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What does the Church need to do to approve same-sex marriage?

The Scottish Episcopal Church has been moving in the direction of recognising same-sex marriage as equivalent to traditional marriage from a theological and ethical point of view for some time. At last year’s Synod, it discussed a change to canon law to remove reference to ‘one man and one woman’ in marriage, which it then sent to its seven dioceses and will come back for confirmation this year.

In parallel with this, the Church of Scotland (which is Presbyterian rather than Episcopal) is also considering the issue, and as part of that its Theological Forum has published a report An Approach to the Theology of Same-sex Marriage, and for anyone who has been convinced by the church’s traditional teaching on marriage it makes sober reading.

The first section is on the use of Scripture, and rather than explore the scriptural arguments, it offers some reflections on the ways that the two ‘sides’ in the debate draw on Scripture. It identifies two main aspects of the argument ‘for greater inclusion’:

As committed and faithful partnerships between equal persons of the same sex were largely unknown in the ancient world, neither St Paul nor any other biblical writer could have had such partnerships in mind when they condemned same-sex sexual activity.

Another more inclusive argument in favour of same-sex relationships rests on a distinction between the written text of Scripture and the living Word of God, the latter being associated with Jesus Christ who speaks to us in our hearts and consciences.

I think that, at one level, these are accurate observations; I have heard these arguments repeatedly; I am not sure the case can be made within the Anglican Communion (because of its historical commitment to being shaped by Scripture) without leaning heavily on both these assertions, and the same might be true of Presbyterians. What is interesting in the report is that there is little informed critique of either of these, suggesting that those who wrote the report hold these views. In fact, they receive further defence from criticism.

For many people of a more conservative habit of reading Scripture, there might appear to be something illegitimate in looking ‘behind the text’ as – taken in a particular direction – this method might seem to relativize those commands, and empty them of authority. Yet, for those who read Scripture with a different set of expectations, this is a way of applying the words of Jesus today and of following his example of reaching out to those who have felt excluded by the scriptural certainties of others.

In other words, there is a basic discipline of interpreting the words of Scripture in their historical and cultural context; those seeking change in the Church’s teaching in marriage are up to speed with this, whilst those holding a traditional view are disturbed by what we all take is an essential of reading Scripture in the modern world. This is a rehearsal of a long-standing issue in hermeneutics, and it is one that evangelicals wrestled with in the late 1960s and into the 1970s. No evangelical that I know of with any awareness would now have an issue with looking ‘behind the text’; it is an evangelical mantra that ‘a text without a context is a pretext’. The debate on this issue is precisely what that context is, and the claim that ‘faithful same-sex relationships were unknown’ flies in the face of historical evidence, contradicts the claims made consistently elsewhere that same-sex attraction is a transcultural feature of human life, and ignores what the New Testament actually says, and in particular Paul’s actual arguments in the very few places where same-sex sexual relations are mentioned.

On the second argument, the separation of what Jesus says in our consciences from what Jesus said in Scripture, there is no mention of the serious problems this raises. Again, it ignores what the text of Scripture actually says, and the claims that the New Testament makes for itself in being a faithful record of the testimony of Jesus; it introduces vast theological problems in the idea that God now contradicts what God has previously said; and its shifts the locus of authority in discerning God’s will from the Scriptures to human conscience.


By contrast, I don’t think it is paranoid to read the description of ‘traditionalists’ as wooden, literalistic, and unthinking.

More conservative readers tending to focus on the words of Scripture and more inclusive readers tending sometimes to look through rather than at the words of the text… For those adopting a more conservative perspective, the authority of Scripture rests in obeying the words of its text. These words were given by God through the scribes and prophets and transmitted faithfully by Israel until they could be written down. We abide by the authority of Jesus Christ speaking in Scripture by correctly ascertaining what Scripture’s words meant in their original context, before conforming our doctrine and practice to them. It is not our duty to ascertain why God, speaking through the biblical writers, issued these commands, but only to ascertain the meaning of those commands and act upon them.

That might be an accurate description of some popular arguments, but it can hardly be a characterisation of the literature on this. Think of Richard Hays in Moral Vision of the New Testament; Jennell Williams Paris in The End of Sexual Identity; Wes Hill in Spiritual Friendship; Christopher West’s Catholic perspective in Fill These Hearts; or any number of other commentators. I have had no difficulty in identifying the ‘why’ aspect in my own teaching on sexuality—once the particular issue of same-sex marriage is located in the wider discussion of the Bible’s overall view of sexuality and its purposes, nature and goals, a context (ironically) that is mostly missing from the arguments for change. It would be easy to form the impression that those writing this report were either ignorant of the best arguments of those they disagreed with, or simply had not engaged. And if there is an emphasis on the words of Scripture in ‘traditionalist’ arguments, there might be a good reason for that: arguments for change appeal to lofty theological idea which simply do not have warrant from what Scripture says. It is the by-passing of Scripture which has often made ‘traditionalists’ highlight what is actually being said.


The report then explores issues of human rights, and the place this forms in the debate, before embracing Robert Song’s Covenant and Calling as offering a paradigm shift in the shape of the debate. Song gave a presentation to the General Synod of the Church of England for the same reason, and though the first part of his book is a fascinating theological reflection on the question of marriage and covenant, in the second part he makes significant unwarranted shifts, and smuggles in sexual relationships into his covenant model without a shred of justification. I suspected his book would be significant, and so published an extended review in two parts when it came out. Robert promised to make a response to this, but has failed to do so, and the criticisms remain unanswered. I reproduce here what I said then:

It is in this section [chapter 3] that Song does most of his work ‘towards a theology of same-sex relationships.’ But it is not clear to me that he is being entirely consistent with his previous argument. If heterosexual marriage-with-sex has such an important role in offering an analogy for God’s relationship with humanity (as he has earlier argued), how can we now simply separate sex within marriage leading to procreation from sex without marriage as an expression of pleasure? In what sense does the latter point to God when removed from the former? What God has joined (the act of sex and the context for sex of heterosexual covenant relationship) let not theologians divide! This division arises from Song’s own dividing of Gen 1 from Gen 2, rather than seeing both of them together as providing a theological understanding of sex-within-marriage. If sex is expressed genitally, how can we so easily dismiss the form of the created body the moment we focus on desire—something again Song himself has argued against?

On the other hand, that which God has divided let not theologians join! In his discussion of the meaning of sex here, Song makes no reference at all to one of the most striking features of the biblical approach—and one that makes both the OT and the NT distinctive within their social and cultural contexts: sexual activity is a strictly bounded thing. There are certain relationships within which sex may occur, and a good number of relationships and context where it may not occur. In other words, there are strict boundaries around the kinds of relationships, covenant or otherwise, that can become sexual. You might regret or resent this (as Diarmid MacCulloch clearly does in his current TV series Sex and the Church) but it is impossible to ignore it when considering the meaning and purpose of sex from a theological perspective.

So when Song draws the line of demarcation between procreative and non-procreative relationships, he is doing so over an already existing demarcation between sexual and non-sexual relationships. This means he is creating not two but three categories: non-procreative non-sexual relationships; procreative sexual relationships; and the middle category of non-procreative sexual relationships. Since Scripture locates sex as pleasure and sex as union firmly in the second area, and these relationships are heterosexual, Song is left without any clear justification for why the third area might include same-sex relationships—other than reasons he himself has previously  ruled out. If the theological logic of NT eschatology has led Paul and Jesus to see celibacy as an appropriate alternative to marriage, rather than sexual, same-sex covenant relationships, what has changed at the level of theology which would lead us to come to a different conclusion?

Song needs to be given credit here; he is quite honest in admitting that the NT texts themselves offer no trajectory whatever in the direction that he wishes to travel. But in doing so, he is creating yet more challenges. In relation to the text of the NT itself, he is in effect arguing that it is theologically and semantically incoherent—that what we read on the surface actually points, not just at right angles, but in the opposite direction to the ‘deeper structure’ of the biblical story. That would mean that, on this vital question of human anthropology, and the implications for sexual ethics in the light of eschatology, the actual texts of the NT are fundamentally misleading.

He is also arguing that his own understanding of the implications of eschatology for sexual ethics are to be preferred to either Jesus or Paul’s. Jesus offers no revision of the Jewish understanding of Lev 18 and 20 or the creation narratives in this regard, and Paul, seeing himself as in continuity with the teaching of Jesus, relocates the Levitical prohibitions precisely within an eschatological context of the coming kingdom. Yet Song suggests that both Jesus and Paul have failed to understand the ‘deeper structure of the biblical story’.

Despite having, from the outset, rejected the ‘programmatic liberalism’ of prioritising experience over Scripture, it is hard to see that Song has not done something similar, by prioritising a theological pattern over against what Song agrees is the meaning and significance of the relevant texts. In amongst this, what we are left with is a lucid, elegant and powerful theological case for retaining much of the church’s current teaching on the nature of marriage.


In order to recommend the acceptance of same-sex marriage to its Synod, the Church of Scotland’s Theological Forum seems to need to misrepresent those who disagree with that view, ignore the real problems in its own position, set aside what Scripture actually says and why, and adopt a flawed theological approach which has not responded to its critics. I hope and pray that the Church of England does not adopt a similar strategy.


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40 Responses to What does the Church need to do to approve same-sex marriage?

  1. Rev Graham Crawford April 21, 2017 at 8:14 am #

    This report is by the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, not the Scottish Episcopal church.

    • Ian Paul April 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

      Thanks–apologies for my earlier error. Swiftly corrected.

  2. Gill Kimber April 21, 2017 at 9:13 am #

    Indeed.

  3. Martin Reynolds April 21, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    “The description of ‘traditionalists’ as wooden, literalistic,” Yes
    “Unthinking” ..No … as far as it goes

    • Christopher Shell April 21, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

      A ‘traditionalist’ is an ideologue who is always traditional on any question. Not a thinking person, then.

      The position people come to after examination of evidence will sometimes be traditional, just as it will sometimes not be. But that is irrelevant. Nothing becomes true or untrue by virtue of being traditional, just by virtue of being accurate.

      Conclusion: those who characterise the PRESENT debate as being between traditionalists and revisionists may be right, but in that case we ought not to listen to the debate, since the traditionalist position is close to ‘old therefore correct, and the revisionist is ‘new therefore correct’. Two untenable positions. Oldness/newness is the least relevant aspect imaginable when it comes to truth and accuracy. If anyone characterises the REAL, truth-seeking, debate as being between traditionalists and revisionists, that person’s misunderstanding is at a serious level. The real debate involves impartial truth-seekers only.

      • Andrew Godsall April 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

        Christopher: the impartial truth is that same sex couples experience immense fulfilment in their intimacy. The impartial truth is that the majority of clergy of the Church of England wish to support them in their union. The impartial truth is that society in England now accepts and legalises such unions. The imperial truth is that the only place that members of the Church come from is that society.
        You only need to watch a film like Selma to see where this will end.

        • David April 22, 2017 at 3:22 am #

          “The imperial truth is that the only place that members of the Church come from is that society.” Striking, that “imperial”. Might that be what is called a Freudian slip? The three instances of “impartial” seem rather to characterize what is ‘partial’ in both main senses of that word.

        • Christopher Shell April 22, 2017 at 7:58 am #

          You mentioned four ‘impartial truths’.

          (1) The first one is very inaccurate because it lumps lots and lots of diverse people and situations together, including the high proportion of anonymous, fleeting and promiscuous ‘sexual’ encounters.
          It reminds me of when abortion activists say ‘women’. Does it never strike them that women are an extremely diverse group? Does it never strike you that ‘same sex couples’ are an extremely diverse group?

          (2) I am sure they do, but that is utterly irrelevant. What is relevant is whether their wish is a warranted or unwarranted wish. In other words, truth is (obviously) not found by head-count but by evidence. Headcount is only determined by culture anyway. Why have such majorities generally been totally absent internationally and historically?

          (3) See (2). Do you honestly think truth is determined by the headcount of one culture that just by coincidence happens to be your own culture, in which the vast majority of people are aware neither of many other cultures nor of almost any of the many counter-arguments against their position?

          (4) I totally agree – given the present situation among the under-40s, who are the aforesaid group who have not a clue about the many counter-arguments because their schools, media and friends have never mentioned them.

          Selma is about an inborn characteristic (pigmentation) which is visible, testable, always present, and undeniable. Quite a different situation. There are absolutely tons of reasons why same-sex attraction is not and cannot be classified as an inborn characteristic, because it is to such a large extent caused by circumstances and environment (see below); and so the comparison (which merely parrots a widespread cliche) is inaccurate.
          -Babies are not (yet) gay, and those of us who love or have any regard for babies want children to be allowed to be children: the alternative is very unpleasant and inaccurate.
          -Those who claim to have been born gay do not even remember when they were born. They do not even remember when they were 2!
          -Those who claim to have been born gay did not experience sexual attraction till they were (say) 7. So is not their claim meaningless?
          -College is correlated with a 900% increase in lesbianism – Laumann 1994.
          -Urban environment is correlated with a 700% increase in claims to be gay-male, ibid.
          -Culture saw same-sex sexually involved women quadruple in 20 years (British Social Attitudes Survey 1993-2013).
          -Molestation when young is associated on average with a 500% increase in claims to be gay.
          -Girls brought up by lesbians have at the least a 400% increased chance of being lesbian themselves: Stacey & Biblarz ASR’01.
          -Self-designation as L/G is extremely fluid – see Savin-Williams /Ream’07, Lisa Diamond’s various studies. The whole thing depends on our being able to speak of it as a fixed characteristic, otherwise we can’t use the words L or G meaningfully. But a fixed characteristic is something that it very regularly isn’t. People who call themselves L/G at 16 mostly don’t at 18, and the majority of the traffic is in that direction.
          -Several c2000 identical-twin studies converge in concluding that identical twins, normally so prone to copy one another, resist sharing their twin’s L orientation 86% of the time, G orientation 89% of the time.
          -Not only (as previously reported) do ‘lesbians’ have considerably more male sexual partners on average than ‘straight’ women (and become pregnant far more often) but a similar situation pertains for their male counterparts. Leading us to suspect that what we are seeing is better classified as hypersexuality. (Breaking the rules is what can make sex exciting and therefore perceived as worthwhile.)
          The normal thing is to ignore these many points. To ignore them is to lose the debate.

          • Andrew Godsall April 22, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

            Christopher:
            1. Of course same sex couples are a very diverse group. So are opposite sex couples. You are not making any point here.

            2. The impartial truth is that the majority of clergy support same sex couples. The rest doesn’t really matter. It’s only your opinion that it is unwarranted.

            3. The truth is that same sex marriage is legal in this country and supported by the majority. That’s our culture. You can choose to live in another culture if you don’t like that truth.

            4. The situation with the under 40s will get more so. Not less. That is another truth you don’t care for.

            You make the same mistake about Selma that David makes further down the thread. Reflect on what Coretta Scott King said and then try again.

            The rest of your ‘truths’ are just interpretation of questionable statistics.

          • Christopher Shell April 22, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

            Andrew, every single para is mistaken:

            1. My point was that you generalised about them as though they were not a diverse group. The assertion you made was true of some – not even necessarily the majority – and not of others. You wrote it as though it was true of all. Therefore what you wrote was inaccurate.

            2. Why does it not matter? Again, that is only an unsupported assertion. Because things do not matter to you, that does not mean that they do not matter. If people follow their culture, there is nothing remarkable about that. If clergy want to be in their parishioners’ good books, and be seen as accepting, there is nothing remarkable about that.

            3. The suggestion that I leave the country is insulting and rude.
            Your first sentence is strange, as in 2., since that truth was never denied. You would only neewd to reassert it to someone who denied it.
            Everyone knows headcount is not the way to truth. For both 2 and 3 and 4, I’d want to know your answer to ‘Do you think truth is determined by headcount?’

            4. Did I not just say the same myself. Yet you are writing as though I had said the opposite.

            I will not ‘try again’, because you know very well that that is a patronising thing to say. Race and sexual attraction that is in opposition to biology are two distinct things – it is hard to see the connection. One is inborn, the other seems largely not to be.

            Why do you put ‘truths’ in inverted commas? Peer reviewed science journal studies are the closest we will get to truth. What do you prefer? Unsupported assertions? Anecdotal evidence?

            I invite all readers to study how Andrew has just summarised a large number of separate scientific papers without contradistinction as ‘truths’ in inverted commas.
            And which particular statistics are questionable? ALL of them without contradistinction? What study did you put into the cited papers in order to arrive at that informed conclusion? If you do not give a specific reply based on what you knew before writing that comment, then readers will know that you are either bluffing or making sweeping generalisations without serious thought. This will have implications for their estimate of the authority of your future comments.

          • David Shepherd April 22, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

            Well said, Christopher!

          • Andrew Godsall April 23, 2017 at 7:27 am #

            Christopher: I don’t think this is going to get us very far and of course I’m making generalisations about statistics. If you find them concinving, that’s fine, but I have read statistics from both ‘sides’ of this debate and find that at the end of it all I still have couples in same sex relationshiips who don’t conform to the statistics. And they are faithful and helpful witnesses to life and love. Which of course relates to your point 1. There are many different types of people and statistics will only approximate and make allowances for some. The way to truths is neither head counts nor number counts but real people.

            For the record, I’m not suggesting anyone leaves the country, but simply that if a person does not find the culture to their liking, they don’t have to simply stay – be that a job, a church or a country.

          • Christopher Shell April 23, 2017 at 9:12 am #

            If a country becomes more and more unChristian, your prescription is for active Christians to leave it? That looks very illogical. The prescription that would work would be for more active Christians to immigrate to that country.

            What you are prescribing there is that birds of a feather should flock together. That has really bad consequences:
            (1) People start thinking that everyone is like them.
            (2) …and that anyone who thinks differently is deviant.
            (3) They never learn to think, because they are never exposed to counter-arguments.
            (4) That means that they do less thinking than they would otherwise have done, so their thinking remains in its infancy.

            See my chapter in ‘What Are They Teaching The Children’ – you make several of the errors that I isolate:
            -thinking that the anecdotal evidence derived from the *few* people you know weighs more than the averages and aggregates derived from *large-scale* studies. Where’s your maths?
            -The people you know would sometimes have been questioned for large scale studies anyway, so would be included in them. They might be included as part of a minority, but they or those who think or act like them would still have been included.

            When you say ‘i don’t think this is going to get us very far’ are you trying to terminate discussion of stats? I have observed people trying that for many years. And I know why they try. They even censor (Thinking Anglicans; Via Media; Changing Attitude all do that, and the thing they censor most is stats derived from scientific papers, which are actually the most accurate information available, achieved at the most effort, so the least worthy of censorship).

            Your position may or may not be nothing but a baseless ideology based on preference and or cultural narrowness. The best way of showing that it is indeed a baseless ideology is to change the subject whenever statistics come up.

            I mentioned about 11 different areas of study above. You spoke as though the evidence was equivocal in ALL these areas. Is that another large generalisation, or is it based on something? If there are studies that show significantly different from what I said, in any of these areas, please tell me which studies you have in mind. Please also tell me which of the areas you do *not* find studies that point a different way. Very many thanks.

            I repeat: Your position falls (or rather, it never stood in the first place) if you or others are unable to address the peer-reviewed evidence, which is always the first place that any discussion or truth-seeking enterprise should start. Thanks.

          • Andrew Godsall April 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

            “If a country becomes more and more unChristian, your prescription is for active Christians to leave it?”

            I didn’t say that at all. You seem to be the one claiming that being gay or being ‘hypersexual’ means that you can’t be Christian. My claim is simply to answer the question Ian poses in his blog. We need to adopt a pluriform approach and that is now what will happen.

            You can produce 14 or 140 reports and hundreds of statistics but it doesn’t change the fact that people in same sex relationshiips live valuable and loving lives.

            I suspect we are talking past each other again so I will bow out now. Have a good weekend Christopher.

  4. Carl Jacobs April 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm #

    Is there really any reason to keep fighting about this? There are no new arguments under the sun. Neither side will persuade the other. There is not a square meter of ground between the two camps that has not been over-turned by the relentless artillery barrage.

    Let one go to the right, and the other to the left. Or let the one go to the left and the other to the right. Surely the well-watered Valley of the Jordan beckons and there can be an end to this strife.

    • Christopher Shell April 22, 2017 at 8:06 am #

      Hi Carl
      You say that there are no new arguments under the sun. That means everyone must be well versed in the science. My impression is the complete, complete opposite. The vast majority are not able to cite even one relevant scientific paper. Therefore, although the debate itself is not in its infancy (since the well-informed have been conducting it fordecades), the percolation of evidence to the vast majority of those who are speaking up on the topic is very much in its infancy.

      If neither side will persuade the other, does that not mean that they are ideologues whose ‘position’ is emotionally-based, not people who assess arguments? If so, what they say is worth nothing.
      In the real world, evidence does not point to 2 extremes with nothing in between, In fact, that is the very reverse of normal distribution.
      Seeing the whole thing as right and left is also inaccurate. Very inaccurate – since it suggests that we should start the debate from a preconceived (or preferred?) position. The whole thing is about seeking truth and accuracy, without ideological commitments. What we *prefer* to conclude is utterly irrelevant. The evidence is not going to be obliging and suit our preferences, now is it?

  5. Mrs S Wilson April 21, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    Thank you for a very helpful article. I fear that there can be no middle ground on this issue, only a constant drip drip of articles in the hope that the resistance of those who hold to the biblical standpoint will be worn down and give in.

  6. Jonathan Tallon April 21, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    You say:
    “the claim that ‘faithful same-sex relationships were unknown’ flies in the face of historical evidence, contradicts the claims made consistently elsewhere that same-sex attraction is a transcultural feature of human life, and ignores what the New Testament actually says, and in particular Paul’s actual arguments in the very few places where same-sex sexual relations are mentioned.”

    Please show me anywhere in the New Testament where faithful same-sex relationships are referred to. And as for the surrounding culture, the vastly, overwhelmingly common cultural manifestation of same-sex relationships was brutally pederastic (or associated with temple cults). Were faithful relationships ‘unknown’ completely? Difficult to say. There was certainly no cultural space for any type of equal relationship. Is it likely that Paul or his readers or anyone else would have a lifelong, faithful, equal relationship in mind when speaking of same-sex activity? Vanishingly unlikely.

  7. Andrew Godsall April 21, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

    The Church of England will have to adopt a ‘twin track’ approach to this issue. The February synod has demonstrated that the ‘traditionalist’ only approach will not hold sway any longer. It was a watershed moment and the Archbishop of Canterbury recognised it as such in his speech and following response.
    I somehow doubt the C of E will approve same sex marriage in my time. But we are now past a point where the traditionalist is the only approach.

    • Will Jones April 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

      Given how close the vote was in the House of Clergy, and the dissatisfaction of a number of the orthodox clergy, how do you know a more conservative document wouldn’t have passed? Why assume it must become more liberal to succeed?

      • Andrew Godsall April 21, 2017 at 6:18 pm #

        Because I heard the debate Will and was at the meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury came to that afternoon. His speech to synod and the subsequent press release makes it clear that there is not going to be a move in any more conservative direction. If there were to be, the C of E would become even smaller. The only approach that General Synod are likely to approve is a twin track one. We are over the watershed.

        • Andrew Godsall April 21, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

          And please note Will: I’m not saying it has to become more liberal. I’m saying it has to become fully inclusive of both positions and therefore twin track.

          • Clive April 21, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

            It is clear from your comments Andrew that you are completely out of touch with reality.

            Throughout the UK, throughout the USA, throughout Canada and the rest of the world, the churches growing are those who believe in Scripture so your claim that “….If there were to be, the C of E would become even smaller…” is just silly

          • Will Jones April 21, 2017 at 11:47 pm #

            I agree with Clive. Any idea that accommodation to the zeitgeist away from orthodoxy aids growth is contradicted by all worldwide experience. If that’s the ABC’s intention then he’s a mad fool.

          • Andrew Godsall April 22, 2017 at 1:30 am #

            Believe that if you wish Clive and Will but I’m afraid it makes no difference to my observations. We are now over the watershed. A twin track approach is what will now happen and the February General Synod has ensured that. The bishops status quo approach did not succeed.

          • Will Jones April 22, 2017 at 7:17 am #

            Since a report affirming orthodoxy only failed by a few votes in one house, do you really think any actual changes would gain all the majorities required? Fantasy. The thing about the status quo is you don’t need to do anything to bring it about. It just is. The bishops don’t need synod’s permission not to change the teaching of the church.

          • Andrew Godsall April 22, 2017 at 7:37 am #

            Will: as I have said above, I don’t think same sex marriage in church is likely to happen in my time, but clearly the disagreements that we currently have can’t carry on as they do now. That’s why the status quo won’t remain and to think it will is fantasy. That’s why the Archbishops wrote as they did on February 16th, What will happen is some kind of twin track approach, as is being considered in the Church of Scotland. There is now no alternative.

          • Will Jones April 22, 2017 at 7:54 am #

            Twin track also requires change away from orthodoxy. It is also incoherent. I sincerely hope that that is not the Archbishop’s intention as if it is it is pure madness and ecclesial suicide. There is always an alternative.

          • Andrew Godsall April 22, 2017 at 8:07 am #

            Will: I guess one alternative is that individual churches on both ‘sides’ take matters into their own hands. The archbishops won’t be very keen on that. But as James Byron has commented elsewhere, this won’t be solved by theology, but by politics.
            I commend the film Selma to you. It’s prophetic about what happens when discrimination is ignored.

          • David Shepherd April 22, 2017 at 9:13 am #

            As a black man, I find it contemptible that you would attempt to equate innate racial attributpes with what we know are relatively fluid behavioural attributes.

            All to press the black civil rights movement into service for affirming same-sex sexual behaviour.

            You’re shameless.

          • Andrew Godsall April 22, 2017 at 9:39 am #

            David: read carefully what I put before you begin with your stupid accusations and cheap shots please. The film is prophetic because it details what happens when something becomes legal but people stiff refuse to deal with it. Same sex marriage is legal in this country, and the refusal of church to acknowledge that is paralleled in the film.

          • David Shepherd April 22, 2017 at 10:08 am #

            Andrew,

            The cheap shot is trying to get ‘prophetic’ mileage out of a key turning point in black civil rights movement without regard to or mention of the salient differences.

            A new low for you in ersatz comparisons.

  8. Andrew Godsall April 22, 2017 at 10:59 am #

    David: maybe you could address the point I was making, rather than making more cheap shots. Or reflect on Coretta Scott King’s support for LGBT equality. Why do you think she gave that such support? Is it because, as she said herself: “Homophobia is like racism and anti semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood”.

    Indeed she said the LGBT issue was always part of thr civil rights movement. Why would she say that, as a black woman, if what you say is correct?

    • David Shepherd April 22, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

      Given that the CofE has a hideous record of racial exclusion especially among the clergy, there’s considerable irony in a member of the white clerical hegemony lecturing me on the parallels between Selma and the LGBT movement.

      In contrast with the protest marches in Selma which led to LBJ forcing Southern States to defer to the 1964 Civil Rights Act:
      1. The amended Equality Act 2010 permits religious restrictions which have been upheld in the Pemberton Employment Tribunal and on appeal.
      2. While it is within the margin of appreciation for the U.K. to make same-sex marriage lawful, Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights does not confer a universal right to marry. (Schalke and Kopf vs. Austria upheld the decision in the Rees case) Brexit doesn’t change that.

      Finally, MLK’s wife is right about homophobia, which isn’t defined as anything that falls short of capitulation to the LGBT.

      This discussion is not a Poker match in which MLK family cards are trumps : ‘I’ll see your black race credentials and I’ll raise you Coretta Scott-King.’

      Just as many noted civil rights leaders of that era have lamented the hijacking of the black civil rights cause by the LGBT movement.

      The validity of any statement stands or falls on its own merit, not on the civil rights credentials of its author.

      http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/john-stonestreet/skin-color-and-lgbt-are-not-same-stop-hijacking-civil-rights

      • Andrew Godsall April 22, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

        David: I realise you disagree with some in the civil rights movement about this. There are clearly differences of opinion. More evidence for a pluriform approach I think….there is no alternative and your attempted arguments are just more evidence in its favour.

        • Christopher Shell April 22, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

          Andrew, you want to include all ‘positions’ as having their own correctness. This is convenient for you, since it then allows ‘acceptance’ for all of your own assertions – however inaccurate.

          But in the real world, there are an infinite number of incorrect positions for every one correct position. Which day was the Queen born? 21.4.26. Which day was she not born? An infinite number of days. The same pattern holds for any question one can name.

          • Andrew Godsall April 22, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

            Christopher: in the real world there are men and women in same sex relationships. What’s the ‘correct position’ for these people? And what is the ‘correct position’ about their eternal destiny? I’d like your answers for these two questions.

  9. Christopher Shell April 22, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

    Your question does not address mine.
    At present I do not understand what the two questions mean – but if you explain then I will answer at once. Thanks.

    • Andrew Godsall April 23, 2017 at 7:36 am #

      Christopher: your thesis was that any question has a correct answer. So I asked you two questions. Let me re phrase them.
      Given that there are same sex couples in both church and state, who have sexual relationships, what is the correct thing for them to do about that? Stop having sex? My point is that they are not going to respond to enforced celibacy but you may have another correct answer.

      Secondly, if these couples continue to have sex, what will happen when they die? What is the correct answer?

      And obviously I’m interested in your ‘working out’ – but I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to get us very far and we shall be back where we were after February General Synod.

      • Will Jones April 23, 2017 at 6:39 pm #

        Given that same-sex sex is sinful aren’t the answers to your questions obvious? As with any sin, a person should repent and aim with God’s help to stop sinning. If we don’t do this then it is at our own risk when it comes to facing the judgment seat of Christ. But surely you know these answers as they’ve always been the same.

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