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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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280 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.

          • Christopher Shell April 23, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

            Readers will note that Andrew made no attempt to learn more about what study and research have taught us. But without doing that, or even having the inclination to do that, he and others in that position have not yet reached the point where they can have an opinion on such topics at all, or at any rate not an opinion that is worth enough to share publicly on the internet.

            To avoid discussion of what investigation has taught us is to lose this particular debate, and it has therefore now been won and lost. Micro-debates are won and lost in several ways. They can be lost by committing a clear self-contradiction; or by committing what is classified as a philosophical fallacy; or by saying that it is possible to debate at all without studying the work of those researchers who have studied the topic most. This debate was lost by Andrew in the third of these three ways.

            On other points:
            I do not ‘produce’ research findings. They are always in the public domain, and if anyone wishes to be heard and respected on a topic, they will wish to be aware of them and include them in their thinking as a top priority.

            Adopting a pluriform approach may happen, but how would its happening *justify* it. It might only happen because different people want different things to be true. Well, I might want my pillow to be a giant marshmallow, but everyone over 5 knows that wanting things will not make them true. The pluriform approach is impossible before it starts because it will always remain impossible for contradictory things to be simultaneously true.

            Worst of all, the ‘fact’ you cite is both (a) an unsupported assertion and (b) a generalisation, which is quite a double whammy. Despite that, you consider it preferable on its own to the findings of hundreds of intelligent and qualified individuals based on probably millions of hours of research. ‘Yeah, right’, as the saying goes. Can you produce just one well-qualified individual who agrees that it is preferable?

  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. Graham Ball April 21, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    I suggest you recommend if you wish and where you can Glynn Harrison’s recent book “A better story”. Harrison writes as someone addressing some of the deep issues. I see his book as a prophetic and seeking to push Christian theologians and thinkers to put forward better narratives as well as theology.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • Ian Paul June 27, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

      Not sure I can do better than quote Tim Keller:

      Bernadette Brooten and William Loader have presented strong evidence that homosexual orientation was known in antiquity. Aristophanes’s speech in Plato’s Symposium, for example, tells a story about how Zeus split the original human beings in half, creating both heterosexual and homosexual humans, each of which was seeking to be reunited to “lost halves”—heterosexuals seeking the opposite sex and homosexuals the same sex. Whether Aristophanes believed this myth literally is not the point. It was an explanation of a phenomenon the ancients could definitely see—that some people are inherently attracted to the same sex rather than the opposite sex.

      Contra Vines, and others, the ancients also knew about mutual, non-exploitative same-sex relationships. In Romans 1, Paul describes homosexuality as men burning with passion “for one another” (v. 27). That is mutuality. Such a term could not represent rape, nor prostitution, nor pederasty (man/boy relationships). Paul could have used terms in Romans 1 that specifically designated those practices, but he did not. He categorically condemns all sexual relations between people of the same sex, both men and women. Paul knew about mutual same-sex relationships, and the ancients knew of homosexual orientation. Nonetheless, Loader observes, “Nothing indicates that Paul is exempting some same-sex intercourse as acceptable” (Making Sense of Sex [Eerdmans, 2013], 137).

      I urge readers to familiarize themselves with this research. A good place to start is Loader’s Sexuality in the New Testament (Westminster John Knox, 2010) or his much larger The New Testament on Sexuality (Eerdmans, 2012). Loader is the most prominent expert on ancient and biblical views of sexuality, having written five large and two small volumes in his lifetime. It’s worth noting that Loader himself doesn’t personally see anything wrong with homosexual relationships; he just—rightly and definitively—proves that you can’t get the Bible itself to give them any support.

      https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-bible-and-same-sex-relationships-a-review-article

      It has long been recognised that Paul coins his own term in 1 Cor 6.9, based on Lev 18, and does not use the usual asymmetrical terms for same sex relations. Nowhere in his comments does he ever identify lack of mutuality as the problem: in Romans 1 the problem is that same-sex relations ignore the manifest glory of God in the created order, specifically in the created form of human bodies as male and female. For Paul, that is the issue, and ‘faithfulness’ does not even come into it.

  8. 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.

  9. Simon April 21, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    Speaking as a simple “pew filler” with no acrobatic skills in theological matters I would like to simply offer the following thoughts.

    As with a few or in fact more than a few subjects I cannot help but wonder why we feel the need to challenge the divine word of God. Are we or are we not talking about the creator of the universe. The architect and indeed the master of all creation, the one who is vastly and definitively capable of conveying his will and his purposes for us as individuals and as his creatiom. Against this background I am puzzled as to why some folk want us to believe that he is somehow incapable of ensuring that his plans purposes and indeed his rules are not clear, that somehow if we apply certain criteria IE cultural.references or other nuances then the words take on a new meaning and hey presto it now supports the argument we want to make!

    I rather think that this is reminiscent of the devil’s own words “Has God said” , those slippery little seeds of doubt. For which there is a resounding rebuttal and one that for me closes the door firmly on any doubt as to the authority of Scripture as is written.
    When Christ was tempted in the dessert the Devil tempted him to turn stones into bread and thus break his hunger .
    In response to Satan’s command, Jesus replies, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Thus we can safely say that it is by his word that we have life . I would rest that as this is true then his “word” would not be subject to the vagueries of linguistic gymnastics, implied or sub textual meanings. In other words his word is the truth Amen.
    I did a little research and notably not one verse in the entire Bible speaks favourably of homosexual activity or relationships!
    so I can only conclude that any argument in support is implied or derived by misconstruction as it is never implicitly stated.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

      • Christopher Shell April 23, 2017 at 10:35 pm #

        Your first question seems to say that if something is happening, then it cannot be bad. That is the most laughable idea on this entire thread. It would follow from this that (for example) terrorism is not bad. ‘Get over it. It’s a fact on the ground.’ Who could agree with that?
        The terrorists ‘are not going to stop what they are doing’ so we may as well stop trying to stop them. Really?

        When they die, if they have lived their one and only God-given life and chosen not to be repentant in their attitude, then they are in the same position as all others who are not repentant. It is an awful thing to die in that eternally-unresolved state and we must each of us pray that we and others do not do so.

      • Christopher Shell April 23, 2017 at 10:46 pm #

        I should also address your point ‘it’s people not statistics’. This is clearly a false dichotomy, since in these cases the numbers *are* numbers of human beings, each individual and precious. In saying the obvious, that we should pay far greater attention to information about many human beings than we pay to information about just a few possibly atypical human beings, that is not a move away from humanity, just a move away from illogicality, from the untenable position that less literally is more.

        We should also be dissatisfied with the way the C of E seems to dominate your answers – we are trying to attain truth and cosmic things like truth are massively larger than the bounds of the C of E.

      • Mark Blades April 24, 2017 at 5:54 am #

        Canon Goodsall wrote,”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?

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

        The answers to the questions the Canon poses are provided by the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter six and beginning at verse nine: ”Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit
        the kingdom of God.”

        Nothing could be plainer to understand. God does not recognise unlawful sexual relationships, no matter how ‘committed’ they are. That truth must also apply to those who are not married but live as man and wife; they are fornicators, and are also subject to the same penalty, namely, they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. A minister’s first duty is to warn his congregation of that and to discipline those who refuse to repent by excluding them from the table of the Lord.

        • Mark Blades April 24, 2017 at 5:56 am #

          Sorry, I should have written Canon Godsall, not Goodsall.

        • Andrew Godsall April 24, 2017 at 9:10 pm #

          Oh dear Mark…. Then who can be saved?

          • Christopher Shell April 24, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

            Those same people can be and were saved. ‘And such WERE some of you. But you were washed, sanctified, justified…’ Such behaviour is very much not the norm any more – at least, it is scandalous (chapter 5) to hear of a single instance of it.

          • Mark Blades April 24, 2017 at 10:13 pm #

            So you, a Canon in the Church of England, a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, ask me, a stranger online, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Well, the answer is found in the next verse of the passage I quoted; ‘11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.’

            And in Ephesians 2;
            And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

            And then in Romans 6 from verse 1;
            ‘What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.’

            I trust that helps, Canon.

          • Andrew Godsall April 25, 2017 at 6:36 am #

            Ah I’m glad you are ok then Mark. I guess you’ve thought about Mk 10.17-27 and Luke 18.9-14 as well….

          • Mark Blades April 25, 2017 at 1:42 pm #

            Canon Godsall: in the passage you’ve referenced, in Mark 10, these verses answer your question, ‘Who can be saved?’ And the answer, from the Lord Jesus Christ to that similar question posed by the rich young ruler is, ‘Those who keep God’s commandments’. The rich ruler claims he’s done just that since he was a youth and Christ does not challenge him over that claim.

            However, Christ, Who knows all men’s hearts, sees into the heart of the rich man and sees an idol there and tells him he has to do something about in order to inherit eternal life. Christ tells him to repent; to give his money away and, by so doing, to destroy his idol, and then to follow Him as His disciple. The rich young ruler has to do that, either before he can be saved, or as a public demonstration of the reality of his salvation. Therefore, that passage reinforces the argument that a man has to repent of his sin; turn away from it and not try to justify his sin before he can claim to be a true Christian.

            The other passage you’ve reference, in Luke’s gospel, I’m not sure why you think it’s relevant to the topic of homosexual expression, in general, or to the issue of same-sex ‘marriage’, in particular. The reason for the teaching, in Luke 18, is to be found in the verse which introduces the parable, verse 9: ‘He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:’ In this parable, the Pharisee resembles, I would suggest, the rich young ruler of the Markian passage, in that he, the Pharisee, believes that he has adequately kept the Law in such a way as to be acceptable to God, an assumption which Christ shows is incorrect.

            The tax collector in the parable acknowledges his sin and calls to God for mercy. Are you, Canon Godsall, implying that the parable also teaches that the tax collector didn’t need to repent of his sin? If that’s what you are implying, then I would refer you to the next chapter of Luke’s gospel, chapter 19 verses 1 to 10.

            In this piece of historical narrative, the tax collector, Zacchaeus, didn’t even ask to be saved, didn’t beat his breast in lamentation (as far as we know) but, by offering recompence according to the Law, he not only demonstrated his real sorrow over his sin but also that his money was not his god ( in contradistinction to the rich young ruler) : v8 ‘’And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house’’

            In conclusion, Canon Godsall, I think the Bible clearly teaches that what is known as ‘saving faith’ is the kind of believing in Christ that also involves repentance from known sin. James 1 v 21: ‘’Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.’’

          • Andrew Godsall April 26, 2017 at 7:28 am #

            “The other passage you’ve reference, in Luke’s gospel, I’m not sure why you think it’s relevant to the topic of homosexual expression, in general…”

            I don’t really think any passages in the Gospels (and note I say the Gospels) talk about homosexual expression in general or in particular Mark. I’d be glad if you could point me to them if there are any.

          • Mark Blades April 26, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

            Canon Godsall: I deduce from your response (or lack thereof) that you agree that a necessary concomitant of ‘saving faith’ is repentance, that is, a turning away from sin, by the grace of God. As the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter XIV puts it:

            II. By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.

            If you wish to challenge my assertion that repentance from known sin is a necessary component of saving faith then you need to marshall some arguments against that and present some evidence to support your own position.

            If you do not wish to continue according to those terms then I shall consider this ‘discussion’ at an end.

          • Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 9:26 pm #

            Andrew, homosexual behaviour is covered rather than specifically mentioned (ditto: incest, wife beating etc etc – did Jesus endorse these???) in Jesus’s teaching. He had only to teach on matters where there might be disagreement, but disagreement with the Levitical code would not have been found in Israel.

            Passages that cover it:

            (1) Mark 10: The requirement of precisely 2 people for marriage is predicated on, and organically grows from, the twoness of the sexes, as Jesus presents it.
            -This is particularly seen from the fact that ‘from the beginning he made them male and female’ seems to us to be irrelevant to the topic of divorce, but it was not irrelevant to Jesus.

            (2) Reference to porneia (covering various sexual sins in general) Mark 7.

            You agree that Jesus condemned a large number of things that he did not mention specifically, don’t you.

          • Andrew Godsall April 27, 2017 at 7:21 am #

            But Mark there is no point in your considering this ‘discussion’ at an end. Why on earth do you think the Archbishops wrote as they did and launched another report writing group if the discussion is at an end?

        • Penelope Cowell Doe April 29, 2017 at 11:52 am #

          Mark If Andrew or any other priest, denied communicants access to the ‘Lord’s Table’ they would be in breach of Canon Law. Which is rather graver than agreeing with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other Archbishops, Bishops, and Priests on the gospel of radical inclusion.

  12. Andrew Godsall April 24, 2017 at 7:35 am #

    Suggesting that LGBT people are like terrorists simply shows your mind Christopher and is evidence of what a waste of time this debate is.

    • David Shepherd April 24, 2017 at 9:56 am #

      Of course, Christopher didn’t suggest that LGBT people are like terrorists. He did analogise your pluriform approach where you expect, based on the ‘facts on the ground’, the majority to capitulate to the de facto situation of a minority.

      You’ve extended the analogy to construe Christopher’s response as homophobic.

    • Christopher Shell April 24, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

      Andrew, your comment shows ignorance of the function of examples in academic discourse. Ignorance is not culpable (only when it is deliberate or feigned is it culpable).

      Any reader can see that the argument ran as follows:

      (1) Andrew asserted LGBT people do XYZ, and the mere fact that they do it is enough: therefore no more needs to be said.

      (2) This presupposes necessarily the principle that facts on the ground are an argument in their own right: if something happens, then wow! we should be suitably impressed by the fact that it happens.

      (3) One of the things that ‘happens’ is terrorism. I used the words ‘for example’, indicating that many other examples can be given. It does help to give an extreme example, to show what extreme danger the acceptance of false-principle (2), which AG seems to accept, would lead us to.

      (4) In the case of terrorism, as in all other cases, the fact that it happens is (obviously!!) not by any means an argument in favour of it.

      (5) We must therefore abandon the principle ‘Everything that HAPPENS is ok.’. But who would ever have held it in the first place?

      David Shepherd has summarised AG’s error here (and it is an error commonly found) more succinctly than I.

      Another example of the same error is the following conversation:
      ‘The majority is not always right. After all, geniuses rarely hold the majority opinion.’
      ‘Oh – you’re a genius, are you?’.

      • Andrew Godsall April 24, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

        Sadly Christopher I’m not persuaded that your choice of comparison was not a poorly and deliberately chosen one.
        But all of this is a distraction from the fact that no one on this thread has been able to suggest any alternative to the twin track/pluriform approach that is now the only way forward following February GS. All you have shown is your disgust at the idea that same sex couples might actually receive some kind of blessing and positive support from the Church of England. You can give that disgust any name you choose, but it is not difficult to see it for what it is.

        • David Shepherd April 24, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

          According to your lights, more ‘disgust’ from ECtHR in denying the claim that, by not making provision for same-sex marriage, the Austrian government had interfered human rights of Schalke and Kopf:
          ‘“Neither the principle of equality set forth in the Austrian Federal Constitution nor the European Convention on Human Rights (as evidenced by “men and women” in Article 12) require that the concept of marriage as being geared to the fundamental possibility of parenthood should be extended to relationships of a different kind.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schalk_and_Kopf_v_Austria

        • Christopher Shell April 24, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

          Andrew – there was no comparison. I picked an example, deliberately an extreme one so that you could see how wrong your principle was, out of 10000s of possible examples.

          The fact that you use the word ‘comparison’ is proof positive that you do not understand the point, as readers will appreciate.

          The only thing that same-sex sex and terrorism have in common is that they are things that ‘happen’ which are not justified by mere virtue of the fact that they ‘happen’! This also applies equally to 10000s of other things, because the principle ‘widespread does not mean good’ holds universally and always will.

          I go home tonight. One of my daughters says to me ‘I am not doing my homework – live with it.’ A man kicks me in the street and says ‘my kick is a fact on the ground. Deal with it.’ These and infinite other examples show your perspective is obviously incorrect.

          • Christopher Shell April 24, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

            Both hypothetical and invented examples of course!!!

          • Andrew Godsall April 24, 2017 at 6:11 pm #

            The difference of course Christopher is that same sex marriage is legal in this country and same sex marriages are blessed in various ways. But still you avoid answering the question about what the Church of England can now do, given where we find ourselves.

          • David Shepherd April 24, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

            Ah, so the fact that makes the difference for the CofE is that the State has made same-sex marriage legal, while enacting a quadruple lock which specifically ensures the CofE’s right to maintain its current doctrine and abstain from celebrating or blessing same-sex relationships.

            Got it!

          • Andrew Godsall April 24, 2017 at 9:07 pm #

            David, as I have said I do not think the C of E is going to solemnise said sex marriages in my time. But it clearly is not going to stay as it is now, and the February General Synod made that clear. But there is going to be some kind of pastoral accommodation for those who are in same sex partnerships and a twin or multi track approach. There is now no alternative to that.

          • Christopher Shell April 24, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

            Andrew, you ask what the C of E can do now.

            Er – it can obviously get away from the sexual revolution which does nothing but spread havoc, split families at a colossally increased rate, and deprive children of stability and (usually) dads. (Not to mention the dead babies -like Fawlty, it is perpetually a case of ‘don’t mention the dead babies’). And is extremely distant from anything that has ever passed as genuine Christianity.

            Apart from that, the linking of homosexuality with equality has been found to be the perfect time waster and diversion, sucking away time and energy from useful accomplishments. (Who likes diversions of this sort? Clue: not Christ.)

          • Andrew Godsall April 25, 2017 at 6:32 am #

            Ah Christopher – and your ‘evidence’ that it will do this?

          • Christopher Shell April 25, 2017 at 10:18 am #

            When did I say that the C of E will do this? Please quote which comment I said that in, or agree that I ever said it.

            I was saying what it would do well to do, what would produce good results.

            The two-track you propose reminds me of words of Jesus, e.g. you cannot serve 2 masters.

        • Christopher Shell April 25, 2017 at 10:29 am #

          So in your conception of the world people are only ever emotional (disgust etc.) and never rational.

          This may be true of some small environments, maybe even of some small environments known to you. But it is not true of the real world. In the real world there are *both* many instances where people do things from emotional impulses, *and* also many instances when they d othings for rational rasons. You are suggesting that the latter class do not exist. How would you know that anyway, short of doing a survey of the whole world? This is a big world. Of course rational and rationally-motivated people exist in enormous numbers.

          Could you answer: is it actually the case that you think that if people *do* things then they *should* always be allowed to do those things. Numerous counter-examples have been cited, infinite could be.
          Such a stance is bound to seem to readers to be, on the surface of it:
          -(1) unintelligent because illogical and able to be easily refuted with counter-examples;
          -(2) spoilt/childish, with a sense of selfish entitlement;
          -(3) bullying, arrogant and contemptuous (‘it’s happening, deal with it’);
          -(4) dishonest, because it avoids counter-arguments and peer-reviewed evidence when they are cited.

          Also, does it not occur to you that people have always been quite aware that ‘it’ (homosexual sexual practice) is happening. So what if it is? That obviously does not justify it.
          If they were not aware of this, how could they be campaigning against it?? You can scarcely believe that they were not aware of it.

          I would be interested in your answers to these points.

          • Andrew Godsall April 25, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

            Christopher: people do things from a mix of emotional and rational reasons. In the world of the Christian religion it is primarily emotional. Faith is a leap without much evidence. The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.
            The same is true in the world of human love and relationship. We trust with our hearts, and not our heads.
            I trust that the love my same sex partnered friends have is a reflection of the love of God. It has that quality about it. And I trust that God sees that and sees that it is good.

          • David Shepherd April 25, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

            Andrew,

            So how about Herodias and Herod Antipas?

            Here was a woman with the terrible misfortune of being married off to her half-uncle, Herod Philip, after her father, Aristobulus IV, was executed by Herod the Great.

            Some Herodians might have told John the Baptist to keep his warmed-over Pentateuchal views to himself. So what if she eventually found love in the arms of another brother, eh?

            And when Herod Antipas was exiled by Caligula after being accused by Agrippa of conspiracy, Caligula offered to allow Herodias, as Agrippa’s sister, to retain her property. Instead, she chose to put her love for Antipas first by joining her husband in exile.

            Why should we not be ‘stunned by their commitment’, trusting with our hearts that, given the obvious mutual devotion betwen Herod Antipas and Herodias, that John the Baptist had fallen prey to misguided legalism.

            Strange, then, that Jesus declared on hearing of his execution: John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.’ (John 5:35)

          • Andrew Godsall April 25, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

            David: we get that you don’t think same sex relationships are a good thing, but the point is that your view is not the only one in the Anglican Church and these relationships are actually legal in this particular country. There really is no way around those two things.

          • Christopher Shell April 25, 2017 at 5:15 pm #

            Andrew, you are incorrect on’faith’ (you have swallowed whole the media/layperson stereotype).

            First, the concept pistis encapsulates both faith and belief, whereas for us in our culture these are 2 different things. Therefore the NT is in a different thought world here; and therefore ‘pistis’ does not equate either to our word ‘faith’ or to our word ‘belief’.

            More seriously: Pistis is not used for believing things less than likely to be true (which would be foolish – we should always believe what the evidence suggests to be most likely), but for our entrusting ourselves to those who have a track record of being trustworthy.

            Two passages, similar to each other, are sometimes used against this view (remember that pistis and pisteuo are very common in the NT, pisteuo 99x in John alone). Of these:
            (1) Hebrews 11 (start of) ‘things not seen’@ this passage fits the definition in para. 2 because it speaks of ‘evidence’ (relying on past evidence of trustworthiness, believing God);
            (2) 2 Corinthians 5.7 ‘we walk by faith not by sight’ makes the same point as Hebrews 11 makes.

            When you say that ‘the opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty’ that is not accurate. Certainty is being 100% sure. Doubt is being less than 50% sure. Faith/belief (pistis is hard to translate) is being more than 50% sure (because of the balance of evidence). I think Plato, Meno deals with this point. Therefore doubt, pistis, and certainty are 3 points along a sliding-scale, and when we are dealing with sliding scales the only opposites are the two poles (0% and 100%); at a pinch one could say that less-than-50% was opposite to more-than-50%.
            Certainty that something is the case is a genuine opposite to certainty that it is not the case.
            Doubt is at a pinch opposite to faith.

          • David Shepherd April 25, 2017 at 5:56 pm #

            And Herodias’ marriage was legally authorised by Rome and JTB’s view was not the only one among Jews.

            Nevertheless, the record of of the prophet’s denunciation of Antipas and Herodias’ stunning commitment to each other does put paid to your claim about simply trusting with our hearts that a scripturally prohibited relationship can reflect the love of God.

            The problem with your pluriform approach is that any agreement upon some kind of pastoral accommodation for same-sex couples will be as easily jettisoned and ineffectual as the Five Guiding Principles were in the case of Philip North’s appointment to Sheffield.

            Despite your belief that you don’t think that the CofE is going to solemnise same-sex marriages in your time, deferring this in favour of a near-term pastoral accommodation is just a short-term tactic in a ‘low-ball’ negotiation strategy.

            Soon after Synod approves this, thereby lending credence to the revisionist (oops, affirming) position, a significant number of same-sex married couples will decry the ‘slur’ and second-class treatment of pastoral accommodation.

            Give it a few years and, despite declaring ‘two Integrities’, there will be a ‘No surrender’ hue and cry from LGBT pressure groups over the preferment of any clergy to the episcopacy who don’t affirm PSF same-sex relationships.

            And, of course, the usual groundless claims that appointing a traditionalist bishop will cause irreparable harm to mission, regardless of the evidence from TECUSA’s decline in numbers and societal influence (which we are told by desperate liberals must be attributable to something…, in fact, anything else).

            What you call ‘two-track’ is actually a short-term tactical ruse to gain acceptance and then ascendancy…and that’s not based on emotion, butpast experience.

          • Andrew Godsall April 25, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

            Well David let’s just hope GAFCON get themselves sorted out this week then eh?

          • David Shepherd April 25, 2017 at 10:03 pm #

            There’ll be a lot of evangelical parish share quota capping long before that happens!

            Where do you think that most of the £29.2 million diocesan apportionment comes from?

            Liberal parishes? Get real.

          • Andrew Godsall April 26, 2017 at 7:20 am #

            Bring it on David. Fighting talk.
            The truth is that there are around 500 parishes in the diocese here. About 5 of them might be considered conservative evangelical and could possibly conceivably consider capping funds.
            Some of the largest and growing churches are more of the HTB variety. Do you hear much from them about this issue? I think not……

          • David Shepherd April 26, 2017 at 9:55 am #

            Andrew,

            So, let’s look at Exeter, your ‘model’ diocese with its Year-on-Year 6% Common Fund shortfall and its Common Fund collection rate in decline from 95.3% in 2002 to 92.9% in 2015.

            And the £742,299 required as Exeter’s 2017 apportioment ranks at about 19th.

            Perhaps, you should cast your mind back to the rescinding of Jeffrey John’s appointment, if you want to see what will really happen when conservative parishes ‘bring it on’!

          • Andrew Godsall April 26, 2017 at 10:23 am #

            David: your point in the first part of what you wrote here is totally beyond me I’m afraid. What are you trying to say?

            The rescinding of Jeffrey John’s appointment was, indeed, part of what has left us in this mess and exactly why the archbishops wrote what they did following the February General Synod. They know that they can’t afford that kind of mess again.

            As to Conservative Evangelical parishes withholding money – I welcome them trying. It means they won’t get clergy in the future unless they opt for going the GAFCON/ACNA type route. I just don’t see it as a threat I’m afraid. They are a tiny number of parishes. They are welcome to their isolationism.

            Why is it, do you think, that the HTB type places have no interest in his question? They seem to be thriving…..

          • Andrew Godsall April 26, 2017 at 10:33 am #

            Oh and David do you recall one of the proposals that came about following the Jeffrey John incident? It was the Anglican Communion Covenant. Could you just remind me what became of that ridiculous idea? I seem to have forgotten how the great majority of parishes and deaneries and dioceses responded to it….

          • David Shepherd April 26, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

            Andrew,

            Just showing that your ‘bring it on’ bombast is cheap when your diocese is already vulnerable as it struggles to meet its apportionment.

            You, as an individual, don’t have to see conservatives as a threat. Nevertheless, Jeffrey John’s appointment was rescinded.

            Even the Telegraph wrote of the situation: ‘Income from evangelical churches represents about 40 per cent of total parish church income, which stood at almost £450 million in 1999. If every evangelical church in the country capped their quotas, it could cost the Church of England about £200 million.

            This would leave it unable to pay all its clergy stipends or its pensions and, in effect, bankrupt it within a few years.’

            Obviously, to you, that’s broadsheet scaremongering. Comfort yourself with the theory that they’d do anything to sell newspapers.

          • Andrew Godsall April 26, 2017 at 7:29 pm #

            But only the Con Evos are going to act like that David. And there aren’t that many of them. It’s Torygraph scare mongering.

          • David Shepherd April 26, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

            Andrew,

            On the back of the deserved refusal to ‘take note’, you’re over-estimating support for your ‘twin-track’ approach.

            Look at Inclusive Church, which was was set up in 2003, in the aftermath of the Jeffrey John situation.

            Here we are in 2017 and, out of a potential pool of 16,000 CofE parish churches, the organisation can only muster 250, most of which cannot be described as evangelical.

            Churches like HTB are clear on their stance regarding same-sex sexual relationships, but re-focuses attention on the wider issue of marriage, as described in scripture, being the only appropriate context for sexual activity.

            As his 2013 interview explained:
            ‘Gumbel starts from the principles that the only permissible sexual activity is within marriage and that the Bible condemns homosexual activity. He therefore argues that all homosexual activity is sinful, though he’s keen to stress that a homosexual orientation in itself isn’t sinful.

            In a discussion of the causes of homosexual orientation, he accepts that: ‘Whether the basis is biological or social, in most cases homosexually orientated people are the product of forces over which they have little or no control, certainly in the early stages.’ However ‘Even if there is a scientific basis, it does not mean that it is God’s will.

            Genetic conditioning produces good things, such as the wonderful diversity o human beings, but also bad things like congenital disease.’ He sees changes in orientation as unusual, but possible: otherwise, gay people are called to a life of celibacy.

            So, given the dearth of parishes supporting the Church recognition or affirmation of same-sexual relationships, your vain hope must be for widespread apathy among evangelicals (except the Conservative variety) towards your proposed approach, which we know only purports to be ‘twin-track’.

            And that’s despite the Philip North debacle proving to them that, once ascendancy is gained, any prior agreement to respect ‘two integrities’ wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s written on.

            Oh, well. Dream on!

          • Andrew Godsall April 27, 2017 at 7:33 am #

            “So, given the dearth of parishes supporting the Church recognition or affirmation of same-sexual relationships….”

            I’m pretty sure the very clear and significant rejection of the covenant was an affirmation of a live and let live approach to the matter DAVID. Most English people don’t want to know what other people do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

          • David Shepherd April 27, 2017 at 9:13 am #

            No, the rejection of the ACC was specifically about retaining the autonomy of provinces relative to each other. In particular, Section 4 was rejected for over-centralising authority with the Standing CommIttee of the AC. It’s just your own (false dichotomy) wish-fulfilment that construes the rejection of the ACC as an endorsement of ‘laissez-faire’ liberalism.

            And, yes, most English people (including myself) don’t want to know what other people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. Presumably, the refusal of the Church to recognise same-sex sexual relationships is considered by the affirming camp to be about far more than recginising the goodness of what same-sex couples do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

            Then again, maybe not; in which case, the State affirmation through same-sex civil marriage should be more than enough for LGBT couples.

            Over the course of this exchange, you’ve demonstrated little grasp of the facts. Listen to yourself. Despite evidence to the contrary and no counter-evidence from yourself, you wrote:

            HTB type places have no interest in this question.
            Only Con Evos are going to act like that.
            The very clear and significant rejection of the covenant was an affirmation of the live and let live approach’

            You can, of course, continue to promote these patently false assertions. Until you can back them up with evidence, it’s just you wanting to have the last word on the matter. So, go ahead, if it makes you feel better.

          • Andrew Godsall April 27, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

            David: there is no last word on this and I firmly believe that aspects of both our approaches to this question are correct. That is why only a twin track approach can work and it is what good disagreement is about.

            The Covenant was proposed in the wake of the ordination of Gene Robinson and was primarily about what happens when particular provinces take decisions that other provinces find problematic. But the focus was on the issues of same sex relationships and the debates in General Synod and the many local deanery synods and one diocesan synod I went to made it clear to me that English people, on the whole, do not wish to die in a ditch over that issue.

            The same would be true of HTB type parishes. Whilst some of the leaders may make public statements, it’s very clear from conversations with younger members of these communities that they really don’t think the same sex issue is worth dying for. These younger people are not, on the whole, very bothered about the no sex outside of marriage ‘prohibition’ that some of the previous generation think so important. So they are unlikely, I believe, to vote to withhold funds.

          • Andrew Godsall April 27, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

            As to what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms – well you and I seem to agree on that at least. But Christopher Shell, elsewhere in this thread, thinks that is of importance and we should be concerned. I just think that’s really weird and worrying.

          • Christopher Shell May 1, 2017 at 7:50 am #

            Andrew, if you think that something’s being ‘weird’ is relevant, you are not concerned with arriving at the truth, just with whether people will laugh at you or not!

            People have extremely obvious motives for separating private life from public life. It means they can do whatever they like in their private life. Christianity has never had anything to do with that.

            A high proportion of sins are obviously secret, for the obvious reason that they are things people don’t want others to see them doing. There is therefore a large overlap between sin and secrecy. Embezzlement will almost always be secret. So will adultery. So will murder.

            All of these things are done in private, rarely in public. That makes them OK? Quite the reverse: it is disproportionately the things that are *not* OK that would *need* to be done in private.

          • Andrew Godsall May 2, 2017 at 8:06 am #

            Christopher: what a married couple, be they hetero or homosexual, do legally in the privacy of their bedroom is none of your business by right. Any other approach to this question represents an invasion of their privacy and very much is illegal. So I suggest you stay out.
            Secondly, our call is to focus on our own behaviour, not that of others.
            Thirdly, as Elizabeth 1 said, we don’t make windows in to men’s souls.

  13. Nick April 24, 2017 at 9:13 am #

    “Throughout the UK, throughout the USA, throughout Canada and the rest of the world, the churches growing are those who believe in Scripture”

    This is a commonly quoted statement, but to suggest that this debate, like many others, is one between those who believe in scripture on one side and those who do not on the other is arrogant and misses the point that this is a debate about what scripture says.

    The fundamentalists who make the claim to be the only ones who believe in scripture are those who believe in some fixed interpretation of scripture. We see changes in interpretation in Acts and I cannot believe that the Holy Spirit stopped working like this at the end of Acts 28.

    The New Testament is not show those with an overly fixed view of the the meaning of scripture very favourably.

  14. Andrew Godsall April 24, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

    Just avoid the question again David. It shows you have no answer.

    • Brian April 24, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

      “The difference of course Christopher is that same sex marriage is legal in this country and same sex marriages are blessed in various ways”

      – Yes, and slavery was legal once too – and supported by churchmen.
      And FGM is legal in many countries and supported by imams.
      And polygamy is legal or tolerated through much of the Islamic world and Africa.
      And abortion for any reason is the law in the UK.
      Any watching porn is legal.
      Any consensual sex with anyone over 16 is legal. And … and … and ….

      Andrew – as an Anglican minister I can only say how appalled I am at the poverty and sub-Christian character of your ‘arguments’. Do you understand nothing of the holiness of Christ without which we cannot see God?
      On the Day of Judgment you, as much as I, will have to answer for the way we have taught others.
      Think of God’s holiness and tremble.

      • Andrew Godsall April 24, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

        Brian – thanks. All I can say is that I never found it hard to reject the vulgarity of the idea of Hell and see it only as human darkness made visible. We have made enough Hell on earth to know how creative human cruelty can be. So I’m never going to tremble at that I’m afraid. And shall go on teaching that same sex relationships may be blessed.

        Given that the archbishops have assured us of a radical inclusivity and a 21st century understanding of sexuality, what do you think that will mean for the next report that will come to General Synod, the last one having been rejected?

        • Brian April 25, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

          “… the vulgarity of the idea of Hell” – oh for shame, the VULGARITY of it! Yes, the VULGARITY of the words of that provincial Carpenter who spoke more than anyone else in all the Scriptures about the danger of Hell. The VULGARITY indeed. Not welcome at a Chapter Sherry Party, I’m sure.

          So what you mean is: God INTENDED some people to be homosexual and homosexual acts are approved by God as good and holy.

          Of course you contradict the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. No gentle way to say it, Andrew: you are a false teacher.

          • Christopher Shell April 25, 2017 at 10:43 pm #

            Whether things are thought vulgar and whether they are true and accurate are two unrelated questions. The former is comparatively trivial, whereas the latter is of the utmost importance. Yet AG you’re treating the former as more important. Why?

          • Andrew Godsall April 26, 2017 at 7:00 am #

            And Christopher your EVIDENCE for the existence and accuracy of this vague idea about hell is where?

            Brian: False teache: I think they said the same about Jesus.

          • Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

            Andrew – it is mere logic and common sense that if we die unreconciled to God in the only life that we have that is separation from him, and that is hell.

            As for the details of hell, Jesus, whom in your last comment you endorsed, is our best source: Mk 9-43-47, Mt 5.23-30, 10.28, Lk 10.15, 16.23 etc.. Do you endorse him selectively? – because if you do you are endorsing him only when he agrees with you, in other words you are endorsing nothing but yourself.

          • Andrew Godsall April 27, 2017 at 8:05 am #

            Excellent Christopher. You will be telling us next that Genesis gives us the evidence we need for creation in 6 days as opposed to evolution.

          • Christopher Shell April 27, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

            So your position is that Jesus was mistaken – yes/no.
            And that you know better – yes/no.
            Do you disagree with my first para about separation – yes/no?
            It is an awful topic we are talking about, no triviality.
            Jesus spoke unfalsifiably about Gehenna where dead bodies did indeed find their final unpleasant eternal resting place.
            He also spoke about Hades / realm of the dead, conscious torment. The point of the parable of Dives and Lazarus is lost if realities are not being described, given that that is the whole message and moral of the parable.

          • Andrew Godsall April 27, 2017 at 4:10 pm #

            Christopher: the biblical texts are not tape recordings. We don’t know Jesus’ actual words. We weren’t there. And the primary power of these texts is in being myth – something that communicates a deeper truth than facts. The actual facts about Gehenna are hardly clear.

          • David Shepherd April 27, 2017 at 4:37 pm #

            What is clear is the striking contrast of ultimate retribution with reward. That we live in a moral universe which will not tolerate evil forever.

            What’s vulgar is (1) the notion of impenitent evil being forgotten and going unpunished, and (2) that God will not respect the consequences of any human’s choice to be away and apart from anything to do with Him.

          • Andrew Godsall April 27, 2017 at 10:03 pm #

            David: haven’t you heard of grace?

          • David Shepherd April 28, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

            Hmm, so grace, to you, is universally irresistible?

            Ergo, Adolf Hitler, Klaus Barbie, Robert Black, Aleister Crowley and the like have no real choice. According to such grace as you imply, God will overpower the free will of each and forcibly convert them to Christ.

          • Andrew Godsall April 28, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

            David: I don’t think I imply anything and I don’t know how we would presume to know the mind of God in the outpouring of grace. All I can see is that your comment doesn’t seem to allow much room for it.
            Take, as just one example, the woman caught in adultery. Jesus refuses to punish her, but I can’t see …Where does she repent?

          • Christopher Shell April 28, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

            On Adnrew’s points:

            Not tape recordings
            – if there had been tape recordings I don’t think Jesus would have been found to be a 21st century western liberal lost in 1st century Israel.
            -it’s no different from the words recorded of any other ancient figure. Eyewitnesses began the transmission process (Luke’s preface). The gospels are priceless evidence, not totally verbatim but not totally unverbatim either.

            What do you mean ‘these texts’? That is just an unintelligent generalisation since there are 10-20 prime genres of literature in the Bible. All of them are primarily myth?

            Are they?

            Doesn’t it see that the more vague something is, the better you like it? Not surprisingly, because then it is harder for your assertions, however well-supported or however groundless, to be proven wrong.
            But the real world is not just full of things that are vague.

            Likewise you say the facts about Gehenna are hardly clear. That is why people research and study, to make things clearer than they formerly were. Your type of ‘study’ is the oppposite. Assert that things are vague and unclear and make no attempt to clarify them. That doesn’t help anyone, nor does it display or require any effort.

          • David Shepherd April 28, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

            Andrew,

            You wrote: ‘I don’t know how we would presume to know the mind of God in the outpouring of grace’ and you’re comfortable in reminding us about the woman caught in adultery.

            So, what’s your EVIDENCE for the accuracy of any of the reported exchange of words in this particular encounter (which is only reported in John’s gospel) by comparison with those relating to Hell?

            The Andrew Godsall vulgarity barometer?

          • Andrew Godsall April 28, 2017 at 6:19 pm #

            David: you are comfortable banging on about hell but you seem to totally ignore the gift of grace?

          • David Shepherd April 28, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

            Andrew,

            As you’ve challenged others here, why can’t you just answer the question: ‘what’s your EVIDENCE for the accuracy of any of the reported exchange of words in this particular encounter (viz. the woman caught in adultery) by comparison with those relating to Hell?’

            If you have no more evidence than you’ve challenged others to produce, then that’s also an answer.

          • Andrew Godsall April 28, 2017 at 9:59 pm #

            David: that’s the whole point – I have no more or less evidence than you or anyone else. Hence a twin track approach is not only possible but inevitable. Hell or Grace. Take your pick.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 29, 2017 at 11:46 am #

            Brian why should God not intend some people to be homosexual? Are you suggesting that homosexual orientation is immoral?

          • Christopher Shell April 29, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

            You cannot command that people accept that ‘orientation’ is any different from tendency, proclivity, addiction (and we are addicted to food and marital sex and lots of good things: addiction need not be bad). Christians have on the basis of Hebrews not seen temptation itself as sinful, and being tempted to act contrary to our biology has typically and with reason been classified as a temptation like any other. Temptation is being inclined to do something harmful, and the only way you could avoid that classification is to show that homosexual quasi-sexual acts are not harmful, Given that in the case of men they cannot even be performed without contraception because they are so dangerous or not clean, and that their harvest of STIs is utterly disproportionate – with no possibility of human fruit to show for it (hence the phrase ‘the sexual dead-end) what right has anyone to say that others cannot classify it as something harmful?

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

            Christopher you are obsessed with anal sex! Heterosexual couples enjoy anal sex. Not all male homosexual couples practice (if that is the right word) anal sex. It might be risky. That’s none of our business (especially in faithful, consensual relationships).

          • Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

            Penelope, please say that you were inaccurate to say I am ‘obsessed’ with something that all readers can see that I neither mentioned nor implied in the remark in question.

          • Christopher Shell May 1, 2017 at 7:44 am #

            Andrew G says ‘hell or grace – take your pick’ (in the context of Jesus having spoken some few times about hell; and also in the context of the adulteress-story about grace, less well attested, a floating piece of tradition).

            Proof positive that he accepts the bits he likes and rejects the bits he doesn’t like. (Both of these are false steps by the way. Being congenial does not make something true, Being distasteful does not make something false. So: 2 separate false steps.) Evidence? – what’s that?

            By this ‘logic’ it becomes cumbersome to use a text at all. You already know what you like and what you don’t like. Let that be your rule in life, no need to read any texts.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 1, 2017 at 5:40 pm #

            You certainly implied it Christopher! Or there would have been no need for remarks about disease and contraception.

          • Christopher Shell May 1, 2017 at 8:13 pm #

            Completely untrue. What I said was that there is nothing quasi-unitive where SS couples would *not* need contraception and/or protection. This is not the case for married nor even for exclusive OS couples. (This is mother nature telling us something.) AS is exclusive neither to one group nor to the other, so was not being associated with one group more than with the other.

            (Thinking about it, I was using ‘contraception’ inexactly since for SS there is never the remotest chance of conception anyway. I meant ‘devices that are sometimes used contraceptively and at other times protectively – or both’.

        • David Shepherd April 29, 2017 at 7:34 am #

          Andrew,

          The comment thread shows that you pursued the exact opposite of a twin-track approach.

          You denounced the concept of Hell as vulgar, and when challenged, you countered by deriding Christopher Shell’s reference to scripture for evidence of Hell.

          Now, you advance universalism as grace, and cite a single encounter of Jesus in scripture (the woman caught in adultery) as evidence of it.

          Quite frankly, you’re a hypocrite, requiring high standards of evidence from others, while trotting out verses which suit your cause without applying similarly demanding qualifications to yourself.

          Finally, you conclude with a non-sequitur and a false dichotomy: that, in reading scripture, we either choose to rely on all the bits about forgiveness and dismiss hell as vulgar, or vice versa.

          There is also the orthodox view that our reliance on scripture should be even-handed: that there is as much evidence for the gospel’s promise of grace as there is for the prospect of Hell for those who spurn grace.

          As Christ said to the man whom He healed of congenital blindness: ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’

          • Andrew Godsall April 29, 2017 at 8:48 am #

            David: quite frankly I find that you make endless personal and sniping comments and that makes discussion very difficult.

            As James Byron has said here and elsewhere, this is most likely to be settled by politics. So each of us is going to be using rehetorical ways of addressing the matter and overstating our case. Putting our own point of view forward.

            I don’t advance universalism. I simply asked you where grade featured in your analysis that impenitence won’t go unpunished.

            I remain committed to the twice track approach. I don’t see an alternative. But I would be glad if you could drop the personal jibes.

          • David Shepherd April 29, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

            Andrew,

            There’s very little difference between me highlighting evidence of your hypocrisy and you comparing me to a Pharisee: ‘Sadly David you sound just like the Pharisees arguing about the finer points of the law.’

            https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/should-we-aim-for-a-pure-church/#comment-339108

            Believe what you want about the twin-track approach. I think it’s far more likely for the HoB to authorise liturgy to affirm Covenant Commitment, after the Teaching Document advises on the importance of oft-undervalued covenant friendships to the entire Church.

            This is not a twin-track approach, but by permitting local discretion, this kind of liturgy subsumes the affirmation of PSF same-sex sexual relationships into this broader category of Covenant Commitment.

            The real problem with your proposed twin-track is that a pastoral accommodation carries the implication of divergence from God’s will which most LGBT advocacy groups will not countenance.

            A twin-track approach also lacks catholicity.’

    • Will Jones April 24, 2017 at 9:57 pm #

      There is already pastoral accommodation for those in same-sex partnerships. Anything further risks precipitating schisms and exoduses, as well as grave moral and doctrinal error of course.

      Do you think if you keep repeating that there is no alternative it makes it true? If a report affirming current teaching can very almost obtain the support of synod do you really think one proposing to change it will gain the necessary support?

      The alternative is to maintain the current teaching and enforce existing disciplinary provisions. There is no need for any report receiving the support of any synod to do that. That is the ‘alternative’ that you seem keen to pretend does not exist.

  15. Christopher Shell April 24, 2017 at 10:04 pm #

    A ’21st century understanding of sexuality’?

    But in the 21st century, we have a minimum 400% increase in all of the following over a 50-60 year period:
    abortion, divorce, each of a wealth of STIs (those previously present, syphilis and gonorrhea, are still at present colossal problems and increasingly antibiotic-resistant), promiscuity, pornography, drug-use (with the welcome exceptions of tobacco, whose consumption has fallen greatly, and alcohol), media (theatre/TV) swearing, under16 intercourse – you name it.

    Yes, let’s have more of the same. It’s praiseworthy progress, yeah, and we’re progressives and proud.

    • Jonathan Tallon April 25, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

      We have also halved the teenage pregnancy rate, revealed shocking levels and acceptance of child abuse in the past, massively reduced levels of driving under the influence of alcohol, and made it easier (though still too difficult) for women to report cases of rape and and domestic abuse. We have also become more aware of racism (though again there is much still to be done). The abortion rate in teenagers has fallen over the last decade. The overall abortion rate has been flat for the last twenty years. The divorce rate peaked in the early 90s and has declined by about a third since then. Peak syphilis infection was in 1945.

      You seem to gather as many negative statistical trends as you can find in the last fifty years, then blame them all on a 21st understanding of sexuality. Meanwhile you ignore any positive trends either over the whole period or developing within the period.

      This is not scientific, neutral or objective.

      • Christopher Shell April 25, 2017 at 8:58 pm #

        Jonathan, your mistakes here are spectacular.

        You will note that the period that I was referring to was ‘a 50-60 year period’ – see my previous comment.

        (1) A- Teenage pregnancy was lower, not higher, 50-60 years ago (we discount that a lot of 19 year olds were married, of course). What you are celebrating is a massive worsening followed by a partial reversal of that worsening. They would not have needed to reverse it if the sexual revolution had not made it happen in the first place!

        B-Anyway, why is ‘teenage pregnancy’ a bad thing?? It is fine if they are married.

        C- Neither you nor I nor anyone knows what the teen pregnancy rate now is, because of the abortifacient morning-after pill. And don’t please say that a fertilised egg is only human when it reaches a womb environment. If we were defined by our surroundings, I would be a car every time I entered a garage.

        (2) The levels of child abuse followed the same graph as the sexual revolution. When that revolution was at its peak 1936-83 and particularly the 1970s, then (guess what) so was the child abuse. TV was showing sexual libertinism. Mainstream cinemas everywhere were showing it. Corner shops everywhere were sprouting it. So people are not going to fail to enact it are they?
        Once again, you ignored the fact that my comment spoke of ’50-60 years’.
        Consequently what you say is the reverse of the truth. In the period spoken of, sexual deviance and child abuse rose (not dropped) – and did so massively…and then retreated slightly – which slight retreat you expect us to celebrate. But if the sexual revolution had not driven it forward so much, there would be no retreat necessary in the first place.

        (3) Driving – yes, I agree, I was speaking only of sexual-revolution related matters, because the topic was ‘a 21st century understanding of *sexuality*’. You seem to have mistakenly thought I was saying that *everything* got worse in theperiod in question! That would be quite a thing. My chapter 10 in What Are They Teaching The Children also lists the things that have got better. Though – this is the important point – none of these things that have got better is welcomed by Christians any less than by secularists. Whereas of the things that got worse, many were actively pushed to get worse by the secularists, who then say ‘autres temps, autres moeurs’, as though the Christians had not strongly opposed these things all along.

        (4) Rape? If you create a culture where there are no clear dividing lines (sex is for marriage) then rape culture on campus etc goes side by side with that. Sexual assault at work goes side by side with that. because the lines between what is acceptable and not are very fine, are not universally shared, and are perceived differently when drunk and when sober, when on heat and off heat, and so forth.
        What you say here is the reverse of the truth. If everyone knows sex is only for marriage, then issues of consent (liable to endless misinterpretation) disappear. (Marital rape is of course another question, but not central to the present point, If you wish to discuss that separate topic separately, I will do so.)

        5- Abortion among teens has fallen?
        Morning-after pill makes this very uncertain. There is no way you can know this is true. It may have risen for all we know.

        6-
        The overall abortion rate has been static?
        A- Well, if it has been static while the MAP has proliferated, then that means that the true rate has risen.
        B- You cannot surely be so desperate for things to celebrate that you celebrate things remaining the same. I have never been invited to a party that celebrates *that*. Has anyone here?

        7-
        The divorce rate peaked in the early 1990s?
        Of course it did. If people progressively stop getting married in the first place, there is no way they can get divorced, by definition. Surely you concede that point.
        Anyway, see (1)-(2). We are not going to be conned into celebrating yet another massive worsening, followed by a slight falling-off of that worsening (the picture of the last 50-60 years). Why wouldn’t it have been better to stick with the Christian not the secular way of doing things which produces massively better results even in Christian subcultures now?

        8- Peak syphilis was 1945. OK – so you cherry pick one of the many STDs, which is still a massive problem on the rise and more antibiotic-resistant than ever – and ignore gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, HPV with its 30 strains, herpes, genital warts, chlamydia. Wow!

        If I was gathering together as many negative as I could and then blaming them *all* on XYZ, how do you explain the fact that I welcomed the fall in smoking and noted no rise in alcohol drinking though for all I know there may have been such a rise. That shows that my project was a different one from the doom-and-gloom project you suggest. My project was to show that the sexual revolution spreads havoc with its 400%+ increases in a short period. Some of these catastrophic rises then see a small falling off. No-one is going to be impressed by that. Secularism is useless, or Christianity is remarkably good in its results – or both.

        • Jonathan Tallon April 26, 2017 at 8:44 am #

          No Christopher, you have misunderstood the point I was making. You have cherry picked a range of statistics, and then blamed them all on one undefined phenomenon. You ignored drunk driving, claiming that you are only looking at the sexual revolution, but are happy to include swearing and drug-taking. Some of the phenomena you mention get worse steadily; some get worse then improve, but you ignore any improvements or try to say ‘we don’t really know’. You also make claims that cannot be substantiated (eg that child abuse peaked in the 1970s – what data could tell us this, given the lack of reporting/recording such crimes until relatively recently?).

          Your approach may sound impressive, and be rhetorically effective for some, but I repeat, it is utterly unscientific, clearly not neutral and definitely not objective.

          • Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 11:06 am #

            Jonathan, all we know is that the clear peak of child-abuse allegations was in the 1970s. There is no evidence to say that the true peak of actual child abuse was at a different time. This was certainly the era when pornographic material involving children became published and filmed and was seen as an issue – and when PIE etc could flourish. That being the case, we have to assume that it is likeliest that the true peak was then (especially given the sexual libertinism permeating society then and emanating from high places), unless you can produce evidence to the contrary. What is that evidence? – can you name it, please. I think you would struggle to find an era that outdid the seventies here.

            I include swearing – yes, because a lot of it is sexual, and the main four-letter word succinctly sums up the sexual revolution.

            I include drug-taking because of the correlation with homosexual men (GBH – poppers – methamphetamine plus all the usual suspects) and because of the association with stimulus for their and others’ sexual activities. Also because drugtaking’s graph of increase is chronologically very similar to that of the sexual revolution, suggesting a demographic connection – which actually has never been particularly doubted.

            Readers can see that I did not ignore drunk driving. I did not initially include it in a list related to the sexual revolution for obvious reasons – nor would anyone else include it in such a list. Further, I then said that I agree with you about it.

            You said something untrue when you said ‘you ignore any improvements’ – please retract it. I said three times in my comment that there was a massive worsening followed by a slight falling off of that worsening. That falling off was a small improvement in each case. This applies less in the case of divorces falling only because marriages fall; and of abortions ”falling” only because of the MAP.

            Rhetoric? The stats on clinical abortion, divorce, u16s at birth-control clinics, births outside marriage etc etc (things that are easy to count precisely) are objective for the reason that they are based on government figures and are correct to the nearest one for government purposes. They are not disputed.

            I believe however that your downgrading of this precise data to rhetoric is itself rhetoric. I will therefore test it. Point out any errors in what I say – or else go through the list and say which points you agree and disagree with, and why.

      • Christopher Shell April 25, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

        For 1936-83, read 1963-83.

        • Jonathan Tallon April 26, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

          You’re right – I should not have said you ignore any improvements – I should have said you claim that they don’t matter for your theory.

          But it is still rhetoric. Whether the statistics you use are accurate or not, your use of them is utterly unscientific. You talk of a generic ‘sexual revolution’ as though it were one thing. If it were (and continuing to develop) then we shouldn’t expect any improvement in any of the figures that you have chosen. But we do in some. You present your theory in such a way as to be untestable, unfalsifiable. You include swearing, on the flimsiest of reasons, yet exclude a measure based on alcohol, but do include drugs (all drugs?). You do no comparisons with other countries. And you have ignored the role of technology and economics in all the factors you consider.

          Using statistics and scientific papers isn’t enough to make what you present scientific, objective or neutral.

          • Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 9:41 pm #

            Well, it’s a start and it’s a lot better than nothing, particularly as government stats are correct ‘to the nearest unit’.

            ‘You do no comparisons with other countries’? Honestly, I thought my comment was long enough as it was. It was longer than anyone’s. We have to start somewhere, and it is appropriate to start with the UK.

            Do you say that no-one henceforth should speak of the sexual revolution? Or of the French Revolution? etc etc? We know that definitions of these things are fuzzy to some degree, but that applies to most things about which we ever speak.

            Technology and economics. Once again you commit the ‘ignore’ fallacy. This is not something I deliberately and manipulatively ignored, just something I haven’t mentioned yet. You do see the difference, don’t you, because it is considerable. I do indeed sometimes mention economics and agree very much that the easier it becomes to pursue human nature, the more people will do so. But morality, historically, does not at all develop in straight lines, nor are people always more immoral when they are rich (or poor). The reality is far more complex. Other massive factors that interplay with economics are:
            -what norms are presented by teachers
            -…and by media
            =…and by family
            -…and by peer-group.

          • Jonathan Tallon April 27, 2017 at 8:42 am #

            “The reality is far more complex.” Finally something I can agree with.

          • Christopher Shell April 27, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

            But I wasn’t referring to all issues when I said that. Who could make such a meaningless large generalisation as that? Rather, I was referring to one particular issue, as you will see above. There are many other issues where the reality is extremely simple. E.g. –

            (1) has there in the last 50-60 years been a rise in these unpleasant things or a fall?

            (2) has the rise been small or large?

            (3) are the statistics of things like medical abortions and divorces accurate or vague?

            You are to be wished good luck in trying to play devil’s advocate when 400+% increases in all these unpleasant things have been seen across the board. You would do well to argue against 5% increases as though they were not increases. But 400%+ in each of multiple matters?

  16. Don Benson April 24, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

    It is plainly evident that those who want to change Christian understanding on sexuality do not put up a coherent biblical, scientific or social case for it. Yet, if they were serious, their job would be to show how and why the Bible doesn’t mean what it says; why the science surrounding human sexual reproduction includes clear evidence of a purpose for homosexuality; how society experiences benefits from homosexuality rather than suffers problems because of it (physical health, mental health, promiscuity, family stability, children’s rights, the destabilising effect of public obsession with all things ‘gay’ – particularly for children). Instead they can of course obfuscate or ignore till it’s game over, and it seems they are perfectly happy to do that.

    Yet none of this matters. Because what is effecting change in reality is not any of the arguments, it is the political strategy of those who now believe they have the greater power and influence within the church. And that strategy is working just fine.

    Whether by design or improvised events, that strategy involves: appointing the ‘right’ people to influential places, de facto change in terms of not upholding discipline, strategic sermons and statements undermining orthodoxy delivered by those who are specifically called to uphold it, slander against congregations and clergy by the devious means of regularly “apologising” for mistreatment despite no evidence ever cited, assertions and accusations about suicides and institutional “homophobia”, and a general orchestrating of the impression that this is an unstoppable tide which only dinosaurs and bigots (politely called ‘conservatives’ or ‘traditionalists’) now refuse to accept. It’s a remorseless ratchet – degrading scriptural authority, destroying trust, damaging relationships and destabilising of the orderly running of the church. Any idea of an honest appraisal of inherited church doctrine, conducted in good faith by all parties, which would consider the possibility and reasons why it might be in error (and therefore needs to be changed) is obviated by presenting the whole issue in terms of a spurious search after unity (the infamous ‘shared conversations’ being a prime example).

    And this answers the question ‘What does the Church need to do to approve same-sex marriage?’ It simply needs to carry on all of the above. The assumption has to be that the window for conducting any kind of honest debate about the scriptural position on sexuality is now closed. If it is not closed then the scale of disorganised confusion exhibited by those who have been in charge over the last several years has been a lot more than merely embarrassing.

    • Jonathan Tallon April 25, 2017 at 5:12 pm #

      Don writes: “It is plainly evident that those who want to change Christian understanding on sexuality do not put up a coherent biblical, scientific or social case for it.”

      We do, and it is ignored.

      Biblical: Reasonable and Holy by Tobias Haller.

      Scientific: Try reading Bailey et al (2016) Sexual Orientation, Controversy, and Science. This is a peer-reviewed article reviewing the science to date, written by the leading researchers in the field. The scientific evidence is that homosexual attraction in men is not caused by environmental social factors, but by a combination of genetic and in-utero biological factors. Or, in other words, nature rather than social nurture.

      Social: Given that the argument is about supporting same-sex marriages, it is bizarre to complain about promiscuity. I also see no evidence whatsoever of children being ‘destabilised’ by an ‘obsession’ with gay. In fact, I see no evidence of society being in any way harmed by same-sex marriage, and many reasons why it has been good.

      In short, the biblical, scientific and social areas have been addressed.

      • Christopher Shell April 25, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

        A massive generalisation – and inaccurate at that, Jonathan. The evidence which I lay out in ‘What Are They Teaching The Children?’ ch.11 lists the following areas where peer-reviewed study has found the environmental contribution to be huge; and while there will be some difference on precise percentages I know of no studies that point an *opposite* way in any of the subcategories apart from some early twin-studies (note that 3 of these subcategories concern women and you were speaking of men alone, so diosregard those 3 for present purposes if you wish):
        -City-dwelling (men)
        -College (women)
        -Culture (women: British Social Attiutudes Survey, 2013: a quadrupling in 20 years of women involved in same-sex sexual activity)
        -History of Molestation (500% increase on average for presently self-styled gay men)
        -Parenting (meta-analysis of Stacey and Biblarz, American Sociological Review 2001: 400% minimum average increase in lesbianism among the lesbian-parented).
        -There is a trajectory from gay to straight self-identification in formative years, especially between 16-18 and (less) 18 til early 20s. If this was 16 year olds being their ‘inborn’ selves rather than as is their wont being rebellious or immature, how to explain the fact that such a high percentage are straight within 2 years? Savin-Williams & Ream’07. Lisa Diamond regularly finds the same fluidity pattern.
        -Self-styled lesbians sleep with more men on average than straight women, and are impregnated more often. Recent evidence suggests that gay men sleep with more women than the average for a man too. So what we have here is hypersexuality determined to be transgressive, since transgression is where the thrilling zing and risk comes from.
        -Identical twins: these are generally prone to copy each other but (several studies from c2000 converge in finding that) resist copying their identical twin’s gay/lesbianism 89% of the time (men) or 86% (women).

        ‘Have been addressed’? Biblical has never been addressed so thoroughly as by Gagnon (in particular – but he is one of many). Social-scientific – see above.

        I would love you to answer these points directly. Normal response is to change the subject or ignore. And that is precisely why it is hard for us often to take your position (can it actually be a fixed unquestioning ‘position’ at all?) seriously – it seems like advocacy, special pleading, ignoring elephants in the room. To ignore (or agree to disagree) is to concede the debate.

        • Andrew Godsall April 26, 2017 at 8:25 am #

          ‘So what we have here is hypersexuality determined to be transgressive…’
          Christopher: if you are certain that someone has this medical condition called hypersexuality (and of course that will mean having evidence about that) then maybe you need to discuss it with them privately. At present it just rather looks like you have an unhealthy obsession with what other people do in private…..

          • Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 8:54 pm #

            We are not called to be schizoid people who are one thing in private and another in public. If your parliamentary candidate was like that would you vote for them. We are unified people, and what we do in ‘private’ is part of the whole person that we are.

            Jesus said that the things that are concealed will be revealed…shouted from the rooftops. Mt 10.26-7.

            If what the people do in private is spread the norm of promiscuity, unhealthy ‘sexual’ practices, and STI-contraction (and the media are pretending everything is ok, while education pretends these things are all ‘equally’ good with the healthy way of doing things), the best course of action is to say nothing? So that more precious people’s lives will get destroyed before they are old enough to know better?

            Everyone should be obsessed with things that ruin lives and societies. They should be obsessed with speaking about them educationally so as to expose and prevent them.

          • Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

            It’s a medical condition?

            No – it’s just unrestrained following of human nature.

            People need no encouragement to follow human nature.

            The tendencies we feed the most become the strongest.

            In cultures or subcultures where there is no taboo or shame about such things, motivation to act in a more restrained manner is removed.

          • Andrew Godsall April 27, 2017 at 6:42 am #

            Christopher: my parliamentary candidate is in a same sex marriage, a devout Christian and very supportive of the church locally. What’s your point?

          • Christopher Shell April 27, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

            I don’t have a single point. I have multiple points which have alrady been made.

            S/he inhabits that sort of world. All candidates support all local enterprises by definition. Anecdotal evidence about a single person is one four-thousandth as important as a survey about (to pluck a number) 4000 people.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 28, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

            Christopher the candidate (MP) to whom Andrew refers is a pillar or moral probity and a regular attended at Cathedral Eucharists. What do you mean by ‘that world’? Why is his married world different from mine?

          • Christopher Shell April 29, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

            Our world is the same since there is only one world. But there is a figure of speech ‘his/her world’ meaning his/her milieu. Each of us has a different milieu but of course they overlap.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 9:03 am #

            Well, what do you mean by milieu then? Are you implying that his milieu (social and ecclesiological) is different from mine? And if so, in what way?

          • Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

            We each of us have different milieux, but they overlap. That is a truism.

            As to how similar his milieu is to yours, all readers will be perplexed to find you expecting me to answer a question about the circumstances of two people neither of whom I have ever met, nor do I even know where either of them lives.

        • Jonathan Tallon April 26, 2017 at 8:56 am #

          Thank you for proving my point, Christopher. I present the best, latest review by experts in the field, and you ignore it, despite it dealing with many of the points that you raise.

          To deal briefly with the studies you mention: you seem to confuse orientation with expression. How an orientation is expressed will of course depend upon the culture (it’s much easier to be out in central Manchester or Brighton than in a small, conservative village). You also continually misrepresent Savin-Williams and Ream (2007) which does NOT deal with the issue of changes in self-identification over time. You have also ignored the science indicating the importance of ‘in-utero’ factors, as evidenced by your reliance on twin studies to try to make a point.

          But go back to Bailey et al (2016), as it deals with these and many other points. So concerned were they with misrepresentations of the science like yours that they made it freely available.

          As for Gagnon, again, you make my point. If you had read Haller, you would know that he critiques him at a number of points (as have many other authors).

          • Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 9:08 pm #

            So I am beyond the pale for not reading one of thousands of articles (an important one, yes) within 24 hours. Is that what you believe?

            Given that it is said to be important, I shall absolutely make a point of reading it. This is in the context of aiming to be familiar with tens of other also-important papers.

            You made the same point about Savin-Williams and Ream before and I answered it before too, thus: do you honestly think that if it had been longitudinal as well as everything else (and it would be much-improved if it were, but it is a highly important paper even without that) then a significantly different picture would emerge? I do not see how that is possible – but you may have thought of something I have not here – so let me know how it is possible.

            The point about Savin-Williams and Ream is irrelevant anyway since Diamond does have longitudinal data that give a similar picture. Is that not right?

            You commit the fallacy of saying I ignore something I have simply not mentioned. But there are trillions of things I (and you) have not mentioned. Could you just indicate that you know the difference between simply not mentioning something (trillions of things) and deliberately, premeditatedly avoiding mentioning it?

            You cannot critique ‘Gagnon’. He makes hundreds of points and arguments, and it is the points and arguments that are to be critiqued, not the man! Each point and argument that he makes will be a completely different case from all the other ones, so they can only be treated one by one, so please don’t generalise. I wonder what proportion of the hundreds of points and arguments that he makes are addressed by Haller, and what proportion are not addressed.

            Just as in some settings it is easier to be ‘out’, in some settings it is easier to be seduced at a formative age. In some settings it is easier to swallow the message that our physical biology is irrelevant. In some settings it is easier to rebel, even though we know that those who rebel e.g. by smoking or drinking generally do not like the taste the first time and therefore do not actually like it at all, merely become addicted and accustomed to it and find themselves unable to do without it.

          • Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

            What is your view on Stacey/Biblarz American Sociological Review 2001 meta-analysis of previous analyses – lesbian-parented girls are at least 400% likelier to self-identify as lesbian when the time comes. Why?

            What is your view on the many studies that on average say that male homosexuals are 500% likelier than the average to have been molested when young? RL Johnson and Shrier, Journal of Adolescent Health Care 1985; Garofalo et al., Pediatrics 1998; WC Holmes et al., Journal of the American Medical Association 1998; Tomeo, Archives of Sexual Behavior 2001 – etc..

            Colossal percentages are just being ignored. Even if it were 5% that would be significant over a large body of people. But it isn’t. The above are 400%+ and c.500%.

          • Jonathan Tallon April 27, 2017 at 9:29 am #

            You are not beyond the pale for not reading the article. But responding to it by quoting older studies without reading the article does look like ignoring it.

            You have repeatedly misrepresented Savin-Williams and Ream, despite admitting above that you are fully aware that it does not consider identity longitudinally.

            You misrepresent Stacey & Biblarz (2001). Only one of the 21 studies they consider followed children into adulthood (Tasker & Golombok, 1997). That study found no significant differences in longterm self-identity as lesbian or heterosexual between those raised in lesbian vs heterosexual households. The same authors (Biblarz and Stacey, 2010) also present evidence that the gender of parents “has minor significance for children’s psychological adjustment and social success.”

            It would not surprise me if male homosexuals are more likely to be molested when young – typically children who grow up to have a homosexual orientation display childhood gender non-conformity (see Bailey et al). Anyone who is different is more likely to get bullied, attacked or victimised. All the more reason to tackle homophobia. This provides no evidence as to why people are homosexual in the first place (the majority of people, gay or straight, thankfully are not molested).

            To summarise: you did ignore the research I offered. You have ignored corrections to your misrepresentations of research you do quote. And you misrepresent other papers.

          • Christopher Shell April 27, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

            Jonathan, can you first let me know that you understand the difference between ‘ignoring’ and not yet mentioning. Anything you wish me to mention I will mention – but these things take time. You kept on using the word ‘ignore’ even after I highlighted its inaccuracy and therefore its ad hominem fallacy, claiming to know what another person’s intentions are.

            You can be absolutely sure that anything you think I am ‘ignoring’ (a) I certainly am not, (b) I will address even-handedly in time. You are in fact asking me a lot of different questions, which is probably the reason that you can find ones that I have not yet addressed – and of course I can find the same for you. If you think there are priorities, questions you’d like to be addressed first, then please continue to highlight these, as I will.

            We are not on this occasion primarily talking adjustment, we are talking genetics/environment. What were the overall Stacey/Biblarz meta-analysis conclusions on *that* topic, not a cherry-picked bit of them?

            Savin-Williams and Ream – you are cherry picking for sure, since you have mentioned it 4 times at least and mentioned only the same one aspect of it. I have twice already said that Lisa Diamond who is one of the authors of the Bailey study did find longitudinal fluidity in her several studies. She studied both genders but women more, where fluidity would be more expected.

            What is your take on Diamond’s studies?

            The effect of formative experiences of molestation on one’s future sexual identity and brain-wiring has to have some part in your overall theory, doesn’t it?

            In the Bailey et al. study, several of my points were not particularly touched on. It is hard or impossible to get over percentages like 400 and 500%.

          • Jonathan Tallon April 28, 2017 at 10:16 am #

            This will be my last comment on this thread.

            You raised Savin-Williams and Ream in this context, not me. You raised one particular aspect of it, not me. I have responded to this aspect because, to be blunt, you got it entirely wrong (again). Your response to that has been effectively that it doesn’t matter because we know what the result would have been. I find this utterly irresponsible – no, we don’t, and that’s why we do the research.

            Fluidity is dealt with in Bailey et al, and as Diamond is one of the co-authors this is the best place to go for interpreting fluidity. I am not sure how you think this affects nature/nurture arguments. In general, women exhibit more fluidity than men, with about 1.5% of men being exclusively homosexual, and 0.5% of women. Men are also more likely than women to be exclusively heterosexual.

            None of the mainstream approaches considers molestation as an important feature, because most people are not molested. (I take it you are not seriously suggesting that most people are gay because they have been molested, which would be offensive and untrue).

            You say ‘it is hard or impossible to get over percentages like 400 and 500%’. I suggest that if you truly believe this, then you haven’t understood the scientific papers very well at all.

          • Christopher Shell April 28, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

            Jonathan, if this is your last comment on this thread, then does that mean that your responses to questions not yet dealt with (not, I should imagine, ignored, but not yet dealt with) will await another thread?

            Not yet addressed are the following:

            Identical Twins-

            Do you take these striking statistics to be an indication that intrauterine is all, or do you have another take – whichever take you have, what evidence do you appeal to?

            Hypersexuality? (this is a description not a technical term)-

            Higher number of opposite sex sexual partners than the average among male and female ‘same-sex attracted’: see Women’s Health Issues Dec’16 ‘Congruence across Sexual Orientation Dimensions’.

            Casts the category ‘gay’ and the category ‘lesbian’ into question.

            Fluidity-

            As above: the point is that all the discussion assumes ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ to be meaningful and straightforward terms – but the science questions whether that is a reality. If it is not a reality, we have to start the whole discussion again.

            I take it that you are accepting Diamond’s findings that fludity is present to a very significant extent and more in women.

            I repeat therefore that the shortcoming you mention in Savin-Williams/Ream is, fortunately, irrelevant since the topic has been adequately studied by Diamond who also is a fluidity-merchant.

            If you think fluidity only loosely affects nature/nurture arguments then that is another, second, reason for you not to speak so often about S-W/Ream. Here, however, I disagree. Longitudinal change suggests that people who grow up in a culture where everyone is talking about gay this and gay that may want to parade same-sex identity for rebellious reasons at their most rebellious time of life which is also a time of life when they may not yet be able to attract an opposite-sex partner; later, they will be able to do that, and their hormones and life may have stabilised.

            I take it you know that you miusquoted me when you quoted me as saying ‘we know what the result would have been’. I was just trying and failing to imagine how (given the other studies that have confirmed that extrapolation; and given the overall logic of the situation, and the way the other data seems to point) it could be at all *likely* that the result would not have been much as expected. You are emphasising a possibility while paying no attention to a probability. But, as I say, ignore this particular aspect of S-W/Ream if you wish; given Diamond et al., it makes no odds if you do.

            Molestation-

            You write ‘I take it you are not seriously suggesting that most people are gay because they have been molested’ – from what has been written, I am not suggesting that either seriously or jokily, since nowhere have I suggested it at all!

            That is why I listed several different types of evidence pointing to the significance of environment. Why would I say that just one of these (molestation) was responsible for more than 50% of cases?

            I am mentioning it because the data on molestation shows that the influence of environment is significant. If it were not, we would expect 0%, but what we get is not even 100% but a massive 500%. That is a telling barometer. Why do you think we don’t get 0%? Is there evidence that every little bit of this is the result of homophobia? Which studies show that?

            Women and College / Men and Towns-

            What is your take on Laumann 1994?

            The general logic of the situation-

            If someone says they were born gay do you let it pass that (1) sexual attraction is typically absent in the first entire decade; (2) no-one remembers when they were 0-2 anyway?

            Lesbian upbringing –

            What would *you* say are the implications of the 400+% meta-analysis figure purely for the nature/nurture issue?

            Following the culture-

            Till a handful of years ago almost no-one believed in SSM; now people are losing their jobs and getting boycotted for not believing in it. 5 short years ago, archliberals Clinton and Obama did not believe in it (though they lost their jobs for other reasons). This makes SSM the bandwagon issue par excellence.

            Why not therefore consider the quadrupling of women with a same-sex seuxal experience over 20 short years as simply a matter of cultural conformity? And there is nothing genetic about that, any more than there is anything genetic about all the same people who used a few years ago not to believe in SSM now claiming that they do believe in it after all. It is all bandwagon, not genetic. How would that argument be opposed? All they are all doing is following what they see to be fashionable, afraid of seeming culturally deviant.

            Biblical issues-

            Do you agree or disagree that Gagnon’s hundreds of arguments need to be taken one by one?

            Remember that what I am writing on here is not the whole homosexuality issue, but the subset of issues relevant to the ‘Born gay’ claim.

            Thanks

            Chris.

      • David Shepherd April 25, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

        Jonathan,

        On several occasions, I’ve responded to your claims about the biblical merits of Haller’s ‘Reasonable and Holy’

        I repeat here my reply to your comment October 16, 2015 at 11:09 am.

        Here’s Haller on Genesis (Reasonable and Holy, p. 126):

        ‘First, it is common to hear that Jesus’ teaching on marriage and celibacy brooked no other possibility; that his reference to the creation account in response to the question of divorce offers a clear indication of his thinking on same-sexuality. This is a stretch, especially when advanced apart from, or even in denial of the explicit concern that Jesus is addressing: the permanence of marriage and the sinful status of remarriage after divorce. It is the permanence of marriage that is at issue, and Jesus locates his teaching on this permanence in the context of Genesis.’

        Haller’s thesis implies that we cannot extend Christ’s induction from the ancient Genesis archetype (which He considered to have enduring significance several millennia later) beyond the explicit question that He addressed: the permanence of marriage.

        Well, let’s see if that’s true. How about the binary nature of marriage that St. Paul endorses from the creation story? Well, that also a logical induction from the Genesis archetype.

        So, the only aspect of the Genesis archetype that Haller treats as exempt from inference is its opposite sex nature as described in Genesis 5:2Open in Logos Bible Software (if available). Well, that’s no more than a self-serving special pleading. The stretch is the sole exclusion of homosexual behaviour from the purview of the enduring Genesis archetype of marriage.

        If you are going to resort to Haller, you should have a look at several of my debates with him on Thinking Anglicans. He may have the tools of logic, but his ‘Achilles’ heel’ was always his inability to apply sufficient self-critical reflection to his rough-hewn theses.

        • Jonathan Tallon April 26, 2017 at 9:14 am #

          David, thanks for replying, but I am not sure of the point you are making. Is it that we should take all aspects of Genesis 1 & 2 as archetypical? And that Haller was wrong to exclude female/male?

          I (not Haller, don’t have him to hand as I write) would respond: Genesis does present an archetype. But an archetype may define what is good, but doesn’t define what is bad. So in Genesis, the archetype presented is a man and a woman, who have children, and this is blessed by God. But what about the childless? What about the celibate? What about a man remaining with his father and mother, and the woman joining him there?

          These are real points: parts of Judaism, based on Genesis, did view celibacy negatively (whilst also not seeing any problem with polygamy). Again, is a marriage valid if you cannot have children? Philo was against it.

          So Genesis presents us with a man and woman who have children, and this is good. But it doesn’t tell us what alternatives might also be good.

          I’m not sure if this addresses the point you were making, but I hope it helps.

          • Will Jones April 26, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

            I think we can be confident that scripture does not offer homosexual relationships as an alternative which ‘might also be good’, given its assessment of same-sex sex.

            Also Genesis 2:18 explicitly says that ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So it does clarify that the alternative to the archetype presented is not good.

            Celibacy is a special dispensation under the New Covenant in view of the eschatological frame and is not a suitable natural comparator.

            Humankind is designed male and female to form partnership for the sake of producing offspring. That’s the design or ‘archetype’. If someone is infertile then that is because something has gone wrong, and we do not look for natural purpose in misfortune. There is no way to be faithful to scripture and Christian orthodoxy while trying to draw some kind of legitimising comparison between homosexuality and celibacy and/or childlessness.

          • Jonathan Tallon April 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

            Will, you say “Celibacy is a special dispensation under the New Covenant in view of the eschatological frame”.

            Really? Is this the only reason celibacy is OK? And given that the eschatological timeframe seems to be longer than the first century, is it still valid as a dispensation? Or should marriage be compulsory?

            You also point out that the archetype suggests that being alone is not good. The logic of this would be marriage – opposite sex marriage for those opposite attracted, and same-sex marriage for those same-sex attracted. Otherwise those who are same-sex attracted seem to have no options.

            Or perhaps the archetype covers the majority of cases, but was never meant to represent every single case without any exceptions. Perhaps there can be a purpose to being single; to being a couple without children; to a same-sex couple. Or is everyone who isn’t married in some way defective?

          • Will Jones April 26, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

            Celibacy as an ideal or calling, rather than as a state in which one finds oneself due to happening never to marry, is a special dispensation of the New Covenant. It is not found in the Old Testament and is not part of the natural law. God designed humankind for marital partnership, as Genesis 2 makes clear.

            You surely know that the church still abides within the eschatological frame. (Also, just because something is good, and the alternatives are imperfect, that doesn’t of itself mean the thing should be compulsory, since in a fallen world some things which are imperfect are permissible.)

            The archetype is not just the first part of the sentence, it is the whole arrangement set out in the passage. Thus: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner… Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.’ It is indeed not good for a gay person to be alone. But it is worse for him (or her) to engage in an illicit sexual relationship. If he cannot marry and is not called to celibacy then, because of his condition, he is unable to attain to a perfect state, and will have to be content with the imperfect state which the moral law permits. That is a consequence of a fallen world.

            Those who are same-sex attracted do have options, though: 1) If they are also attracted to the opposite sex to a sufficient degree then they can marry; 2) If they are not then they may be called to celibacy as a moral ideal; 3) If neither applies then they can live chastely as far as they are able, accepting the imperfect state of their condition and repenting whenever they fail. None of these involves pretending that same-sex sex is a morally acceptable expression of sexuality, let alone an equal one to natural sex between a man and woman within marriage.

          • Jonathan Tallon April 26, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

            So the perfect are those who are married, not living with the husband’s parents, with children. Everyone else (except for those called to celibacy) is imperfect. The couples who can’t have children. The widowed. Those who marry late in life. Those who are single. Those who stay with the husband’s parents. All living in an imperfect state.

            There is an alternative:that saying that God blesses one state doesn’t mean that all other states are second best.

            I also note that you class same-sex activity as ‘illicit sex’. But of course it is defined as illicit in large part because of interpretations of Genesis, creating a circular logic.

          • Will Jones April 26, 2017 at 11:07 pm #

            Being widowed is obviously imperfect – who seeks that? Death is a result of the fall. Infertility is also the result of disorder so, yes, imperfection. Marrying older is to miss out on procreation, one of the basic purposes of marriage, so yes, imperfection. This is hardly novel or radical stuff.

            Being single is imperfect, unless a vocation, hence ‘it is not good for man to be alone’.

            Genesis doesn’t mention blessing. It is about an archetype of nature. There is no basis there or elsewhere for thinking it intends to leave open the possibility that same-sex sexual relationships are also good and archetypal.

            The Bible states the illicit nature of same-sex sex in a number of places and a number of ways, not all based on some supposedly mistaken reading of Genesis 2!

            Your arguments are transparent wishful thinking that bear no relation to the text.

          • David Shepherd April 27, 2017 at 4:04 pm #

            Hi Jonathan,

            Thanks for your reply. You wrote: ‘But an archetype may define what is good, but doesn’t define what is bad.

            Well, let’s look at that in relationship to other aspects of the archetype. How about the permanence, as indicated by Christ’s interpretation of Gen. 2:24 (Matt. 19:4-6)? The converse of permanence is ‘putting away for any cause’. This is bad because it is the converse of what God defines as good. So, divorcees, who wish to re-marry in church, are required to express an understanding that divorce is a breach of God’s will.

            Alternatively, we could consider the monogamy of the archetype: ‘the two shall be one flesh’. The converse of this is polygamy, which may have been tolerated in the OT, but church elder (who are to be examples to God’s flock – 1 Pet. 5:3) are expected to be the husband of one wife (mias gynaikos aner Again, the archetype defines both what is good and, by contrast, what is bad. Resolution 26 of the Anglican Communion only makes a pastoral accommodation on account of the social deprivation caused by forcing converted polygamists to divorce all but the first wife. It certainly doesn’t affirm polygamy.

            So, it becomes a special pleading to consider that only the male-female aspect of the archetype does not, by way of contrast, define what is bad.

            We are discussing the morality of different types of sexual relationships. Infertility is not a type of sexual relationship, it is a physiological condition.

            Also, Gen. 2:24 explains that the God-given impetus of sex is the basis upon which kinship through descent is superseded by the bond of marriage. The Hebrew word for ‘leave’ is a primary root meaning ‘loosen’ (clearly, the antonym of ‘join’).

      • Don Benson April 25, 2017 at 9:53 pm #

        I’m no supporter of tradition just because it’s tradition. It’s perfectly reasonable to change an accepted orthodoxy if you have good evidence to support your case but the onus is on you to prove it.

        And we are talking here as Christians. Presumably our pre-eminent concern is to advocate for a way of living which pleases God who has made us and who sustains us. We wouldn’t therefore ask God to bless something which didn’t truly please him would we? Our very first instinct must therefore be to consult the Bible, to find out what pleases him. The first thing we read is that God thought that what he had made was good, and we can assume that it was functionally good and also morally good – before the fall. And of one thing there can be no doubt: male / female relationships were at the heart of God’s design for human life; nowhere throughout the Bible is that questioned.

        Science is the study of God’s design; it’s fascinating, awesome and mind-boggling. And every last thing we discover about it is a discovery of the hand and the intention of God. So true (objective) science can never be at odds with what we learn from the Bible; our human limitations may cause us to puzzle over perceived discrepancies, but God cannot be divided against himself – we may have to accept that we don’t yet fully understand everything. One thing we learn from biological science is that chance is woven into the system. Genetic combinations can be virtually limitless but things can go wrong (destructive mutations for example). Why so if God’s in control? Is it to do with the fall? We don’t understand the full picture but we cannot say that every biological event is purpose planned by God; he didn’t make it that way, and we all know there is possibility for disability, ill-health, death. Not everything that God allows to happen in creation can be assumed to have his blessing.

        I suggested that there needs to be evidence for why the science surrounding human sexual reproduction includes clear evidence of a purpose for homosexuality; I was not making a point about whether or not there may be some genetic connection. But for God to bless homosexual relationships one would expect at least that they have a purposeful place in the natural order which he has designed.

        Regarding the social aspect, you can look at it from what you might expect to see and also from what is actually observable (and this can be from personal experience as well as professional academic studies). The experience of history and personal observation of the present time would give you a view about the principles on which successful societies best work; there is a lot of scope for rational thinking here, and all the time Christians will want to look at things through God’s eyes rather than godless robotic utility. Every concern I listed about this is not only observable, it is glaringly obvious both for those of us who live a life outside of church politics and anyone who is subject to the outpourings of television, radio, print and online material.

        My particular concern for children is that
        1) The public obsession with being gay is so ubiquitous and often explicit that even
        the youngest of children are exposed to sexual material with a directness and
        insistence (eg public ‘gay pride’ events) that never happened before the ‘gay’
        revolution.
        2) The obsession with gay (and now trans) rights is causing schools to promote
        these contentious and explicit issues to young children whose innocence and
        natural understanding of mothers and fathers is being ripped away from them –
        with the authority and coercive power of teachers, and therefore of the state.
        3) The Equal Marriage legislation institutes the motherless or fatherless family. This
        can of course sadly happen for reasons of marriage break-up or bereavement
        but you would never wish it upon a child. But now state legislation forces it on
        some poor children who have no say in the matter.

        Children are not stupid. They observe and they think and they worry and when they are drawn into the adult world too soon they suffer mental stress from which they have every right to be protected.

        I am astonished that none of these things are of any worry to some Christians – and I haven’t even touched on the academic studies, not least because others such as Christopher Shell are far better informed than I am. But I do read, and I do observe and I do think for myself. Yet I’ve never read anything which even starts to put my worries to bed on this issue, and I would have thought that, by now, some serious and succinct evidence for invoking God’s blessing on homosexual marriages would have been forthcoming. The implications of conducting such blessings / marriages without that certainty are too frightening to contemplate.

        • Christopher Shell April 25, 2017 at 10:40 pm #

          Don, I think we need to put out a call for repentance right now when we think of what horrible things are being proposed for our children.

          An abuser at the school gate might harm a handful of children, which is unspeakably awful. But a teacher of sex education who puts across a norm where
          -marriage is never mentioned, quite against the run of reality’
          -it is just assumed that premarital sex will be engaged in – think of the future failure to be able to settle down long-term ;
          -likewise sex with more than one partner sequentially – think of the ‘mental health’ problems being sown – and then they wonder why these arise in such large numbers in sexual-revolution societies;
          -Beyonce and Miley Cyrus and J-Lo etc and their male counterparts are not seen are bad role-models and sometimes even as empowering, and are given massive publicity without educators speaking against them;
          This teacher (authority figure) has far more blood on their hands (because they have so many more people listening to them. And yet this pattern of education is mainstream and conducted on the face of it by nice (if conforming) individuals.
          The proposition that the sexual revolution is really bad – and, positively, that by comparison Christian cultures and subcultures in the same countries have (and.or have had) a wonderful record – is extremely easy to establish statistically, in spades. It is also a simple message. So it can be our message.

        • Jonathan Tallon April 26, 2017 at 9:37 am #

          Don, you say: “And of one thing there can be no doubt: male / female relationships were at the heart of God’s design for human life…”

          On this logic, celibacy is bad. Or maybe things other than a male/female relationship can also be good?

          You also say: “I suggested that there needs to be evidence for why the science surrounding human sexual reproduction includes clear evidence of a purpose for homosexuality.”

          Science does not deal with ‘purpose’ – the best it might do is explain why it confers some survival benefit to humans as a group. Bailey et al (2016) discuss the issue p.77-79. I would also be extremely cautious about judging something on ‘purpose’ – what is the ‘purpose’ of a child with a severe disability?

          On the social side, I think we need to be extremely wary of our own prejudices. I am suspicious of any society which is hailed as presenting a particular golden age.

          As regards children, I do not share your concern. I do not think they are damaged by being aware that a minority of people prefer relationships with people of the same-sex. And I would not call it an ‘obsession’. On the other hand, it just might make life a little easier for the minority of children who grow up to find themselves attracted to the same sex who used to either hide their feelings or be mercilessly bullied.

          • Will Jones April 26, 2017 at 11:35 am #

            Celibacy is a special dispensation in the New Covenant given the eschatological frame. Quite transparently, gay sex is not a special dispensation in the New Covenant, as it is explicitly linked with sin, idolatry, wrath and non-inheritance of the kingdom of God. As an argument from scripture and tradition this is a ridiculous comparison.

            Science deals with purpose all the time. That’s what physiology is about. It is a fundamental part of the study of anatomy to consider what the purpose of different parts of an organism is in relation to the proper functioning of the organism.

            Disability is defect. We do not look for purpose in defect. You are asking us to consider that homosexuality is not defect. Thus it is perfectly sensible to ask its purpose in the natural order.

            You are either being dishonest or naïve if you think that sexuality is not sufficiently fluid, particularly in adolescence, for there to be a legitimate concern about the effects of education which encourage sexual experimentation and promiscuity amongst children.

          • Jonathan Tallon April 26, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

            You are right that the same-sex activities that the New Testament considers are linked with sin and idolatry. Here I agree with the New Testament – I too think the same-sex activities it considers are linked with sin and idolatry (pederasty and temple cult sex).

            Regarding purpose, it may make sense to consider the purpose of a part of an organism. It is less clear how this works on a population level, unless you mean how it aids evolutionary survival, which is extremely difficult to test, and in any case of little value morally.

            You are right in that I do not consider homosexuality a defect. Why on earth should I? But you may as well ask the purpose of people who are celibate.

          • Don Benson April 26, 2017 at 9:53 pm #

            Jonathan, thanks for your reply. I think you have to start with what you know. The male / female combination is the design, unquestionably physically and probably most of us would say psychologically also – science concurs – and that is God’s design for sexual union, no other combination meets the design specification. Since celibacy is non sexual the question of whether it is ‘bad’ or ‘good’ is not immediately relevant. No other engagement in sexual activity outside of the male / female combination has any role within the created order that can be compared with it. Whether such engagements are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ may be too binary a judgement for science, but a societal judgement might well say, for example, that non abusive homosexual sex should be tolerated but not celebrated (our position between 1967 and 2013). For Christians we obviously want to please God in this area of our lives, and therefore cannot presume to go further than that which he has ordained.

            I don’t really understand your problem with the word ‘purpose’ when discussing scientific understanding. We use the word in plenty of utilitarian ways, for example it’s perfectly reasonable to ask what is the purpose of fuel injectors in an engine, it’s a synonym of ‘function’. I would agree that atheists might prefer ‘function’ over ‘purpose’ when talking about science but that might imply the faintest suggestion of an agenda too?

            I share your suspicion of ‘golden ages’; indeed we all have no problem in disagreeing over our analysis of the present, so our view of the past can be no less contentious. On the other hand, we can sometimes be more certain about good and bad periods in specific areas of life such as various social conditions. But we do still need to be careful before jumping to conclusions about cause and effect.

            We will have to disagree about the effect of introducing children to sexual ideas too early in general and based on coercive politically correct propaganda in particular. At best it’s an experiment with uncertain consequences, at worst it will ruin many lives, quite possibly a whole generation, with the logical potential to destroy a civilised nation. If ever there were a situation for asking oneself ‘what would Jesus do’ or what would he think about how we are treating our young people today, this is it.

          • Will Jones April 27, 2017 at 10:36 am #

            It’s not that it ‘may’ make sense to consider the purpose of part of an organism. It does makes sense. And science speaks of it all the time.

            The purpose of species and populations is a trickier concept scientifically and philosophically. but since we are speaking about homosexuality we need only consider the proper functioning of the human organism.

            The proper functioning of the human organism is to have sexual desire in line with anatomy, so that the male is attracted to the female, and the female to the male. If an individual lacks this desire and inverts it then it suffers from a defect or disorder, because in the proper functioning of the human organism the male is attracted to the female, and the female to the male – that’s part of why humanity (or any organism which reproduces sexually) is divided into male and female, and part of what it means to be male and female. This is not the only defect or disorder with which an individual can suffer in the area of sexual desire, but it is certainly one. It is because it is disordered that other morbidities, mental and physical, are associated with it, and it has numerous harmful effects.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 28, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

            Will I think that’s a mechanistic and faulty theological anthropology. Sexuality can’t be reduced, in humans, to sex and procreation. If it could, our biological sex would mean nothing. We could be like certain fish, changing sex as required. Sex, in Christian teaching, has a unitive purpose. Same-sex sex can be as unitive as other-sex sex. As for disability being defective I wouldn’t try that argument with disabled Christians, if I were you.

          • David Shepherd April 28, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

            Penelope,

            You wrote: ‘Same-sex sex can be as unitive as other-sex sex.’

            What’s your theological and scriptural evidence for this unsubstantiated assertion

            You also assert that ‘sexuality can’t be reduced, in humans, to sex and procreation’, but neither is it divorced from our embodied characteristics, nor at odds with sex and procreation.

          • Christopher Shell April 28, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

            Same-sex cannot possibly be as unitive as other-sex, and for 2 separate reasons.

            (1) The former ‘unitive act’ produces disease left to itself unless technology intervenes. So nature does not give it a thumbs-up.

            (2) The latter is where we all come from. And it is quintessentially unitive because it produces babies which fuse the two contributions.

            You couldn’t get a starker contrast. Is that not obvious? Would people please stop making this doubly-untrue assertion.

          • Will Jones April 28, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

            Penelope – you think that the division into male and female and the connection of that binary division with a mutual attraction oriented to the production of offspring is a faulty theological anthropology? Can there really be any doubt that it is the anthropology of the Bible in both Old and New Testaments? Does anyone who understands the texts and their contexts really doubt that?

            You say it is mechanistic. Note that I didn’t say this was all the division into male and female was about. But it is one key aspect of it. You seem to be relying on the standard strategy of: it’s not just about procreation; therefore it’s not about procreation at all (except incidentally). But that doesn’t work. It’s not just about procreation. But it is about procreation. You can’t drop that bit or you err seriously.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 29, 2017 at 11:40 am #

            3 replies in one post.
            Will hi. I think procreation is one of the purposes of sexual intimacy. It is (I would argue) of far less importance in the NT than on the Hebrew Bible. Jesus and Paul never speak of children as one of the ‘goods’ of marriage, perhaps because we are now living in a new eschatological age. The stress which some commentators put on reproduction (not you) seems (to me) to echo Dawkins who argues that reproduction is merely the organism’s method of ensuring the survival of its own genes. That is, perhaps, what I meant by mechanistic. Like the fish changing sex, it would mean that sex/gender had no value beyond the ability to reproduce.
            Christopher. (1) Same-sex sex (by which I assume, from previous exchanges, you mean anal sex) has health risks for both gay and straight couples. Otherwise, sexual intimacy carries certain risks. STDs are one, but are less likely in faithful, covenanted relationships (and we are talking about marriage here). Pregnancy and childbirth are another, but they are less risky with good healthcare and access to cheap and reliable contraception.
            (2) See my answer to Will, above. Is non-reproductive sex (because of choice, infertility, menopause etc.) not unitive?
            David. Also see my answer to Will above. Of course, sex is not divorced from our embodiedness, or we would be like the gender fluid fish, our sex determined by how many of the ‘opposite’ sex there are, merely so that we can produce little fishes.
            Evidence: Gen 2.18; Matt. 7.16-18, to cite two. What’s your theological and scriptural evidence that same-sex sex can’t be unitive?

          • Christopher Shell April 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

            (1) If there needs to be contraception, then of course that act is not affirmed by nature.

            I don;t just mean anal sex, I just mean that the unitive options open to 2+ men or 2+ women are zero, because of what nature tells us about the nature of unification: there is only one process that produces a new life through fusion of male and female contributions, and nothing else biologically (i.e., in reality) is in the same league as that.

            Diseases of various sorts are way, way higher among men-men, and on the rise, as you probably appreciate. That reality has never changed despite decades of empty promises. Anything half as lethal or Russian-roulette-like would be banned. The one-dimensional preoccupation with ‘equality’ screens out the vast majority of relevant sub-issues.

            (2) They share the unitive act (otherwise known as ‘the act of marriage’ or ‘marriage’ itself) which is the only way that babies, the proof of ‘unification’, are ever produced. This is the basic 101 truth about the animal kingdom or at least the higher animals. People known to me fall about in fits of laughter when they hear that it needs to be said at all, because nothing could be more obvious.

          • Andrew Godsall April 29, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

            Christopher: you said

            ” (1) If there needs to be contraception, then of course that act is not affirmed by nature.”

            You are serious? Does the same apply to every other act that isn’t natural? So – we shouldn’t undertake medical operation procedures, we should just let people die naturally? We shouldn’t use electricity to light and heat our homes? We shouldn’t drive cars or fly aeroplanes? Or do these acts not affirmed by nature only apply to sexual acts?

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 29, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

            Christopher
            1) Do you believe that only sexual intimacy which is (potentially) open to procreation is unitive?
            2) Do you believe that the only purpose of sexual intimacy is to create new life?
            3) Would you argue that sexual intimacy between a heterosexual, married couple which is not open to conception would be unnatural/immoral?
            4) Do you believe that contraception used by married couples is unnatural/immoral
            5) Do you believe that infertile/post-menopausal couples should abstain from sexual intercourse?
            6) Do you believe that couples choosing not to have children is unnatural/immoral

          • Christopher Shell April 29, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

            Andrew – likewise, if foods cause disease they were not the ones nature intended.

            Two married virgins do not need contraception.

            This is just as well, since for most of human history, contraception technology would have been in its infancy.

            Any act that needs contraception cannot be part of what nature intended.

            This seems relatively obvious.

            Penelope-
            (1) I do not believe that 2 people of the same gender can be ‘sexual’ together in the first place, since the word refers to gender-difference.
            But the point has been time and again that however we define ‘unitive’ (and we shuld be careful not to confuse different meanings of this word), the ability to produce a new fused human being is far, far more remarkably unitive, beyond any other unitive thing we can do. So is the physical marriage of man and woman that makes this possible, so undeniably utterly central to nature’s design. What one man and one woman’s biology can do together!

            (2) No, not at all; but new life is not an afterthought or sideline but a centrally key unbelievable miracle. This point is irrelevant to (1), because (1) has always been talking about degrees of being unitive, and the one type of ‘unitive’ knocks others into a cocked hat.

            (3) No, not at all. See above.

            (4) If contraception comes into it, I must say I have always thought artificial contraception a horrible idea that spoils the most beautiful spontaneous thing there is.

            In answering this question, we have to bear in mind: is there a coherent overall positive big-picture that contraception fits into? I can’t think of one.

            Also the affirmation of it by anglicans was historically the start of a bit of a slippery slope, and the comparison with catholics shows how what anglicans are doing is no more than failing to be capable of being culturally ‘nonconformist’ enough so that their mores and assumptions end up being even below the level of what the mores and assumptions of nonChristians had been in a more moral age.

            (5) Are you kidding?! 🙂

            (6) Unnatural – it is a bit.
            Immoral? Obviously it *can* be, because circumstances will be very various, but not instrinsically.

            We have to realise that our own tiny era is highly eccentric and atypical historically. The simplistic belief in human progress throughout history (in every respect??) cannot be held by thinking individuals. I am sure you do not hold that belief either.

          • David Shepherd April 29, 2017 at 5:56 pm #

            Penelope,

            You cite Gen. 2:18 as ‘evidence’ that same-sex sex can be unitive, but we know that God created Eve as the ‘helper fit for him’.

            Theologically, St. Augustine described the unitive purpose of marriage, which same-sex sex cannot achieve:

            ‘Forasmuch as each man is a part of the human race, and human nature is something social, and has for a great and natural good, the power also of friendship; on this account God willed to create all men out of one, in order that they might be held in their society not only by likeness of kind, but also by bond of kindred. Therefore the first natural bond of human society is man and wife.’

            ‘Nor did God create these each by himself, and join them together as alien by birth: but He created the one out of the other, setting a sign also of the power of the union in the side, whence she was drawn, was formed. For they are joined one to another side by side, who walk together, and look together whither they walk.’

            ‘Then follows the connection of fellowship in children, which is the one alone worthy fruit, not of the union of male and female, but of the sexual intercourse.

          • Andrew Godsall April 29, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

            “Two married virgins do not need contraception.”

            They most certainly or else they are likely to have children in an unplanned and irresponsible way. What a ridiculous assertion. Even the RC church would advocate natural family planning methods of contraception.

            It is impossible for a newly married couple, virgins or not, to explore and enjoy their relationship together properly unless they are free from the worry of becoming pregnant every time they make love. THAT is obvious.

          • Andrew Godsall April 29, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

            “Two married virgins do not need contraception.”

            They most certainly do or else they are likely to have children in an unplanned and irresponsible way. What a ridiculous assertion. Even the RC church would advocate natural family planning methods of contraception.

            It is impossible for a newly married couple, virgins or not, to explore and enjoy their relationship together properly unless they are free from the worry of becoming pregnant every time they make love. THAT is obvious.

          • Will Jones April 29, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

            Hi Penelope

            I agree that the imperative to produce offspring is not as strong in the NT on account of the eschatological frame. That’s why it presents celibacy as a vocation, even a higher vocation, than marriage.

            However, I don’t think any inference from that to a weakening of the original natural framework of marriage (and thus sexual relationships) can be justified from scripture (or tradition). The eschatological frame adds an ideal of celibacy to which the believer might be called; but it doesn’t add alternative forms of sexual relationship or marriage. That is most certainly a modern imposition on the text, one of which all tradition is innocent. (In fact, Paul specifically chastises the Corinthians for thinking that new forms of sexual relationship might be an implication of their new life in Christ).

            Paul even adds a new Christological dimension to the natural form of marriage when he explains that it is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church.

            Considerations like these make clear that we are dealing with the most basic elements of the natural order as God has established it, and which the New Covenant in no way abrogates (though it adds counsels of perfection, such as celibacy). God created humankind, as he did many creatures, male and female, and this binary division is fundamental to our nature. The elementary purpose of this division is of course reproduction, though God has not limited it to that. The mutual attraction of the two sexes is fundamental to their constitution, just as is the fact that that attraction and the union it leads to produces offspring. This is the natural constitution of humankind into male and female with mutual attraction for (among other things) the production of offspring and the continuance of the species. Where individuals, because of the imperfect nature of the present creation, diverge from this natural form, it is because of an imperfection in the individuals concerned, but has no bearing on the natural order itself and its elementary constitution as divided, for humankind, into male and female. The natural order is not the contingent product of a directionless process of evolution, but is ordained of God.

            The modern contention is that the variations from the binary pattern found in some individuals should be considered part of the natural order, and not (undesirable) aberrations from the natural order. This is clearly not the understanding of the natural order presented in the Bible, Old Testament or New. Given the fundamental place of sexual differentiation and reproduction in the life of species, including humanity, and the morbidities associated with divergence from this pattern, this also seems difficult to sustain from a general point of view.

            Furthermore, if the male-female divide in the natural order for humankind is denied, it is difficult to see how any concept of a good natural order ordained of God for human beings to inhabit can be sustained.

          • Christopher Shell April 29, 2017 at 9:04 pm #

            Andrew, you sometimes talk as though your own era and society were the only one that ever existed.

            When I spoke about 2 married virgins not needing contraception, I meant the disease-preventing aspect of contraception. But they cannot be said to ‘need’ to avoid having babies either; in fact that is a very odd thing to say. Conceiving babies is and has long been a very widespread practice indeed among newlyweds.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 9:35 am #

            Christopher
            I don’t really understand your comment about two married virgins not needing contraception. Whilst they are still virgins they do not. When they consummate their marriage they most probably will for a number of reasons: delaying starting a family; spacing children; continuing to enjoy sexual intimacy when they have decided that their family is ‘complete’. Fortunately, they now have access to safe and reliable contraception. Are you arguing that because contraception was once unreliable, it is unnatural? Medical technology was, for much, of its history crude and unreliable. Are you suggesting that because it has improved and is now safer and more reliable, that it is unnatural?
            1) You may not believe that two people of the same gender can be ‘sexual together’, but evidence shows that they can. Being ‘sexual’ does not imply gender difference in humans or other animals. That is mere wishful thinking.
            2) Of course, new life is not an afterthought, but I would question your logic here since sexual intimacy which is not open to conception is also unitive (as you admit).
            3) If sexual intimacy, which is not open to conception is not unnatural/immoral, why do you argue that same-sex sex is inherently unnatural/immoral? The acts may be the same and in the context of faithful covenanted relationships.
            4) Why and how does ‘artificial’ contraception spoil something that is beautiful and spontaneous? I would have thought that, by removing the fear of unwanted pregnancy, it might heighten the beauty and spontaneity. What do you suggest as an alternative? The coherent and positive big picture is the desire to have happy, stable and healthy families and not to over populate the earth, whose stewardship was given to us by God. (I am sure you are aware that most Catholics ignore official teaching on contraception.)
            5) No, I wasn’t kidding. See my response to (3) above. What is the (moral) difference between non-reproductive sexual intimacy in same-sex and other-sex relationships.
            6) Why is this unnatural and potentially immoral?
            I do not have a simple Whig belief in the inevitability of progress. Clearly some things are better today, in the west at least: we don’t send children to work; we don’t hang people; we don’t imprison homosexual males; our medicine is better; as is access to clean food and water. I am not sure what your point is here.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 9:41 am #

            David In Genesis 2 God (finally) creates a companion for the earthling who recognises that at last here is flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. The emphasis is not on difference but on sameness – a shared humanity.
            The passage from Augustine does not contradict that. It is about human delight in society and companionship. Of course sexual intercourse produces children, but there are other ways of being a parent. I am a stepmother.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 11:14 am #

            Hi Will I think celibacy is more a charism of the NT than of the Hebrew Bible. It may be linked to the end times. I am not certain that it was what Jesus was speaking of in Matthew 19 – the passage about eunuchs. After all, eunuchs were not known for their sexual continence in the ANE!
            The problem with the Church as the bride of Christ metaphor (if problem it is), as with the Israel as wife of God metaphor, is that it is a very queer metaphor, since half of the brides/wives are male.
            I am not as sure, as you are, that the Bible presents binaries as good things (the ‘doctrine’ of complementarianism is very modern). In Gen. 2 the earthling delights in the sameness of ‘his’ companion, not in ‘her’ difference. Nor do I think that compulsory heterosexuality or the existence of only two genders are ‘creation ordinances’. I do see intersex, gender fluidity, homosexuality and bisexuality (as well as disability and neurodiversity) as entirely natural and normal, simply not typical. I do not believe that they are a result of the Fall; I think they are part of the diversity of Creation.

          • David Shepherd April 30, 2017 at 11:21 am #

            Penelope,

            Unfortunately, you’ve only focused on the significance of Eve to Adam. The significance of their union to God is different.

            Despite this omission, ‘Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones’ means more than sameness, it includes the bond of kindred, which Augustine explains to be ‘the first natural bond of human society’ achieved by joining man and wife:
            : ‘in order that they might be held in their society not only by likeness of kind, but also by bond of kindred. Therefore the first natural bond of human society is man and wife’.

            Whatever might be said of same-sex sexual relationships, they are thoroughly incongruous with the natural bond of kinship, as Augustine describes it.

            Dither more, Augustine states: ‘there is good ground to inquire for what reason it be a good. And this seems not to me to be merely on account of the begetting of children, but also on account of the natural society itself in a difference of sex. Otherwise it would not any longer be called marriage in the case of old persons, especially if either they had lost sons, or had given birth to none. But now in good, although aged, marriage, albeit there has withered away the glow of full age between male and female, yet there lives in full vigour the order of charity between husband and wife’

            So, St. Augustine’s discourse from Genesis sees the good of marriage as comprised of the begetting of children and the natural society itself in a difference of sex. So, he readily accepts that a marriage might exist without begetting children, but not the latter good of natural society itself in a difference of sex

            In terms of parenthood, it is only for jurisdictions in which same-sex couples are affirmed to have the full rights of marriage (e.g. US), that an unwarranted presumption of primary parenthood can be asserted by a same-sex spouse to the exclusion of a child’s natural father and detriment of its kinship identity. We’ve discussed the case law on this before.

            You may well be a stepmother, but, thankfully in the UK, that is not the same as granting primary parenthood by revising the marital presumption of paternity, which is part of English Common Law.

          • Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 2:57 pm #

            Penelope-

            (1) Of course, if you use the word ‘sexual’ in a way that ignores its etymological roots, then the two of us will be using it in two different ways. But there is no need to use ‘sexual’ this way when you could simply say ‘physically intimate’.
            I am not committing the etymological fallacy here, just saying that if we say that usage is everything we ignore that usage can be manipulated and engineered by media ideologues.

            (2) I already answered this question. Many things are ‘unitive’. Hugging is unitive. Deep conversations are unitive. You lump everything ‘unitive’ together, and that is where your error lies. Because the things you speak of cannot approach, and are anyway in an entirely different category from, the biological miracle of a baby fused from male and female parental contributions.
            As these (physical intimacy and the physical constitution of babies) are two different topics, lumping them together under ‘unitive’ will cloud the issue. Unitive is too vague a word and therefore clouds the issue.

            (3) I already answered that one too. (In general, a lot of the points you make will already have been answered – alas, several times over decades.) Same-sex physical intimacy (a) is against biology, (b) establishes bonds that ought to be uniquely shared between husband and wife, which then haunt all future history, (c) has no quasi-sexual categories that are even safe without contraception, which fact is what proves them unnatural.

            (4) You put ‘artificial’ in quotation marks.

            So you think contraceptives grow on trees, then – or similar? Nobody agrees with that.

            ‘Unwanted pregnancy’ is a typically negative sexual-revolution commonplace; generally babies are seen as a blessing. They can only be conceived one-twentieth of the time anyway, and the physical signals/precursors of that window of time are evident. People know where babies come from. They are free agents who can incorporate avoidance of the directly-relevant physical process.

            If you are saying that Catholics ignore something *therefore* it is ok for them to ignore it you are committing the Andrew Godsall fallacy (also known as the child telling mum and day ‘everyone’s doing it [oh yeah?] *therefore* it’s ok’).

            ‘Humanae vitae’ just says relatively obvious things and makes relatively obvious connections. Standing against the horrible multiple-family-splitting sexual revolution, as that document does, is the merest common sense.

            (5) One is accord with biology and natural family structure, the other is not.

            (6) It is unnatural as we can see from the processes of nature everywhere.

            It is potentially immoral as we have become a more selfish society (parents going after personal ambition and spending less time with family; fewer people opting for voluntary unpaid activities like scoutmaster/guider) and if this childless pattern of behaviour overlaps with selfish times chances are there is some connection there.

            Most of these answers are obvious.

          • Will Jones April 30, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

            Hi Penelope. I’ve replied at the bottom as a new comment as this subthread has got very long and I’m finding the lack of ‘reply’ buttons a bit annoying.

          • Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

            Don, there is a large difference between believing in golden ages (which is hard to do) and believing in *comparatively* golden ages where (on a given measure) things may indeed often measurably be many hundreds of percentage points better than in some other age.

            Whether some age is ‘golden’ in any absolute sense is irrelevant and unmeasurable anyway. But whether some age is ‘comparatively/relatively golden’ is of vital importance, because it shows what is demonstrably achievable, and how far some age may fall below what is unarguably achievable and *not* cloud-cuckoo-land.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 1, 2017 at 3:14 pm #

            And David, the point about my being a stepmother is that there are ways of being a parent which are not biological. Step families and adoption for instance. Was Joseph not a father to Jesus?

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 1, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

            Christopher
            2). No it doesn’t. If sexual (sorry, physical!) intimacy doesn’t need to be procreative to be unitive then same-sex hugs and kisses and other acts of intimacy can be as unitive as heterosexual acts of intimacy.
            3) a. what do you mean ‘is against biology’?
            b. Why should those bonds be between husband and wife and not husband and husband or wife and wife? What do you mean about haunting history?
            c. Not this again! Not all male same-sex sex is buggery! Mutual masturbation, intercrural intercourse, hugging, kissing, do not require contraception, are not unnatural and are enjoyed by both straight and gay couples.
            4). I put artificial in quotation marks because all forms of contraception, including the so called natural methods, are artificial. It’s a mistaken distinction which the RC church persists in.
            5) just saying ityin accord with biology (whatever that means) doesn’t make it so. Other animals engage in same-sex activities. Does this make them non biological?
            Are families with same-sex parents not families.?
            6). See above. If homosexual behaviour is in nature (I.e. In the animal kingdom) why is it unnatural. You can argue that it is immoral, but not unnatural.
            Unwanted pregnancy is not a sexual revolution commonplace. People have been trying to avoid conception for millennia. Abortifacients and exposing children was also common in the ancient world.
            Millions of Catholics have used the sensus fidelium, examined their consciences, used their God given reason and decided that the Magisterium is wrong. Many of them probably do not see anything godly about the lives of their grandmothers, nor anything godly about large, undernourished families, nor anything godly about abstinence being the only licit form of contraception-and the problems that brought.

          • Christopher Shell May 1, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

            (2) My point was that many things are unitive to different degrees. None are unitive to anything like the startling degree that they produce a fused human being as product. Therefore none of the others can be spoken of in the same breath. This is just to repeat what I said before.

            (3) ‘is against biology’: i.e. sometimes we (or animals) can use organs for things they are not suitably designed for. Beryl the Peril when sleepy was once exhorted ‘Wake Up, Beryl – you don’t feed cornflakes into your ear.’

            Haunting/history: Christianity knows of no alternative to lifelong marriage and anything outside or chronologically prior to that has the power to spoil it, a very strong power as has long been recognised.

            (4) OK I get it now – ‘artificial’ was put in quote-marks because *all* contraception is artificial. Maybe I am speaking too much as a classicist here, but (1) whether that is true or not, not all (and not the Catholic types) involve artificial devices, so if we use ‘artificial’ for non-de vice types of contraception we use the word in a clearly weaker sense; (2) the word artificial at least etymologically but also in usage does imply something that has been made or manufactured.

            (5) Other animals engage in same-sex activities (a rather broad and vague phrase? Surely you mean ‘same-sex sexual/quasi-sexual activities?)? What’s the reality here?
            A. (Most obvious:) Many things are same-sex behaviour but not homosexual. Attending football matches can be. Pub gatherings can be. Makeovers.
            B. Some behaivours (dog withe table-leg) are just mating-season hyper-sexuality, indifferent to object and gender or lack of it. Males may be next best where females are absent. Inanimate where animate is absent.
            C. It is very rare for animal sexual behaviour to be exclusively same-sex (i.e. what we mean by gay). Or indeed for animal same-sex affection to be witnessed (though of course affection can be at a premium through much of the animal kingdom!). These factors cause leading gay researcher simon Le Vay in ‘Queer Science’ 207 to doubt homosexual *orientation* in animals. If he is right, the main pillar falls.
            D. Even where orientation does appear, there is often more to be said. Domestication of rams involves, by definition, a degree of artificial emasculation.
            E. One day we will laugh (as many have never ceased laughing) at the self-aware human race trying to copy (but very selectively…) the instinctive animals whom we outstrip. We do not do that in other spheres of life.

            Are families with same-sex parents not families? I don’t understand the question. How can *parents* be same-sex? And the arrangement of which you speak means that the people must in at least some cases not be related. So of course they are not families. Only in a figurative, transferred sense.

            (6) See (4). Unnatural has 2 senses: (a) not attested in nature, (b) against nature’s purposes. It is perfectly possible for animals or humans to go against nature’s purposes, obviously. If you are failing to distinguish between these 2 separate senses of ‘natural’, then nonsensical conclusions will result: everything that is ever seen or ever happens is justifiable!!

            Yes, I agree of course that pregnancies have frequently been unwanted in different eras and nations, in the context of secret acts considered shameful. But the attempt to use the evil term ‘unwanted pregnancy’ (read: unwanted child – and what right has another person fortunate enough to have been born to make that damning and, worse, completely inaccurate judgment on any individual?) as though it were morally neutral is, so far as I know, a sexual-revolution ‘first’.

            Re: Catholics: so-called ‘conscience’ seems often to mirror the fashions of the day. Is that not a suspicious correlation? The alternatives you list are not an exhaustive list, and I already listed other alternatives that are omitted from your list.

          • David Shepherd May 1, 2017 at 11:28 pm #

            Penelope,

            The adoptive role is subsidiary to the bond of kindred which St. Augustine clarified to be the first natural bond of human society. Joseph’s role was subsidiary to Jesus’ divine sonship (Luke 2:49)

            SSM advocates, such as the International Lesbian and Gay Association, have sought to amend marriage law to support LGBT family intentions, which undermine at least half of the child’s natural origin and identity.

            This is why same-sex sexual relationships are thoroughly incongruous with the natural bond of kinship.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 11:32 am #

            Christopher what is a fused human being?
            Again, are you suggesting that sexual intimacy which is not open to the creation of a fused human being cannot be unitive? (Note, I said sexual intimacy. I have physical intimacy with my grandchildren and my dogs. It is nor sexual).
            If something is not ‘designed’ for a particular service, are you suggesting it is unnatural /immoral to use it for that purpose? Are foot and mouth painters immoral?
            I am not suggesting an alternative to lifelong marriage, as you would know if you had read my comments.
            I see your distinction about artificial contraception, but I would argue that a device makes no difference whatsoever to the morality of the act. The morality is in the intention.
            We’re back to this distinction which I simply do not understand. What are quasi sexual activities? If you mea anal sex, both straight and gay couples engage in it.
            If you mean activities such as mutual masturbation, oral sex and intercrural intercouse (which are not open to conception) then we have already agreed that these are not intrinsically immoral, so I don’t know what you mean by quasi sexual.
            Interesting comment about other animals not being exclusively gay. Does this mean that we humans have a more fluid orientation that than was once though, or that humans are ‘designed’ to be more exclusive? Or that we are more exclusive through moral choice? Lots of examples of same-sex and other-sex mutual affection have been observed in other animals.
            Adoptive parents are not biologically parents. Nor are step parents. They create families. They may be mixed sex or same sex.
            Unnatural? See my comment about foot and mouth painters.
            I suppose by secret, shameful acts, you mean seduction and rape? Yes, they dis and do result in unwanted pregnancies. But so did perfectly licit marital sexual intimacy which was ended with abortifacients or with exposure after birth – especially if the child was disabled or female. Children were disposed of long before the so-called sexual revolution.
            See above about contraception, abortion and exposure. The desire to limit families is hardly a fashion of this age.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 11:39 am #

            Who are my mother and my siblings, David? Doesn’t the new creation suggest a new kind of kinship? The distinction between mixed sex and same sex adoptive couples is artificial and illusory. Are children with single parents not parented, are children at boarding schools?

          • Christopher Shell May 2, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

            ‘Fused’: All human beings come into being as a fusion of mum’s and dad’s contributions.

            The ‘caanot be unitive’ thing I have addressed so many times. I must not again repeat the same point: there are degrees of unitive but how can any of these be spoken of in the same breath as the miracle of a new human being (unitive of mum’s and dad’s contributions)? That is just in a whole different league.

            Foot/mouth: no it is not unnatural or immoral unless (a) it is so intrinsically unhealthy as to cause disease and therefore requires ‘protection’ because of its unhealthy nature; or (b) it involves intimacy outside marriage. The things for which you advocate sometimes are (a) , (b) or both. Foot/mouth painters by contrast are in not the slightest danger of either (a) or (b) which makes them not a good analogy.

            A device just takes matters further away from the way that organisms seem most obviously designed to function.

            Quasi-sexual: Sexual implies the meeting of the sexes, so quasi-sexual is where this is not actually the case.

            No, I don’t mean ‘anal sex’ by ‘quasi-sexual’. I mean the array of physically intimate activities that are exclusively male (or, in other contexts, exclusively female).

            Whoa! You say ‘We have already agreed that these are not intrinsically immoral’. Where?? This is the reverse of the truth. Like the typical Christian I think physical intimacy outside marriage – of the sort that could not take place in a family setting – is immoral.

            The things you list are fine in marriage and anything but fine outside it. You lump the 2 settings together, as though acts are equally good in all contexts! I utterly dissociate myself from that.

            Putting ideas in humans’ minds automatically makes their so-called orientation more fluid, because the idea is parent to the experiment.

            Humans are more fluid intrinsically than almost all other animals. They are more changeable and adaptable and unpredictable.

            I am glad that you agree with using terms like ‘adoptive parent’ and ‘stepparent’. Lumping them all together as ‘parents’ (a) reduces clarity, (b) is etymologically inaccurate, (c) removes any word reserved for one of the most common realities there is (mum-dad-kids), (d) looks to me ideologically motivated.

            Why do we need the term ‘biological parent’? What is wrong with ‘parent’ (as opposed to ‘stepparent’, ‘adoptive parent’)?

            There are many shameful and secret acts other than the 2 you name. Most obviously fornication and adultery.

            Children were disposed of long before the sexual revolution? I know.

            The desire to limit families may not be a fashion of this age, but look how incredibly different post-1960s family-size is.
            -Families are FAR smaller.
            -Our whole economic system is set up in a way that assumes that this will be the case.
            -The amount of time it took to bring this volte-face about was 1-2 generations. That is incredibly quick.
            -Logically, you would think that abortion would have been more widespread when contraception was less so. But the reverse has been the case. They have grown in tandem.

          • David Shepherd May 2, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

            Penelope,

            You wrote: ‘Adoptive parents are not biologically parents. Nor are step parents. They create families. They may be mixed sex or same sex.’

            You further probe: ‘Who are my mother and my siblings, David? Doesn’t the new creation suggest a new kind of kinship? The distinction between mixed sex and same sex adoptive couples is artificial and illusory.’

            Your focus on adoptive parenthood is a ‘red herring’, since this not regulated by marriage law and is subsidiary to the joint primary parenthood conferred through the marital presumption of legitimacy.

            In terms of new creation, Christ certainly didn’t intend his words to be construed as legitimizing the usurpation of a child’s known and willing other biological parent (and half of the child’s identity) by a same-sex partner.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 8:17 pm #

            Did he not David, did he not? What on earth do you mean by the usurpation of a willing other biological parent? Do you not know that many children who are disabled, troubled, have been abused,are adopted by same-sex couples because other sex couples aren’t prepared to make the requisite sacrifices? Is not their compassion Christlike?

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 8:36 pm #

            Christopher you clearly have more stamina than I, so I may have to leave the conversation after this.
            Most of the sexual intimacies I listed are not unhealthy, nor was I ever speaking of intimacy outside marriage. All these intimacies were broached within that context. There are no sexual intimacies which are exclusively male. There are some sexual intimacies which are impossible for lesbians, such as anal sex and penile-vaginal penetration (unless accomplished with a dildo).
            Fluidity has little to do with putting ideas in people’s minds, cf. fluidity in other animals.
            We don’t need the any other name than parent. A step parent, an adoptive parents, parents of the same sex, are parents.
            Yes, fornication (seduction) and adultery also provoked the use of abortifacients and exposure. That doesn’t undermine my point that there have always been unwanted pregnancies.
            The difference in size of families, which may not be so great as you suppose given high rates of infant mortality in the past, are owing to safe and effective contraception. Which I see as a good thing.
            Actually, you are completely wrong about the abortion/contraception link. Where contraception is free (or cheap), safe and accessible,abortion rates fall. As has the number of teenage (unmarried) pregnancies in the U.K.

          • David Shepherd May 3, 2017 at 7:36 pm #

            Penelope,

            You wrote: ‘Did he not David, did he not? Of course, the context of Jesus prioritising His spiritual kinship with those who do the will of God is not the same as same-sex couple seeking through marriage law to legitimise their intention to be joint parents, while undermining the biological father’s parenthood.

            You ask: What on earth do you mean by the usurpation of a willing other biological parent?

            The presumption of legitimacy holds that a child born within the subsistence of a marriage is deemed to be the child of the husband.

            In jurisdictions, such as the US, Canada and the Netherlands, which have enacted same-sex marriage, this presumption (which has always been predicated upon biological probability) is now being misapplied to lesbian partners, granting them joint parenthood of the birth mother’s children conceived by any means during the marriage. This elevation of same-sex partners to joint parenthood through marriage is unwarranted and usurps the parental status of the child’s biological father.

            Despite this injustice towards the child’s natural identity, the International Lesbian and Gay Association want this presumption to be enforced on behalf of same-sex couples everywhere. They even drafted the following article to be adopted as part of EU Law:
            Parental Affiliation
            Article 12 – Spouses and registered partners: ‘A person who is the spouse or registered partners of a child’s parent at the time of that child’s birth shall also be considered as a parent, regardless of genetic connection.’

            You ask: Do you not know that many children who are disabled, troubled, have been abused,are adopted by same-sex couples because other sex couples aren’t prepared to make the requisite sacrifices? Is not their compassion Christlike?

            In response, did you not know that God takes a dim view of selective obedience, as He declared through the prophet Samuel to King Saul: Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams (1 Sam. 5:22)

            I would re-iterate that adoption has nothing to do with marriage, since it is subsidiary arrangement to the parenthood which the law presumes of the husband through marriage.

          • Christopher Shell May 3, 2017 at 9:41 pm #

            Penelope – you say that fluidity has little to do with putting ideas in people’s minds. What then is your alternative explanation for increased fluidity of late? 1993-2013 (British Social Attitudes Survey) UK women quadrupled in 20 years in same-sex ‘sexual’ involvement. There are primarily social reasons for that, no?

            On the term ‘parent’, I could not disagree more:
            -Distinguishing terms increases clarity; lumping disparate realities together is inimical to clarity.
            -And, worse, it may have ideological motivation.
            -Any situation where we are left with no word to describe one of the most widespread realities that there is (being a mum/dad of children) fails both the 2 above tests spectacularly.

            You say that difference in family size may not have previously been as big as I suppose given high rates of infant mortality. I am sure that this can be accurately discovered with a bit of research; of course, infants who died just increase the family size of previous generations even further.

            I am not wrong about the abortion-contraception link, since both of the two have significantly increased in tandem since the sexual revolution.

            How do you know whether teenage pregnancies have fallen? The increasing availability of the MAP makes that impossible to determine.

  17. Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 8:43 pm #

    Jonathan, I have five propositions. Could you indicate which ones you regard as true and which false? If false, could you say why. Thanks.

    (1) Pederasty is never specifically mentioned in the NT.

    (2) Pederasty was not by any means regarded as the only manifestation of male-male sex in the first century Mediterranean world, just the best known and most widespread.

    (3) Lesbianism: when Paul mentions this he does not speak of any exploitation.

    (4) Lesbianism : when Paul mentions this he does not speak of any age difference between participants.

    (5) Lesbianism and homosexual intercourse – when Paul mentions these he mentions them in parallel. (‘Likewise’) – so, generally speaking, what he is saying about the one he is also saying about the other.

    • Jonathan Tallon April 27, 2017 at 9:49 am #

      Very briefly:
      1. Pederasty is the assumed default – you don’t need to specify it because that’s what everyone will understand.
      2. Not just the best known – overwhelmingly the dominant form. In contrast, faithful, equal male-male sex relationships weren’t known or widespread.
      3. Paul doesn’t refer to lesbianism. He is referring to sex between women and men.
      4. See 3.
      5. See 3.

      • Christopher Shell April 27, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

        Jonathan, you say that Paul is not mentioning lesbianism, but if the 7 leading full-length critical university commentaries that have studied the flow of thought in the letter as a whole all disagree with you it is not merely 7 against 1, it is 7 leading experts against one non leading-expert.

        Which interpretation to follow, then?

  18. Nick April 26, 2017 at 9:35 pm #

    Where does Paul mention Lesbianism? If you are referring to Romans 1:26, this refers to women engaging in unnatural intercourse, but does not say what those acts were or whether they were with men or women.

    • Christopher Shell April 26, 2017 at 9:53 pm #

      What should readers do, Nick, listen to you or to the writers of the main critical commentaries? Which of these do you judge to be better?

      The ones I have on my shelf are Barrett, Cranfield, Dunn, Fitzmyer, Moo, Jewett, Byrne. These and Wright all without exception agree that lesbianism is referred to, because of the ‘likewise’ at the start of 1.27. How can the passage’s thought run smoothly and economically otherwise? Relinquishing the complementarity of the opposite gender in favour of ‘more of the same’ is clearly central to the passage as a whole.

      If a person speaks as you do on this matter it is seven against one – except that the seven are authorities and the one (be it you or I) is not.

      • Penelope Cowell Doe April 28, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

        Christopher we,be had this argument before. All those commentators are conservatives with their own assumptions. Paul may have meant that. I, and others, would argue that it is far more likely to condemn transgressive ‘heterosexual’ sex with the woman taking a more active part. Women were meant to be penetrated, submissive, compliant. Sex with the woman on top was considered so filthy that prostitutes charged more for it.

        • David Shepherd April 28, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

          Oh, and you and others who differ are objective commentators who are, thankfully, free from assumptions of your own?

          P-lease!

          • Christopher Shell April 28, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

            The philosophical fallacy you fall into here is (correct me if I’m wrong) Bulverism. It assumes that the reason people say things is not because the evidence points that way (perish the thought…) but ‘you only say that because you’re a man’ or ‘you only say that because you’re a liberal / conservative’.

            In any educational setting, evidence is obviously all. If you say, ‘as a liberal/conservative I believe…’ you get, and deserve, nul points.

          • Christopher Shell April 28, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

            Penelope, the philosophical fallacy you fall into here is (correct me if I’m wrong) Bulverism. It assumes that the reason people say things is not because the evidence points that way (perish the thought…) but ‘you only say that because you’re a man’ or ‘you only say that because you’re a liberal / conservative’.

            In any educational setting, evidence is obviously all. If you say, ‘as a liberal/conservative I believe…’ you get, and deserve, nul points.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 29, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

            David Did I say that? We all have assumptions. Many of us have privilege. I am no more objective than Tom Wright. But I am aware of that fact.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 10:17 am #

            Oh, and you may have noticed that I said, I would argue….not it is so.

        • Christopher Shell April 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

          Penelope, that is the most wrong thing you have said so far.

          You seem to be imagining a world split into conservatives and liberals. That is what the media and the man in the street imagine.

          ‘Conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are two impossible positions to hold. How could every single topic in the world have a correct solution that is conservative? or liberal?

          These are ideologies. And ideology is the enemy of scholarship.

          Anyone who is conservative or liberal (and you and I have both met such people) is not a scholar.

          Scholars are truth-seekers,
          evidence-based,
          neutral,
          follow the evidence where it leads,
          eclectic.

          They are better at this than the general public, because they have been trained that way.

          They are not always brilliant at it, but they are better than anyone else at it.

          Are you actually saying that every single one of the full-length critical university-level commentaries (i.e. the go-to works for the top scholars) are biased?

          What about the way that scholars are trained to avoid and compensate for personal bias?

          You are basically saying that there is not an honest unbiased person in the world. Not even those who are specifically trained to be unbiased.

          That would be incredibly sad if it were true, but we are living in a world with 7 billion people. What evidence do you have that all 7 billion are biased?

          Even if they were (!! which would be an odd state of affairs) some would be a great deal less biased than others. Probably those who have been trained to be objective and love truth.

          Is it true that what you say means that no-one at all is truthful or honest?

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 29, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

            Christopher Ideology is the inevitable bed-fellow of scholarship. We can all be aware of bias and privilege, but awareness does not remove the bias and privilege. Wright and Moo are conservative scholars. James Crossley and Dale Martin are liberal scholars (tho’, I doubt Crossley would like that label), Borg or Crossan then.
            In an academic setting self reflectivity – being aware of and admitting one’s own biases and privileges is pretty important. No-one pretends to be objective – at least in the humanities.

          • Christopher Shell April 29, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

            Do you honestly think that all scholars or all people are equally good/bad at neutralising their own preferences or biases?

            It is obvious that some will be better than others at doing that. it is also obvious that scholars will be better at doing it –
            since it is a part of the scholarly discipline – than nonscholars.

          • Christopher Shell April 29, 2017 at 9:16 pm #

            Crossley would call himself a radical not a liberal perhaps. This binary conservative/liberal is just stultifying.

            If he is a radical it is possible to be radically conservative. His and Casey’s dating of the gospels – and very positive view of the historicity of Mark, and to an extent Matt and Luke – is often seen as radically conservative. (It isn’t, by the way, it is just truth-seeking. So we *can’t* divide scholars – of all people – into liberals and conservatives.)

            Goulder was seen as highly radical. So why did he agree that Paul wrote ”Ephesians” (Laodiceans) and that Luke wrote Luke? Because he was an honest truth-seeker. Not a liberal, not a conservative.

            QED – your classification does not stand.

            I repeat: ideology is the enemy and opposite of scholarship. Scholarship ends with the conclusion, ideology begins with it.

          • Nick April 29, 2017 at 9:22 pm #

            Objectivity is always difficult. It comes from self reflectivity as Penelope has said. I think that is why, when Paul speaks of “speaking the truth in love” he starts the passage by talking of humility.

            “No one pretends to be objective – at least in humanities” No need for the additional words it applies equally in the sciences.

            From my experience, I do not think that it is obvious that that Scholars will be better at doing it.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 10:25 am #

            Christopher I agree that liberal/conservative is a, sometimes unhelpful binary. I know radical scholars (who would be considered radical in some senses) who would argue that both Ephesians and Colossians are Pauline. I was using it to show that we all, scholars not excepted have bias and privilege. Perhaps some scholars are more aware of their own bias and privilege and attempt to overcome it. But that does not remove the bias and privilege.

        • David Shepherd April 29, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

          Penelope,

          Until challenged, you simply highlighted bias among conservatives, while omitting any mention of a similar lack of objectivity among liberal scholars.

          You’ve now corrected this.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 10:16 am #

            I always acknowledge scholarly bias to counter those who believe it is possible for scholars to be objective. I don’t need to be challenged to do that.

          • David Shepherd April 30, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

            Nevertheless, in the first instance, you highlighted this bias for conservative scholars without attributing the same bias to those who agree with you.

            You did need to be challenged to correct your omission and declaring: ‘I would argue’ (who doesn’t?) does not change that.

          • Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

            Penelope, it is presumptuous for you to say that you know that all scholars (of all people) are biased. How do you know that? It may be that some are not.

            In any case, you acknowledge that degrees of possible bias vary widely, so they may potentially vary down to levels of zero or virtually zero.

          • Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

            But my main point is that even using the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ is to speak in primarily ideological terms…

            …yet the profession we are talking about (the scholarly profession) is the one profession that’s most of all duty bound to avoid ideology.

            So you have used a primary classification system that uses only inadmissible categories (anyone who is ideologically liberal or conservative cannot, ipso facto, be a scholar).

            We should be speaking in terms of being truth-seeking and evidence-based.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

            David I don’t ‘need’ to be challenged by anyone. Don’t be so arrogant.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

            Christopher it is not presumptuous. We, including scholars, all have biases. Most, perhaps especially scholars, who are an elite, have privilege. All of us. Tom Wright is ideologically a conservative. Dale Martin is ideologically a liberal. We read their research with that knowledge.

          • Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 8:20 pm #

            Penelope:

            Was Tom Wright ideologically a conservative when he recommended changing ‘the wrath of God was satisfied’ to ‘the love of God’. No: for the nth time, liberalism and conservatism did not come into it.They never do. It is purely a matter of his educated reading of the text.

            He was consulted on Steve Chalke’s book (usually classified as liberal) ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’. SC of course is not a scholar and I doubt he fully understood the intricacies of TW’s position.

            Was Tom Wright a conservative when he opposed the blasphemy law?

            Was Tom Wright a conservative when he used ‘she’ for the Romans 8 groaning Holy Spirit?

            The scholars he opposes most in his 1996 Jesus book are not usually at the liberal end of the spectrum, and it is often on quite technical points that he opposes them: Fredriksen, LT Johnson [who only after 1996 came to be classified as more liberal], Allison at times. I don’t know what it would be to oppose a stance merely for being conservative/liberal. No stance can be wrong for that reason. It is wrong if the evidence does not support it. While you continue to classify in a non-evidence-centred way but rather in a way that puts ideology of all things at the forefront, I will therefore continue to see any such way of looking at things as demonstrably wrong.

            You call Dale Martin a liberal. There are indeed liberals and conservatives in the world, but I classify them (if they are unremitting in this tendency) as ideologues rather than scholars.

            There is no reason why being gay oneself could possibly make the accurate interpretation of any text (biblical or otherwise) one iota different.

            You are just being dogmatic in asserting that all scholars have biases. You cannot possibly know whether that is untrue or true. In fact, in the case of most scholars (since there are hundreds of thousands of them) you have never read a word they have written.

            There are just too many counter-arguments, showing your stereotypical classification to be simplistically inaccurate.

          • David Shepherd April 30, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

            Penelope,

            It’s not arrogant to present the facts as revealed in this comment thread.

            So, let’s agree that you didn’t ‘need’ to be challenged about your bias in highlighting about the seven experts whom Christopher mentioned: All those commentators are conservatives with their own assumptions.

            Nevertheless, that’s a distraction from your mistaken notion that the emphasis in Gen. 2 is on sameness and not difference. Especially, when you’ve merely asserted without evidence that the passage from St. Augustine supports this.

            Still, it would be interesting to see how the good of marriage which endures beyond procreation (described by St. Augustine as the natural partnership of difference in sexes) might be interpreted as affirming same-sex sexual relationships:
            naturalem in diverso sexu societatem

            Of course, I’ve heard the lame argument that St. Augustine wrote this unaware of the kind of PSF same-sex couples which we see today.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

            David. Why is the argument that St Augustine (or the gospel writers or Paul) did not know about consensual, faithful same-sex relationships lame? Evidence please.
            Your previous quotation from Augustine which I can’t find in this long thread emphasised society in marriage.
            Gen..2 does emphasise the sameness of Adam and Eve, not their difference. Difference isn’t really mentioned until after the expulsion from Eden. We cannot know what they are to God, but in Gen. 1 they are made in His image.
            The logic of Augustine’s statement is that if sex is not generative, it is still permissible.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 1, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

            Hello Christopher. I missed this. Yes, I am claiming that all scholars are biased and privileged. I don’t need to read them all to say this. Calling the HS she and changing the words of that ghastly hymn does not make Wright a radical. I think he would agree that he is a conservative scholar.
            I don’t think you understand. I’m not saying scholars put ideology first. That would be polemic or apologetic, not scholarship. I am arguing that all of us, even you, work with assumptions, preconceptions and privilege which we can acknowledge or ignore. It affects the way we react to music, art etc.; it affects the way we read texts. You say that Dale Martin being gay doesn’t make an iota of difference. But you once claimed in another thread on another of Ian’s blogs that Martin had read a text in a particular way only because he is gay. So you seemed to be arguing there that some (conservative, straight) scholars can be objective, whilst some (gay) ones can’t.

          • Christopher Shell May 1, 2017 at 8:58 pm #

            Yes you do need to read scholars before saying such uncomplimentary things about them. I do understand the point you are making. We all have contexts. It does not in any way follow that we will privilege our own experiences and contexts and preferences over those of others. In fact, scholars of all people are best able to avoid doing that.

            At the Fulcrum launch NT Wright expressed impatience with those who are always talking in terms of right-wing and left-wing. This remains his (excellent) perspective. As he said: birds need two wings but more importantly their fulcrum and point of balance is their actual body not either of their wings.

            What you say about Dale Martin causes me to see that you have misinterpreted the more recent of the 2 comments you mention.

            Your final sentence has more than one mistake:
            As you know I consider anyone who is conservative in all matters (as though that were possible) an ideologue. It is not a stance I approve. I approve only evidence-based, open-minded stances.
            Otherwise it comes down to individuals. I may have mentioned particular individuals being or not being objective, but that is only because they may be suspected of eisegesis related to their private concerns. It is not because they are ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’, ‘gay’, ‘straight’ or anything else. Nor would any such judgment of mine apply to whole bodies of people -when making such an assessment one could only take assertions (let alone whole papers, let alone whole oeuvres, let alone whole scholarly movements!) one by one, each on their own merits.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 1, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

            Christopher I’m not being ‘uncomplimentary’. This is not a criticism. We all have contexts – as you say; some of us have privilege. You said that Dale Martin had reached a certain conclusion because he is gay.
            Fulcrum has a view, as does OneBodyOneFaith. Neither is disinterested. Labels can be crude. But we need them to describe trends in scholarship. For example, in Pauline stdies, Lutheran, new perspective, new consensus etc.

          • David Shepherd May 1, 2017 at 10:30 pm #

            Penelope,

            That argument is lame because it’s only invoked as the ‘fall-back’ special pleading, once revisionists fail in attempting to argue from scripture and tradition.

            As I’ve stated above, your reference to sameness only focuses on the significance of Eve to Adam.

            Your supposed argument from silence is invalid because:
            i) Adam’s perspective is not God’s.
            ii) the significance of Adam and Eve’s union to God is different from this and, in fact, we can know this, since it is indicated in the preceding chapter: ‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ (Gen. 1:27Open in Logos Bible Software (if available))

            Male and female in the context of this declaration of God’s creation of man indicates the fundamental importance of sexual difference in the divine impetus for fruitfulness before the Fall.

            You conclude with the laziest ever and most intellectually dishonest gloss of St. Augustine’s doctrine of marriage when you claim that ‘the logic of St. Augustine’s statement is that if sex is not generative, it is still permissible’. Really? Is any non-generative sex permissible? Or just the kind of non-generative sex that would exonerate same-sex couples?

            Of course, here, you’ve simply elided St. Augustine’s teaching on the enduring marital good of ‘natural partnership in difference of sexes’ because to engage with this would seriously undermine your argument.

            In fact, given your implausible arguments, you are better off sticking to the pursuit of special pleading exemptions from scripture, tradition and reason for same-sex sexual relationships.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 11:53 am #

            David. Your tone does not really deserve an answer. But I am polite. We cannot know the significance of Adam an Eve’s union from Gen. 1, since they do not appear in that chapter. And yes, I do have software which opens biblical texts as well as various printed bibles, some in foreign tongues! Gen. 1 and 2 are different creation myths. But I will give you credit for knowing that and not point out how to find out that they were written by different authors at different times.
            I think you’ve given yourself away when you mention non-procreative sexual activity which woul ‘exonerate’ same-sex couples. Why would any consensual sexual activity have to be exonerated if it is not assumed that the only purpose of sex is procreation.
            Even Augustine didn’t believe that.
            I haven’t eluded Augustine’s teaching on natural partnership existing in difference of sexes. I said that his description of companionship would describe same-sex relationships. I think he is wrong about the difference in sex being needed for mutuality and natural partnership.
            Being respectful to the bible and tradition means reading attentively, respectfully, critically and with reason.

          • Will Jones May 2, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

            Penelope, you ask: Why would any consensual sexual activity have to be exonerated if it is not assumed that the only purpose of sex is procreation?

            You’re committing a fallacy here. Just because something is not the sole purpose of an activity, that in no way implies that it is irrelevant to it. Consider that communicating truth is not the only purpose of speech. But that doesn’t mean that truth is irrelevant to the proper use of speech.

            Individual sex acts can be legitimate without procreation being aimed at. But that doesn’t mean procreation is irrelevant to considerations of what makes a sexual relationship, and thus a sex act, legitimate. You can’t move from one statement to the other by mere logical inference.

            Procreation, and more generally the mutual gender relation, is integral to the proper constitution of sexual relationships because of what sex is and how it relates to gender and the reproductive function. This larger picture should be evident from nature. But for the avoidance of doubt it is abundantly evident from scripture.

          • David Shepherd May 2, 2017 at 4:13 pm #

            Penelope,

            I guess it was only a matter of time for comments to be posted reflecting the BRGS’s hand-wringing overwrought efforts to improve ‘tone’.

            However, you don’t mince your words more than anyone else here. And the castigation by SSM advocates of orthodox Christian teaching on sexual morality as homophobia has been far from polite engagement. So, I’m not sure why you’d expect your unworthy gloss on St. Augustine’s doctrine of marriage to be treated with any more respect.

            On the basis that Adam and Eve don’t appear in Gen. 1, you assert that we cannot know anything of the significance of Adam and Eve’s union from it, as this only appears in Gen. 2.

            So, your corollary is that, in addressing questions of sexual morals, we should not integrate accounts from both chapters together.

            Only thing is that, in addressing the issue of God’s enduring intention for marriage to be permanent, Jesus did exactly the opposite of your assertion.

            In replying to the question about divorce for any cause, Jesus said: ‘“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ [Gen. 1:27] For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.’ [Gen. 2:24] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:5-8)

            Christ Himself set the precedent in linking the significance of Adam and Eve’s union back to the creation of sexual difference in Gen. 1, but, perhaps, you consider Him mistaken in doing so.

            You also assert: ‘I think you’ve given yourself away when you mention non-procreative sexual activity which would ‘exonerate’ same-sex couples. Why would any consensual sexual activity have to be exonerated if it is not assumed that the only purpose of sex is procreation?’

            I assumed nothing of the kind. I actually wrote: ‘ Is any non-generative sex permissible? Or just the kind of non-generative sex that would exonerate same-sex couples?’

            So, let me be more specific. I can’t believe that you’d argue that, according to Augustine, consensual sexual activity (whether procreative or not) is also permissible when it’s polygamous or between close family members. So, your only purpose for this gloss on Augustine is the permissibility of same-sex sex.

            You may well opine: ‘ I think he is wrong about the difference in sex being needed for mutuality and natural partnership.’.

            Platonic friends can have mutuality and partnership. St. Augustine didn’t make an assertion that difference in sex was needed for human mutuality and partnership any more that he made an assertion that permanence is needed for human mutuality and partnership.

            He did declare that, beyond procreation, the ‘natural partnership in a difference of sex’ is revealed through scripture as the enduring good of marriage.

            That much can be understood by ‘reading attentively, respectfully, critically and with reason’!

          • Christopher Shell May 2, 2017 at 5:15 pm #

            You say we need labels to describe trends in scholarship, but no-one can be forced to regard as scholarship any (by historical standards) eccentric ‘interpretations’ that are neatly aligned with the ‘interpreter’s’ own historical context/milieu and minority personal circumstances.

            You say that OBOF and Fulcrum have a ‘view’. But the word view seems to me so vague as to be meaningless (it is a weasel word, as they say), since the same word ‘view’ can be used in the most scholarly way (view A = research-based conclusion) and also in the least scholarly (view B = ideology). It is an intrinsically unscholarly and vague word, and it can be conveniently used to pretend that these two entirely opposite things A-B are actually one and the same!!!

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

            Christopher. Did I say we needed ‘labels’? I thought I said we all had bias and privilege.
            What is an eccentric interpretation? Who judges it to be eccentric.
            Fulcrum and OBOF probably both have a scholarly view and an ideological view. Since you were at the Fulcrum launch can I infer which view you prefer?

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 8:07 pm #

            David I agree. An attempt to improve ‘tone’ without addressing underlying issues such as homophobia and rudeness is merely cosmetic.
            I ‘opined’ that Augustine was wrong. (BTW is that an irregular verb: I know, you argue, s/he opines?)
            Jesus may have linked the 2 creation accounts, but he was teaching about Adam and Eve’s relationship with each other. Not their relationship to God (which was your earlier point).
            We’ve already had the discussion on Augustine’s view that natural partnership implies a difference in sex. And I have already said, sorry opined, that I disagree.
            If Jesus taught that God’s enduring intention was for marriage to be permanent, we haven’t been very obedient have we? We have a Canon which states that marriage is lifelong (not meant to be, is), but it isn’t, is it?
            Lastly, I do mince my words. But I am not egregiously rude.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

            Sorry, Will, is it? Is procreation assumed in the NT texts?

          • Will Jones May 2, 2017 at 10:19 pm #

            Hi Penelope. It is a fallacy to move: X is not the only purpose of A; therefore X is irrelevant to A.

            I think procreation must be assumed in the NT, carried over from the OT, as it isn’t stated explicitly there as a purpose of marriage. But as I said above, procreation as it bears on the legitimacy of sexual relationships needs to be seen in the context of the whole nature of gender and sex and their place in the created natural order. That is definitely in the NT e.g Romans 1.

          • Christopher Shell May 2, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

            Penelope – When I spoke of an eccentric interpretation I meant one that looks strange and way-out compared to the results of the working out of exegetical conclusions by scholars down the years. ‘Sticks out like a sore thumb.’ ‘Ec-centric’ you’ll be able to analyse etymologically.

            Fulcrum and OBOF are both scholarly and both ideological? ‘Probably’, you say. Saying teh word ‘propbably’ is not evidence for something actually being true. It would be nice and fair and convenient if that were true – but in truth you would ‘probably’ say the same about all scholars and movements, before you even studied them. That is not acceptable, because it is based on no evidence – worse, it is based on a massive generalisation and that generalisation is totalitarian.

            Have you seen the standard of work in ‘Amazing Love’? I critique it a little in my recent chapter in ‘What Are They Teaching the Children?’.

            I was not at the Fulcrum launch, nor did I say I was at it.

          • David Shepherd May 3, 2017 at 12:23 am #

            Penelope,

            You wrote: ‘Jesus may have linked the 2 creation accounts, but he was teaching about Adam and Eve’s relationship with each other. Not their relationship to God (which was your earlier point).’

            In respect of Gen. 2, I actually wrote:
            i) Adam’s perspective is not God’s
            ii) the significance of Adam and Eve’s union to God is different from this

            Perhaps, a slight rearrangement of the words would clarify: ii) ‘the significance to God of Adam and Eve’s union is different from this’. And Jesus was teaching about the significance to God of their union, in that creating them male and female remains the unrevoked divine impetus of sexual union. This is surely why Christ concludes ‘what God has joined together, let not man put asunder’

            In terms of marriage doctrine and pastoral accommodation, let’s be very clear, all divorcees who wish to re-marry in the CofE are expected to acknowledge that divorce is a breach of God’s will. This pastoral accommodation is not a denial of the church’s doctrine of marriage.

            By comparison, I doubt that many same-sex married couples would countenance a pastoral accommodation which required that they similarly acknowledge that same-sex marriage is a breach of God’s will.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 3, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

            Hi Will. You think it must be assumed. I don’t. Partly because there would be no need for offspring given the imminence of the Parousia.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 3, 2017 at 6:09 pm #

            Jesus was teaching the indissolubilty of marriage. Naturally he put it in the context of male/female. SSM was no more a first-century reality than in vitro fertilisation. Nevertheless, lex orandi, lex credendi, B30 states that marriage “is” lifelong which it clearly isn’t. Canon and a rite assert something which is no longer true. That’s more than pastoral accommodation.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 3, 2017 at 6:13 pm #

            Christopher sorry, you mentioned Wright at the Fulcrum launch so I assumed you were there. Yes, I have see criticisms of Amazing Love. I have also read some ghastly exegesis and theology from Martin Davie. Kind of cuts both ways.
            I’m not accusing you of this, but some commentators assume that conservative scholarship is neutral, disinterested and objective whilst liberal scholarship is biased and distinctive. Funny that.

          • David Shepherd May 3, 2017 at 8:20 pm #

            Penelope,

            I’ve sought to engage with all of your points, whereas you’re now just cherry-picking for what you presume to be discrepancies. On that basis, I think that any further exchange would be fruitless. However, I will address your remarks.

            forstly, in addressing first-century divorce, Jesus harked all the way back to Genesis (before the Fall) as the basis of His teaching on marriage when divorce was not a reality.

            Despite the passage of many centuries and even Moses’ accommodation of divorce, Jesus still declared the Genesis archetype to be perpetually applicable. So, why not tell Him that divorce was no more a reality for Adam before the Fall than the Second Temple?

            In fact, it’s a special pleading for same-sex couples to remove male-female aspect of marriage from the Genesis archetype.

            Whatever you insist about the canon law of marriage, there is a clear trajectory for pastorally accommodating divorcees, which derives from the dominical and apostolic allowance for victims of sexual immorality (Matt. 5:32; Matt. 19:9) and desertion (1 Cor. 7:15).

            For same-sex sexual relationships, there is no similar trajectory for pastoral accommodation which derives from dominical or apostolic precedent.

          • Christopher Shell May 3, 2017 at 9:20 pm #

            Here I differ for sure: I think that science is the main way we can demonstrate whether something is harmful. Something that produces disease is harmful. Something that produces lower levels of happiness and higher levels of ‘mental-health’ issues like depression (i.e. the promiscuity associated with the sexual revolution) is by that measure a bad thing.

            Science is just investigation about the nature of reality. (Although there is more to be said: the hypothesis method etc..)

            Well, of course 2000 years is a plenty long enough period to find (not ‘a dissenting voice’, which sets the whole thing up in a binary way, but) a range of conclusions. But that is utterly irrelevant. Who cares what so-called conclusions we and others come to? The only thing that matters is the quality of *evidence* on which those ‘conclusions’ are based. Don’t you agree?

          • Christopher Shell May 3, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

            Penelope you said that, although you were not accusing me of this, you have found the view that conservative scholarship is objective and disinterested, and liberal scholarship is not. Too right you are not accusing me of this, since as you know I would waste time on neither liberal nor conservative scholarship, nor (broadly) would I classify it as scholarship anyway. Scholarship by definition is truth-seeking and evidence-based, not ideological. Among the scholars I most admire are Bauckham, Wright, Casey, Goulder – all truth-seekers and all (crucially) having a very detailed knowledge of the available evidence.

            You say that apparent weaknesses in Martin Davie’s work counterbalance those in OBOF, but how can I be convinced that you will not always come up with a conclusion that emphasises counterbalance? This is supposed to be what one does in polite society, but how can it always be accurate? The world is very big, and very frequently counterbalance will not be present. If one compares the work of Wright with that of OBOF, then Wright’s will generally be better because he is capable of a better level of analysis.

          • Will Jones May 4, 2017 at 11:16 am #

            Hi Penelope. I’m sure it is assumed. Both Jesus and Paul assume people will continue to marry and that married couples will continue to have sex – Paul instructs them not to withhold sex, and advises young widows to remarry. Marriage and sex obviously produced children, and this assumption is evident in e.g. 1 Cor 7:14 and in the instructions to households moving seamlessly from those for husbands and wives to those concerning children. The eschatological frame added an ideal or gift of celibacy for the unmarried, but it did not change the nature of marriage – the only change Jesus seemed to envisage was stricter divorce regulation, a return to the original intention.

            But either way, the OT is scripture too, and procreation is only the most remarkable of the features of the binary natural order for sex and gender which God has ordained for humanity to inhabit. Can it really be doubted that the concept of marriage in both Old and New Testaments is male-female? Your attempts to erase the importance of gender difference from the biblical concept of marriage is, apart from anything else, hopelessly anachronistic.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 4, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

            David
            I cherry pick
            You build a whole (and anachronistic) edifice of heteronormative marriage from a teaching of Jesus on divorce, itself based on a mythical narrative which makes no mention of marriage unless you try to harmonise it with another mythical narrative, which doesn’t mention marriage either until after the expulsion from Eden.
            I think you misunderstand that when Canon law and liturgy assert something which clearly isn’t so, it might be better to amend the rather ghastly B30.
            Believe me, I have no wish to continue this conversation.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 4, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

            Hi Will. I am finding it increasingly difficult to scroll through all these comments. So on last reply, if you don’t mind. Yes, Jesus does mention marriage and Paul commends it for the lustful. But neither valorise procreation and Jesus modelled and advocated new kinds of kinship. Paul, if it was he, gave advice in the household code of Ephesians but that presumes a Xian household already in existence. Many households must have converted as a body.
            I find the idea of a biblical concept of marriage anachronistic. There are too many models. Many of which may be superseded in the new creation.
            Genesis may present one archetype (or we may have read that archetype into one of many creation narratives), but one archetype models what is good. It does not tell us what isn’t good.

          • Will Jones May 4, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

            Hi Penelope. No problem. I will give a few replies to your points, but it’s nothing I haven’t said before:

            1. I think you exaggerate the diversity in biblical models of marriage and underplay the significance of marriage in the NT and the rootedness of that in the OT
            2. An archetype doesn’t of itself tell us what is bad, true, but an archetype of marriage does tell us what is not marriage, and other teaching (and insights of reason) clarify what is bad.

            I think overall your use of scripture is faulty as you don’t seem to be aiming to see the overall picture which scripture is presenting but instead seek to explain why it is inadequate. Maybe that’s unfair, but it is how it seems to me.

          • David Shepherd May 4, 2017 at 11:15 pm #

            Penelope,

            Say it ain’t so! I mean, I’ve been working on my ‘tone’ and trying to avoid the egregious rudeness. You know, like that declaring that certain commenters here are ‘obsessed with anal sex’.

            Despite having to leave off here, I’m sure that when Jesus reasoned inductively from Genesis to declare: ‘what God has joined together, let not man put asunder’, his detractors probably could have done with a paraphrase of your parting shot:

            ”You build a whole (and anachronistic) edifice of marital permanence, based on a mythical narrative which makes no mention of divorce unless you try to harmonise it with another mythical narrative, which doesn’t mention divorce either.

            Well, we are now enlightened by you about the all-important special pleading for same-sex couples, which is meant to restrict the Church from reasoning about anything but the indissolubility of marriage from the Genesis archetype.

            And we also now know from you (simply because you disagree with him) that Augustine was wrong about the enduring marital good of ‘natural partnership in the difference of the sexes’..

            Thanks…I think.

      • David Shepherd May 1, 2017 at 10:12 pm #

        Penelope,

        That argument is lame because it’s only invoked as the ‘fall-back’ special pleading, once revisionists fail in attempting to argue from scripture and tradition.

        As I’ve stated above, your reference to sameness only focuses on the significance of Eve to Adam.

        Your supposed argument from silence is invalid because:
        i) Adam’s perspective is not God’s.
        ii) the significance of Adam and Eve’s union to God is different from this and, in fact, we can know this, since it is indicated in the preceding chapter: ‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ (Gen. 1:27)

        Male and female in the context of this declaration of God’s creation of man indicates the fundamental importance of sexual difference in the divine impetus for fruitfulness before the Fall.

        You conclude with the laziest ever and most intellectually dishonest gloss of St. Augustine’s doctrine of marriage when you claim that ‘the logic of St. Augustine’s statement is that if sex is not generative, it is still permissible’. Really? Is any non-generative sex permissible? Or just the kind of non-generative sex that would exonerate same-sex couples?

        Of course, here, you’ve simply elided St. Augustine’s teaching on the enduring marital good of ‘natural partnership in difference of sexes’ because to engage with this would seriously undermine your argument.

        In fact, given your implausible arguments, you are better off sticking to the pursuit of special pleading exemptions from scripture, tradition and reason for same-sex sexual relationships.

        • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 11:55 am #

          David see above. And for eluded, read elided. Damn auto correct.

  19. Mac April 27, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

    This may or may not be of interest but I thought I would throw it in anyway coming from the long and tortuous Church of Scotland work on same sex relationships:

    Although the Group reflects different views on what the church’s attitude
    to homosexuality should be, there was somewhat surprise at the degree of concord
    reached regarding the plain reading of Scripture in the specific mentions of same-sex
    sexual activity. There was almost a weariness with interested readings of certain key
    texts, which tortuously attempt to repudiate the writer’s clear intention to condemn
    behaviour as bad. The Bible, when it occasionally takes up the subject of same-sex
    activity, presents it as a wrong choice. (Working Group on Human Sexuality 2007 section 4.13.18)

    • Christopher Shell April 27, 2017 at 8:42 pm #

      Mac, there is not a difference between bible passages’ clear opposition to lying, murder or adultery every time these things are mentioned and bible passages’ clear opposition to sex with the same gender every time that is mentioned.

      The latter changes its manifestations from culture to culture. Yes, to an extent – and the same goes for the former things: they also change their manifestation to an extent. So what is the difference? They have in common that they are always regarded badly in scriptural passages. According to the evidence of Paul’s vice-lists, they are among the first things to be named when it comes to listing sins.

      We are really going to believe that the passages are saying not merely different to but opposite to what they seem to be saying, particularly when:
      -all lengthy critical commentaries totally disagree
      -it just so happens to be the era and cultural setting when such things have societal approval, unusually in recent western history
      -many of the advocates are in a position to have a vested interest.

  20. Will Jones April 30, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

    Hi Penelope. So if your conception of the natural order includes disability, gender fluidity and intersex conditions, what are your criteria for something to be disordered or contrary to the design of the organism? Surely disability even means, in its own terms, that it is the result of something going wrong. To disable something means to stop it working properly. Do you deny, for example, that the healthy, properly formed human being has two legs, two arms, two eyes, ten digits, five senses etc.? But if not, how can disability be part of the good natural order as it has been designed by God (as opposed to a result of the imperfection of postlapsarian biology and things going wrong)? What you’re saying just seems so far from our basic conceptions of nature, biology and common sense.

    Also, presumably you’re well aware of how heterodox it is to deny that the division into male and female is part of the natural created order, and how contrary to the worldview of scripture and the Christian tradition? You obviously have clever ways of interpreting passages like Genesis 2 to make them fit with your ideas, but surely you can’t maintain that that is what the authors meant by them, or by verses such as Genesis 1:27? Wouldn’t you agree that your ideas in this are a long way from Christian orthodoxy, or from a historically faithful reading of scripture?

    • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

      Hi Will. Basically no. I don’t deny that gender is part of the natural created order or that being male or female is inconsequential. It is simply not the only way of being. We are all disabled and diverse in some ways. I wouldn’t presume to say which came from the Fall or which are part of God’s good creation. Some people, for example read Jesus’ eunuch teaching as commentary not on celibacy but on gender fluidity or intersex. Cf. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts.
      I don’t interpret Genesis 1 or 2 to fit in with my ideas. But binary interpretations of them are fairly modern. People see complementarity there because that is what they have been taught to expect. Anyway, marriage is, perhaps, a post Fall institution. Jesus tells us that there will be no marriage in Heaven. And perhaps there was no marriage in Eden. Certainly no procreation.

      • Will Jones April 30, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

        Hi Penelope. We are all diverse in certain respects, but we are not all disabled – nature is fallen, but it is not completely dysfunctional. The original order is still present to a sufficient degree for life to sustain itself under God’s providence, and is therefore still discernible by the human intellect, which is one of the purposes to which God has ordained humankind. The study of biology (and psychology) helps us to discern the order inherent in the nature of living organisms, including humankind. It is thus that we know how many limbs etc. the human being has (irrespective that some individuals have a different number), and what therefore constitutes a disability. (Having said this our propensity to sin may constitute a universal disability, but that is a special case.)

        You say you wouldn’t presume to say which came from the Fall or which are part of God’s good creation. But that is one of the basic functions of revelation, both in its general form (to reason) and its special form (scripture). Otherwise how can we know what constitutes healing and wholeness, and what purposes God has for the human creature within creation?

        You seem to misunderstand what marriage is if you think it is post-fall and absent from Eden. The man and the woman in the garden are (and have always been understood to be) the primal form of marriage. Marriage has never (as far as I am aware) been considered a postlapsarian institution. You also say there was certainly no procreation in Eden, but I don’t see what basis you have for that, particularly given Genesis 1:28: ‘God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.”‘

        Whatever is the meaning of complementarity as you are using it, I don’t see how you can read the Bible, OT and NT, with the different rules, roles and treatment of men and women, and think that it isn’t working with a basic binary divide.

        Presumably though your main contention is that same-sex attraction (and gender fluidity, being intersex etc.) is part of the created natural order, and you’re agnostic about whether it is pre- or post-fall. I think that equivocation is a cop out: even if you can’t be sure you should say which seems to you most likely, as it is a key issue in the present dispute. If it is post-fall then it has a quite different character than if pre-fall, and would be justified in a quite different manner, since post-fall phenomena are either disorders of the created order or remedies for them.

        For my part I would contend that scripture leaves us in no doubt as to the binary nature of sexual differentiation in the natural created order, and the disordered nature of aberrations from that. This aspect of special revelation is confirmed by general revelation insofar as human biology (like that of many animals) appears to be based on a binary sexual differentiation in chromosomes, anatomy and reproductive function, so that aberrations from this can confidently be considered disorders. With revelation and reason in such harmony on this point, it is difficult to see how any other conclusion is plausible.

        • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

          Thanks Will. I think we disagree on disability and on healing and wholeness. But we both worship a Christ who remains disabled after the Resurrection. I think we also disagree on binary sexual differentiation. Biology is beginning to tell us that sexual difference is more complex than we once thought.
          You are, of course, quite right about procreation in Gen. 1! Eden is not, of course, in Gen. 1. The two traditions are independent and contradictory. Gen. 2 seems to present procreation as a post Fall necessity. Not sure whether marriage is pre or post Fall, or whether the ancient texts describe marriage at all. I think it’s too convenient to tidy up as post lapsarian everything that doesn’t fit into a modern heteronormative, ableist model.

          • Will Jones April 30, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

            The scars of Christ are not a disability as they do not (or at least are not presented as) inhibiting any function or ability. They are markers of identity and achievement, which is why they are highlighted. But even if they are a disability, scripture gives us no reason to see this as anything other than a special case, and it doesn’t alter the point about disability in general being an undesirable aberration from the created natural order (e.g. the human being naturally has two functioning eyes; to lack these is an aberration from the natural form of the human being). The OT law forbade the use of disabled animals from use in sacrifices, and even did not allow disabled people into the holy place. The kingdom of God is portrayed throughout the NT as bringing healing and deliverance from disability. The blind man in John 9 brings glory to God by being healed, not by being blind. Save for Christ’s scars, the Bible gives us no reason at all to glorify disability or to regard it as persisting into the kingdom of God.

            I wouldn’t say this understanding of sickness and dysfunction entering the world post fall is convenient so much as the straightforward, standard and accepted interpretation of the texts. Your view is highly novel (historically speaking) and seems to rely on holding the scriptures and their plain, original and accepted meanings very lightly indeed.

          • Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

            Penelope,saying ‘I think we disagree’ is not an argument. You have conceded Will’s argument unless you have countered it.

            Are you denying that biology is based on binary sexual differentiation? You can deny that if you produce evidence that biology (not psychology) is so based.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 8:30 pm #

            Will have you read the theologian John Hull?

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 8:37 pm #

            Christopher I am having a conversation with Will. I am not trying to win an argument.
            Yes non binary is atypical, but not abnormal. We are beginning to learn that not all humans have XX or XY chromosomes and some are not those we would usually think of as intersex. Gender/sex is being revealed as more complex than we once thought.

          • Will Jones April 30, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

            Hi Penelope. No I don’t know John Hull (my quick Google just now told me he was an academic in the field of religious education and a theologian who went blind and wrote about this and disability from a theological perspective – sounds interesting).

            The complexity that biology is revealing in gender and sexuality is, I would say, only showing us the varied (and often tragic) ways in which biology can malfunction, not telling us anything new about the good natural created order (though perhaps I will one day be surprised). To think otherwise is, to my mind, like looking for divine purpose in genetic disorders.

            Which is not to say that God doesn’t use suffering and misfortune for our good and his glory, bringing good out of bad – redemption. But I don’t think that makes the bad good (or the dysfunctional functional). It is just that redemption and hope remain possible despite the fallen, tragic and dysfunctional nature of the world and humankind.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 10:03 pm #

            Hi Will read John Hull. Interesting on ‘disability’ and what it means to be a disciple.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe April 30, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

            Will also, briefly, I don’t think genetic variation is inevitably malfunction. I think this is, perhaps, what Matt. 19 is saying.

          • Christopher Shell May 1, 2017 at 7:31 am #

            Insofar as winning arguments is the same goal/winning-line as arriving at the truth, then they are one and the same thing, and they are what all debaters should be aiming at. It does not in the least matter which particular participant achieves this goal.

            We have to guard against the present inaccurate approach that there are no winners and losers. If there were no winners or losers there would be no truth and everything would be as true as everything else so there would be no point debating. Advances in debate are made by:
            -ruling out an assertion that is self-contradictory;
            -ruling out an assertion that commits a philosophical fallacy;
            -ruling out an assertion that is contradicted by the clear balance of the empirical data.

            What needs to end is the way that assertions that have been disproved many times keep on being repeated.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 1, 2017 at 11:53 am #

            Yes, Christopher, like some of the research you cite on homosexual behaviour and aetiology. Jonathan Tallon has pointed out the flaws in your arguments many times, but you keep on repeating the same assertions. Which, of course, you have a right to do. If you believe them. But that doesn’t make them truth. I don’t want to ‘win’ in a discussion with Will. I want to convince him of the veracity or reasonableness of mu POV even if he doesn’t accept it. That’s how we learn. And how we learn to disagree well. We’re talking about sexual ethics, not creedal formularies.

          • Christopher Shell May 1, 2017 at 9:04 pm #

            Whoa! Penelope, you are making extremely sweeping generalisations regarding a large diverse collection of literature cited. I was not aware that you had sufficient familiarity with that literature to judge which correspondent had more truth on their side in such discussions. But if indeed you are more familiar than I thought with the extensive literature which probably no individual is master of, then can I please have chapter and verse. Which errors have I made – can you be specific please?

            And all readers please note the absolutely vast comment I made above listing all the points that Jonathan Tallon has not yet addressed. Penelope, is that comment one that you did not see? You will find it because it is the longest comment on the thread. Your summary makes no mention of any of that comment’s many elements.

  21. Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

    read: ‘is not so based’.

  22. Christopher Shell April 30, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

    Not in any way convinced by your saying that binary interpretations of Gen 1-2 are fairly modern.

    -There have been *two* individuals there since it was first written.

    -Those two are named according to the acknowledged two sexes/genders.

    -Jesus takes that up in Mk 10.

    That seems thoroughly and obviously binary. What is nonbinary about it?

    • Penelope Cowell Doe May 1, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

      Hi again Christopher. Having 2 individuals doesn’t make it binary. Gregory of Nyssa saw God’s purpose in Gen.1 as creating an androgyne. That’s part of the reception tradition. Gen.2 isn’t really about the creation of binaries either. After God, rather dimly, tried to present the earthling with animals as companions, He. at last created a human companion who was flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. The emphasis is on the sameness not difference. Granted there are binaries – male and female, man and woman, but they are not, as Tom Wright mistakenly asserts (I would argue) part of a binary creation – heaven/earth etc. The ANE saw the cosmos as at least three tiered, not binary, and probably more in the case of the number of heavens. There are all sorts of trinities and polynaries. And their are different kinds of binaries. Male/female obviously, but you had to be free and have some agency to become a man or a woman. Slaves weren’t regarded as men and women.
      In addition, you could argue that the male/female binaries are dissolved in the new creation, cf. Matt. 19 (eunuch passage); Gal 3,28. I wouldn’t argue that, because I think gender is significant, even in the eschatological age. But some would.

      • Christopher Shell May 1, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

        Having two individuals does make it binary, because ‘two’ is what binary means.

        Gregory of Nyssa? If we are able to scour as many as 2000 years, then it will be always possible to cite one dissenting voice.

        1.Sameness would have been if the second human was also made from dust. They weren’t.

        2.Sameness would have been if they were both called Adam (earth-creature). They weren’t.

        3.Sameness is not present since no single *part* of oneself (Adam’s side) can be the ‘same’ as the *whole* of oneself.

        Maybe Tom Wright means that ANE creation stories were often about *separation* from one into two (rather than 3 or more). The separation motif could recur within the same story, so we are not saying that we always end up with ‘two’, just that every individual separation is one becoming two.

        • Penelope Cowell Doe May 2, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

          If binary simply means 2 and carries no theological freight, then it matters not whether the two are other or the same.
          I used Gregory of Nyssa as an example that 2000 years of tradition does not flow in one clear direction.
          Sameness is not the same as being identical. Human beings have more in common with each other than they do with even their closest mammalian relatives.
          Surely every part of ourselves is a genetic microcosm of the whole?
          I don’t think that’s what Wright meant. Look on You tube, ‘Facing the Canon’, an interview with J.John.
          As for your challenge on the scientific material. Yes I have read much of it. It’s part of my research. But I think the aetiology is a theological red herring (though interesting). I can understand that it is ethically fraught. For example, some gay people want a genetic explanation because that would prove that homosexuality is innate. Others fear the ‘gay gene’ explanation because that could lead to eugenics. If one doesn’t see homosexual orientation as sinful or disordered and if one believes that homosexual behaviour can, like heterosexual behaviour, be good, committed, fruitful, covenantal etc. etc., then whether it is innate, learned or chosen is irrelevant.

          • Christopher Shell May 2, 2017 at 10:52 pm #

            ‘Binary’ is unarguably a concept very close indeed to ‘two’.

            ‘Same’ is unarguably a concept very close indeed to ‘identical’. Thus people say: ‘When Jesus said He and the Father were One, He did not mean He and the Father were one and the same [i.e., identical]’.

            It is because it is a period as long as 2000 years that it is mighty unimpressive that a dissenting voice is found. Of course if the period is as long as 2000 years it will be possible to find a dissenting voice.

            Some people love discovering difference and diversity and emphasise that at the expense of other evidence. I have so often met the tendency to say ‘Scholars disagree therefore nobody knows for sure’ – but (a) all that takes is one scholar to disagree – even disagree on purpose; (b) it is irrelevant whether they disagree or not: it is only relevant whether they have storng arguments or not.

            A cell is a microcosm. One’s side is not a microcosm of one’s whole body – at least, I would be surprised to read an argument that it *was*.

            I have seen that interview. Could you elaborate how what he said was notably different from the way I am taking it?

            Your final para on science speaks of ‘wanting’ and ‘fearing’ – but wanting and fearing have zero to do with science or with evidence.

            When you say ‘If one doesn’t see homosexual orientation as sinful…’ – science is not like that. You are stating a presupposition, but obviously the presupposition may be wrong, and one has to do study to see if it is right or wrong. An unexamined presupposition is of no use as evidence.

          • Penelope Cowell Doe May 3, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

            I’m talking about what others may want and fear from the discovery of a genetic cause for homosexuality. Their potential reactions are quite clear. If a cure for cancer could be found of course it would provoke reactions: of relief and joy.
            Of course the sinfulness, or not, of homosexuality has nothing to do with science. Which is why science can tell us nothing about the ethics of homosexual identity and behaviour.
            Still think Wright was wrong when talking about binaries in the Hebrew Bible, but then he’s not an OT scholar. Also when he talk about the meaning of a word, I think he ought to brush up on his semiotics.
            And I think you’ll find more than one dissenting voice on the Genesis texts (and other biblical literature) in 2000 years of tradition. Arsenokoites fo example. But I’m not going there.

  23. Christopher Shell May 4, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    On the contrary, science is the main place we learn about the ethics of H behaviour, because it is from there that we can learn about rates of harm or otherwise: disease, longevity etc.. ‘Science’ is just investigating how things are in the real world.

    2000 years is plenty long enough to have more than one dissenting voice – but…:
    -the whole idea of a dissenting voice is binary: better to speak of a variety of conclusions
    -even if there be a variety of conclusions, that is completely irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant is the quality of *evidence* on which those ‘conclusions’ are based.

    • Penelope Cowell Doe May 4, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

      If science show us what is ethical I infer you must agree with those atheists who claim that it has replaced God and religion.

      • Christopher Shell May 4, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

        Well – I find ‘religion’ a vague and incoherent concept. The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy, when wanting an example of a vague word, made ‘religion’ their number one choice (article: ‘vagueness’). Even those who find it a coherent still oppose God and religion to one another (Barth; Bonhoeffer; much of Protestantism; most of Pentecostalism).

        Science is a (the) method for studying reality, rather than being itself a sphere of reality.

        God and science have in common this central thing: both are reality-centred. If we are using the word God without quotation marks, we must be speaking of the God already apparent in reality, whether apparent from our apprehension of what has been made, or from more personal ‘encounter’ experience, or from both. Experience and experiment (as the etymology suggests) are closely-related concepts.

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