The End of the Pemberton appeal saga

Jeremy Pemberton was married to Carrie and they had five children. They were then divorced and Jeremy later entered into a relationship with another man, Laurence Cunnington. When the Equality Act (Same Sex Marriage) came into law in 2013, Jeremy and Laurence married, even though the Church of England had explicitly stated that this was not an acceptable course of action for those who are ordained. Jeremy resided in Southwell and Nottingham Diocese, where he had Permission to Officiate (PTO) but worked as a hospital chaplain in the Diocese of Lincoln, where he had a licence from the bishop (which is a legally more secure arrangement than PTO). The Bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, issued a formal rebuke, and the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Richard Inwood, removed Jeremy’s PTO—which is easily done, since (unlike a licence) the PTO is in the gift of the bishop and needs no legal process for its removal. Jeremy then applied and was interviewed for a post as hospital chaplain within Southwell and Nottingham Diocese, for which (as he well knew) he would need a licence from the bishop who had just removed his PTO. Such a licence was not forthcoming, so he could not take up the job. Jeremy took the bishop to an Employment Tribunal (ET), who found for the bishop; Jeremy then appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) whose ruling (unlike the ET) establishes a case in law, and which also found for the bishop; Jeremy then took the case to the Court of Appeal, whose ruling was issue last week. Jeremy has since resigned his licence.

(I reported on the start of the case, the process of the tribunal, the reasons for it and the possible outcomes, the unlikelihood of Pemberton winning, the very secure outcome of the tribunal, my debate with Jeremy on BBC2 about the case, Jeremy’s appeal to the EAT, and the very secure rejection of his appeal there. At the end of the last post, I commented that this really ought to be the end of the matter; I am glad to report that it now is.)

You can read the judgement from the Court of Appeal online here. There are several obviously striking things about it, but there are also some other issues worth noting which will continue to be of importance.

The first, and most notable, feature of the judgement, is the number of times that the ruling by Justices Gloster, Underhill and Asplin rehearse and confirm the previous judgements by the ET and the EAT. In neither case was Pemberton refused leave to appeal, but in the first case this was surely because the ET does not establish principles in law, whilst the EAT does, and I understand it is relatively exceptional to refuse leave to appeal even if the judgment is very secure. Most commentators thought it was unlikely that the judgments would be overturned; Pemberton’s case looked unpersuasive on any account, given the clarity of the way it had been handled, but it was perhaps surprising how comprehensive has been the confirmation at each stage. In the Court of Appeal ruling, there is the repeated reiteration of the previous judgments at both ET and EAT, followed by ‘I agree…’ and ‘There has been no error in law…’. It is not clear that Pemberton had any reasonable grounds for appeal, and the case only got this far because of his backing from powerful lobbyists; the law firm representing him offered their services pro bono as part of their campaign against institutions they perceive as ‘homophobic’.

The second notable feature (which has been true at every stage) is the seriousness with which the legal process has considered the statements of doctrine of the Church of England. Despite Richard Inwood making the odd statement that ‘the doctrine of the Church of England is a busted flush’ (I think meaning that it is not consistently observed), the ruling here confirms the previous two judgements in taking the Church’s doctrine seriously, and noting its consistency. Paragraph 17 notes both the disputed nature of doctrine by Pemberton, but its coherence both as presented and as reinforced by recent statements.

Although the status of the various sources of teaching of the Church of England were the subject of some debate before us, and Mr Jones QC and Mr Gau on behalf of the Canon submit that the “doctrine” of the Church of England is unclear, and at the same time restricted, ultimately it is accepted that the Church itself states that its doctrine is contained, in particular, in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal, the latter of which is concerned with the ordination of bishops, priests and deacons: Canon A5 of the Canons. It is also not in dispute that the Canons are part of the law of England and Wales and together with ecclesiastical common law and Measures (which are a form of legislation) form the body of Ecclesiastical law. The Canons can only be implemented if they are proposed and passed by the General Synod of the Church of England. Under Article 7 of the Constitution of the General Synod contained in Schedule 2 of the Synodical Government Measure 1969, any legislation “touching doctrinal formulae or the services or ceremonies of the Church of England” before being passed by the General Synod must have first been referred to the House of Bishops. It has the right to amend the legislation before it is placed before the General Synod for final approval.

The ruling then lists the relevant canons and statements for the avoidance of doubt. What is really interesting here is that the Court has, like the previous rulings, rejected Pemberton’s attempt to reinterpreted historic statements in order to make the doctrine of the Church either unclear, or mean what he wanted it to mean. You can see this in the debate I had with him on BBC2; he argues that the word ‘marriage’ has now changed its meaning, so that we need to read Article XXXII in a new way, and detached from the context of it when originally written, or the intention of the author at the time. Andrew Goddard has offered a thorough refutation of this approach, which in the study of hermeneutics is called a ‘reader response’ interpretation: what matters in this way of reading is not what the text says or what the author intends, but what the contemporary reader construes from it or how he or she reacts to it. Significantly, the Court rejected this approach, and agree that the historical statements do mean something, and mean what they have always been taken to mean, and are coherent. This is not surprising in the light of legal hermeneutics; if such an approach were put in place in relation to law, there would never be any hope for consistency or justice from one age to the next.

There are two other issues, not quite as central, but worth noting here. The first is the finding that, in law, the Church of England is not a single entity—it ‘has no legal personality’ according to para 16:

Further, it was the Bishop’s undisputed evidence that the Church of England has no legal personality. It is separated into two geographical provinces, being the province of Canterbury and the province of York and consists of forty-two dioceses each of which is headed by a bishop. The structure has many more sub-divisions which are not relevant for our purposes.

This means that the question to be adjudged was not whether Inwood had acted consistently with other bishops, but whether he had acted consistently with the Church’s stated doctrine and position (para 44):

I come to this conclusion despite the fact that the decision to grant an EPML is one for the individual bishop concerned based upon that individual’s assessment of the particular applicant. That is an inevitable consequence of the structure of the Church of England and the authority of individual bishops. It is not suggested that a decision of this kind is made upon a whim. In fact, we were referred to the undisputed evidence of the Bishop in relation to the grant of licences to priests from different diocese. It entails obtaining a “Clergy Current Status Letter” from the “sending bishop” which contains specific paragraphs about prescribed matters. Those matters are also the subject of detailed Guidance Notes. It seems to me, therefore, that the decision in relation to the grant of a licence is subject to objective criteria even if different bishops may reach different conclusions.

So a bishop acting in line with the Church’s doctrine is not undermined by others who do not. I hope that this will give bishops great confidence in affirming the Church’s teaching, regardless of what else is happening around them.

The second thing worth noting is the allies that Pemberton has drawn on. Helen Trotter, a member of the legal team, tweeted about the final ruling:

In order to press his case, he is happy to work with those who want to ‘fight against the Church of England’. Something similar appears to be going on when clergy win awards for secularism, and bishops praise the British Humanist Association. Again, claims of a ‘lack of compassion’ for Pemberton shown by the Church were stated as groundless in the ruling which, along with previous rulings, had noted how far the Church had gone in its detail explanations at every stage.

In any event, in this case, the ET found that there had been lengthy discussions with the Bishop and others in relation to the Canon’s intention to marry his same sex partner and their opposing positions were clear. Therefore, the consequences in relation to his standing cannot have been much of a surprise, despite the different approach adopted by the Bishop of Lincoln. In the circumstances, therefore, whether as a result of the statutory defence in relation to the same facts which amount to the unwanted conduct, or on the facts of this case, I agree with Mr Linden that it was not reasonable for the Canon to have reacted as the ET found that he did. Accordingly, I can find no error in Her Honour Judge Eady QC’s conclusion at [124] of her judgment and I would dismiss the appeal on this ground also. (para 76)

Applying that approach to the facts of the present case, it seems to me plain that the ET was entitled to find that the withdrawal of the PTO and the withholding of the EPML did not amount to harassment. I have no difficulty understanding how profoundly upsetting Canon Pemberton must find the Church of England’s official stance on same-sex marriage and its impact on him. But it does not follow that it was reasonable for him to regard his dignity as violated, or an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive” environment as having been created for him, by the Church applying its own sincerely-held beliefs in his case, in a way expressly permitted by Schedule 9 of the Act. If you belong to an institution with known, and lawful, rules, it implies no violation of dignity, and is not cause for reasonable offence, that those rules should be applied to you, however wrong you may believe them to be. Not all opposition of interests is hostile or offensive. It would be different if the Bishop had acted in some way which impacted on Canon Pemberton’s dignity, or created an adverse environment for him, beyond what was involved in communicating his decisions; but that was found by the ET not to be the case. (para 89)

The Church has spent around £500,000 on defending this case—as it had to—money which could have been put to very much better use had Pemberton accepted the initial ruling of the ET, which remains entirely unchanged by subsequent scrutiny.

One final observation is worth making about the implication for the Church of England’s own continued discussion of this issue. Andrew Goddard drew attention to the implications of the EAT at the time, and it still applies now that the Court of Appeal has confirmed and underscored the earlier ruling:

If the case is lost then it has been established that the church has a doctrine of marriage which bishops are right to uphold by refusing to issue a licence to someone in a same-sex marriage.  The judgment is clear that canonical obedience is “a core part of the qualifying of a priest for ministry within the Church” (para 120) and that Canon Pemberton is obliged to undertake to pay true and Canonical Obedience to the Lord Bishop but that (given its conclusion as to church doctrine), “Self-evidently he is not going to be able to fulfil that obligation or has not done so….and therefore objectively he cannot be issued with his licence” (para 121).  Any bishop who therefore issued a licence to someone in a same-sex marriage would therefore be open to legal challenge.  Any attempt to allow clergy to enter same-sex marriages would, it appears, need first to redefine the church’s doctrine of marriage…

In other words, if the church keeps it current doctrine of marriage then it will be very difficult to justify licensing clergy in same-sex marriages but if it changes it or somehow declares it has no fixed doctrine of marriage then it will be very difficult to justify refusing a licence to clergy in same-sex marriages given equality legislation.  So, even if it were considered desirable, it is therefore hard to see how, given the law, the church could “agree to differ” on this subject in a way that both enabled same-sex married clergy to be licensed and also protected those unable in good conscience to license clergy in same-sex marriages.

It is another reason why ‘agreeing to disagree’ is never going to be an option on this issue.

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214 thoughts on “The End of the Pemberton appeal saga”

  1. I cannot be alone in finding the necessity for our church to spend £500k on this case (brought against it by one of its own clergy) hard to bear. But at least the matter is settled.

    The last point about the legal consequences of ‘good disagreement’ or ‘mutual flourishing’ over this area of the church’s doctrine is highly significant. If I might humbly say, I’ve been warning of this since 2014: ‘good disagreement’ cannot be a neutral stance which will maintain the right of clergy not to treat same sex ‘marriages’ as equivalent to genuine heterosexual marriage. The importance of this case is that it gives incontrovertible legal argument that, with regard to this issue, ‘good disagreement’ is not possible.

    As with the current IICSA enquiry, there is a sad impression that the CofE is being forced by secular authority to sort out how it behaves. The Pemberton case makes clear that its doctrine cannot be viewed as conveniently incoherent; it means something specific and there is no option to play around with it. How the church’s leadership will react to this reality is of course up to them, but the binary nature of the choice which lies ahead over the doctrine of marriage means that they cannot hide intentions within a creeping de facto set of mini compromises.

    Perhaps the £500k was an expensive way of coming to terms with reality. It may prove to be money well spent.

    • Don, I think I entirely agree with you here. Legal hermeneutics cannot play fast and loose with what words mean in the way that theologians often want to!

      I think it does set out reality rather clearly.

    • I hope you will contribute to the severely depleted funds of the Church of England for your vexatious action against Christians – which goes entirely against the teaching of 1 Corinthians 6.
      And males cannot be “married” to each others in the eyes of God.

      • Even though, given the right discriminate accorded to churches by parliament, their case was always going to fail, I’m still glad Messrs. Cunnington and Pemberton chose to fight this all the way.

        They had little hope of prevailing legally, but by forcing the church to shell out a significant sum of money to defend its position, they’ve helped to undermine an institutionally homophobic organisation whose collapse and disappearance can only be a good thing for the LGBT community.

        I doubt this one case will bankrupt the church, but it will hurt. And every blow landed on a target weakens it further, to the point where one day the tiniest tap may bring the whole thing crashing down. Let’s hope another gay couple can think of another legal angle that can be argued and appealed just as thoroughly, draining yet more cash from church coffers.

        • Holger, that’s an interesting perspective. If you are correct, then you are suggesting that Jeremy’s sole motivation was to damage the church in the way you outline.

          What do you make of the idea of a clergyman setting out to contribute to the destruction of the institution to which he has made public oaths of loyalty?

          • I can make no comment about Mr Pemberton’s intentions. All I can do is celebrate the fact that, whatever they were, the effect of his case was to involve his church in ruinous expense. Well done Mr Pemberton. The more cases like yours we see, the emptier the church’s coffers will become. An enemy with an empty treasury is a weak enemy indeed.

            As for the morality of helping destroy an institution to which one has made public professions of loyalty, it seems to me this must depend on how that institution treats you. If like the Church, it routinely slanders and attacks you, treating you as a second-class citizen who deserves less than others because you belong to a class of people it defines as inferior, broken or even evil, then you can renounce your loyalty to it with a clear conscience. Loyalty works both ways. If the Church is not loyal to you, there is no reason to be loyal to the Church.

            I have no clear idea what Pemberton feels about the Church. On the face of it, he appears be one of those strange people who believe they can reconcile being gay with being Christian by selectively reinterpreting (or ignoring) the bits of Christianity that conflict with their gay identity. I therefore suspect that his struggle against the Church may not have been inspired by a desire to harm it so much as a desire to force its hand and drag it kicking and screaming into the modern world. Tough love, if you will. But whatever his reasons for doing what he did, the Church took a heavy loss. It also took yet another blow to its standing in the community by publicising itself as the church that hates gays so much, it fires its gay vicars if they get married.

            Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Bravo Mr Pemberton! I have no idea why you did what you did, but I applaud the result.

    • Then you should have been in one and left it at that. You’d have saved yourselves and others a huge amount of pointless trouble.

  2. Back in June 2015, in a comment no this blog, I referred to the official NHS guidance document on chaplaincy, ‘NHS Chaplaincy, Meeting the religious and spiritual needs of patients and staff’.

    It explains that the role of Bishop’s Advisers on Healthcare is to: ‘ensure that the candidates hold the authority of the faith community and can be empowered to act as its representative within the healthcare setting.’

    Clearly, when a member of the clergy, by entering a same-sex marriage, rejects a fundamental part of canon law and the rightful authority of the bishop to apply it within the diocese where they want to officiate, that person cannot hold the authority of the faith community to act as its representative within the healthcare setting.

    The exemptions of the Equality Act are in line with the ECtHR ruling for Schalke and Kopf vs. Austria. For the Court of Appeal to have ruled otherwise would have been perverse.

    • David, yes, that is important. I find it odd when people claim ‘The C of E is above the law!’ when the exemptions to the Equality Act are an important guarantee of the right to freedom of religious belief. If this appeal had succeeded, the implications for human rights would have been grave indeed.

  3. £500k spent is hard to come to terms with when the case seemed doomed almost from the start. Sadly, I think it had to be. What alternative was there apart from bumbling on or rolling over?

    On JP’s blog response he writes; “I have reached a settlement agreement with the Church of England that I will not pursue this claim any further. They, on their part, will not apply for costs against me. ” Short statements can be over simplified but what else could he have done to pursue this? Surely every avenue was explored? I hope (I think) that the ‘no costs’ was not against promises of ending a campaign which has nowhere else to go.

    So….if a bishop licences someone in a SSM will he/she be subject to disciplinary measures now?

    • I think what this judgement means is that the law is clear. One implication of that is that, if a bishop licenses someone in an SSM, then anyone taking a CDM against the bishop will be sure of a positive result. So it has closed off one door of compromise or fudge, at the very least.

      • Ian, how certain is a positive outcome? I see (given the outcome of the case) that it is far more likely that a positive result would result, but given the conclusion the CofE is not a legal personality I wonder whether there is some wiggle room in here for a CDM to go a different way than the recent ruling.

        • I think the observation that ‘the C of E is not a legal personality’ means that it is not *one* legal personality, but each bishop in each diocese is. What the judgment has ruled is that the action of Richard Inwood was fully justified by and in line with the stated doctrine of the Church, and that the Church is entitled both to decide its doctrine, act on it, and expect its ministers to.

          If a bishop acted *contrary* to the doctrine of the Church as stated, then I think (according to this judgement) he or she would be in difficulty. I am not sure there is any other conclusion that can be drawn from the ruling. It was quite striking in its repetition of previous judgements, its citation at length of C of E statements (as the others had done) and its lining up of the law with those statements.

          • Thanks for the clarification. I’d still be a little cautious about about stating how a CDM might go, but I get your point.

  4. Given the rulings now made 3 times and now, I think, case precedent: The Bishop of Buckingham should resign as the Judge at the Employment Trial made clear how misleading and erroneous his evidence on the Church actually was.

    I am not a lawyer but I suspect the title of this article should have a question mark at the end.

  5. Thanks for this, Ian. I was not aware of the history of the case. A marvellous example of the application of the law and the “canons of contruction” of “statute”, a term I’d apply, rather than “legal hermenuetics”. John Stott, in his first edition, Basic Christianity, was the first to draw my attention to the use of legal canons of construction in the interperation of scripture, which came first, legal canons, or scriptural hermeneutics, I do not know. As you are aware, “the golden rule” as applied by the Court, is prominent, too, in scriptural interpretation.

    It is pleasing to note that there was an emphasis on objectivity, rather than subjectivity in the decision.

    Church is not a legal “person”. It would, therefore, stem from this, that it can not sue, be sued, or party to a case. Further, that to stay safe from any personal legal action, any Bishop would be well advised to follow Church doctrine. (For the avoidance of doubt, this is not legal advice from me.)

  6. It really isn’t a good advert for the Church of England – good job we’re not in the decade of evangelism anymore. Why two people cannot get married is beyond me – and I wonder what Jesus would make of all these canons and doctrines? The Sabbath was made for man etc.

    • In relation to marriage, I think Jesus would have said ‘Have you not read that in the beginning “male and female he created them”?’ and in relation to actually honouring public oaths that clergy make to uphold the teaching of the Church he would have said ‘Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”; everything else comes from the Evil One’.

      And of course the teaching on the Sabbath comes from the Old Testament, which also teaches us about male and female as Jesus affirmed it in the gospels.

      On the question of evangelism, it is rather striking that Churches which are true to historic teaching and biblical theology on this question are the ones that are either growing or declining less quickly than ones which have abandoned it. Even gay atheist Matthew Parris thinks the Church should be true to itself on this issue—else what is the Church for?

      • I’m sure we could trade bible quotes all night but I think you would do well to remember the Golden Rule where Jesus says ‘Do to others what you want them to do to you.’ Pete Ould’s excellent article on Premier last year suggests this approach regarding trans issues. I presume you married your wife in church – why don’t you want to treat others as you yourself were treated?

        On the question of evangelism, surely you’re not suggesting that Churches only exist to promote your understanding of marriage? Especially as we all know there are lots of examples of marriage in the bible.

        • Noticeably Origen by claiming “……I’m sure we could trade bible quotes all night….” you are actually avoiding the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and trying to avoid talking about them.

          Any real Christian is a complete follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what being a Christian means.

          Jesus does not, and did not, dismiss the Old Testament and Jesus himself said that ” ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

          That is a man with a woman becoming one flesh.
          The above words are, of course, said in the Christian marriage service.

        • The complete verse of the Great Commandment on which the Golden Rule is based goes:
          ’Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.’ (Lev. 19:17,18)

          For the wise, treating others as we would want to be treated includes reproof and censure (Proverbs 9:8).

          The Golden Rule does not require connivance at another’s travesty of God’s manifest ordering of creation for human flourishing.

          If your interpretation was valid, then Jesus would have been critical of John the Baptist for denouncing Herod Antipas’ marriage to Herodias.

          Instead, Jesus described His forerunner as ‘a burning and shining light’.

        • Origen,
          Golden Rule: To be clear, briefly this is what I meant by the Golden Rule of Statutory Interpretation applied by the Court of Appeal:
          the golden rule is that the words of a statute must prima facie be given their ordinary meaning. It is yet another rule of construction that when the words of the statute are clear, plain and unambiguous, then the courts are bound to give effect to that meaning, irrespective of the consequences.

          Interpretation is the method by which the true sense or the meaning of the word is understood.[i] The meaning of an ordinary word of the English language is not a question of law. The proper construction of a statute is a question of law. The purpose of the interpretation of the statute is to unlock the locks put by the legislature. For such unlocking, keys are to be found out. These keys may be termed as aids for interpretation and principles of interpretation.

          According to Gray,[ii] the process by which a judge (or indeed any person, lawyer or layman, who has occasion to search for the meaning of a statute) constructs from words of a statute book, a meaning which he either believes to be that of the legislature, or which he proposes to attribute to it, is called ‘interpretation’.[iii]

          The conventional way of interpreting a statute is to seek the intention of its makers, [iv] and apply that to the facts of the case at hand.[v] An interpretation of the statutory provision which defeats the intent and purpose for which the statute was enacted should be avoided.[vi] Justice Chakravarti made two observations in his behalf in Badsha Mia v Rajjab Ali:[vii]

          The primary object in interpreting a statute is always to discover the intention of the legislature and in England the rules of interpretation, developed there , can be relied on to aid the discovery because those whose task is to put the intention of the legislature into language, fashion their language with those very rules in view. Since framers of statutes couch the enactments in accordance with the same rules as the judicial interpreter applies, application of those rules in the analysis of a statute naturally brings up the intended meaning to the surface. It is at least doubtful whether in a case of framers of Indian statutes of the present times, specially of the provincial legislature, the same assumption can always be made.

          Interpretation is of two kinds – grammatical and logical. Grammatical interpretation is arrived at by reference to the laws of speech to the words used in the statute; in other words, it regards only the verbal expression of the legislature. Logical interpretation gives effect to the intention of the legislature by taking into account other circumstances permissible according to the rules settled in this behalf. ‘Proper construction’ is not satisfied by taking the words as if they were self-contained phrases. So considered, the words do not yield the meaning of a statute.[viii]

          According to Gray, grammatical interpretation is the application to a statute of the laws of speech; logical interpretation calls for the comparison of the statute with other statutes and with the whole system of law, and for the consideration of the time and circumstances in which the statute was passed. It is the duty of the judicature to ascertain the true legal meaning of the words used by the legislature. A statute is the will of the legislature and the fundamental rule of interpretation , to which all others are subordinate, and that a statute is to be expounded, according to the intent of them that made it. [ix] The object of interpretation is to find out the intention of the legislature.

          The primary and foremost task of a court in interpreting a statute is to ascertain the intention of the legislature, actual or imputed. The words of the statute are to be construed so as to ascertain the mind of the legislature from the natural and grammatical meaning of the words which it has used. ‘The essence of the Law’, according to Salmond:[x]

          Lies in its spirit, nor in its letter, for the letter is significant only as being the external manifestation of the intention that underlies it. Nevertheless in all ordinary cases the courts must be content to accept the litera legis as the exclusive and conclusive evidence of the sententia legis. They must, in general, take it absolutely for granted that the legislature has said what it meant, and meant what it has said. Ita scriptumest is the first principal of interpretation. Judges are not at liberty to add to or take from or modify the letter of the law simply because they have reason to believe that the true sententia legis is not completely or correctly expressed by it. It is to say, in all ordinary case grammatical interpretation is the sole form allowable.

          Parke B in Becke v Smith[xi] formulated the following well-known rule for the interpretation of statutes:

          If the precise words used are plain and unambiguous, in our judgment, we are bound to construe them in their ordinary sense, even though it does lead, in our view of the case, to an absurdity or manifest injustice. Words may be modified or varied where their import is doubtful or obscure, but we assume the function of legislators when we depart from, the ordinary meaning of the precise words used merely because we see, or fancy we see, an absurdity or manifest injustice from an adherence to their literal meaning.
          Evangelism: You seem to have a very thin, narrow idea of what evangelism is or the evangel – the whole life transforming good news of Jesus Christ. It is multi-facetted.
          Trading scripture quotes. It not a question of riving quotations out of context, in isolation, of proof texts, but the context of the full sweep of scripture, Genesis to Revelation, with repeating themes, figures, echoes, where the intention and purposes of the testator (the Triune God) is revealed.

        • I just don’t get the argument that treating people ‘equally’ means that every public good should be available to every member of the public regardless of their status; it’s just an offence to logic and reason. It would mean that teenagers would be eligible for old age pensions and one could avail oneself of a funeral without actually being dead. All public goods have strict criteria and if one does not fulfill the criteria for that public good then one is simply not eligible for it.

          Marriage, by definition, requires a man and a woman; that strict criteria is mandated by every religion, every culture and every society of which we have explicit historic record. You cannot have a marriage between two people of the same sex in the same way that if you’re walking around in the sunshine eating a sandwich you cannot have a funeral. What is so difficult about that?

          • Absolutely correct! And the strict criteria that requires one man and one woman is because marriage is geared towards the fundamental possibility of parenthood.

            In states which have authorised same-sex marriage, LGBT advocates have also demanded the marital presumption of joint primary parenthood of children conceived by either and by any means, thereby completely undermining one half of the child’s biological ancestry and parentage.

      • Hello Ian,

        just a couple of things. “…it is rather striking that Churches which are true to historic teaching and biblical theology on this question are the ones that are either growing or declining less quickly than ones which have abandoned it”. You’ve repeated this various times on different threads, but…:
        1) how do you know that it’s those churches’ teaching specifically on sex, which is the reason for their growth / slower decline? What evidence do you have that that is the sole reason, rather than, say, their style of worship or mix of ages who attend?
        2) why are numbers a criterion in any case?

        “Even gay atheist Matthew Parris thinks the Church should be true to itself on this issue—else what is the Church for?” But why is Matthew Parris such an authority for you on this – if he couldn’t be cited to bolster your position, would you quote him? Also, did you mean to imply that the church is only for teaching sexual ethics?

        in friendship, Blair

        • I don’t think it is their specific teaching on sex which is important. It is their holding on to the culturally distinctive apostolic teaching which makes them stand out from (rather than blend in with) key aspects of their local culture. I would hope any church would stand against prevailing economic and cultural values in much broader terms—but you cannot avoid issues of sexual ethics in our post-pill culture.

          I cite Matthew Parris because he is just the type of person you might expect would hope the church conformed to his own values—but he points out something that many *within* the church appear to find it hard to grasp. Doing so from his position makes his point all the more powerful.

          • Hi Ian,

            thanks for your response. I would suggest you’re not entirely answering my question (e.g. why numbers should be a criterion in any case), but also that your response shifts away from the comment I was replying to, in which you spoke of “Churches which are true to historic teaching and biblical theology on this question”. That rather implies you thought it *was* specifically their teaching on sex / sexual ethics that’s led to their growth / slower decline. But you now seem to have widened this greatly.

            Re Matthew Parris: think i understand your point, but perhaps the key question is whether what he says is true… I don’t doubt you believe it is, whereas I am (predictably) less convinced.

            in friendship, Blair

    • But
      …. Evangelism isn’t about assuring people that all is well, when it isn’t. It’s about facing up to the sinfulness that touches ALL of us, finding forgiveness through Jesus crucified and the release for personal and societal renewal in the Risen Christ.

      • It seems many Christians only read the Revised Expurgated Version of the Bible. I’m guessing it’s an Enlightenment thing…

          • That version where 3500 years of clear biblical injunction regarding sexual morality, marriage and gender have either been torn out or received the red pen treatment. It’s been particularly popular with LGBT activists and their allies over the last 40 years or so.

            Sadly, I believe there’s actually a “Queen James Version” which does pretty much exactly that.

  7. As we reflect on the outcome of this case, it’s important for us to pay tribute to Christians and others in the UK Parliament, who speak out in defence of our religious freedom.

    Particularly, I would emphasise the key role of Baroness O’Cathain, who, with the co-sponsorship of Baroness Butler-Sloss and the late Bishop Michael of Winchester, secured Amendment 98 to then Equality Bill.

    Schedule 9 Part 3 of the Equality Bill was originally drafted to bring UK law into line with Council Directive 2000/78/EC and to prevent further escalation of the legal threat posed by the European Commission’s Reasoned Opinion.

    In that document, the Commission maintained ‘that the wording used in regulation 7(3) of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 is too broad, going beyond the definition of a genuine occupational requirement allowed under Article 4(1) of the Directive.

    So, Schedule 9, Part 3 declared exemption for a religious requirement when : ‘the application of the requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim

    Amendment 98, which replaced “requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” with “requirement is applied so as to comply”.

    Baroness O’Cathain’s maintained that the Church was just one of many institutions which required limited exemptions from discrimination law.:
    “Paragraph 1 of this schedule is a general employment exemption that applies when being of a particular race, sex or other protected characteristic is a crucial requirement for a particular job. This makes perfect sense. My next point has already been mentioned today, but how would a rape crisis centre operate if it was forced to employ male counsellors? Beyond the employment sphere, Schedules 3 and 6 contain broad exemptions for insurance, political posts and for Parliament itself. Clause 193 even contains an exemption for sport, so the churches are not alone in needing limited exemptions from discrimination law in order to allow them to function normally.

    It has been said that paragraph 2 is intended to be nothing more than a restatement of existing exemptions for religion. However, the Government have tinkered with the wording. Whereas the key phrase, “employment is for the purposes of an organised religion”, was previously undefined, the Government decided to insert a new definition, contained in paragraph 2(8). In addition, whereas previous legislation did not include the qualifying word “proportionate”, that word now appears twice in paragraph 2. If the Government’s intention was to maintain the status quo, as they have said continuously since April 2009, why not use the same wording? After all, it has been in use without difficulty since 1975, when it was incorporated in the Sex Discrimination Act. By tinkering, they have caused enormous concern among religious groups. It is essential that the wording is returned to what it was. All the religious groups and their lawyers say that the result of my amendments would be the retention of the status quo. That is what we want-nothing more and nothing less.

    Many noble Lords will have received briefing in support of Amendments 98, 99 and 100 from the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. Support, however, goes much wider than that. A letter pleading specifically for all three of these amendments was sent to the Government in November last year, signed by numerous religious groups, including the Hindu Council UK, Sikhs in England, the Jain Network, the Muslim Council of Great Britain, the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches and many other Christian groups. These are the very groups that the Government intend should be protected by paragraph 2. These are the ones whose religious liberty is now at stake. If we get this wrong, these are the ones who will have to pay the legal bills to defend themselves in court.”

    Significantly, O’Cathain’s argument prompted the removal of the Bill’s narrow definition of ’employment for the purposes of organised religion’ as ’employment which:
    wholly or mainly involves—
    (a) leading or assisting in the observance of liturgical or ritualistic practices of the religion, or (b) promoting or explaining the doctrine of the religion (whether to followers of the religion or to others).

    When you read Helen Trotter’s insolent tweet about the CofE spending half a million, just remember how she might have rejoiced over the secular imposition on our synodical autonomy and religious freedom, if Christians in Parliament, like the good Baroness, had got this wrong!

        • They don’t… but then gender (if not sex) is not solely determined by chromosomes; and not everybody is XX or XY…

          in friendship, Blair

          • In the eyes of all reasonable people who respect other people’s agency and who believe that we are all wonderfully and fearfully made.
            And in particular, those of us who are fortunate to know transgender women, as friends, as sister Christians, and as Priests.

          • Thanks Penelope

            I’m not trying to pick a fight on anyone here; but what you say describes an intention to accept someone else’s professed perception of his or her sex even though it’s at odds with biological reality . I’m not quite sure on what grounds you assume that is ‘reasonable’?

            I can see there’s an intention for kindness here. Most of us will be aware of the sensitive way we have to relate to people with, say, various forms of dementia – we would not want to add to their problem by endlessly correcting every misapprehension which they expressed. But that is a kindness which takes account of a recognisable disease of the brain which we all accept and deal with as best we can in the circumstances of each particular person; it has no implications for anyone other than the poor person with dementia.

            But the transgender case has ramifications far beyond the individual concerned. It involves a whole society pretence that something is true even though it clearly isn’t. When you say ‘Transgender women are women’ you are, in effect, expecting sane and sensible adults and children to turn truth on its head and, presumably actually believe a new, but utterly false, reality. That is dangerous. Truth cannot be divided up according to how it suits us; it is far too precious for that. We need to be able to recognise it and accept it, not least because for us Christians it is intimately tied up with the mind of God. Playing games with it, however kindly meant, carries a risk for us all for which the cost far outweighs the kindness.

          • Hi Penelope

            Can people choose their own height?

            Their own racial mix (as determined by DNA profiling)?

            Their own age?

          • Hi Don
            It depends what you mean as living a lie. Transgender people do not believe that their birth sex is authentic; they do not ‘choose’ the other gender, they believe that they are that gender.
            This is entirely somatic since the mind/brain is part of the body.
            It is quite different from mental disorders/diseases such as dementia, in which people may occasionally have to be indulged.
            Roughly speaking sex is biological and gender is performative. There is probably no one truth about gender: different cultures have different constructions.
            I suspect too, that science will reveal more about the wonderful complexity of human genetics. We already know that there are people who do not have XX or XY chromosomes and not all of them are intersex. Some appear to be ‘normal’ men or women. Even sex is not binary.

        • They’re not though are they? They are men who have been surgically and chemically ‘rearranged’ to help them to come to terms with a psychological conflict. It seems to me that it’s perfectly reasonable, that as a society, we should help everyone to lead a life as free from psychic conflict, distress and anguish as possible, but the idea that we should deny the truth and reconfigure reality in pursuit of that goal is not only profoundly dangerous, it’s profoundly blasphemous; to deny the sovereignty of reality is to deny the sovereignty of God.

          Luckily for humanity, reality will not be denied; it just goes on being itself. For instance, if one is unfortunate enough to find oneself falling from a fifteenth storey window, opining that one doesn’t identify with gravity or that gravity is merely a ‘social construct’ is hardly going to help is it? Reality, like gravity, will always have the last word – and for that we should all be grateful.

          • Hi Paul,

            I don’t think that analogy works – gravity is indeed not merely a social construct, but that does not apply in any straightforward way to gender…

            in friendship, Blair

          • Hi again Paul,

            I accept that you think it does apply – but that doesn’t make it so… gravity is a force that applies to everything on the planet. Gender does not apply to every creature, let alone every thing, on the planet; and arguably is distinguishable from biological sex in some senses, plus the fact that as I mentioned before, in terms of chromosomes, we aren’t all XX or XY.

            Am not sure where this comment will ‘nest’ by the way…!

            in friendship, Blair

          • ‘Gender does not apply to every creature’? I don’t even know what you mean by that; as far as human beings are concerned it clearly does. This is just – yet another – rehearsal of the social constructionist v essentialist argument vis-a-vis gender. You obviously think that gender is labile; socially and culturally contingent and I don’t; I think gender is a part of the essential quiddity of men and women. Clearly, for a tiny minority of men and women this fact is a source of some psychic conflict and personal distress, but, as far as I’m concerned, they’re the exception that proves the rule. Further, all the research of scientists and psychometric psychologists would tend to agree with me.

          • There are two sexes. There are anomalies that prove the rule and – like the whole of the created order – there are areas ambiguity because; 1. We don’t understand the cosmos very well, and 2. God is anything but predictable. There was no sense whatsoever in which the article undermined what wise human beings have understood about humanity since – probably – the dawn of time.

          • Hi again Paul,

            well, I meant that gender doesn’t apply to every creature… though for clarity I should probably have said ‘every living thing’. I was thinking of living things which don’t reproduce sexually (e.g. single-celled organisms), and/or those which might be labelled ‘hermaphrodite’ (e.g. some invertebrates); so it could be said that gender is not universal in the way that gravity is.

            Also, to add that I’m not trying dig up any hackneyed ‘essentialist vs social constructionist’ debate; for what it’s worth I suggest that’s something of a false dichotomy. As you say gender clearly does apply to humans. But I’m suggesting that gender is not simply reducible to biological sex, given that we are meaning-making, linguistic creatures. As a trivial example that mightn’t work…: in this culture, part of our social construction of masculinity and femininity is that it’s generally acceptable for women to wear trousers or skirts, but not for men. That acceptability can’t be simply or directly ‘read off’ from biological sex.

            “You obviously think that gender is labile; socially and culturally contingent and I don’t” – that isn’t my view and I don’t mean to give that impression. I’m suggesting that gender could be seen as the cultural ‘filter’ through which we receive and learn about our biologically sexed bodies, but not that there’s an infinite plasticity about that.

            “all the research of scientists and psychometric psychologists would tend to agree with me” – I would suggest that isn’t the case, given that there are studies showing improved mental health for trans people post-surgery/treatment (hoping I’ve summarised accurately…).

            I suspect you still disagree 🙂

            in friendship, Blair

          • Blair,

            Science has shown that more than 2000 chromosomes are different between male and female and so it is consistently weak argumentation for you to go on about XX and XY

            The plain fact is that people all around you are either male of female, they are not anything else.

          • Penelope

            The extract you linked from Nature doesn’t even say what you suggest – It’s a discussion document not a scientific paper!

            There is far too much fake science in this subject because funding has skewed the subject. The latest paper from Texas University turned out to only have 100 self-selecting participants, so there was not even a control-group which is a fundamental, basic scientific requirement.

            Paul quite rightly says it is tiny. If the original estimate proposed was 0.017% then even if I have 100 fold increase (unlikely though that is) then 0.017% only becomes 1.7% ….so it is STILL tiny.

          • Clive
            There’s a lot more scientific evidence, as i’m Sure you’re aware. And it is not ‘tiny’. Intersex is as common as red hair (some researchers say more common). Though its ‘tininess’ is a theological red herring. Intersex people exist. The conditions are unusual, but normal.
            As we learn more about genetics, we see that there are men with XX chromosomes and women with XY chromosomes. That we continue to see them as men and women says much about our binary conceptions of sex and gender.
            Other cultures do not have binary conceptions of gender, so forsome societies gender has always been more varied, nuanced and fluid.
            BTW still waiting for a response to John 21.17!

          • Penelope,

            There is actually NOT much actual scientific evidence for transgenderism at all, disappointingly. And actually the true number are indeed very small. Medical schools are now even speaking out saying that almost all transgender papers lack any untreated reference group which is real fundamental basic science completely ignored. A huge number of papers use self-chosen study groups comprising ONLY of people who think they are transgender anyway, and the few papers that do take the subject at all seriously have study groups too small to be statistically even meaningful.

            You, of course, have replied the day after the Iranian women’s football team has declared that it has 8 men in it. All the men have told the press that the will transition at some time in the future (a time noticeably unspecified in the future). What becomes obvious is that they will do well precisely because they are actually 75% male! What is seen is how men who say they feel like women trounce female athletes who have trained all their lives and now find that their entire life as an athlete is completely wasted by unfair competition.

            We already have women being thoroughly beaten by men who say they are women we even have two examples of women athletes being put in hospital by a trans-man to woman competitor.

            It is very disappointing to see women academics being revealed as such fundamental misogynists who cannot think through the logic of where all this goes and prefer to avoid actually looking at the science because they perceive it as not PC to do so. By teaching transgenderism in schools we are creating a scenario in which a woman in athletics or sport of any sort is now wasting her time.

          • Penelope, why on earth should I respond to John 21:17?
            You took many attempts to even get a reference and when you finally did scour the NT enough to find one that talks of love as friendship (philia) amongst the literally hundreds that use agape – words fail me for how pathetic that is.

          • Hi Clive,

            responding probably too late to your comment of 7/4/18 at 7.28am…

            “Science has shown that more than 2000 chromosomes are different between male and female and so it is consistently weak argumentation for you to go on about XX and XY”
            But that’s a non sequitur isn’t it… and I’m not disputing the number of chromosomes that differ between male and female.

            “The plain fact is that people all around you are either male [or] female, they are not anything else.”
            Well, yes…except for those who are intersex…

            in friendship, Blair

        • Because Clive, on April 3rd at 9.07 you claimed that John 21.15 did not mention philia. I replied that the passage (21.15ff) did, and, further, cited the verse 21.17 (notwithstanding 2 typos). You are now using these typos as an excuse so that you don’t have to admit that you were mistaken. Seems a tad pathetic to me.

          • No Penelope.
            As an academic you are supposed to be able to tell the difference between the Koine Greek for love and yet your posts show that you can’t.

    • Hi David and all,

      I realise this is to Baroness O’Cathain, not to you, but when she said “but how would a rape crisis centre operate if it was forced to employ male counsellors?”… well, yes, but it is not only women who are victims of rape…

      in friendship, Blair

  8. On your point that we could never agree to disagree on the issue: even if a bishop who did not affirm same-sex marriage would not be able to refuse a licence to a married gay clergy person if the church had ‘no fixed doctrine’- how does that interfere with their ability to hold a traditional view of marriage? Issuing a licence does not imply a theological endorsement of the clergyperson’s marriage- does it? The Bishop would not have been compelled to conduct the wedding. A licence is nothing to do with marriage. The current requirement for clergy to follow an official view on a matter quite secondary to their job, and which doesn’t command anything like consensus, goes beyond respect for different beliefs, and is about the wish of people with certain beliefs to control others who disagree. That’s the whole issue in this debate. As long as either side wants not just respect but control, we’re stuck.

    • ‘Issuing a licence does not imply a theological endorsement of the clergyperson’s marriage- does it?’ Yes it does, since part of being ordained is to ‘fashion your life, and that of your household, according to the way of Christ’.

      Patterns of life and not secondary, since they embody and express doctrine. Detaching authority to minister and sexual fidelity are what led to the terrible events in Chichester Diocese…

  9. Have I missed another change in the rules, or would he not still be disqualified if he’d married a woman, while his first spouse is alive?

    • No, there are numerous divorced and remarried clergy, including the Bishop of Worcester. I imagine it would depend on the circumstances of the divorce (e.g. whether adultery was the cause).

      • When did that change? Who gets to judge, when the legal ground for secular divorce is not explicitly “adultery”? (As is often the case for decency’s or the children’s sake, even when infidelity has actually taken place.) Have we set up parallel Family Courts, or a version of the Catholic Marriage Tribunals, to supplement the secular process? Or is it purely at someone’s discretion, like remarriage in church where the vicar is sole court, judge and jury? And how private can it be, when the exception has to be justified to outsiders or risk scandal?
        I’m in danger of going off-topic here, but my understanding was that sexually active relationships involving either remarriage with a spouse still living, or same sex partnership, were quietly tolerated for the laity but absolutely not for priests. Speaking as a mere confused pew-filler, who is settling for a civil remarriage rather than cause scandal or expose my first family and my unbelieving intended to a relatively new and not entirely congenial vicar’s scrutiny, I’m not sure I can understand where the Church is on marriage of any kind at the moment and can only confide in the mercy of God and the blood of Christ to somehow mend us all.
        Last week there was a report of two trans people marrying in a sort of “reverse polarity” situation – the editorial implication being that this was somehow not ok, but surely if they were originally, and are still, of opposite sex/gender to each other, they would be in a superior legal – and on the arguments here, moral – position to either Rev Pemberton or a divorced adulterer?
        Perhaps we should just be grateful that, on Jesus’ word, “there is no marriage in Heaven” and hope He will bear with us while we try to do our best with an increasing catalogue of complications here.

        • Hi Karen…
          “I’m in danger of going off-topic here, but my understanding was that sexually active relationships involving either remarriage with a spouse still living, or same sex partnership, were quietly tolerated for the laity but absolutely not for priests”

          Staying off-topic for a mo….That’s not so…if I have understood you correctly!

          There are plenty (?) of married priests where their or their spouses previous husband/wife is still living. I don’t know is what the total reality of clergy Same-sex partnerships is on the ground. Clergy civil partnerships (no sex please) exist and are ‘acceptable’; I believe clergy SSM is forbidden….but bishops will be bishops and some have little track record of wanting to keep any rules or be collegiate when it doesn’t suit.

  10. What an awful waste of money (and time and effort). It is astonishing that a Christian church can justify this expenditure when so there are so many deserving causes, eg homelessness, refugees, the poor, food banks, to name a few, that would clearly benefit from £500,000. Let’s give our money to lawyers instead.

    As for the faux concerns expressed: “the implications for human rights would have been grave indeed.” Really? Surely that depends whose human rights you’re talking about.

    Why does this judgement sounds like a triumph for the Pharisees’ wing of the CoE, ie. those who favour ‘strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.’? If we follow literalist or fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible we’d be condoning mass murder, slaughter of children, slavery, human sacrifice, rape, to name but a few of the horrors that are described as being condoned, commanded, approved of by God. Perhaps they can be seen as products of their time? The Bible is full of problems and contradictions and has been written by people (mainly men) and has always needed interpretation (and accurate translation) to elicit understanding in a different era.

    The issue of gay marriage and the Permission to Officiate are issues that needs to be seen in the light of compassion, fairness and equality. This is what Christianity, in my view, has to stand for. But because the history of the CoE establishment demonstrates that it has often resisted (slavery/women’s rights/equality of opportunity etc) these qualities, it has often been, and continues to be, seen as archaic and conservative.

    • Thanks for your comment Steve. ‘What an awful waste of money (and time and effort)’. Yes, indeed. And that is why it is truly shocking for Jeremy and his team to have pressed through with not one, but two processes of appeal, without any hope of achieving anything but a terrible waste of resources.

      If the appeal had succeeded, then the idea would have been established that the State should determine what the Church believes. Are you familiar with what life is like in States where this is the case?

      ‘If we follow literalist or fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible we’d be condoning mass murder…’ Indeed. Which is why we don’t. The vast majority of reputable Bible scholars—regardless of their view of this ethical issue—agree that the Bible consistently, across different contexts, and from every different kind of text, prohibits any kind of same sex sexual relationship. Some of them simply think the Bible is wrong. Do you?

      ‘The issue of gay marriage and the Permission to Officiate are issues that needs to be seen in the light of compassion, fairness and equality.’ I agree. Civil Partnerships provided those in gay relationships with equal rights in law on every issue in parallel with people who are married. The redefinition of marriage in 2013 achieved nothing other than an unfair imposition on others of something they did not welcome.

      Your final comment is very odd, given that Anglicans were consistently amongst those who championed the campaign for the abolition of slavery against the will of wider society.

      • Hello again Ian,

        “The vast majority of reputable Bible scholars—regardless of their view of this ethical issue—agree that the Bible consistently, across different contexts, and from every different kind of text, prohibits any kind of same sex sexual relationship. Some of them simply think the Bible is wrong.”
        But the issue isn’t majority (or minority); it’s about quality of argument. There are good arguments, and readings of the texts, to suggest that it’s not “any kind of same sex sexual relationship that’s prohibited”. Also, whose argument/s boil down to something as crude as “the Bible is wrong”?

        “Civil Partnerships provided those in gay relationships with equal rights in law on every issue in parallel with people who are married”.
        Another one for pedantry corner… but I don’t think this was 100% the case at the time of their introduction, although it is now – I think it’s correct that the only point on which rights weren’t equal, was spouses’ pensions, but that this was changed after a case was brought (ok, probably should look that up). I don’t remember you being especially supportive of civil partnerships though, Ian… though in fairness I realise that’s consistent with your position.

        in friendship, Blair

        • Hi Blair.

          Relevant quote from prominent NT scholar Luke Timothy Johnson:
          ‘I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says. But what are we to do with what the text says? We must state our grounds for standing in tension with the clear commands of Scripture, and include in those grounds some basis in Scripture itself… I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality.’

          • Hi Will

            I have commented before that, although Johnson is in many ways a fine NT scholar, his belief that there is such a thing as homosexuality in scripture is anachronistic at best.

          • He is simply using that as a shorthand for ‘sexual homophile relationships’ as many people have done in the past. I don’t think he or others are making a detailed philosophical point about sexual relations here—he is simply observing the widely-noticed phenomena of the text.

          • Hi Will,

            belatedly, many thanks for quoting Luke Timothy Johnson’s words. But (at risk of just being stubborn…) I can’t help thinking the quotation underlines my point that it’s about quality of argument. LTJ dismisses “linguistic or cultural subtleties” in the part you quote, but later he says “What I find most important of all is not the authority found in specific commands, which are fallible, conflicting, and often culturally conditioned”, and also suggests as a caution in reading natural law arguments that “appeals to what is “natural” are often in fact appeals to what is culturally constructed”. It seems a little contradictory that having dismissed appeal to “cultural subtleties” he then twice cites them in his own argument…

            I think there is a good deal of merit in much of what he says, e.g. his careful grounding and qualifying of how he’s using an appeal to experience. But I suggest his claim that “The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says”, and that therefore we “reject the straightforward commands of Scripture” is simply assertion, and one that he does not try to argue for or support. I don’t accept that this way of summing up this debate is accurate (but remain aware that many will disagree…).

            in friendship, Blair

      • Hi Ian
        RE ‘… then the idea would have been established that the State should determine what the Church believes’. I am not sure why this troubles you, as the CoE was founded on the firm belief that the state (Henry VIII) could determine what the church should do and believe. The CoE has always been an institution of state and was created in response to the refusal of the Vatican to annul the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon. And to this day, while Welby is its primate, the Church of England’s Supreme Governor is Queen Elizabeth II, who is also the head of state. The Supreme Governor cannot be a Catholic, and it is interesting to note, too, that there has never been a Catholic Prime Minister. There are 26 Diosescan bishops in the House of Lords and they take part in revising/amending legislation. The CoE is the church established by law: its canon law is part of the general law of England.

        The effect of this connection between church and state and the law has had implications throughout our society. A good example of this is in education where the law states that

        All maintained schools must provide religious education and daily collective worship for all registered pupils and promote their spiritual, moral and cultural development.

        Syllabuses for [schools] must in future reflect the fact that religious traditions in the country are in the main Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of other principal religions.

        Collective worship in county schools and equivalent grant-maintained schools must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character, though not distinctive of any particular Christian denomination. (School Standards and Framework Act 1998).

        RE “Some of them simply think the Bible is wrong. Do you?” If the bible is taken monologically, ie that the reader comes to the text without any ideas of their own and without taking any account of context, then perhaps this crude division of right and wrong could be applied. But most of us have a dialogical approach, ie meaning doesn’t exist independently but emerges from our engagement with the text; and language, context, gender, ethnicity etc all play a part in this. So there are parts of the bible where God orders or condones terrible stuff and it is impossible to accept this as the actions of a loving God and has to be rejected. The words were written thousands of years ago in a society that was profoundly different from our own, and I think it is self evident that a 21st century Christianity that claims to have at its heart compassion and love, and wants each of us to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, must accept that this can be expressed in many ways, and according to the many ways that God has created us. More the spirit of the law than the letter.

        RE “Your final comment is very odd, given that Anglicans were consistently amongst those who championed the campaign for the abolition of slavery against the will of wider society.” May I respectfully say that a wider reading of the history of the slave trade might go some way disabuse you of the idea that the CoE was championing the campaign for the abolition of slavery. An extract from James Walvin’s Slavery, The Slave Trade and the Churches make this clear:

        For centuries before the abolition of the slave trade there had been the occasional Christian denunciation of slave trading, most notably from early Puritans and Quakers: George Fox had denounced it as early as 1673. …In the century before abolition in 1807, the British shipped more than three million Africans to the plantations. The suffering of the Africans on the ships and plantations were undeniable, but raised barely a whimper. Indeed godly men came to think of the trade as a simple fact of life…

        The Anglican Church was directly involved in slavery. When a Christian voice was raised against the slave trade, it was led by Quakers who also played a critical role in the campaign to end the slave trade…The Abolition Society (dominated initially by Quakers) was joined by a small band of early evangelicals, and the outcome was the launch of an instantly successful and widely based national movement directed against the slave trade.

        The truth is that the CoE owned plantations and slaves and had invested in the slave trade. Its ministers produced scriptural evidence to support slavery, eg in 1778, the Reverend Raymond Harris argued that slavery, and particularly slavery of blacks, was in accordance with the word of God. And let’s not forget that the Honourable and Reverend Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (missionary arm of the Church of England) had the word ‘Society’ branded on their slaves’ chests. Sadly, apart from a small band of reformers, the CoE’s bishops and clergy were for a long time largely in support of the slave trade, or at least not in opposition to it. When Wilberforce tried to push through his first bill to abolish the slave trade in 1791, the CoE’s bishops in the House of Lords, citing biblical authority, unanimously opposed it; although they didn’t object to later receiving nearly £9000 in compensation (a fortune in today’s money). Shamefully the CoE (unlike many Quakers) never paid any compensation to their slaves even though some of the Church’s present day riches (estimated at £22 billion in assets) came from slavery. Two hundred years too late the CoE did apologise for its part in the slave trade. Hopefully we won’t have to wait for so long for them to see sense on other matters.

        • Actually SteveB that is just a popular myth because the truth is more complicated.

          You wrote “…..the CoE was founded on the firm belief that the state (Henry VIII) could determine what the church should do and believe.”

          No it wasn’t!

          The Church of/in England actually existed before England did!
          Hence the Ven Bede was able to write that one of the first things St Augustine did was to meet the Bishops.
          So any rational, thinking person asks “If St Augustine allegedly brought Christianity to England then who ere these Bishops?”

          If you research it you find that Christianity came to England during Roman times (and even St Patrick’s family were senior Church members) and all St Augustine actually brought was allegiance to Rome rather than Christianity.

          For some time there were two churches in England, one with allegiance to Rome and one that was part of general Christianity. A noticeably victim was St Albans which was not included in the politics of St Augustine.

          Henry VIII did take control of the pre-existing Church in/of England away from Roman Catholicism and, in doing so, restored St Alabans …..but he did NOT make any significant changes to the mass and liturgies as witnessed by the prayer book of Edward VI as well as Henry VIII’s own documents. Changes happened with Elizabeth I.

          • P.S. SteveB
            Ian did not write that “….that the CoE was championing the campaign for the abolition of slavery….” as you claim, he wrote that “….Anglicans were consistently amongst those who championed the campaign for the abolition of slavery against the will of wider society.”
            The relevant words in Ian’s writing are “Anglicans” and “amongst”.

            Slavery abolition was a Christian movement and Quakers were indeed prominent amongst the Christians but they were never exclusively the only Christians.

            The main point here is that Britain should definitely NOT apologise for bringing slavery to an end against the will of many countries both the in Europe and the rest of the world and I, for one, am sick of this inaccurate modernist PC idea that Britain should apologise for ending slavery – we have nothing to apologise for when it comes to ending it.

          • I note your points, Clive, and I’ve done the research, and of course agree that the Church existed in England before Henry VIII. But what did not exist before was a head of state who was also head of the church in England, effectively replacing the pope. From that point there was no separation of Church and State, and, as such, Henry was the ultimate arbiter on matters of both. In relation to his new church he dissolved the monasteries, permitted the translation of the bible from Latin to English, prevented priests from marrying, and accepted the Lord’s Prayer being said in English. All of which meant that he had changed the church, although no-one is denying that it was still Catholic in its fundamentals, or that the process of change did not continue over time.

            Re Slavery abolition: I agree that a small number of ‘Anglicans were consistently amongst those who championed the campaign for the abolition of slavery’, my point is that most Anglicans were not against it for most of the time that the slave trade existed. The myth has grown up that because a few evangelical Anglicans, most notably William Wilberforce and Grenville Sharp, battled against the slave trade the CoE as a whole was against it. The historical evidence does not support this. Wilberforce and Sharp were considered to be radicals. In this respect it is interesting that the vicar at Sharp’s funeral would not allow a sermon to be preached because he had been a member of the British and Foreign Bible Society (a non-denominational Christian society whose purpose was/is to make the Bible available throughout the world). It is hard to argue with the fact that Church of England at the time was very conservative and part of the Establishment, which meant that it opposed changes to the status quo, including slavery (see the Bishops’ vote on the matter). But yes, I agree that SOME of its members did play a part in the eventual abolition of the slave trade, and later, slavery itself.

            A ‘rational thinking person’ might agree that the historical evidence supports this view, and if they did the research would see that it is not just some ‘modernist PC idea’.

          • Sorry SteveB but I’m afraid you are wrong again.

            My own family, Protestant, can vote for the pope as members of the House of Nobles. We are one of just a handful of Protestant families given Papal titles and whilst I agree that since the 17th century the votes of the House of Nobles has been taken on the nod and the whole process reduced to the meeting of cardinals and the now famous smoke what it does show clearly is that even before Henry VIII the state and even the RC Church were intertwined with them both involved in the affairs of the other – so Henry VIII didn’t even invent that either!

          • Ps SteveB

            Henry VIII certainly did NOT introduce any prevention of priests marrying because that already happened at Second Lateran Council held in 1139 (prior to that, even in the early Church priests were usually married).

            Strangely the one part of the world that refused the papal order for nearly 100 years was ………………………..Wales!

  11. ‘Detaching authority to minister and sexual fidelity are what led to the terrible events in Chichester Diocese…’

    I can’t agree with that- authority to minister was always firmly attached- indeed dependent- on not committing sexual abuse. It was the failure to adequately police that and safeguard against such criminal behavior that led to the terrible events.

    The claim that is necessary to police sexual fidelity in order to prevent abuse seems to me hard to defend in the modern age.

    I can understand why it might be good to ensure clergy have high standards of personal morality- but those in same-sex marriages could equally be expected to be faithful. What it means to ‘fashion you life and that of your family in the way of christ’ cannot be so restrictive as to artificially constrict the breadth of legitimate disagreement on the matter. Most would agree that ‘fidelity’ is a basic standard, but there is huge disagreement on same-sex marriage. If we could acknowledge these legitimate areas of disagreement, a bishop could grant a licence without endorsing a clergyperson’s own decisions.

    • James – I think Ian was referring to clergy who actually committed abuse, rather than to those left with the task of trying to safeguard people from such abuse.

    • ‘What it means to ‘fashion you life and that of your family in the way of christ’ cannot be so restrictive as to artificially constrict the breadth of legitimate disagreement on the matter.’ But every narrative in relation to marriage in Scripture—including Jesus’ teaching—does not content itself only in specifying qualities (like fidelity). They also specify the form as male-female. On what grounds do you exclude that explicit and consistent feature of marriage? Why is that not part of your ethic when it is prominently part of the biblical ethic?

      • There are all sorts of reasons why I and many other members of the Church of England don’t accept that that is the teaching of the bible and of God as regards today’s world. But I don’t see the point in rehearsing the arguments. I find the arguments that I accept utterly persuasive- but I am equally sure that you will not be convinced by them. Isn’t this because, while arguments matter, in the end we make our choices on what we believe deep down in our gut to be right? That is why I think we need to accept and manage disagreement on this and not just have a futile arm-wrestle for control of one official position. It’s hard for us too to accept a status quo we believe to be harsh and misguided, just as it’s hard for you to countenance the church turning away from what you think is the faithful position. But it’s a shared institution and we have to share.

        • Dear James

          As a Christian you follow Jesus Christ totally which never involves selectively choosing bits of Jesus Christ, God the Father, or God the Holy Spirit (the real one that is) and Scripture with which we agree and discarding all the bits with which we don’t agree. As soon as we mistakenly do that then we are actually worshiping ourselves and tacitly and unwittingly living out our own claim to be the ultimate intelligent being and decider of everything.

          So your claim that “… the end we make our choices on what we believe deep down in our gut to be right?” doesn’t work and never will.

          We may be mistaken from time to time but if we really follow Jesus Christ and are actually Christian then we accept Jesus transforming us and changing us all the time.

        • James: ‘… in the end we make our choices on what we believe deep down in our guts to be right…’
          My guts tell me:
          when I need to go to the loo
          if I have eaten something that doesn’t agree with me
          if I am really scared about something.
          James, I am sure that the source of your beliefs is in something other than your guts 🙂

          • Sorry, Ian. I try to scroll up to the last reply button, but then find my reply has miss posted!
            Anyway I don’t see PFS gay relationships as harmful and indulgent. I’m not very liberal at all.

        • James: ‘… in the end we make our choices on what we believe deep down in our guts to be right…’
          My guts tell me:
          when I need to go to the loo
          if I have eaten something that doesn’t agree with me
          if I am really scared about something.
          James, I am sure that the source of your beliefs is in something other than your guts 🙂

          • Hi Christine,

            “If God had created Eve just to keep Adam company, He could just have created two unsexed human beings. If they hadn’t eaten the forbidden fruit, they would probably still be here, just the two of them, and we would not even be here to talk about it!”

            Yes, indeed.

          • Clive
            I’m quite familiar with Koine. But I think you misunderstood my context. I was writing of God’s love for us and our, sibling, love for each other. I would rather be judged for prodigality in love. Indeed, I would leave the judging to God. I may be right, Simon may be, you may be. Better, I think, to live with that tension.

          • Then Penelope you should have said so …. but you didn’t. You instead used the general term love without being clear at all what you meant. These days that is unacceptable.

          • Clive
            It should have been clear from the context of the discussion. Simon wants to be judged for having held to a ‘traditional’ understanding; I would rather bejudged for being too loving. Its s quite clear that I’m referring to my love for my fellow humans – philia

          • Clive
            What part of me talking about my love for my fellow humans, do you not understand?
            P.S. cf. John 21.15ff.

          • Penelope

            You know very well that Philia is not the same as agape.

            If you have a friend who is taking serious drugs you could still have friendship for them (philia) but by steering clear of the drug taking you are avoiding helping them and so you are not engaging in care for them (agape).

            There are many examples of Jesus caring for even strangers which is a lot more than just friendship. Take for example the woman at the well for whom in friendship (philia) you might not mention that she had had several husbands but Jesus’ interest was caring for her (agape) and so he told her the truth in a way that helped her.

            Now whilst it might be tempting to ask which bit of that you don’t understand but I think you actually do understand it and so I suspect you simply don’t want to understand it.

          • Clive
            Really? You believe (or believe that I believe) that there is a moral equivalence between a gay, partnered Christian and a drug addict? This is the misstep which conservatives so often make: the conflation of something harmful and sinful (e.g. adultery) with something which is morally neutral, or good and healthy (e.g. faithful, stable love).
            The original point was about facing the eschaton with a ‘traditional’ or ‘inclusive’ position.
            BTW Jesus nowhere condemns the Samaritan’s 5 husbands. That’s wishful thinking, or eisegesis.

          • Really Penelope?

            There are, of course, many many examples of different types that could be used and offering one example does not, and never does, equate one example with another. Yet that is the very thing I have seen you wrongly do many times.

            ….and then you mistakenly write:
            “…..BTW Jesus nowhere condemns the Samaritan’s 5 husbands. That’s wishful thinking, or eisegesis.”

            Of course, I never ever wrote that Jesus condemns the Samaritan’s 5 husbands and so the ” wishful thinking, or eisegesis” is entirely yours, not mine.

          • BTW Penelope,

            You referenced “P.S. cf. John 21.15ff.” in your post yesterday but Nestle-Aland shows that John 21:15 uses agape as well, and not philia.

          • This is for Penelope, and also written in appreciation of all of you who have patiently interacted with Penelope on this page.
            Penelope – you seem to go to great lengths to find passages in the scriptures, and to interpret the use of agape and philia in the NT, in your determination to justify you belief that SSM is right with God, and that anyone who believes that it is not right with God is unloving, but I do not think you have mentioned the fact that in Matthew10:6-9 Jesus quoted Genesis 2, in which God’s purpose in making mankind male and female is clear. Agreed, Jesus did not add to this positive divine purpose a long list of negatives, such as ‘necrophilia is bad’ ( something that Alastair Roberts mentioned in one of his videos). We cannot reasonably conclude that any sexual conduct that was not specifically prohibited by Jesus here is therefore right with God. We reach our conclusions about such things by using our God-given reason and by giving our attention to natural law, and the ways in which God reveals Himself to us through His created world. We do not expect God to spell out every out every detail of it to us in the scriptures (though He did spell out a lot of the details of His created world to Job!)
            I suspect that your mind is already very much made up on this subject, Penelope, and I respect the patience of all who have interacted with you here.

          • Penelope – “Simon wants to be judged for having held to a ‘traditional’ understanding”…..”I would rather be judged for prodigality in love”

            No, I want to be judged for loving God and neighbour. And I believe the traditional understanding is the one faithful to inspired Scripture and thus to the God of love’s eternal will. To be be judged for holding to a traditional understanding in this case is being judged for loving God and neighbour as revealed by God. To abandon tradition’s Scriptural arguments is indeed prodigal but neither in love to God nor to neighbour.

          • Hi Simon, Yes, I did mean Mark10:6-9 – I posted a correction below the post where I quoted the wrong gospel 🙂

          • Hi Simon, Yes, I did mean Mark10:6-9 – I posted a correction below the post where I quoted the wrong gospel 🙂

          • Clive
            If you weren’t commenting on the Samaritan woman’s marital history, then why did Jesus tell the truth in a way that helped her? Eisegesis i’m afraid.

          • Penelope -‘ Clive….eisegisis , I’m afraid.’ Eisegisis? Penelope I have noticed that you seem to have your own form of eisegis in that you sometimes seem to be more interested in what Jesus didn’t say than in what he did say – I remember you saying that although Jesus said that there is no marriage in Heaven, ‘he did not say there is no sex’, and concluding from that that there would be sexual relations in Heaven. In reaching that conclusion you disregarded God’s purpose in making mankind male and female – procreation, for which there is no need in Heaven, where we have eternal life.
            You now seem to be more interested in what Jesus (and Clive!) did not say about the ex-husbands of the Samaritan woman at the well, and in drawing your own conclusions about that, than you are in what Jesus did say: John4:4-26
            Clive – please excuse me chipping in here ….

          • Christine
            I note that you don’t admire my patience in dealing with all the traditionalist guns aimed at me on here. Some well argued, other comments rather scantily evidenced.
            Nor do I think you are following the argument. The comments about agape and philia were nothing to do with the licitness of same-sex marriage, but about the love of our fellow humans and on whether would want to be judged for being extravagantly or exclusively loving.
            For you and for others the key texts are those about divorce. For me and others they are not. Because they are about divorce. They are not a ‘doctrine’ of marriage. Furthermore, I don’t believe Gen 1 or 2 can be read as a ‘doctrine’ of marriage.
            And, finally, why do you think my mind shouldn’t be made up on this topic. Here, everyone else’s is, including you.

          • Penelope: ‘And finally, why do you think my mind shouldn’t be made up on this topic…’
            I didn’t say that I thought that your mind shouldn’t be made up on this topic. I said: ‘ I suspect that your mind is already very much made up on this subject.’

          • Dear Christine
            So you believe Clive is being consistent when he comments about the Samaritan woman having several husbands and saying that Jesus told her the truth in a way that helped her and then saying that he didn’t say that Jesus condemned her marital relations? What was the truth that He was telling her then?
            I do not believe that I ever said that there would be sex in ‘Heaven’! I believe I said that the text does not say that there will not be sex in the Resurrection life. The text does say that there will be no marriage in the Resurrection life. I think you will find that it was others who said that there will be no sex in ‘Heaven’, which is sloppy exegesis. BTW I do not assume that there will be sex (as in sexual intimacy) in the Resurrection life; I was simply pointing out a poor reading of the text.
            Certainly one of the reasons for the differences of the sexes is procreation; it is enjoined in Genesis 1, though not, interestingly, in Genesis 2. Some scholars argue that this command is relativised by the eschatological life, and it is certainly true that neither Jesus nor Paul mentions procreation as a ‘good’ of marriage, and the Gospels are hostile to traditional family kinship and focus more on ascsesis.

          • Penelope: ‘What was the truth that he was telling her then?’
            Most significantly, this : John4:29

          • Christine

            I note you don’t acknowledge that you misrepresented my argument.

            As to John 4.29, she recognised Jesus as the Messiah who had told her everything she had done. I don’t understand the point you are making.

          • Hi Ian

            I’m sorry not to have replied. For some reason, I’m not receiving notifications for all replies and this is getting to be such a long thread that I fear this may nest in the wrong place.
            Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I don’t, as you probably know by now,believe that PFS relationships, whatever the genders, are sinful. So, my attempt at extravagant love (at which I fail miserably) is not about condoning sexual (or other) sins, such as adultery or abuse (your sweets analogy), but, yes, about a revisionist reading of scripture in some areas. So whilst Simon would rather be judged as being faithful to some ‘traditions’, I would rather be judged as being unfaithful to some ‘traditions’.
            I do find it unhelpful that the analogies made are so often between what all Christians might agree are sexual sins (the woman taken in adultery comes up with monotonous regularity) what only some Christians do.

          • Penelope (answering to your comment in this thread rather than in the one I posted!) I think that it is quite reasonable to want to be known for rejecting certain readings—but then of course the question arises as to whether that is warranted.

            What I think is not fair is to characterise this alternative reading as ‘more generous love’. My sweet analogy was not really related to any sexual sin (or any other); it was simply to make the point that greater liberality should not be identified with more generous love—since it is often harmful and indulgent.

          • Penelope on 1st April at 3:57 you wrote:

            “Really? You believe (or believe that I believe) that there is a moral equivalence between a gay, partnered Christian and a drug addict? This is the misstep which conservatives so often make: the conflation of something harmful and sinful (e.g. adultery) with something which is morally neutral, or good and healthy (e.g. faithful, stable love).
            The original point was about facing the eschaton with a ‘traditional’ or ‘inclusive’ position.
            BTW Jesus nowhere condemns the Samaritan’s 5 husbands. That’s wishful thinking, or eisegesis.”

            Since I never ever wrote that I connected drug taking with a partnered gay Christian” that is clearly your own invention and I responded to you by pointing out “….There are, of course, many many examples of different types that could be used and offering one example does not, and never does, equate one example with another. ”

            I also never ever said that Jesus condemns the 5 husbands.

            Therefore it is very very clearly YOU that is totally engaging in bizarre eisegesis, it is clearly not me.

          • Penelope,

            When Jesus replied to the Pharisees he gives them absolutely nowhere to go by reminding them what marriage is.

            If he had just replied about divorce then the Pharisees could have carried on with their “Ah yes but….” approach, but Jesus doesn’t – he tells us what MARRIAGE is, he does not tell us what divorce us indeed he describes divorce as regrettable.

            It is noticeable that by you calling Jesus words ones about divorce all you are really doing is trying to move Jesus’ words to one side and dismiss them when, in reality, they are completely relevant.

          • Clive
            In your comment April 2nd 5.27 you gave the example of a friend with a drug habit to explain the difference between agape and philia. Why did you assume that the extravagant love which I hoped I could show should need an aspect of correction?
            Secondly, you mentioned the Samaritan woman’s marital history before writing that Jesus told her the truth in a way that helped her. This led me to infer that the truth He told (whatever it was) had something to do with her 5 husbands and one living partner.
            Lastly, I have posted elsewhere that, after 2 attempts, I meant to cite John 21.17! I have not found another appendix to John’s gospel.

        • I think an adaptation of Paschal’s Wager is apt. I’d rather live and promote a traditional and plain deductive interpretation on sexual morality and find out later, if it was true, that God is more ‘progressive’ than I thought, than be convinced by a liberal inductive interpretation and find out too late that God actually did design marriage to be between a man and a woman, and that homosexual activity was a sin after all. Surely it can only be one way or the other. And if we take 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 seriously, it’s really an important matter.

          • Simon – ah, yes! Both Pascal’s Wager and the teleological argument resonate with me. Many years ago, before I became a christian, I attened a course entitled ’20 arguments for the existence of God’. Of the 20 arguments, those were the two I found most engaging. I attended that course back in the days when SSM did not get a mention, and maybe even didn’t get a thought, but thinking now of SSM, I still find the teleological argument strong. God created man and woman because he wanted them to be fruitful and multiply. If God had created Eve just to keep Adam company, He could just have created two unsexed human beings. If they hadn’t eaten the forbidden fruit, they would probably still be here, just the two of them, and we would not even be here to talk about it!

          • I would rather live and promote a gospel of unconditional love and radical inclusion, and find out later that my love had been too generous and my interpretation too wide, rather than my love too limited and my interpretation too narrow. Parables of the Kingdom are often about excess.

          • But ‘inclusion’ would need to be a coherent concept first. There are a lot of people who are desperate for us to regard it as transparent in meaning and also coherent. It is neither. If informed people differ about which qualities and actions are essential to who a person really is, and may well regard even the notion of ‘who a person really is’ as something that varies and develops for good or ill, then one is thrown back on scientific and statistical data. These show homosexual acts to classify strongly as actions rather than as natures according to multiple measures:
            -social setting (urban/rural, college or not)
            -formative experiences (molestation)
            -culture (‘gay’ being presented as an option)
            -age (89% of those boys who self-identify as entirely gay at 16 no longer do at 17, according to a large-scale oft-cited study).
            -parenting (by lesbians or not)
            -identical twin studies.

            We always include all people, qua people. As everyone knows, the issue is which actions, undertaken without repentance or remorse, should be OKd. This point has been being made for decades, centuries.

            No debater, accordingly, can let the word ‘inclusion’ pass muster, as it fails 2 separate tests (coherence and transparency).

          • Dear Penelope

            There is more than one Koine Greek word for love in the Bible and so your claim for “unconditional love” is noticeable for being one that studiously puts all forms of love into the same basket and yet you know that to be wrong.

            For others:
            There greek word love betwen parents and siblings – a kind of family love.
            There is greek word for love that is care for others (not necessarily sexual at all).
            There is a greek word for love that is erotic or sexual love.
            …and so on

            In 1 John and particularly 1 John 4 which states “God is love” the word used consistently throughout 1 John is agape which is more closely translated as “care for others (not necessarily sexual at all)”.

          • Yes, indeed Clive. (Not sure if this comment will follow on from yours.)
            The doctrine that God is love, doesn’t exist outside Christianity, flowing from the pre- creation love between and within the Trinity (John 17). And that love is only, supremely, exquisitely, graciously, demonstrated towards humanity in Christ’s vicarious, substitional, atonement on the cross, for the joy that was set before him. (Anyone in the CoE in the Chalke camp recognise this as Good Friday doctrine?) This is so that mutal love beteween, the Father and Son is demonstrated, each bring glory to the other.
            I make no apologies for this ESV citing: John 17
            17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

            6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.[a] 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself,[c] that they also may be sanctified[d] in truth.

            20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

            This is a far cry from the doctrinal inversion that passes for Christianity in some quarters, that love is god.
            That there is any love at all, outside self love, flows from God’s Common grace that is common to all humanity.
            And, as it is Easter, it is worth remembering that the Resurrection of Christ for his Glory and ours, for our justification, His death ours, and raised with Him, His righteous ours, in our union with Him is the the other side of the Easter coin: That is the “Love Divine, ALL loves excelling.”

          • Hi Penelope,

            I think you may have confused my comment, which concerned holiness, with the notion of love. You also seem to confuse the ideas of acceptance and love as though they are synonymous. I’m willing to concede that God loves all people, but I’m not so willing to concede he accepts all people, and certainly not all people at all times.

            Of course, God expects us to reflect his love to the world’s unholy. If it weren’t so, how would any of us ever have entered into his presence? He just doesn’t want us to continue to be unholy in our thoughts and actions and so nullify the work of the cross.

            There wouldn’t be Paul’s injunction in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 to associate with the sexually immoral (and the greedy and swindlers and idolaters etc.) of the world, if he didn’t love all people. But, in contrast, and in the same place, there would’t be the imperative call not to associate with the sexually immoral within the church if God didn’t expect us to be sexually moral and holy. How do you reconcile this with your statement on “radical inclusion”?

          • Commendable sentiment Penelope, however you do those you love no favours by not being very clear about the conditions and criteria for inclusion by God & abiding in his love.

            You speak of ‘radical inclusion’ yet Jesus said demandingly ‘If anyone would follow me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross.’

            You speak of ‘unconditional love’? yet Jesus said conditionally: If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love.

            You say ‘i would rather…my interpretation too wide’ – yet Jesus said restrictively, ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.’

          • Here goes: unconditional love? Is that based on covenental love as developed throughout scripture, the history of redemption, moving back and forth conditional- unconditional covenants, ratchetting up at the end of the Old Testament? Until 400 years later – Emmanuel to sinlessly, actively and passively obey the covenants and take the curse of disobedience in our place.
            As for inclusion – inclusion in what? Herein lies the distinction between the visible church (simplistically – attendees) and invisible church ( disciple believers).
            TULIP anyone? But that topic and perhaps the “order of salvation” is part of the earlier blog post: “Why do some people come to faith and not others?”
            And all of this strays far wide of the CoE doctrine on marriage, which was considered by the Court of Appeal.

          • Simon
            You seem to assume that love between gay people is all hedonism and can exhibit no self-denial or holiness. I know the injunctions about sexual immorality. I simply do not believe that they condemn covenantal, chaste love between people of any gender.
            If you believe all gay love is sexually immoral you can read that into 1 Corinthians. I don’t and don’t.

          • Hi Penelope,

            Thanks for your reply. There are two Simons hanging out in this little thread. I assume you are replying to the other one, as he was the one referring to self-denial?

          • Geoff
            Inclusion in the Kingdom. And the CofA was not deciding on Church doctrine but upon wghether the CoE was a qualifying body.

          • Penelope, you comment above ‘I would rather live and promote a gospel of unconditional love and radical inclusion, and find out later that my love had been too generous and my interpretation too wide’.

            But that is a misleading use of language, and a highly disingenuous moral claim. If a child constantly asks for sweets, and the parent never refuses, so the child becomes obese and its teeth rot, is it a defence for the parent to say ‘I would rather find out later that my love had been too generous’? This is not generous love; this is love which fails to have courage and discipline, and makes the ease of the ‘lover’ more important than the actual good of the beloved.

            If Paul is right, and continuing in sexual sin might exclude people from the kingdom, then arguing for SSM on the grounds of inclusion is a parallel to arguing we shouldn’t talk about greed for fear of excluding the rich.

            And if the sociological studies are right, which shows unhealthy levels of promiscuity, high levels of ST diseases, and marked levels of violence and partner abuse in gay relationships, then the kind of ‘love’ which argues for SSM can hardly be characterised as ‘generous’. Like the indulgent parent, it actually leads to serious harm.

          • * “…deductive interpretation on sexual morality…” For the record, I meant “inductive interpretation”. 🙂

        • James, not clear why you do not accept that it is the teaching of the Bible that marriage is male-female. You speak about arguments that you find persuasive, but what are these arguments? If they are cited, they can be assessed. If they are not cited, people think ‘Why are they not being expressly stated? What is there to hide?’.

          Are there biblical scholars who agree with you? Because if you make a claim like that, you sure have to cite names.

          Are there biblical texts that agree with you? Because if you make a claim like that, you sure have to cite texts.

          ‘The faithful position’ has nothing to do with it, IMHO. If a position is faithful, that is not evidence that the position is accurate (nor that it is inaccurate). By contrast, being supported by evidence and/or by common-sense are factors that will weigh in favour of a position.

  12. Legal person: to elborate slightly. The Court of Appeal made clear, if it already wasn’t, that the CoE is not a legal person, entity, such as a Limited Company is, distinct from it’s officers and staff.
    Precedent. The ratio decidendi of the Court of Appeal decision is binding on the CoE as a whole, General Synod, House of Bishops, Archbishops, individual Bishops, Clergy, all are subject to it, in doctrine and practice.
    Ian in an earlier post asked the question: Can the Church change its practice on marriage without changing its doctrine? Based on Andrew Goddard’s legal reasoning there and combined now with the Ct of App decision I’d suggest that the answer is NO.

  13. Hello Penelope,
    Could I suggest you read the Court of Appeal judgment carefully as you are being seriously and mistakenly selective, perhaps even seeking to obfuscate, in the way you limit the scope of the judgment. Whether the CoE was a “legal person”, what you describe as “qualifying body” was only part of the case, and is only “obiter dictum”, as it was agreed by all parties, wasn’t in dispute.
    Certainly, the Ct of Appeal did not decide Church doctrine on marriage, but church doctrine was central to the case and decision. You really need to read it, as linked, by Ian in the original post. But in case you don’t, and want to continue with what in your opinion, you think the doctrine on marriage should be this is from the Judgment: para 18 Lady Justice Asplin:
    “We were referred to the Canons which are relevant in this matter. As they are central to the argument in this appeal, I will set them out in full:
    “A5 Of the doctrine of the Church of England
    The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.

    In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.
    . . .
    B 30 Of Holy Matrimony
    1. The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.
    2. The teaching of our Lord affirmed by the Church of England is expressed and maintained in the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony contained in The Book of Common Prayer.
    3. It shall be the duty of the minister, when application is made to him for matrimony to be solemnized in the church of which he is the minister, to explain to the two persons who desire to be married the Church’s doctrine of marriage as herein set forth, and the need of God’s grace in order that they may discharge aright their obligations as married persons.
    . . .
    Judgment continued… from para 62:
    Accordingly, it seems to me that Her Honour Judge Eady QC was correct to conclude that the ET was entitled to find that the doctrines, as in teachings and beliefs of the Church of England, were as stated in Canon B30 with specific regard in relation to same sex marriages to the statement of Pastoral Guidance from the House of Bishops. She was quite right to note that the Court cannot be expected to enter into a theological debate in order to determine the doctrines itself: see [112]. Indeed, the Court ought not to do so. She was also right to find that the ET was entitled to find that the doctrines in relation to marriage were clear.”
    It is also important to emphasise that this was a UNANIMOUS DECISION – all three judges agreeing.
    Penelope, there you have it; THE DOCTRINES IN RELATION TO MARRIAGE ARE CLEAR AND all clergy are subject the Canon C15 Declaration.

    • Geoff

      original Tribunal: “the claimant..was not either employed by the Church…or being considered for employment by the Church…Therefore the Claimant has brought his claim pursuant to Section 53 of the EqA which relates to qualifying bodies….By its Response the Respondent denied that he was a qualifying body for the purposes of Section 53…The agreed list of issues…(a) Whether the Respondent was at the material time a qualifications body’ to which Section 53 of the EqA applied…..
      (b) Whether the PTO or the EPML..are or were ‘relevant qualifications’ within the meaning of Section 54(2).b
      144. The Tribunal finds as follows….It was an integral part of what the Trust wanted that the Claimant be able to minister as a Church of England priest..In of course ministering as a Church of England priest he is acting for the purposes of organised religion. So there is a duality of function.”
      The doctrine and teaching of the CoE on marriage are cited in evidence but they are not the Qs of the Employment Tribunal which are:
      is the Church a ‘qualifying body’?
      is the post of Chaplain in an HNS Trust for the sake of organised religion?

  14. Penelope,
    Amazingly, or perhaps not from the evidence from some of your posted comments on this site, you totally ignore, the points made by Ian in his orginal blog post and in particular the abstracts of the Court of Appeal judgment I posted to which you responded.
    Have you read the Court of Appeal law report? When ever did any Court (or Tribunal) of First Instance (ET in this case) overule the Court of Appeal. Clearly you are not a lawyer. Disingenuous may be a gracious word, if you persist along these lines. Vexacious is a term in litigation, which may be more appropriate.
    The Respondent in the original case was “the Bishop”, not the CoE, in an employment case.

    • Geoff
      Yes, surprise! The Tribunal and tha CoA ruled that the doctrine of the Church of England is the doctrine of the Church of England.
      However, the case taken to the ET was not about the doctrine of the CoE. I know that the Respondent was Richard Inwood, but the argument was about whether the CoE is a qualifying body. The Bishop and the Archdeacon thought not. The Tribunal disagreed.
      Clearly, you believe that I am questioning that both the ET and the CoA think that Church doctrine is CLEAR. I do not. However, if you understood the ruling you might see that a Court declaring that doctrine is doctrine is not exactly…interesting.
      What is quite interesting is that the Bishop thinks the CoE isn’t a qualifying body and the ET did.
      Even if it was a UNANIMOUS DECISION. Because, it’s not what the Tribunal was about.

      • Well, the Church’s doctrine of marriage was a big surprise to Sean Jones QC, since one of his key arguments was that the doctrine expressed in Canon B30 is ‘only concerned with marriage as recognised by the Church of England and that the Church takes no position on the different concept of marriage now introduced by the secular law.’

        In a TV discussion with Ian Paul, Jeremy Pemberton even cited Article 32, saying: ‘Article 32 of the 39 Articles says it’s up to me to choose who it is I marry ­not for anybody else to tell me.

        In the CoA judgment, this misconception was corrected by Underhill LJ, who explained that the declaration in Canon B30 that ‘”marriage is in its nature a union … of one man with one woman” is a statement of the Church’s position about the nature of marriage generally.

        • David
          I think you are trying to conflate Canon B30 with Article 32. They are saying quite different things, for different contexts, which is why Jeremy based his argument on Article 32 in that TV interview – that it was perfectly permissible for him, as a clergyman to marry. Canon B 30 states the Church’s doctrine of marriage. It is not (now) the State’s position.

          • Penelope,

            I haven’t conflated them. There were two key questions that this CoA case addressed and answered:
            1. ‘Was the EPML a qualification . . . for the purposes of employment . . . for the purposes of an organised religion (see Schedule 9 paragraph 2(3)(a))’?
            2. Was the requirement not to contract a same-sex marriage applied in order to comply with the “doctrines of the religion” of qualification.

            In answering the first question, the Claimant, through his representation (Sean Jones QC), contended that, while the EPML was a qualification, it was only for the purposes of employment, but not for the purpose of organised religion at all.

            The conclusion of the judge was: ‘Here, it was intended to employ the Canon specifically because of his status as a minister of religion and in part to conduct religious services. The position is not even analogous to that of a teacher in a faith school, considered by Richards J in the Amicus case. In this case, the employment itself was in part, “for the purposes of an organised religion”.

            In response to the second question, Mr. Jones argument spanned both Canon B30 and the 39 Articles:
            ‘In relation to the second question, although Mr Jones accepts that the Church of England does not regard a same sex marriage as a “marriage” for its purposes, he says that it has no doctrine in relation to same-sex marriage at all and therefore, the requirement that the Canon did not enter into a same-sex marriage could not be necessary in order to comply with the “doctrines of the religion”. The only relevant Canon of the Church of England refers to marriage between a man and a woman and if the Bishop were to succeed in this defence Mr Jones says that it would be necessary for him to be able to point to an express provision in the Canons, the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Book of Common Prayer or the Ordinals expressly prohibiting clergymen to enter into same-sex marriages. There is no such provision and therefore, the Bishop cannot avail himself of the defence in Schedule 9 because he cannot satisfy the compliance principle. He also says that the matter must be approached from an objective standpoint

            In fact, absent any express doctrinal prohibition against same-sex marriage, Pemberton was suggesting that Article 32 demonstrated that there was no doctrinal restrictions on the sex of his chosen marriage partner.

            However, the CoA disagreed with Jones’ argument that, for the Schedule 9 exemption to apply, the compliance principle requires an express doctrinal prohibition against same-sex marriage:
            ‘As Mr Linden points out paragraph 2(5) uses the term “doctrines” and not “doctrine” and is intended to apply in relation to all religions. It seems to me that if one reads the sub-paragraph as a whole, in the context of the exception in paragraph 2 as a whole, it should be construed to mean the teachings and beliefs of the particular religious organisation which may be wider than what it itself labels “doctrine.” Even if that were not the case, in this case, Canon A5 itself refers to the “doctrine of the Church of England” in wide terms and states merely that such doctrine is to be found “in particular” in the specific documents referred to.

            So, Pemberton was wrong in his belief that, for Schedule 9 exemption, the compliance principle was only engaged with respect to doctrine to be found ‘in particular’ in specific documents.

          • David

            Weren’t the 2 Qs (ET, EAT and CoA) whether the Bishop was a qualifying body (Inwood claimed he wasn’t and cross claimed) and whether the post in the NHS was for the purposes of organised religion?
            Paras 62, 63, 83 and 84 record the doctrines of the CoE on marriage referring particularly to B30 but only mentioning the 39 Articles in general.
            It is interesting that in 48.112 the Pastoral Guidance and Pilling are cited as if they were CoE teaching or doctrine. They are not.

          • Penelope,

            At each stage of the legal process, to prove direct discrimination, Pemberton’s team needed to clear four separate hurdles:
            1. Whether the Respondent (Bishop Inwood) was a ‘qualifications body’ for the purposes of Section 53 of EQA.
            2. Whether the PTO or EPML are/were ‘relevant qualifications’ within the meaning of Section 54(2). It must facilitate paid remuneration. It must be needed in and facilitate engagement in a particular trade or profession for paid remuneration.
            3. If either was a relevant qualification, pursuant to Schedule 9, Section 2(3)a), whether the employment was for the purposes of an organised religion.
            4. Whether the compliance principle was engaged, which would exempt the Bishop from what would otherwise be a clear case of direct discrimination.

            Clearing hurdle 1 was dependent on clearing hurdle 2. So, Linden, on behalf of Bishop Inwood, argued that ‘good standing’ is inherently subjective, merely vouches for the status of the individual to just a particular section of the public; that it cannot be objectively assessed, and is therefore, not a qualification. Ergo, the Bishop contended that he is not a qualifying body for the purposes of Section 53.
            For differing reasons, the ET, EAT and CoA all disagreed with the Respondent’s argument. So, Pemberton’s team cleared hurdles 1 and 2, only to fall at hurdles 3 and 4, the discussion of latter starting from paragraph 47 of the CoA ruling.

            Nevertheless, clearing hurdles 1 and 2 does means that it is now a matter of law that ‘good standing’ (upon which a Bishop grants or withdraws licence) can be scrutinised for objectivity by employment law, rather than being left to the sole discretion of the Church. This decision has huge implications for campaigns aimed at last-minute denial of preferment to certain individuals, despite their overt qualifications and adherence in practice to Church teaching.

            Canon B30 is mentioned repeatedly as the basis for engaging the compliance principle. However, whatever your reservations about the theological weight given to the 39 Articles and Pastoral Guidance, the CoA clarified that: ‘Whilst a court will not simply accept an assertion as to the doctrines of a religion, it equally cannot be expected to enter into theological debate to determine those doctrines for itself. The ET was entitled to find that the doctrines – the teachings and beliefs – of the Church of England were as stated by Canon B30 and, with specific regard to same sex marriages permitted by the Act, as evidenced by the Pilling report and the Pastoral Guidance (ET paragraphs 171-187). That being so, it was equally entitled to accept that those doctrines were clear: marriage for the purposes of the Church of England was “between one man and one woman” (paragraph 188).

          • So, the CoA declaring that, to meet the compliance principle, doctrine (taken to mean the teachings and beliefs) of the Church is stated in Canon B30, but, in relation to same-sex marriage, evidenced by the Pilling report and the Pastoral Guidance, does not ipso facto elevate the latter to become theological doctrine per se.

          • David
            Thank you. I know that B30 was appealed to repeatedly. I still think it odd that the COA considered Pilling and the Pastoral guidance as doctrine, since the Chirch does not.

          • Penelope,

            Final point, which will sound pedantic, but the COA didn’t elevate Pilling and the Pastoral Guidance to the status of doctrine.

            They were merely described as evidence pointing to the Church’s current beliefs about same-sex marriage.

            A more complete assessment of what constitutes a doctrine or belief from a legal standpoint can be found here:

          • David

            Thank you. I still think it’s an interesting ‘elevation’ of Pilling, similar to what happened to ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’, perhaps. Pilling is meant to be multi vocal and inconclusive. Does it have a position, do you think?
            (Serious Q, I’m working on Pilling.)

        • Hi David – on the subject of Edward V111, I know there are rumours about him being a Nazi sympathiser, but as far as I know, there is no evidence that he was disloyal to the UK. According to Wikipedia, Stanley Baldwin gave Edward three options when he wanted to marry Mrs. Simpson : give up the idea of marriage; marry against his ministers’ wishes; abdicate. Edward wanted to marry Mrs. Simpson, and decided to abdicate rather than cause a constitutional crisis. I have no idea why Penelope claimed that Edward was ‘forced’ to abdicate, and that he was disloyal to his country.
          I’ll say once again that I respect your patience with Penelope’s individual way of communicating on this page!

          • Gosh, Christine, I don’t know why you’ve singled me out for attack. Are commentators not allowed to interrogate the conservative voices here? Nor can I see what is so ‘individual’ about knowing that Edward VIII has been accused of fascist sympathies or that he was sent to the Bahamas out of the way during WWII. Nor what is ‘individual’ about suggesting that Clive has misread the Koine of John 21.17. Nor by suggesting that David is confused when he admires Cranmer’s mendacity, but not Jeremy’s veracity.
            I used to quite enjoy robust engagement on this blog, although it’s beginning to look as if other revisionists have given up. But I am getting really tired of ad hominem, not only directed at commentators, but also at the subjects of this blog. By all means criticise Jeremy for his Tribunal, but impugning his integrity is pretty distasteful.
            It’s sad that this blog has become an echo chamber for people rubbing up each other’s egos and for sycophancy. I’m sad for Ian too. But you’re becoming increasingly welcome to it.

          • Penelope,
            I have learnt a lot from you, from other commenters on this page, and from Ian’s blog.
            I will now reflect on what I have learnt.

          • Penelope,
            You said in an earlier comment that Edward V111 was forced to abdicate. I referred to the Wikipedia account of the three options that Stanley Baldwin gave to Edward, and Edward’s decision to abdicate rather than cause a constitutional crisis. You responded to my valid point with this : ‘…I don’t know why you’ve singled me out for attack’.This response of yours is another instance of what I euphemistically described as your ‘individual’ way of commenting on this page. A valid point is not an ‘attack’.
            I will now leave you with your thoughts, and this is my final comment to you.

          • Penelope

            The problem is that you steadfastly and studiously ignore all evidence and argument given. For example, David and Geoff have carefully and thoroughly laid out the legal case for you and yet you have very, very consistently ignored it. This is nor conservative per se but is one that lays out careful argument and explanation.
            If you choose to perceive such argument as conservative then “tough”.

            You have consistently showing a willingness to conveniently blurr any distinction between agape and philia which, for an academic, I find astounding.

          • Clive
            If you had paid attention I thanked David for one of his comments on the legal aspects of the case and asked him for his opinion on why Pilling was being treated as an authority. He didn’t reply.
            I am astounded that you can’t see that in John 21.17 both Jesus and Peter use philia, whereas in the earlier verses Jesus uses agape. Don’t really have to be much of a scholar to read that!

          • Hi Christine,

            It’s just good manners, when thanking someone for replying and asking for further information, that commenters here don’t treat that same reply with contempt by referring to it elsewhere as diatribe.

            Also, insinuating a false dichotomy (such as Cranmer vs. Pemberton) is indicative of a weak argument which needs to be shored up with sophistry.

          • Dear Penelope

            My theological instincts lead me to generally disagree with you – however I always admire your contributions, in both their tenacity and your challenge to my way of thinking. You keep me on my toes.

            This community would be very diminished if it was an echo chamber of conservative orthodox christians. Your voice here is important.

      • Penelope,
        1 I wonder how many will believe you when you say a clear decision by the Court of Appeal on the church’s doctrine on marriage, what you now (even if you didn’t before) seem to be accepting is clear Church doctrine on marriage is not “interesting”, particulary when you seem to have a vested interest. Maybe, neither the House of Bishops, nor General Synod will find their doctrine interesting, nor confused, nor confusing.
        2 Clear Church doctrine on marriage is not “harrassment.”
        3 The Court of Appeal has unanimously “written what it has written!”

        • Geoff

          We all have a vested interest in the Church’s doctrine on marriage.
          I don’t believe that I ever said that B30 or the BCP Marriage service wasn’t ‘clear’. Whether I think they might be capable of redefinition is a different question.
          However, I agree with Jeremy that Article 32 is capable of the interpretation he gives. It is not ‘doctrine’. Cranmer disobeyed existing Canon Law and so rewrote it.

          • Penelope,

            Cranmer, in marrying Margarete, did disobey the third of the Six Articles, which forbade clerical marriage.

            However, since Cranmer concealed his marriage from the religious authorities, this doesn’t set a precedent for those holding Church authority today to connive at open contempt for the Church’s due process for amending its teaching.

          • David

            That’s hilarious! Are you suggesting that it would have been better is Jeremy had concealed his marriage to Laurence from the Church authorities and taken up the new post?

          • No, I’m saying that you can’t cite Cranmer’s concealed marriage as a precedent for overtly disobeying canon law as a mechanism for forcing change.

            Of course, far be it from me to call your missing the obvious ‘hilarious’ for fear of you, once again, describing my response as ‘sneering’.

          • It gets better and better. Cranmer concealed his marriage for craven reasons and changed Canon Law. Jeremy is entirely open about his marriage but is attacked for interrogating Canon Law.

          • And another priceless response from you: as if JP’s brazen contempt for due process is to be commended as the perfect antidote for Cranmer’s concealment.

            It may come as a surprise, but there is no need for those who want to interrogate canon law to resort to Pemberton’s unvarnished contempt for the Church’s due process of synodical democracy…and then cry foul when they lose their licence to represent that selfsame Church publicly.

          • David, that’s worth reading a second time!

            ‘It may come as a surprise, but there is no need for those who want to interrogate canon law to resort to Pemberton’s unvarnished contempt for the Church’s due process of synodical democracy…and then cry foul when they lose their licence to represent that selfsame Church publicly’

          • I agree Simon. It should be read and repeated lots of times.
            That some conservative Christians think it’s better to break Canon Law and lie about it in order to keep a job, than to be ‘brazen’, i.e. honest, open, transparent.
            Unusual take on ‘orthodox’ Christian ethics.

          • Penelope – that is a false either/or…and no conservative Christians would as you claim ‘think it’s better to break Canon Law and lie about it in order to keep a job’ – that would be deceitful and sinful and so decidedly unchristian. There were at least three other options: 1) obey canon law, not marry, chose singleness and celibacy, as many have done 2) obey canon law, but enter a civil partnership & be celibate as some have done 3) relinquish holy orders and marry, as a few have done. All of these have integrity and command respect even among the most conservative christian. Instead JP rejected canon law (which he was perfectly entitled to do) received the consequence of forfeiting a PTO (which he must surely have forseen), but somehow wants to still hold office and serve the Church whose ecclesiastical oversight and ethical principles he scorned;
            furthermore he pursued redress in a civil court and tribunals, not once, but three times at great cost to the church. Penelope, you consistently and robustly defend such, I genuinely admire that, but don’t be surprised if some of us are incredulous at all this.

          • Simon
            In saying that breaking Canon Law and lying about it is deceitful, sinful and decidedly unchristian, you are describing Cranmer.

            I believe that Jeremy had every right to challenge the Church on this issue, but, even if I did not see the justice of his case, he has a right to go to an Employment Tribunal. Denying that right would be very undemocratic and set a very dangerous precedent.

          • Ah -how clumsy of me – I thought your criticism was aimed at others, conservatives per se, who you implied were hypocrites

            – I see how you make an analogous correspondence between Cranmer and JP’s case – and certainly Cranmer was deceitful whereas JP has had the integrity to be open and honest. That was courageous and costly.

            I am not questioning the right of JP as a citizen in law to challenge what he deemed an injustice against him. The outcome of all three cases/enquiries showed that the law thought the church was not unjust but acted fully within her rights to refuse him a PTO.

          • ‘That some conservative Christians think it’s better to break Canon Law and lie about it in order to keep a job, than to be ‘brazen’, i.e. honest, open, transparent.
            Unusual take on ‘orthodox’ Christian ethics.

            Yet another scurrilous misrepresentation. Your remark here, of course, tries to press home a false dichotomy, for which Simon provides alternatives, which were open to Pemberton.

            The House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage explained clearly that: ‘The Church of England will continue to place a high value on theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity. That is why Church of England clergy are able to argue for a change in its teaching on marriage and human sexuality, while at the same time being required to fashion their lives consistently with that teaching.’

            The same stance has been equally applicable to the due process by which the Church changed its position on women bishops debate.

            In that situation, the equivalent to Pemberton’s brazen contempt for due process, would have been for a woman priest to have undergone an irregular episcopal consecration, thereby pre-empting Synod’s 2014 vote in favour and the consequent amendment to canon law.

            The analogy for the Church re-marriage of divorcees would have been for a vicar to have married divorcees in Church in advance of Synod voted in 2002 to allow it.

            Just as Edward VIII abdicated, the courageous and costly stance would have been for Pemberton to have married his same-sex partner and surrendered his licence. Contrary to your aspersion, I haven’t remotely suggested that those who flout due process should lie about it, neither have I disputed their rightful recourse to an employment tribunal.

            Nevertheless, despite your commendation that a priest ‘going rogue’ from canon law as ‘open and honest’, none should entertain the slightest expectation that they should retain their PTOs, or remain in ‘good standing’.

          • David
            The alternatives were open to Cranmer too, but he chose to disobey a Canon Law and then to lie about it. (BTW I have no idea if all clergy in CPs are sexually abstinent, nor if all clergy in SSMs are sexually active. It is not my business to know, nor that of the Bishops.)
            Edward VIII did not abdicate willingly and probably plotted against Britain during the War.
            There were, irregular, ‘blessings’ of second marriages before 2002 (which was one of the engines of the change in law).
            Neither a Edward not Cranmer (though the latter had more redeeming features) should be an exemplar for married priests who wish to continue their ministry. Of course, ontologically, Jeremy is still a priest and no one can remove his orders.
            My least comment. So go well.
            The Pastoral Guidance is guidance, not Canon Law.

          • Penelope,

            As I wrote before: ‘you can’t cite Cranmer’s concealed marriage as a precedent for overtly disobeying canon law as a mechanism for forcing change.

            In fact, you can press the letter of canon law all you want, but it is part of the bishop’s ministry of oversight (which is their business) to ensure that there is no connivance at sexual relationships entered by clergy which are at odds with Church teaching on marriage.

            Neither Cranmer’s concealment, nor the likely coercion of Edward VIII’s abdication, nor, for that matter, the ‘irregular ‘blessings’ of second marriages can diminish the far more honourable alternatives which was open to Pemberton.

            He could have either publicly and voluntarily relinquished his PTO and married his same-sex partner, declaring that the Church had effectively forced him to choose, or he could have relinquished the exercise of his orders (cf. the Clerical Disabilities Act).

            I have far more respect for genuine victims of conscience, such as women priests who didn’t pursue irregular episcopal consecration, but tirelessly and vociferously campaigned at Synod, than with Pemberton’s impatient disregard for the known due process of effecting change to canon law.

          • Sorry, another comment!

            This may come as a surprise to you, but I can cite Cranmer, whether you agree with me or not. The Archbishop of Canterbury concealed a marriage contrary to Canon Law: a “connivance at sexual relationships entered by clergy which are at odds with Church teaching on marriage.”
            So whether you have more respect for clergy who campaign tirelessly is moot.

            You think Jeremy is brazen. I think he is courageous and honourable, not least for marrying the man he loves rather than ‘living in sin’ with him; as so many clergy do (allegedly).

          • Penelope,

            Perhap, you can clarify how Cranmer’s concealment at a time when Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Shaxton both resigned honourably and conscientiously from their sees corresponds to the current position of the Church leadership? The bishops have neither encouraged concealment nor connivance.

            Surely, if there is a parallel, it’s Pemberton’s alternative to flouting canon law, which was follow the then Bishops of Worcester and Salisbury in resigning honourably and conscientiously from the exercise of the ordained ministry to which they were formerly appointed.

          • Penelope

            You wrote:
            “Edward VIII did not abdicate willingly and probably plotted against Britain during the War.”

            I put it to you that you have absolutely no evidence for that scurrilous assertion. You have completely come off the rails now.

          • Oh Clive, come off it. There have been plenty of documentaries and newspaper reports. They may not be entirely accurate, but they still contain evidence.
            Edward was, probably, a fascist; and Cranmer was, certainly a liar. Doesn’t stop the latter being a great reformer and a great liturgist.

          • No Penelope, there is a massive difference between using hearsay to allegedly supporting your claims and using actual real evidence instead – and you really ought to know that.

          • Clive

            You really ought to know that many biographers claim that Edward and Wallis had Nazi sympathies (Wallis is alleged to have slept with Von Ribbentrop) which is partly why they were shipped off to the Bahamas.

            You also really ought to know that Cranmer concealed his second marriage because it was against Canon Law and he was scared of Henry VIII.

          • Penelope,

            Given that Clive address your assertion that Edward VIII did not abdicate willingly, it’s a straw man fallacy (and you know it) to suggesting that he really should know about Cranmer’s concealed marriage.

            Beyond this, Edward VIII’s supposed Nazi sympathies have nothing to with his inescapable dilemma that the King, as nominal head of the Church of England, had to choose between remaining on the throne and marrying a divorced woman.

            What is scurrilous is to link an assertion about Edward’s unwillingness to abdicate with an assertion that he probably plotted against Britain during the war.

            Leaders can resign honourably, once it’s been made clear that their position has become untenable, not before.

            Also, when Clive challenged you to provide some evidence that Edward plotted against Britain during the War, you assert that documentaries, newspaper reports and biographers are evidence that he was probably fascist.

            Of course, it takes a ‘leap of suspicion’ for this also also become evidence supporting of your assertion that Edward VIII probably plotted against Britain during the war

            Why not just say that, beyond hearsay, you haven’t any real evidence that make Edward VIII a probable traitor in plotting against Britain?

          • ‘Reading glasses on’ version:


            Given that Clive was addressing your assertion that Edward VIII did not abdicate willingly, it’s a straw man fallacy (and you know it) to suggest that he really should know about Cranmer’s concealed marriage.

            Beyond this, Edward VIII’s supposed Nazi sympathies have nothing to with his inescapable dilemma that the King, as nominal head of the Church of England, had to choose between remaining on the throne and marrying a divorced woman.

            What is scurrilous is to link an assertion about Edward’s unwillingness to abdicate with an assertion that he probably plotted against Britain during the war.

            Leaders can resign honourably, once it’s been made clear that their position has become untenable, not before.

            Also, when Clive challenged you to provide some evidence that Edward plotted against Britain during the War, you asserted that documentaries, newspaper reports and biographers are evidence that he was probably fascist.

            Of course, it takes a ‘leap of suspicion’ for this also to become evidence supporting of your assertion that Edward VIII probably plotted against Britain during the war

            Why not just say that, beyond hearsay, you haven’t any real evidence that makes Edward VIII a probable traitor in plotting against Britain?

          • This is my last word because I’m tired of responding to your ridiculous assertions and to pointing out the scurrilousness of your comparison of a Nazi-sympathising wastrel with a fine and godly man like Jeremy.

            If you want to know about Edward’s fascist sympathies and his ‘exile’ to the Bahamas, read the biographies, and the newspaper reports.

            And, I suspect that you and Clive are concentrating on Edward’s feet of clay because you can’t face Cranmer’s.

          • So, you haven’t a shred of evidence of Edward VIII’s probable plotting against Britain.

            You brought up Cranmer, but failed to show any correspondence in fault of the HoB, which neither encourages connivance nor concealment, and those of Cranmer’s day, who can’t be faulted for being unaware of a concealed clerical marriage.

            As for Jeremy Pemberton, he’s no hero and now he’s got everything he deserved.

          • Yawn!
            Read some biographies.
            Start with Cranmer.
            Then on Edward VIII.
            Try and work out that I’m not faulting the ‘authorities’ of Cranmer’s day for not knowing about his deceit. I’m comparing Cranmer’s lie with Jeremy’s honesty. Which I have been saying for days, and now I’m losing patience.
            For all who know him as friends and who have experienced his ministry, Jeremy is a man and a priest of rare integrity, who married the man he loves and wishes to follow the vocation to which God has called him.
            Comparing him to a wastrel Price says more about you than it does about him.
            Before you bother replying with another misunderstanding of very clear analogies, consider whether your time might be better spent reading some history.
            Go well.

          • Yes, it’s you alone who introduced Cranmer to this debate by writing ‘Cranmer disobeyed existing Canon Law and so rewrote it.’

            No-one here has ever supported Cranmer’s concealment, but you still sought to press home the ‘straw man’ that criticising Pemberton’s contempt for the Church’s due process for amending canon law was tantamount to favouring Cranmer’s concealment..

            We’ve been over the alternatives, which destroy your false dichotomy and would have demonstrated far more integrity than Pemberton could muster.

            So, if you’re yawning, you’re welcome to spend a lot more time on that bracing monotone of liberal CofE consensus, known as Thinking Anglicans, which you would surely find to be far more scintillating.

          • David

            It’s very sad that I used to find this blog more engaging than either TA or Modern Church (which, of course, I support wholeheartedly), but I’m very tired of the echo chamber of ad hominem, sycophancy, wilful misunderstanding and inability to admit error. It’s all a bit too schoolboy for intelligent women (sorry, people).

          • Yes, I’m just as tired of wilful ‘straw man’ misrepresentations and the inability to admit to a lack of hard evidence to support their assertions.

            If this comment thread can be likened to an echo chamber, then Thinking Anglicans equates to a five-voice reverb unit with automatic conservative silencing.

            I vastly prefer an ‘if you can dish it out, you should be able to take it’ policy on moderating rebuttals.

            If you’re better off elsewhere, then so be it.

  15. Penelope,
    Whether, you agree or not, with the the applicant’s contention, is irrelevant as the Court of Appeal didn’t accept the legal arguments put on his behalf.
    Are you saying that his legal team didn’t put forward his and your argument, bearing in mind neither of you are legally competent to have a right of audience at the Court of Appeal? Or, were they put, and the Court of Appeal didn’t address them?
    You seem to be unable to draw a distinction, as the Court of Appeal, unsurprisingly, did, between doctrine as it “is” and doctrine as you contend it “ought” to be – a simple distinction between “is” and “ought” as decided by the House of Bishops and General Synod. Then again that seems to be an general inability with those indulging in reader subjective, sensitive, hermeneutics which liberals espouse, an inablility which doesn’t, thankfully, exist in the the Court of Appeal, in their objective, logical, application of the “golden rule” in construction of documents (as I explained above.)

    • Geoff
      I know they didn’t. But it’s not irrelevant to me whether I agree, nor, I suspect to you.
      Of course I can draw the distinction, as was evidenced in my observation about Cranmer, so please don’t patronise me.
      I do understand Canon B30 and the BCP marriage service. I do understand that they are the doctrine of the Church and that the Court observed that they are. I do understand that doctrine can change and hope and pray that the HoB and GS will revise the current doctrine of marriage before too long.
      BTW the CoA may be forensic, but it, like any other body, is unlikely to be totally objective.

      • Penelope,
        If you know they didn’t, why have you gone on for so long about what the Court of Appeal decided and didn’t and was so admirably answered by David Shepherd. And particularly if you know the distinction between “is” and “ought.” But as evidenced in other comments, you resort to taking personal offence, when you’ve painted yourself into a corner. If you take that as patronising, so be it. I merely, obliquely, asked questions. You didn’t answer any of the questions asked in the first paragraph of my comment,from which the point over “is” and “ought” came (it is, after all, a jursiprudential question in the context legal proceedings – emphasised by Lady Justice Asplin in para 42 of the Judgemnt) but went on to take umbrage. That distinction, until now, you seemed determined not to make, even if you understood it.
        Finally, after much probing, your last answers to comments have revealed your purpose, throughout, whatever you may respond to this. If I were part of a jury listening to your evidence (your contributions, in totality,in the comments above) I’d conclude that you were deliberately seeking to confuse with a smoke screen.
        Your views and my views are irrevelant to the Court of Appeal Decision, which is now law and precedent. I’m so pleased that you are not part of the judiciary as you seem to unable to have any sense of detachment, or objectivity as the Court of Appeal had.
        I’d suggest you do your cause no good by making no concessions at all, even when they are as plain as the nose on our faces. An advocate is least effective when unable to see the strength or weight of evidence and law of the other side.
        There is likely now to be a rallying cry, “doctrine is dead”. But that never stands alone. In reality it is a cry “doctrine is dead, long live doctrine.”

        • Geoff
          Since you seem to be intent on misrepresenting my views, this may be my last comment on this thread.
          My original observation was that the case turned on the role of the Bishop and on whether the post of chaplain was for the purposes of organised religion. You and David then continued your diatribes about the case, asserting that the CofA had asserted that CoE doctrine was CoE doctrine, a point that I had never contested. David made some good points but assumed that I must agree with Jeremy’s counsel. I had not indicated that I did. However I did observe that I found it odd
          that the Court appeared to consider Pilling as doctrine.
          That I think doctrine should develop is quite separate from this case. It has nothing to do with ‘doctrine being dead’ which is a quite absurd suggestion. But you seem incapable of reflecting my views without caricaturing them.
          You also seem to believe that I am arguing against the CoA’s conclusions here. I am not. I believe Jeremy was entirely justified in bringing this case and has behaved throughout with dignity. I also believe that Jeremy’s team made some good points and rather undermined the Church’s position with regard to exemptions from the Equalities Act.
          In time doctrine will develop as it has in other areas, and people will look back in bemusement that the Church could ever have had such a perverse idea of marriage, much as it did when women were considered property. Sadly, it may be too late for Jeremy and others in his position.

          • Penelope,
            I’ll leave it to others to decide whether I, or others, individually, or taken together even though we are not working together, or in unison, have misrepresented you, or more particularly what you have expressed, from the totality of your comments on the substantive issues of the case and you demean the grandure of the Court of Appeal by labelling the citation of the decision as “diatribe.” Certainly, David Shepherd’s contributions are far from diatribe, but I dout if he’ll take personal umbrage as have you.
            I’d say, it is only in your last comment that you have made it clear,
            “You also seem to believe that I am arguing against the CoA’s conclusions here. I am not.” That only seems to have been conceeded with anything semblancing clarity, after the point I made about making concessions. And, as you agree with the decision, citation of it is hardly a diatribe, even if you didn’t like it, more a marvelous speading of parts of the decision to those who otherwise may not have read it.
            Others have commented on the patience of those who have .continue to engage with you
            Bye, bye.

          • Bye Geoff. Thank you for the patience and the mansplaining. How could we possibly distinguish between a diatribe against Jeremy and his team and objective analysis without it?
            Umbrage? I don’t take umbrage at robust argument. I do at condescension about patience. No-one is coercing you into commenting. I suspect that some of the commentary here, to quote a distinguished theologian, is ‘willy waving’.

          • Penelope : ‘Willy-waving ‘? Well, for all my shortcomings, I think I can plead ‘not guilty’ to that charge!

          • Penelope,

            Thanks, Christine. I had to laugh, here’s me thinking it was an insult when I could recall the point about patience came from you.
            Also Penelope, at last, you are being plain. Really, why don’t you say what you mean, stop beating about the bush? I extend my forgiveness to you, but you may see that as patronising, rather than male compassion to a fellow sinner.
            Maybe the rigorous legal intellect displayed by the women judges throughout the case, including Lady Justice Asplin and Lady Justice Gloster in the Court of Appeal are falling within the description of the unnamed “distinguished ” theologian, with a rare way with words.
            Herein endeth the lesson to all of us: be careful not step into and spring the snare of our own making, by the trigger of our own pride.
            Grace, blessings, and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Saviour.

  16. What was it that actually *cost* the utterly colossal sum of half a million pounds?

    I do wish the legal profession was to do with right and wrong. Money compromises people’s motives.

    • The estimated £0.5m are the costs charged by counsel to represent Richard Inwood. Jeremy Pemberton’s counsel’s costs were initially met by an insurance company and when that fund was exhausted, his counsel worked on a pro bono basis. The amount of damages that Jeremy would have been awarded had he won the case would have been small. Money was not a motive on either side in this case.

      • Money was not a motive…but money wasting was an inevitable consequence of the process, which (as predicted) proved entirely unnecessary, and was driven by the ideological agenda of Jeremy’s team.

        • I think it would be interesting to know how much money is withheld every year – in Parish share and Common Fund – from the CoE, by churches who oppose what they perceive as liberalising practices of the House of Bishops. It might be interesting to enquire whether some of those who express shock at the CoE having to fork out for Inwood ‘s defence are those who boast of withholding funds, or who threaten to withhold funds until the Church gets its doctrine ‘correct’.

          • I think the more interesting calculation might be the extent to which dioceses are supported by those who are unhappy…yet continue to make their contribution to central funds regardless…!

          • Aren’t we all unhappy about some things? I respect those who do pay their share to support ministry. I also respect people who withhold funds, out of conscience, but not in order to blackmail the Church into accepting their position.

          • Perhaps a more interesting enquiry would be gross amount paid to Anglican clergy who don’t believe the church’s creeds and don’t live by the CofE canons, don’t bring people to saving faith in Christ and yet happily to live in a church rectory and draw a stipend.

          • Perhaps a more interesting analogy would be clergy who flout Canon Law and yet continue to live in tied accommodation, receive a stipend and hope for a pension, whilst undermining the church which they purport to serve by loyalty to schismatic organisations and soi disant Bishops.

        • Well, decent barristers *start* at around £600 an hour. So that sum will buy you, at the most, 20 weeks work. I suspect the Church employed a more expensive team than that, so the money soon goes.

  17. Yikes. ‘The more you pay, the more likely you are to win’ is a corrupt system before one even starts. God bless Legal Aid. Simon the Sorcerer got cursed for thinking the power of God could be purchased with money, but no more can truth be purchased. Always assuming they are in pursuit of truth (as opposed to legality) at all. Heigh-ho.

  18. This is really a comment on David Sheherd’s point about Cranmer.
    The objectivity of God’s law is never negated by subjective breach. And, Yes, yes, I know, the Articles are not God’s law, but the point remains: they are not negated by Cranmer’s behaviour in breach.


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