his Methodist movement broke away only after he died. And he is responsible for the fine evangelical movement in the Victorian Church of England and such fine men as Bishop JC Ryle. What did Wesley and Ryle look to? Holy scripture? What did Wesley ask those who responded to his praeching? Do you earnestly wish to repent and flee from the wrath to come? The kind of message you seem to hold in contempt.

            It is the higher criticism that began in Germany that is intellectually dishonest – and, increasingly, regarded as factually poor scholarship. I am happy to dicuss the matter in greater depth with you if you think that conservative evangelicals are stupid. In some parts of the Bible a greater knowledege of Ancient Near Eastern culture is necessary for comprehension, but both Old and New Testaments were written for the common man, not for academics (today) or their ancestors the Greek philosophers (in Jesus’ time). First, though, I must point out to readers of this blog that you have twice now ducked the following simply question: On the basis of Leviticus, Does God regard man lying with man for sexual gratification as toevah? What is your answer? Please include a clear Yes or No.

          • Mark makes about one mistake per line.
            First he thinks that people who accurately express what a text says are ‘lieralists’. Literalists as opposed to what?
            Second, he presumably thinks that if the biblical texts literally condemn same sex sexual activity that means that they metaphorically approve it.
            Apart from that being illiterate, can he explain exactly how that works? Do text metaphorically mean their own opposites? All texts?
            Third, he uses the ‘unAnglican’ card without ever seeming to see the more fundamental question – Is Anglican a good thing? You just say that it is liberal therefore it is right. That is a perspective of illogic and high intellectual weakness. A non sequitur. The question is whether it follows the evidence or not.
            Fourth, if it is a choice between Anglican and Jesus, and Jesus is the reason that Anglican ever existed, then….
            Fifth, there is no such thing as a clobber verse. There are just verses. What you call (by parroting others) ‘clobber verses’ are just verses you don’t like, and you would therefore need to face up to that. A thief could call the injunctions against theft ‘clobber verses’. Since you have not defined ‘clobber verses’, you would be powerless to stop that thief doing that.
            Sixth, you seem to think that the world undergoes continual progress, so that even if a policy has disastrous results, so long as it postdates another successful policy, it is to be preferred to that successful policy, however disastrous it is. This perpsecive fails at the first hurdle, because it has not considered its own chronological snobbery. But there would be nothing that made logical sense about it anyway.
            Seventh, can you define ‘fundamentalist’? Are there fundamentalist PhDs? Why don’t you rank things according to how much thought is behind them?
            Eighth, am I Calvinist? I am more eclectic.
            Ninth, you spoke of ‘respectable academic biblical criticism’. Of the sort which I read repeatedly before, during and after my PhD? This is the same academic biblical criticism which is intelligent enough to know perfectly well that the New Testament condemns same sex sexual activity, least of all commends it.
            Tenth, can you explain what Leviticus has to do with anything, when Paul’s injunctions are in the New Testament not the Old? I am so puzzled about this point of yours.

            Eighth,

          • But if you are so keen on ‘academic biblical criticism’, then show some intelligence by citing particular writings, and then secondly by indicating what proportion of the scholarly world agrees with you that the texts mean the precise opposite of what they say? Texts usually mean the opposite of what they say, don’t they?

          • Between 1650 and 1660 Cromwell effectively destroyed the Church of England and its proper purpose as a bishops led Church with BCP prayerbook to turn it into some sort of Presbyterian evangelical denomination of the low church. It took the Restoration to restore the C of E to its proper role as a Catholic but reformed church with the King as its supreme governor and leading to the great peak in the 18th century of the Parish based C of E with great rectories and presence in the community

          • T1: You are aware that in the apostolic church there were multiple episkopoi per congregation (eg Ephesus at Acts 20:28)? In the Church of England (and of Rome) there are multiple congregations per episkopos. Given such a counterscriptural inversion it is hardly surprising that bishops are not in general to be trusted – as is clear from their recent voting in Synod. They need to be reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 20: “You’ve seen how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. Not so with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your servant. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served”. Certainly the bishops forgot that in the 1660s when they enthusiastically lobbied their men in Parliament not just for BCP – fair enough – but to outlaw nonconformism. As a result John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, much loved of many Anglicans among others, while in jail for unlicensed preaching. (I have done plenty of the same.) That made the bishops enemies of the gospel.

            After the Glorious Revolution when nonconformism became legal as in the 1650s, many of the CoE’s low church men of principle went to nonconformism and its high churchmen of principle were forced out because they were ‘nonjurors’ unable to swear loyalty to usurper monarchs. That left a central rump that was accurately parodied by Lytton Strachey in “Eminent Victorians” as follows:

            the Church of England had slept the sleep of the…comfortable. The sullen murmurings of dissent, the loud battle-cry of Revolution, had hardly disturbed her slumbers. Portly divines subscribed with a sigh or a smile to the Thirty-nine Articles, sank quietly into easy living, rode gaily to hounds of a morning as gentlemen should, and, as gentlemen should, carried their two bottles of an evening. To be in the Church was in fact simply to pursue one of those professions which Nature and Society had decided were proper to gentlemen and gentlemen alone. The fervours of piety, the zeal of Apostolic charity, the enthusiasm of self-renunciation–these things were all very well in their way and in their place; but their place was certainly not the Church of England. Gentlemen were neither fervid nor zealous, and above all they were not enthusiastic. There were, it was true, occasionally to be found within the Church some strait-laced parsons of the high Tory school who looked back with regret to the days of Laud or talked of the Apostolical Succession; and there were groups of square-toed Evangelicals who were earnest over the Atonement, confessed to a personal love of Jesus Christ, and seemed to have arranged the whole of their lives, down to the minutest details of act and speech, with reference to Eternity. But such extremes were the rare exceptions. The great bulk of the clergy walked calmly along the smooth road of ordinary duty. They kept an eye on the poor of the parish, and they conducted the Sunday Services in a becoming manner; for the rest, they differed neither outwardly nor inwardly from the great bulk of the laity, to whom the Church was a useful organisation for the maintenance of Religion, as by law established.

          • Mark, what on earth makes you think that it is less toevah in Romans than in Leviticus? That is not how it would appear to a reader.

          • The 18th century was of course actually the great heyday of the Church of England. With a church and large vicarage in every town, city and village, a Vicar connected to his local community and not just fire and brimstone preaching but actually involvement in local events too and regularly high Sunday church attendance

          • In 1689 there were 50 capital offences in England and Wales; this increased to 220 by the end of the 18th century. A cruel heyday (see Wikipedia on the ‘Bloody Code’). Hangings became regarded as public entertainment. Investment in slavery rocketed. Alcoholism soared. Highwaymen grew in number. Cruelty to animals in the form of bull-baiting, cockfighting, dogfighting and foxhunting became popular, often for gambling purposes, and prizefighting became commonplace. All while the Church of England was the guardian of the morals of the nation.

            Some heyday.

        • I said the 18th century not the late 17th century (though it was still rather better than the miserable Cromwell years when even Christmas festivities, dancing and going to the theatre were banned)

          Reply
          • It was in the 18th century that most of the Bloody Code of law was enacted. You could even be executed for being caught with your face blacked with soil in certain places, on presumption of poaching. The alcoholism, cruelty to animals and highway robbery I mentioned all mushroomed in the 18th century.

            Cromwell briefly banned Christmas in the 1650s – not for all of the decade – for two reasons: (1) it was associated with the Catholic calendar with its many saints days; (2) it was associated with widespread drunkenness. Re (1), Cromwell really didn’t like Catholicism, and neither did England judging by its response to James II three decades later. Re (2), a century earlier (following Christmas in 1565) the rector of St Stephen’s church in Cornhill in London, John Gough, had complained that Christmas was metaphorically more “a feast of Bacchus than a true serving of the memory of Jesus Christ” at which time people “do… what we lust, because it is Christmas”. Not much has changed in 500 years, has it?

            It was large-scale drunkenness that Cromwell was against, not alcohol. Teetotalism was a response to the horrors of 18th century drunkenness on gin, exacerbated by industrialisation.The Puritans drank and made no attempt to ban alcohol and there were no licensing hours. There are many more restrictions today on drinking alcohol than under the Puritans. And, provided your church was protestant and a movement of personal piety rather than politicised, you could meet as you liked. That freedom was removed in the 1660s after Cromwell died. So who is really for freedom and who against?

          • Well it was a time of tough justice (which was also the case under Cromwell). At least in the 18th century there was no execution of the King himself, an appalling act ordered by Cromwell of the Church’s very Supreme Governor.

            As you also show Cromwell banned Christmas as yet another sign of his contempt for any form of Catholic festival or liturgy, see also the terrible destruction of magnificent stained glass windows and high altars by Cromwell’s troops and Puritans.

            In the 1650s you couldn’t have services using the BCP even in private as Cromwell had banned it and replaced it with his Directory of Public Worship. It was an appalling time of repression of high church Anglicans only reversed at the Restoration

          • What you mean is that high church folk temporarily lost the income of the Established church deriving from its extensive lands. Cromwell banned BCP in the Church of England; you could use it in your own worship outside the CoE if you wanted.

            Most of the damage to statues, stained glass etc took place during the reign of Henry VIII’s son a century earlier. Check your history.

            Charles I declared war on parliamentary representatives of his own people, lost, bogged down the negotiations (even then Parliament would continue with him as king provided that they agreed tax policies together and granted freedom of protestant worship), and called down an invasion from the other sovereign country of which he was king, Scotland. This bloodsoaked treason against the people of England broke Charles’ own pledge and also his Coronation Oath. Who else but the parliamentary representatives of the people and an army of those peop[le might hold him to his word? He got what he deserved. I recommend the film “The Thorn in the Crown” coming out probably in 2025 about John Cooke, the lawyer responsible for prosecuting him.

          • High church folk not only lost income and land but also saw the destruction of altar rails, altars, stained glass windows, screens and paintings etc. It was a gross attack on the high church of England by the low church evangelical Puritans (and yes some also happened under the similarly low church Edward IV before the Elizabethan settlement but not to the same extent and at least with the King remaining Supreme Governor). The BCP was illegal, so you couldn’t even use it in your private home under the Cromwellian terror.

            Charles I and Laud were a target of Puritanism in part due to their high church ways, not just taxes. Even when he was defeated in the battle over supremacy of Parliament many moderate Parliamentarians were appalled at his execution. Indeed churches such as the now liberal Catholic King Charles the Martyr in Tunbridge Wells were set up to honour his memory

            https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/16969/

          • There was far *more* damage to statues and stained glass under Edward VI than under Cromwell, as I said. By all means check it for yourself.

            Charles I and Laud were a target of Puritanism in part due to their high church ways, not just taxes.

            Do you only skikm-read what you reply to? I said that the civil war broke out over two issues: King Charles’ unilaterally imposed taxes; and the Church of England’s ecclesiastical monopoly of legal services in conjunction with Laud’s high church policy.

            The Puritans would not have minded how ‘high’ Laud was but for the ecclesiastical monopoly, meaning that they could not lawfully organise their own services. That monopoly was intolerable and Cromwell did well to break it.

            Charles was interested in only one thing: monarchical absolutism, the right for the sovereign to govern as an autocrat. He was willing to die for that obnoxious principle, and mercifully for England he did.

            I’m afraid I cannot trust your word about BCP being illegal during the Commonwealth. Please make good your claim by providing a reference which clearly shows that it was illegal *outside* the Church of England at that time and which clarifies precisely what was illegal as mariage services (for instance) would have to be fairly similar to that in BCP.

          • Yes, so it also broke out as a result of Puritan attacks on the high church police of King Charles and Laud. High church Anglicans leaning more to the Catholic than evangelical side would have no problem with the high church policies Charles and Laud pushed.

            King Charles I died a martyr to Cromwellian republicanism and Puritanism, hence he is remembered by Anglo Catholics and liberal Catholics like me in churches such as the King Charles the Martyr.

            As for the BCP

            http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1662/Orig_manuscript/index.html

          • What you are determinedly silent about is that it was not the high church policies of Charles I and Laud that offended the Puritans but their refusal to allow an opt-out and permit Puritans to worship Jesus Christ using their own liturgy. A perfectly reasonable request which they denied. They were martyrs to their own megalomania.

          • As for BCP, by ‘outlawed’ in the link you cite I believe the author means ‘outlawed in the CoE’. Under Cromwell all non-politicised protestant groupings were free to meet as they wished. I will not believe BCP was forbidden in such groups based on assertion by someone as inaccurate as you are unless you can cite a link which is this specific.

    • I confess I dislike the tone and content of about 85% of the comments here.

      I have policed in the past, and I keep reminding people of the rules I set out above.

      The only real alternative is just to turn comments off. I don’t know how some people find the time.

      Reply
      • Ian – I’d say that it isn’t surprising that the tone is the way it is. It is all about sex. There are two distinct sides and what is separating them goes much deeper than any intellectual disagreement based on different models for how Scripture should be understood. For one side, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13 and such like are simply self-evident, prohibitions against something that seems intuitively horrible and the reaction to such verses is ‘I didn’t need the bible to tell me that’. And for those who take this view, same-sex sex is something that simply should not be seen or heard of among people who claim to be Christians. Importantly – the idea that same sex sex is utterly wrong and an abomination is something intuitive, which they had prior to reading the bible and discovering that it contained verses which corroborated this.

        The other side don’t see a problem with it, for them there is no intuitive gut feeling that same-sex sex is wrong and – far from it – they consider it, within a certain context, to be an act of love. Furthermore, they consider being deprived of this as an act of cruelty – and those who would deprive them of it as nasty and cruel people.

        There is no way that you’re going to bring scholarship into this – any intellectual arguments based on scholarship are only ever going to be a fig leaf that doesn’t make a very good job of covering the gut reaction to the other side.

        I think that what you’re looking for is more-or-less not to be expected; the tone of discussion here is probably representative and it does make it very clear that the basic premise of the article, ‘a divided church’ – where the division is irreconcilable – is spot on.

        Reply
        • Jock, I think that Ian and Andrew’s contention is not so much to do with the rightness or wrongness of SSM/ SSR -you either think it is OK or you don’t, and the theological arguments have been thrashed to death here – with a paucity of reasoned argument from the revisionists I might add, – but is more to do the behaviour of the leadership of the Church of England.

          The Church of England has a very clear doctrine of marriage and sexual behaviour which is plainly stated and unambiguous. Yet the majority of Bishops are doing their level best to subvert it despite their ordination vows to uphold the Church’s teaching on this subject.

          It would be much more honest of them (and I daresay more principled), if they were to come out and state plainly that the church’s teaching on marriage needs to be changed in the light of modern western mores to accommodate SSM and the fact that as it is a state church, it has to nod to society and be accessible to all. At least it would be clear where they stand. However, they know this would never get past Synod (at least not yet).

          So instead, they are playing the long game using the ‘escalator ‘approach see https://www.anglicanfutures.org/post/oh-mr-porter
          in order to change things on the ground for a better chance of changing the churches’s doctrine on marriage in the future.

          No-one who watched the proceedings of the last GS could fail to see the duplicity obfuscation, manipulation, dissembling and controlling behaviour by the Bishops that was on display. It is almost certainly the case that they have received legal advice regarding the legitimacy of PLF but are not making this public for reasons which they are concealing.

          So why I think that while individuals continue to argue about SSM on this blog, few minds will be changed. What Ian, Andrew et al are trying to do, is call out the Bishop’s behaviour and get some honesty out of them.

          I think this is an area where both conservatives and revisionists might find they have common ground.

          Reply
          • If few minds are changed, that means that few are evidence led. Evidence led people are refining their position all the time, for the simple reason thatr they are in the nature of things always gaining more evidence rather than less.

            If they are not evidence led, then we can disregard what they say anyway.

            So why even talk about closed minded people? – they are probably ideologues, so their opinion is of no importance.

            The debate takes place only between evidence led people. Failure to accept this point leads to a lot of time wasting chatter in a finite life which it is vital to maximise.

          • Majorities of every house of Synod, clergy as well as laity, voted for experimental services of blessing for same sex couples. Not just the house of Bishops

          • Chris – yeah – point taken. But if I were to express a truly honest opinion of the bishops, the comment would probably contain the words ‘big’ and ‘jobby’ in that order and might get deleted. You’re right about agreement between conservatives and revisionists – although it’s the sort of agreement that I remember from a Spitting Image sketch of the 1980’s where Kinnock and Thatcher were amazingly in agreement about something and the Thatcher puppet was saying things along the lines of ‘I agree entirely with the right honourable Welsh wind-bag’ and the Kinnock puppet replied in kind …..

            So yes – agreement, Jim, but not as we know it.

            Actually, while I’m opposed to gay marriage – and take the view that same sex sex is an abomination, I find that AJ Bell does make very good points – people of that disposition aren’t treated very well in the C. of E. (and indeed probably not in any church) even if they remain celibate.

          • But if they are able to be dishonest now, they are not the likeliest candidates for honesty in the future. And honesty is as fundamental as anything can be. For that reason, there needs certainly to be a firm attitude of no confidence at all in the bishops, just as there will always automatically be for anyone dishonest.

  11. Welcome Mark to Ian’s blog which clearly you have had no previous knowledge of.
    Ian sets the topics for discussion, some of which can be quite provocative. By far the most popular are ones that involve sexual moralities.
    Topics centred on Biblical texts tend to draw fewer responses.
    In this post you have commented 33 out of 117 posts which must be some kind of record. Unfortunately, most of your comments have been rehearsed here over the past many, many, months on this topic.
    As a debating forum it is very engaging with many erudite and knowledgeable people who comment regularly and some of them you have
    traduced without knowing them.
    I very much hesitate to give advice, however, perhaps you may need to feel your way into this type of forum. [Hope that does not sound patronizing]
    I am somewhat disappointed with Ian’s interjection as he sets the topics,
    If they get out of hand occasionally, perhaps less controversial questions might be introduced.

    Reply
  12. Jock
    December 10, 2023 at 5:35 am
    Excellent, Jock,couldn’t agree more.
    I don;t understand Ian’s comment on “how people find the time” I beg the question,should we then not engage with Ian’s blog if we have feallings? or is his perfectly adequate blog not worth the candle?

    Reply
    • Ah yes, the proverbial (a stench in the nostrils of God?).
      Will the church in the West be chastened to repentance by the proverbial, as it lives in the proverbial root cause of declension and contention: prosperous ease and pride, haughty, abomination:
      Ezekiel 16 (ESV):
      44 “Behold, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you: ‘Like mother, like daughter.’ 45 You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and her children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. 46 And your elder sister is Samaria, who lived with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. 47 Not only did you walk in their ways and do according to their abominations; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways. 48 As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. 51 Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed. 52 Bear your disgrace, you also, for you have intervened on behalf of your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. So be ashamed, you also, and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.

      53 “I will restore their fortunes, both the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes in their midst, 54 that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all that you have done, becoming a consolation to them. 55 As for your sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former state, and you and your daughters shall return to your former state. 56 Was not your sister Sodom a byword in your mouth in the day of your pride, 57 before your wickedness was uncovered? Now you have become an object of reproach for the daughters of Syria[h] and all those around her, and for the daughters of the Philistines, those all around who despise you. 58 You bear the penalty of your lewdness and your abominations, declares the Lord.

      The Lord’s Everlasting Covenant

      59 “For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, 60 yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. 61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of[i] the covenant with you. 62 I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, 63 that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.”

      Reply
  13. This discussion (and many others in this blog and otherwhere) show christians centrally concerned at enforcing rules on sexual behaviour …

    That’s a disaster: then, people equates christianity with nastyness + pettyness.

    Have you not something REALLY importante to discuss? Something REALLY connected with peoples lives?

    Why such obtuse pretension salvation (whatever the meaning) is essentially dependent on sexual behaviour?

    Reply
      • “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” C.S. Lewis

        Reply
      • Geoff, can I suggest you scroll back and reread Ian’s comment on the comments on his blog; then can I suggest you go back and reread his comments policy; then can I suggest you apologise to José? Your comment here is out of order.

        Reply
    • Jose, the ONLY reason this subject is currently being discussed is because of what is happening in the Anglican church. So it’s not really surprising.

      The issue for many of those commenting is the view that by endorsing gay sexual relationships as ‘good’ and encouraged in God’s eyes, one is claiming black is white and therefore telling untruths about God. I think that is an important issue when it arises.

      Reply
  14. The questions asked of JR arose from his comment and were relevant, that is logically probative of what was written, especially this: “…obtuse pretension of salvation, (whatever the meaning)…
    For one, Ian has more than once set sexual activity in the context of salvation, alongside other matters set out in scripture as impediments to salvation.
    Yet, here JR employs the nasty party tag, fallacy, without any attempt at providing any smidgen of supporting reasoned argumentation.
    Secondly, I’m accountable to Ian on his blog, not you, thanks.
    It may be Monday morning for you in Australia, but it’s goodnight from me in the UK.

    Reply
    • Geoff, of course you are not accountable to me! But I think now you owe another apology to José for misquoting him which probably shows that you did not understand what he was saying before questioning whether he is a Christian.
      José, I may also be misunderstanding you, but from the rest of what you write I am reading your last sentence to be:
      ‘Why such obtuse pretension? [Is] salvation (whatever the meaning) … essentially dependent on sexual behaviour?’

      Reply
      • Odd that, Bruce. You don’t know what JR means…but know that I have got it wrong!
        This is not the first time JR has commented here. It is not often, but it is consitent in seeking to malign and undermine Ian’s and the CoE doctrine on ssm and sss.

        Reply
  15. One cannot fail to see the humour in recent exchanges, one that we see played out every week here and at our football grounds. [ Football is akin to a religion in these parts]
    A chap flies in from left field and crunches a chap defending his box. Then someone on the left field touchline cries foul and berates the crippled defender for wasting time and calls for him to apologies to his assailant.
    I assure you I am not making it up.

    Reply
  16. Geoff, just three final observations:
    You wrote:
    ‘of what was written, especially this: “…obtuse pretension of salvation, (whatever the meaning)… [“]’
    But the words that you quoted are *not* what José (or JR) wrote!
    I suspect that he was commenting on some of the *commenters* on Ian’s blog not necessarily Ian himself.
    It’s probably good to know whether the people who comment on Ian’s blog are Christians or not and how regularly they comment or in Alan’s terms whether they are ‘players’ or ‘spectators’. Or is it? And is that the job of the blog owner or one of the ‘players’?

    Reply
    • As seems to be usual the last word is yours Bruce, and it is without any contribution (playing the ball) on any of the substantive matter as non player in these parts.
      I played the ball, that is the comment by JR and his following the trajectory of the ball, that is JR’s previous comments,of which you unaware as a spectator. My questions sought clarification, perhaps robustly so, of JR’s underpinning theology and were not ad hominem.
      The questions asked of JR could be simply answered but he chose no to do so.
      Taking heed of Ian Paul’s house rules, I’ll draw a line under this and say robust farewell to you, thanks, conscious that any continuation would not be in pursuit of edification.

      BTW Thanks for the laugh Alan.

      Reply

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